Odell, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

Odell, a village and a parish in Bedfordshire. The village stands on the river Ouse, 1 ½ mile ENE of Harrold, and 2 ¼ miles W by S of Sharnbrook station on the M.R.; was originally called Woodhill, now corrupted into Odell; was once a market-town, and has a post office under Bedford; money order and telegraph office, Harrold. The parish comprises 2875 acres of land and 26 of water; population of the civil parish, 388 ; of the ecclesiastical, 384. Pillow lace is made here, but not to any great extent, and rush plaiting is carried on. The manor belongs to the Alston family. Odell Castle, a seat of the Alston family, is a large and partly embattled mansion of stone, stands on an eminence commanding a fine view, has extensive and tasteful pleasure grounds, and succeeded an old seat of the Brays. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ely; net value, £165 with residence. The church is a building of stone in the Perpendicular style, in good condition, overgrown with ivy; comprises nave, aisles, and chancel, with pinnacled tower; and contains a good old screen and some monuments of the Alstons.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1604.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Odell: Baptisms 1604-1983, Marriages 1604-1983, Burials 1604-1992, Banns 1823-1983. Transcripts in either book or microfiche form for registers prior to 1813 can be purchased from the BLARS (see website for details).


Church of England

All Saints (parish church)

The church of All Saints, Standing at a considerable elevation above the road, is a building of stone, in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles, embattled south porch, with groined roof, and a lofty western embattled tower with pinnacles and containing a clock and 5 bells: there is a rood screen in good preservation, and a rood loft, and the rich Jacobean pulpit has an hour stand: the chancel and some other portions of this church were restored in 1867-8 under the direction of Mr. Slater: some very fine old glass has been cleaned and replaced: the west window was entirely restored in 1888 and is now an exact copy of the old window: in November, 1904, a stained east window was erected as a memorial to the Rev. W. C. Runt M.A. rector 1863-91: the chancel retains a piscina and graduated sedilia, and there is a piscina in each of the aisles; the font is octagonal and has traceried panels: in the north aisle are several floriated coffin-lids of the 14th century: in the chancel is a monument by Bacon, to Lieut. Thomas Alston, 40th Regt. who fell at Monte Video in 1807, and there are many others to this family of earlier date, including Frances, wife of Thomas Alston, 1644; William Alston esq, 1637; Sir Thomas Alston bart. 1678; and Elizabeth, his wife, 1677; Thomas Alston, their son, 1668; Sir Rowland Alston bart. 1697; and Temperance, his wife, 1728; Vere John Alston, rector, 1762; two later baronets and numerous descendants: the church plate includes a chalice and paten of silver-gilt, presented by William Alston esq. 1637; and a paten given by Dame Temperance Wolstenholme, in 1728: there are 230 sittings.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.


Old maps of Odell are available on the old-maps.co.uk site, and a current map is available on the Streetmap.co.uk site.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Bedfordshire papers online:

Poor Law

Odell was in Bedford Poor Law Union. For further detailed history of the Bedford Union see Peter Higginbotham's excellent resource: Bedford Poor Law Union and Workhouse.

Visitations Heraldic

A full transcript of the Visitations of Bedfordshire 1566, 1582, and 1634 is available online.