BIGGLESWADE: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1835.


[Transcribed information from A Topographical Dictionary of England - Samuel Lewis - 1835]
(unless otherwise stated)

"BIGGLESWADE, a parish and market-town in the hundred of BIGGLESWADE, county of BEDFORD, IQi miles (E.S.E.)from Bedford, and 45 (N.N. W.) from London, on the road to York, containing, with the hamlet of Holme with Stratton, 27 78 inhabitants. This town is pleasantly situated on the river Ivel, which is crossed by two stone bridges, and which, by act of parliament, has been made navigable to its junction with the Ouse, whereby the neighbourhood is supplied with coal, timber, and various articles of merchandise. A considerable part of the town was destroyed by fire in 1785, to which circumstance its improved condition and handsome appearance may be attributed. The houses are uniformly built of brick, the air is pure and salubrious, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with excellent water from numerous springs. The environs, abounding with elegant villas and picturesque scenery, present a pleasing, appearance. The making of white thread-lace and edging affords employment to a considerable part of the female population; but the town derives its principal support from being situated on the north road, whence the continued traffic it enjoys. The market, which is on Wednesday, is considerable for grain; fairs are held on February 13th, the Saturday in Easter week, Whit-Monday, August 2nd, and November 8th, for horses and live stock of every kind. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold a petty session for the hundreds of Biggleswade, Clifton, and Wixamtree. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the peculiar jurisdiction and patronage of the Prebendary of Biggleswade in the Cathedral Church of Lincoln, rated in the king's books at £10. The church, dedicated to St. Andrew, and formerly collegiate, is an ancient and venerable structure, in the early style of English architecture; the chancel was rebuilt in 1467, by John Reeding, Archdeacon of Bedford, whose arms are carved on some ancient wooden stalls in the north aisle. A chantry belonging to the guild of the Holy Trinity was anciently founded in the church, the revenue of which, at the dissolution, was £7. There are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists. Sir John Cotton, in 1726, bequeathed £ 1800 for charitable uses, directing it to be laid out in the purchase of lands, two-ninths of the rental of which were to be given as a salary to a schoolmaster, who, together with the boys, is nominated by the lord of the manor, and one-ninth to the vicar of the parish; the proceeds are about £36 per annum; twelve boys are taught gratuitously. There is also an endowment of £ 13 a year, given by Edward Peake, in 1755, for the instruction of eight more children. In 1770, a yellow earthen pot, containing three hundred gold coins of the reign of Henry VI., was discovered by a ploughman, in a field near the manor-house; they were rather larger in diameter than a half-crown, an4 twenty grains less in weight than a guinea. On the obverse was a ship, with the figure of a king in armour, holding in one hand a sword, and in the other a shield on which were quartered the arms of England and France; on the side of the ship was a lion passant, between two fleurs de lis; on the reverse was a cross between four lions passant, crowned with the legend "Jesus autem transiens per medium illorum ibat.""

"HOLME, a hamlet, joint with Stratton, in the parish and hundred of BIGGLESWADE, county of BEDFORD, 1 mile (S. by W.) from Biggleswade, with which the population is returned."

[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2010]