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

"TURVEY, a parish in the hundred of Willey, county Bedford, 9 miles north east of Newport Pagnell, its post town, and 4 east of Olney. The village is situated on the road from Northampton to Bedford, near the river Ouse, which hero divides the counties of Beds and Bucks. The manufacture of pillow lace is carried on. The soil consists of gravel and stony clay. There are quarries of limestone and stone for building. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Ely, value £365. The church, dedicated to All Saints, has recently been enlarged and restored, with the addition of an organ, at an expense of about £1,000. In the interior are three brasses and tombs of the Mordaunts. The charities are extensive. There are National and infant schools, also chapels for the Independents and Wesleyans. Turvey Abbey, the seat of C. L. Higgins, Esq., who is lord of the manor, is the principal residence."

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




Church History

  • Church of England
    • The church of All Saints is an edifice of stone, chiefly in the Early English style, with traces of Saxon and Norman work with Early Decorated and Perpendicular additions, and consists of chancel, with sacristy and organ chamber on the north, clerestoried nave of five bays; aisles, vestry on the south side of the tower, south porch, and a low embattled western tower, with short pyramidal Spiro and containing 6 bells and a clock, presented in 1893 by Mr. G. Sargent, a former parishioner; in 1852-4 the church was much enlarged and decorated under the direction of the late Sir G. G. Scott R.A. the cost being defrayed by the late Charles Longuet Higgins esq. lord of the manor, who also presented the very fine organ, at an additional expense of £1,600 : the church was re-opened and consecrated anew, Oct. 10, 1854, by the Bishop of Ely : the east window and three others in the chancel are stained : the west window was given by William Bartholomew Higgins esq. of Picts' Hill : at the east end of the south aisle was a chapel of the Virgin; here still remain three Early English sedilia and a piscina : an arched sepulchral recess in the same chapel contains a fresco, representing the two Marys at the foot of the Cross, which has been glazed for its better preservation : the carved oak pulpit was the gift of the Rev. W. B. Russell, a former rector, and the lectern, also of oak, a present from Miss Gorst, of Preston, Lancashire : the font consists of a square-shaped basin, with sides carved in panels, and a massive rim adorned with volute ornaments, and resting on four shafts; it is probably Norman, though three of the panels appear to have been chiselled out at a later period : westward of the south door is a stoup projecting from a recess : two candelabra were givon in 1872 by Miss Baker, the then lessee of Turvey House : the north chapel, now converted into an organ chamber, was the burial place of the Mordaunt family, a number of whom are interred in the vaults beneath, including John, Earl of Peterborough Marshal-General of the Parliamentary forces, who died in 1643, and Charles, Earl of Peterborough and Monmouth K.G. General of the Marines, who died at Lisbon in 1735 : in the chapel of St. Mary is an altar-tomb of Purbeck marble, with recumbent effigies, to Sir John Mordaunt kt. who died 11th September, 1506, and Edith (Latimer), his wife : the effigy of Sir John is in armour, over which is a robe, with the collar of S.S.; that of his lady is in a long gown and coif; the inscription, now lost, is given in Halstead, and quoted in Harvey's "History of Willey Hundred;" the sides of the tomb are ornamented with traceried panels inclosing small shields; on the south side of the chancel, in the space between it and the chapel of St. Mary, is the lofty and magnificent monument of John, first Lord Mordaunt, son of the preceding, who died in 1562, and Elizabeth Vere, his wife, with recumbent alabaster effigies of both, on an altar-tomb under a semi-circular arch, on either side of which are projecting pedestals with pilasters and coupled columns supporting an ornamental frieze and cornice; above this on either side are carytides in turn supporting a plain pediment surmounted by three female figures; in the space over the cornice is a large quartered shield with crest and supporters; in the north aisle now stands the fine tomb of John, second Lord Mordaunt, who died in April 1571, and was buried here on the 16th of May following : it consists of eight stilted columns of the Roman Doric order, supporting a flat canopy, surmounted by a quartered shield, and formerly had eagles holding scrolls at the angles : within on separate altar-tombs, are recumbent effigies of Lord Mordaunt and his wives, Eleanor (Fitz-Lewis) and Joan (Farmer); at the west end of the same aisle is the tomb of Lewis, third Lord Mordaunt who died June 16 1601, moved hither from the east end of the north chapel during the restoration; it is a plain altar-tomb raised on two steps, represented in marble as covered with a black pall fringed with white, on which are affixed inscriptions and shields of arms; at the west end is a huge quartered shield with crest, mantling and supporters: on the floor of St. Mary's chapel is a small brass to a member of the Moordaunt family with impaled shield, and a scroll inscribed with a couplet in Latin, and there are two other brasses, one with the figure of an ecclesiastic, and another with arms and inscription to Alice Chubnoll, wife of Richard Bernard esq. 1606; suspended in the aisle are two helmets, a sword, gauntlets, collar and spurs : there are other memorials in the church to the Rev. Legh Richmond M.A. the well-known author of the 'Dairyman's Daughter," rector (1805-27), his sons, Samuel Nugent Legh, 1824; Thomas Henry Wilberforce, 1825, two infants, and others of his family; the Rev. Erasmus Middleton, rector (1804-5), Rev. Richard Rands, rector (1669-99), and the families of Higgins, Carter, Clarke-Jervoise &c. : the church was renewed in 1846, but has since been completely refitted in oak: the communion plate, of silver gilt was presented by Margaret, daughter of the Hon. Henry Mordaunt in 1788 : there are 550 sittings : in the churchyard, adjoining the south wall, is a plain altar-tomb to John Richardson, a faithful retainer of the Mordaunts in the 16th and 17th centuries : a substantial modern lych-gate forms the entrance to the churchyard. The register dates from the year 1629. An earlier book dating from 1606 is now lost. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
  • Non conformist:
    • There are Wesleyan and Congregational chapels. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]

Church Records


Description and Travel

  • A Cemetery for this parish, one acre in extent, was consecrated July 18th, 1871, and interments in the old churchyard have since been discontinued, except in cases where vaults or brick graves had previously existed; the cemetery is under the control of the parish council. Charities:- John, 2nd Lord Mordaunt, left by will, 8d. weekly to four poor persons, payable out of land in the hamlet of Eastcoates, in Cardington parish: Thomas Carter esq. by a nuncupative will in 1731, left £100, now invested in Consols, the interest for the most necessitous poor to be distributed at Christmas : Dame Anne Mordaunt left by will, in 1791, £100, the interest to be similarly distributed : an unknown donor left about an acre of land in Lavendon parish, Bucks, the rent to be distributed at Christmas among poor widows of this parish: Charles Higgins esq. by will, in 1792, left £1,000, the interest for the clothing of 20 poor women of Turvey parish, since reduced by the Charity Commissioners to 17; he also left the interest of £300 for the support of a Sunday school, provided that the stipend of the master be made up to £20 yearly, which was done by John Higgins esq. who in 1829 conveyed about 13 acres of land, called "Ball's Pasture," in trust for this purpose: Miss Ann Maria Higgins, by will in Nov. 1838, left £700, the interest to be applied to the support of the Sunday school, and another sum of £700 for providing the poor with coals at Christmas; these two sums are invested in Consols : Mr. John Robinson left by will in 1835, £50, the interest to be given to the necessitous widows of Turvey at Christmas : Lieut.-Col. W. B. Higgins left by will 1879; £150, the interest to be given to the National and Infant schools in the parish, also £100, the interest to be given to the Working Men's Room in the parish of Turvey : all these charities, except those which are a charge on land, are now in the hands of the Charity Commissioners, and the interest is paid by them. A large and handsome block of buildings close to the railway station, consisting of a memorial hall and almshouses, was erected and endowed in 1884 by James Barton esq. of London, for the relief of 20 single or married persons, inhabitants of the parish of Turvey and the town of Bedford : it is known as the James, Mary and Louisa Barton charity: a service is held in the hall every Sunday afternoon by arrangement of the Rev. G. F. W. Munby M.A. rector. Here is a reading room, a working men's room and a museum. The houses and cottages are nearly all built of native stone, and are unusually neat and capacious. The Three Fishes inn is an ancient hostelry with projecting gables, and bears the date 1624. A great flood, on September 26th, 1797, rose about four feet above the roadway, near the "Three Fishes." Nell's well, in this parish, was restored in 1873, at the cost of Col. Higgins. Pillow thread lace is made here, though not to so large an extent as formerly; shoe making is also carried on. The approach to Turvey from Bedford is through an avenue of trees, nearly a mile in length; at the further extremity of the village is a bridge of eight arches over the Ouse, facing which, in the water, is a statue group representing the story of Jonah; the other entrances to the village are also picturesque. Turvey House, the property of Major William Francis Higgins and now occupied by George William and Lady Elizabeth Taylor, is a stately mansion of three stories in the Italian style, built in 1794, by John Higgins sen. esq.; the principal facade consists of a central portion, relieved by pilasters and flanked by slightly projecting wings with Corinthian pillars supporting a frieze and projecting cornice, which runs round the whole structure above the second storey; the upper stage is low, and finished with a plain parapet: the house is situated in a pleasant pack of 150 acres, extending to the Ouse. Turvey Abbey, the residence of Mrs. Higgins, widow of Charles Longuet Higgins esq. J.P. is a long gabled building, to which considerable additions were made in 1855 and 1860, and is surrounded by a finely wooded park of 100 acres : in one of the rooms is a chimney piece of the time of Henry VI. and the handsome ,stone chimney piece in the drawing-room is of the era of James I.; two of the gables bear the dates 1603 and 1608. Picts' Hill, 1½ miles east of Turvey, the property of Major Higgins, now (1898) unoccupied, has grounds of 25 acres. Turvey Cottage, a commodious residence, pleasantly situated on rising ground, overlooking the river Ouse, and the property of the family of Major W. F. Higgins, is now occupied by Joseph Bishell esq. Woodside House is a pleasant residence, also the property of Major W. F. Higgins : it is about three-quarters of a mile from the village of Turvey, and is occupied by John William Pascoe esq. Holmwood House, at the east end of the village, is occupied by Miss Platt Higgins : it is the property of H. Longuet Higgins esq. who also owns the Laws House, occupied by Frededck William Wood esq. Chauntry House is the, residence of Major William Francis Higgins D.L., J.P. H. Longuet Higgins esq. 6, Park Hill, Richmond, Surrey, who is lord of the manor, and Major W. F. Higgins are the principal landowners. The soil is mixed gravel and strong clay; ,sub-soil, clay, gravel and rock. The land is chiefly arable. The area is 3,977 acres of land and 34 of water; rateable value, £5,080; the population in 1891 was 882, which includes 57 in the reformatory.
  • The Bedfordshire Reformatory, in this parish was founded in 1857 by the exertions of the late Thomas Charles Higgins esq. of Turvey House, then chairman of quarter sessions for the county, & was certified on April 9th in that year for 70 boys ; it is now, with Government aid, self-supporting ; the building consists of a large school room, dining-room, dormitories & smaller sleeping-rooms for the use of the boys, besides apartments for the superintendent & matron, assistant matron, schoolmaster & two labour masters ; the out-buildings include a workshop, tool-shed, bakehouse, dairy & open shed; the farm buildings comprise a barn, sheds and stables; the land belonging to the school farm is about 50 acres, to which an additional farm of 75 acre's was added in 1887 : the boys are employed on the farm & are taught all kinds of agricultural work : they are admitted from Buckinghamshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Wakefield, Boston, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, Middlesex & the borough of Leicester, by agreement; & the managers do not object, upon proper application, to take in boys from other counties or towns : the institution is under the management of a committee of visitors; chairman, Maj. W. Francis Higgins, Chauntry House: there are now (1898) 45 boys, who are maintained & instructed in agricultural pursuits ; Morris Fisher Cock L.R.C.P. Land medical officer; Rev. William Henry Denison M.A. hon. sec. ; John Jones, superintendent; Mrs. Jones, matron; Miss Jones, assistant; John Gardner, schoolmaster ; Ernest Jones, assistant schoolmaster [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
  • For information on the history and families of the village of Turvey containing records for the family historian including muster lists, some burial records etc., plus interesting details about straw plait, lacemaking etc.



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Military History

  • The BFHS Project in conjunction with Roll of Honour contains the Turvey Memorial transcription with details of the men found on it.