[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]

"BEDFORD, comprises the parishes of St. Cuthbert, St. John, St. Mary, St. Paul, and St. Peter_De_Merton's, it is the county town of Bedfordshire, a municipal and parliamentary borough constituting a liberty of itself, 47 miles to the north of London, by the Midland and Great Northern railways; on the former of which it is a station. It is also connected with the London and North-Western railway by a branch line to Bletchley, 16 miles distant. It is seated on the banks of the river Ouse, near an ancient ford, from which circumstance it derived its name. The Saxons called the town Bedanford, which signifies "town at the ford." The Britons suffered a defeat here, in the year 571, by the Saxons under Cuthwulf. The town was frequently attacked by the Danes during-the wars of the 10th century, and in 1010 was burnt down by them." (There is more of this description).

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013



Church History

  • Ecclesiastical & Chapels of Ease
    • All Saints Church, Queens Park, erected in 1896 as a chapel of ease to St. Pauls, is a plain edifice of brick, and will seat 500 persons. Rev. Ernest William Adams D.A. of Durham University, is curate in charge.
    • The ecclesiastical parish of the Holy Trinity was formed from that of St. Paul in 1860: the church in Bromham road, erected in 1839-40, is a spacious edifice of stone in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave north and south porches, and a lofty western tower containing a clock and one bell: in the chancel is a memorial window to the first vicar of the parish: in 1891 the organ was enlarged and moved from the west gallery to the east end: there are sittings for 1,400 persons of which 500 are free. The register dates from the year 1841. The living is a vicarage, gross yearly value £466, with residence, in the gift of the vicar of St. Paul's, and held since 1880 by the Rev. George Arthur Willan M.A. of St. Johns College, Cambridge.
    • The ecclesiastical district of St. Leonard's was formed from St. Mary's parish by Order in Council dated August, 1889. The church of St. Leonard the Confessor, in the Victoria road, is a temporary iron structure seating 450 persons. The register dates from the year 1889. The living is a vicarage, gross yearly value £150, in the gift of the rector of St. Mary's, and held since 1894 by the Rev. Vitruvius Partridge Wyatt M.A. of Queens College, Cambridge, assistant chaplain of the Chapel Royal, Savoy.
    • The ecclesiastical parish of St. Martin was formed out of the parish of Holy Trinity by Order in Council dated December 6, 1896. The church, which stands on the Clapham road, erected at a cost, including site, of £5,200, was dedicated October, 1889, by the Lord Bishop of Ely, and is an edifice of brick, with Bath stone dressings, in the Early English style, from the designs of Mr. J. A. Chatwin, architect, of Birmingham, and consists of chancel, with aisle, organ chamber, vestry, nave of four bays, aisles, transepts, western baptistery and a detached wooden belfry containing one bell: in 1898 a stained memorial window was placed in the south aisle: there are 740 sittings. The register dates from the year 1896. The living is a vicarage, yearly value £24, with fees amounting to £12 and offertories, in the gift of the Bishop of Ely, and held since 1896 by the Rev. Alfred Hawkins Jones LL.D. of the University of London, and curate in charge from 1888. A Sunday School for 200 children was built in 1894, and enlarged in 1897. [Extract from Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
  • Catholic
    • The Catholic church, in Midland and Brereton roads, and dedicated to The Holy Child and St. Joseph, is a lofty building of stone in the Early Decorated style, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave and aisles: provision has been made for extending one end of the church, and when complete it will have a fine tower with broach spire: the altar, erected in 1864, by subscriptions collected by the children of the congregation, is of Bath stone, with the figures, in canopied niches, of King David, St. Gregory the Great, St, Andrew and St. Nicholas: over the high altar is a stained window, also the gift of children, and exhibiting incidents in the life of Our Lord: in 1887 a bede altar of Bath stone and marbles was erected from designs by Mr. A. E. Purdue, and is adorned with figures of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin and various saints: in1864 a fine stained window was erected in the chapel as a memorial: both these additions were the gift of a member of the congregation: there are 250 sittings : the Rev. Robert 0. Middleton is priest in charge: attached to the church is a presbytery. [Extract from Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
  • Non-Conformist & other
    • St. Cuthbert's Mission hall, at the corner of Newnham street and opposite St. Cuthbert's church was erected in 1891-2, at a total cost, including site (£345) of £2,000, and is an edifice of red brick, with red rubbed brick and stone dressings, in the Early English style, from designs by Mr. W. B. Davis, architect, of Bedford; it contains a large hall, 60 ft. by 30 ft. with a platform 25 ft. by 12 ft. a reading room 30 ft. by 20 ft. constructed so as to open to the large hall and serve as a gallery; lavatories and offices have been provided in the rear. The large hall will seat 300 persons, and with the platform and gallery affords about 450 sittings. The hall is used for work connected with the Sunday school, bible classes, lectures and educational classes, as well as for Evangelistic meetings and mission purposes. In the evening it serves as a working men's club, and in the winter as a soup kitchen, and for mothers' meetings, parish clubs, and other agencies.
    • The Bunyan Meeting (Union of Baptists and Congregationalists), in Mill street, was rebuilt in 1849, on the site of the former chapel, known as the "Old Meeting," itself erected in 1707, on the site of the building of which John Bunyan was the minister (1672-1688): his chair is preserved in the vestry, and a tablet in the vestry records that he was for 12 years a prisoner in Bedford County Gaol: the church was established in 1650: in 1876 the Duke of Bedford gave two massive bronze doors for the principal entrance; these have 10 panels, each of which, by Thrupp, represents in bold relief, a scene from his famous allegory, "The Pilgrims Progress," the first part of which was written during his second imprisonment in the town gaol on Bedford bridge (1675-6) : the chapel has sittings for 1,078 persons. A hall for school and other purposes was attached to this chapel in the year 1866.
    • The Howard Congregational church, in Mill Street, was originally founded by John Howard, the philanthropist, and others in 1772, and enlarged in 1849. In 1862 a school room and various class rooms were erected to celebrate the thirty years' ministry of the Rev. William Alliott: the church will seat 700 persons.
    • The Baptist chapel, Rothsay road, built in 1894 at a cost of £3,700, is of red brick and stone, and will seat 650: attached is a Sunday School for 150 children, with class rooms beneath.
    • The Wesleyan chapel, in Harpur street, built in 1832, was restored in 1889 at a cost of £1,600, and will seat 1,000.
    • The Wesleyan chapel, in Bromham road, built in 1877, will seat 650. The Wesleyan chapel, Cauldwell street, was built in 1862 at a cost of £4,000, and will seat 400.
    • Here are also the following chapels, with the number of sittings specified :- Baptist, Mill street, 660 ; Catholic Apostolic, Gwyn street, 233. Brethren, Bedford hall, Greenhill street, 200. Primitive Methodists, Cauldwell street, 300 ; Hassett street, 424; Park road, 200. Theistic Harpur street, 100. Zion (Huntingdonian), Lurke street, 137. Christadelphian, Alexandra place, 100.
    • Moravian, St. Peter's street, 500. Salvation Army Congress Hall, River street, 1,300. [Extract from Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]






You can see maps centred on OS grid reference TL050500 (Lat/Lon: 52.138329, -0.467197), Bedford which are provided by:


Military History



  • BEDFORD GRAMMAR SCHOOL is one of the 16 schools licensed by letters patent of Edward VI. and its foundation dates from 1552. Sir William Harpur, a native of Bedford, alderman of London and Lord Mayor in 1561, together with Dame Alice his wife, in 1566 granted to the Mayor and Corporation of Bedford, an estate then consisting of 10 acres and 1 rood in London situate in the parishes of St. George the Martyr (Queen square, Bloomsbury) and of St. Andrew, Holborn, which had been purchased by him for the sum of £180, for the purposes of founding a school: this estate from its position became exceedingly valuable and has since been entirely built over, the following being some of the streets now existing on the estate:- Bedford row (west side), Lamb's Conduit street, Theobald's road, Harpur street and New North street. Many of the houses having been required for improvements in the neigbbourhood, have been compulsorily taken, and the proceeds invested by the trustees in the funds: the annual rent of the remaining houses, mostly let on leases of 30 years, is estimated at £4,000: the trustees also own some houses in St. Johns end St. Paul's, Bedford, producing a further rental of £150: the trusts of the charity were reconstituted by a scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners approved by Her Majesty in council in 1873, and dating as from 30th May, 1871:. the governing body; under this scheme, consists of 27 persons, of whom six are ex-officio, viz. the Lord Lieutenant, the Mayor and the members for the town and county; nine are nominated for five years, viz. Lord Lingen, H. M. Burge, esq. M.A. J. E. White esq. M.A. Rev. H. B. George M.A. the Rev. A. P. Kirkpatrick M.A. F. Tanqueray Willaume esq. James Anstie esq. B.A., Q.C. Charles E. C. Prichard esq. J. Carter esq. M.R.C.S., J.P. and W. E. Taylor esq. and 12 representative governors, who hold office for three years, viz. J. E. Cutcliffe J.P. J. W. D. Harrison, J. H. Howard, Geoffrey Howard M.A. R. P. Jarvis, J. Miller, R. Richards, G. Robinson J.P. 0. D. Shelton, Capt. Verey J,P., and C. Wells; A. H. Allen, Harpur trust office, is clerk to the governors.

    In a niche over the entrance of the old Grammar school, now the Town Hall, is a statue, of the founder, Sir William Harpur, knight, in his robes as alderman of the city of London: and inserted in the wall at the base of the statue is a marble slab, bearing a Latin inscription, He died in 1573, and was interred in St. Paul's church in this town, where his tomb still remains.

    The old buildings of the school in St. Paul's square, have been transferred to the Corporation for conversion into municipal buildings.

    The present school buildings adjoin De Parys avenue; the foundation stone was laid Oct. 17th, 1889, by Samuel Whitbread esq. M.P. for the borough and chairman of the governing body of the Harpur trust, and the buildings completed Oct. 19, 1891, at a total cost of about £25,000, are in the Tudor style from designs by Mr. E. C. Robins F.S.A. architect, of London, and consist of a large assembly hall on the north side, with 42 class rooms and offices on the east, west and south sides in three storeys, and a chemical laboratory; the front elevation facing the new park, includes the battlemented north side of the central hall, containing seven huge windows, with suites of class rooms on either side, three porches and an octagonal tower at the corner; the school stands in its own grounds, and is approached from two sides by carriage drives, and adjacent is a playing field of 20 acres ; there are also chemical and physical laboratories, covered playground, fives courts, gymnasium, carpenters and engineering workshops, observatory &c. and two sanitoria on the. Clapham road. The school is organized in four departments:

    • 1. THE PREPARATORY SCHOOL, for boys from 7 to 10 years of age, with a separate playground, but with the same privileges as the rest of the school.
    • 2. THE JUNIOR SCHOOL, for boys from about 10 to 13½, which has also a special portion of the playground and playing-field allotted.
    • 3. THE CLASSICAL DEPARTMENT (upper and Middle Forms), for boys preparing for the Universities, for the professions &c.
    • 4. THE CIVIL AND MILITARY DEPARTMENT, in which pupils are specially prepared for law and medical examinations, the London University Matriculation, Cooper's Hill, Indian Police, the Civil service, the royal navy or naval clerkships &c; persons wishing to inquire about the school can see the head master, at the school, Bedford, or, in his absence, A. Talbot esq. 27 De Parys avenue, on applying to Mr. E. Smith at the office at the school, which is generally open in term, and in holidays from 10 to 1 and 2:30 to 4. Parents should apply to the headmaster for a form of application for admission.; boys residing,. with their parents or grandparents (or uncles and aunts under certain conditions) receive the full school education for terminal payments of £3, for boys under 13, and £4, over 13 ; entrance fee £2; no boarders are allowed except in masters' houses: they are eligible to all prizes and exhibitions ; the boarding houses are small, only taking from 10 to 25 boys, whose lessons are prepared under supervision: the boarding fee is £63 per annum under 13 and above that age £66 15s, entrance fee £2, laundry £1.1s. and sanitorium 7s, a term.
  • BEDFORD MODERN SCHOOL, in St. Paul's square, is divided into the Higher Modern side, the Military and Engineering side, the Commercial side and the Junior and Preparatory schools. The school now numbers about 600 boys. The Preparatory school is intended for boys between the ages of 7 and 10; it is under the care of mistresses and is separated from the rest of the school. The Junior school is for boys on leaving the Preparatory school, and for boys entering the school between the ages of 10 and 12; they may remain in it until 12 years of age, if they do not obtain their promotion earlier. Above this, as far as the Upper Fifth, Form inclusive, the school is divided into two branches: Higher Modern and Commercial. Above the, Upper Fifth Form, a further choice of subjects is allowed, with a view of enabling boys to compete for special examinations or, to prepare for special pursuits ; and they are, divided into classes under the following:- Matriculation Side, for London Matriculation, Local Examinations, Professions &c. Military and Engineering Side, for admission to Woolwich and Sandhurst; the City and Guilds of London Institute, and for Engineering pursuits, Mercantile Side, for the Commercial Certificates of the Cambridge Local Examinations and the London Chamber of Commerce, Clerkships, higher Commercial life. Candidates are admitted at the age of seven, and may remain till they have attained that of seventeen, and by special permission of the Governors, on the recommendation of the head master, till they have reached their eighteenth year, but are not then eligible for exhibitions and prizes. Attached to the school are two exhibitions of £55 and £45 yearly, tenable for three years at any university, or any other place of liberal and professional education approved by the governors, who have also power to establish exhibitions in the school, providing that, in half at least, preference be given to boys educated at the elementary schools of the town.
    Head master, Rev. Robert B. Poole D.D University College, Oxford F.C.P. formerly assistant master, in Clifton College.
  • The HIGH SCHOOL for girls, Bromham road, opened in May 1882, is on the same foundation as the Grammar School for boys, and numbers 600 pupils. The buildings are in the Jacobean style and include a large central hall, holding 700 people and containing an organ, the gift of old pupils and friends of the school, a fully equipped art studio, a Swedish gymnasium and a chemical laboratory. The school is divided into upper, middle and junior departments. Open exhibitions are awarded annually in the form of exemption from tuition fees and a scholarship tenable at some place of higher education. Boarders are received in houses licensed by the governors. Head Mistress, Miss Belcher.
  • There are numerous private boarding schools, the principal are the Priory School, Bromham road : Rev. T. Russell M.A. and Robert Lewthwaite B.A. principals; St. Michaels School, St. Michaels road, Thomas Henderson esq. M.A. principal.
  • The MODERN SCHOOL for girls is in St. Paul's square, and has now about 150 girls. Pupils are admitted at seven years of age. Head Mistress, Miss Dolby.
  • THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, adjoining the Modern School premises, are available for about 900 boys, 820 girls and 400 infants. G. M. T. Bates B.A. head master; Miss Mitchell, head mistress; Miss H. Smith, head infants' mistress.
  • ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Ampthill road, for 363 boys, 355 girls and 374 infants; average attendance, 357 boys ; 340 girls and 365 infants; John Baldwin, head master; Miss Elizabeth Robinson, head mistress; Miss A, A. Smith, head infants' mistress.
  • ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Clapham road, erected in 1892 for 420 boys and girls and 330 infants; average attendance, 351 boys and girls and 287 infants; Miss Ellen Matilda Poynter, mistress; Miss Alice Chesher, infants' mistress.
  • All the Bedford Schools are under the Harpur trust, with the exception of St. Cuthbert's and St. Paul's, which are mission schools.
  • Clerk to the Trust, Albert Harry Allan, Harpur street [Extract from Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]


  • Bedfordshire Family History Society
    • Bedfordshire Family History Society (BFHS) was founded in 1977 to bring together those interested in family history, genealogy and heraldry, primarily in Bedfordshire, and to help co-ordinate research and to make our county records more freely accessible. The society holds regular monthly meetings, usually on the first Friday of each month (except August), and publishes a quarterly journal. Activities include transcribing and indexing county records, and copying and indexing monumental inscriptions. Meetings are held at Mark Rutherford School (near Mowsbury Park), Wentworth Drive, Bedford. Visitors or potential members are welcome.
  • Bedfordshire Historical Record Society
    • The Bedfordshire Historical Record Society specialises in promoting access to County history, specifically from archival sources. An annual volume of source material is published, along with monographs on aspects of the County's history.