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Arlesey, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

Arlesey or Arlsey, a village and a parish in Bedfordshire. The village stands on the river Hiz, 4 miles S of Biggleswade. The G.N.R. passes through the parish, and has two stations, Arlesey and "Three Counties." There is a post and telegraph office under Hitchin. It was formerly a market-town. The parish comprises 2344 acres; population of the civil parish, 2108; of the ecclesiastical, 2162. There are extensive cement works, and a large brick and tile manufactory here, and the making of strawplait is also carried on to a considerable extent. An ancient castle stood at Etonbury, near the road to Baldock; and appears, from an entrenchment which still remains, to have been a place of considerable strength. The living is a vicarage, united with Astwick rectory, in the diocese of Ely; joint yearly value, £300. The church is a plain stone building in the Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular styles. There are also Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan chapels.

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


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyBedfordshire 
Civil parishArlesey 
County Court districtBiggleswade 
DioceseSt Albans 
Ecclesiastical parishArlsey St. Peter 
Petty-Sessional DivisionBiggleswade 
Poor Law unionBiggleswade 
Registration districtBiggleswade 
Rural DeaneryShefford 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The parish register of baptisms dates from 1538; marriages and burials, 1539

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Arlesey: Baptisms 1538-1992, Marriages 1538-1976, Burials 1538-1963, Banns 1932-1991. 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

St. Peter (parish church)

The parish church of St. Peter is a plain edifice of stone, in the Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, south chapel, south porch and a massive western tower of stone, pebbles and cement, erected in 1187, and containing 6 bells: the font has an octagonal basin, the sides of which are richly panelled and carved, and below are figures cherubim: there are two stained windows in the chancel, and one at the west end: the church contains some fine marble monuments to the Brown and Edwards families. In the north chapel is an Easter sepulchre of the Tudor period. The ancient music gallery was restored and a new organ was provided in 1910 at a cost of £600.


Methodist Chapel

The Wesleyan chapel, erected in 1850, will seat 300

Civil Registration

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

Arlesey was in Biggleswade Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Arlesey from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Bedfordshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Arlesey are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

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

Poor Law

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

Visitations Heraldic

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

CountyCentral Bedfordshire
Postal districtSG15
Post TownArlesey