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Bedford St Mary, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

St Mary's is an ecclesiastical and civil parish in Bedford. St Mary's church is Later English with a Norman tower. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ely; gross yearly value, £436 with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of London (two turns) and of Balliol College, Oxford (one turn). Population of the ecclesiastical parish, 2549; of the civil parish, 4878.

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

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1540.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Bedford St. Mary: Baptisms 1539-1981, Marriages 1539-1977, Burials 1539-1895, Banns 1802-1973. 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. Mary, St. Mary Street (parish church)

St. Mary's Church is an ancient building of stone, chiefly in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave of four bays, aisles, transepts, north and west porches and an embattled western tower with pinnacles, containing a clock and 6 bells: the tower, formerly an outwork of a military fortification, is a very good example of Norman work: the north aisle was built of the materials of a church called St. Peter de Dunstable, which formerly stood in St. Mary's square; in 1853 a vestry and south aisle were added by subscription: the stained east and west windows are memorials and there are numerous mural tablets: in 1882 the chancel roof was renewed by the Rev. Charles Brereton B.C.L. late rector in 1869-94, to whom a memorial window was erected in 1896: the mortuary chapel, on the north side of the chancel, was also enlarged and new roofed, and is now used as an organ chamber: the church plate includes a chalice, dated 1570, and a paten, dated 1685: the church will seat 550 persons, including 100 children.

Civil Registration

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

St. Mary was in Bedford Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Land and Property

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

Newspapers and Periodicals

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

Poor Law

Bedford St Mary 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.


We have transcribed the list of Private Residents in Bedford, from Kelly's Directory of Bedfordshire, 1890 and 1910.

Visitations Heraldic

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