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

"WOBURN, a parish and market town in the hundred of Manshead, county Beds, 15 miles south west of Bedford, and 7 north of Leighton-Buzzard. At Woburn sands is a station on the Bletchley branch of the London and North-Western railway. The town occupies an eminence on the London and Leeds road. It has twice been nearly destroyed by fire, once in the 16th and again in the 18th centuries, and consists of four broad streets nearly a quarter of a mile long, well paved and lighted. Near the centre of the town, at the intersection of Leighton and Park Streets, stand the townhall and market house, erected by the late Duke of Bedford in 1830, and adjoining is a fountain, or reservoir, for supplying water in case of fire, constructed at the expense of the Duke of Bedford. The ducal seat, Woburn Abbey, was originally founded in 1145 by Hugh de Bolebec for monks of the Cistercian order, but was given by Edward VI. in 1549, with a great part of the lands, to John, first Earl of Bedford.

In the middle of the last century it was almost entirely rebuilt by Flitcroft, and has since undergone considerable alterations and enlargements. The principal state-rooms are in the west front, which is of the Ionic order, and is approached from London by a facade with Ionic three-quarter columns, surmounted by the ducal arms and crest. The library is 56 feet by 23; and the sculpture gallery, formed by the late Duke, 138 feet by 25, contains the group of the Graces by Canova, the Lanti, or Bedford vase, 13 Etruscan vases, and some of the finest works of Chantrey, Westmacott, and Thorwalsden, besides many specimens of ancient sculpture, a collection of paintings by the great masters, and upwards of 300 portraits.

The park-farm, belonging to the abbey, is a school of scientific agriculture. There is a literary and scientific institution, which holds its meetings at the townhall. Petty sessions for the hundred of Manshead are held weekly. The Poor-law Union of Woburn comprises 16 parishes, which form a separate superintendent registry, but are included in the Leighton-Buzzard new county-court district. The living is a donative curacy, value £250. The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, and built by Abbot Hobbs, whom Henry VIII. hanged on a low pollard, still standing in the park, and known as Abbot's oak, was pulled down three years ago, and a cemetery chapel erected on the site. A new church, now (1868) nearly completed, has been built, at the cost of the present Duke, on a site nearer the abbey. There are chapels for Independents and Wesleyans, and a free school for boys, founded in 1582 by Francis, second Earl of Bedford; a similar school for girls, founded by the late Duke in 1825, and 12 almshouses for 24 widows, founded and endowed by John, fourth Duke of Bedford in 1672. Market day is on Friday. Fairs are held on 1st January, 23rd March, 13th July, and 6th October."

"BIRCHMOOR GREEN, a hamlet in the parish of Woburn, county of Bedfordshire, ½ mile north of Woburn.

"NEW ENGLAND, a hamlet in the parish of Woburn, hundred of Manshead, county Beds, 2 miles north east of Woburn, and 10 south west of Bedford."

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




  • St. Mary's Church, Woburn.

Church History

  • Church of England
    • The church in Park street, consecrated 23rd Sept. 1868 was built solely at the expense of William, 8th Duke of Bedford, at a cost of £35,000, in the Continental Gothic style of the 13th century, from designs by Mr. Clutton : it consists of chancel, nave of five bays, aisles, vestry, organ loft, a large crypt under the chancel and a western tower 110 feet high containing 1 bell weighing 55 cwt. : the carved pulpit and font are of Bath stone, and there are four stained windows, three of which were erected in 1894 by the Duchess Adeline to her husband, the 10th Duke of Bedford, who died in 1893 : there are sittings for 650 persons; the seats in the nave and aisles, which are all free, are of plain solid oak. The register dates from the year 1558, and contains records of the visitation of the plague here in 1625-6. The living is a vicarage, net-yearly value £300, in the gift of the Duke of Bedford, and held since 1874 by the Rev. Henry Willes Southey M.A. late scholar of Caius College, Cambridge, and surrogate.

    • The old church of St. Mary the Virgin, in Bedford street, rebuilt by Richard Hobbs, last abbot of Woburn, was pulled down in 1868, and a mortuary chapel erected on its site with the materials, but the tower remains : this is an embattled structure of two stages, standing at distance of six yards from the site of the north aisle of the former church, and is about 92 feet in height, with pinnacles at the angles and an open cupola, with a cross and vane; the tower was built or rebuilt in the 17th century by Sir Francis Staunton knt. with the material of the parish church at Birchmore, and it was again rebuilt in 1830 by John, 6th Duke of Bedford K.G. under the direction of Mr. E. Blore, and contains 8 good bells, two of which were given by the 9th Duke; four were recast in 1663 and a fifth in 1724: in the mortuary chapel are memorials to Sir F. Staunton and Elizabeth, his wife, 1630, and others to the Kay family, removed from the old church. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898
  • Non-conformist
    • Here are Wesleyan and Congregational chapels. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]

Church Records


Description & Travel

  • There is a web site for Woburn Abbey and associated companies of the Bedford Estates. The site contains information about the heritage of the Abbey and offers a guided tour around the house and grounds. You can also view the magnificent deer section, highlighting the nine species of deer that roam the parkland.




You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SP946335 (Lat/Lon: 51.991904, -0.623674), Woburn which are provided by:


Military History



  • The Woburn Sands & District Society, a registered charity, was formed in 1965 to fight against large-scale industrial developments, to protect the rural qualities of the local villages, to put forward the view of its members and to reflect public opinion in the area.
    The primary aim of the Society is to preserve the amenities of Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise and the neighboring villages and hamlets, including Aspley Heath, the Brickhills, Husborne Crawley, Salford, Wavendon and Woburn, and to ensure as far as possible that any development is harmonious with their pleasant rural setting.