Bletsoe, a parish in the county of Bedford, on the river Ouse, and on the M.R., 1½ mile SSE of Sharnbrook railway station, and 6 NNW of Bedford, under which it has a post office; money order and telegraph office, Milton Ernest. Acreage, 2250; population, 337. An old castle, now a farmhouse, was the seat of the ancestors of Lord St John of Bletsoe. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ely; net yearly value, £279 with residence. Patron, Lord St John. The church, which is an ancient cruciform building chiefly in the Decorated style, contains tombs of the St John family and of Frances, Countess of Bolingbroke. The manor belongs to Lord St John, and from this he takes the title of Baron of Bletsoe.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Bletsoe St. Mary|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The parish register dates from the year 1582.
The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Bletsoe: Baptisms 1582-1984, Marriages 1583-1974, Burials 1583-1925, Banns 1755-1806, 1823-1959. 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 (parish church)
The church of St. Mary is an ancient cruciform structure, chiefly in the Decorated style, and was restored in 1868, at a cost of about £1,700: it consists of chancel, nave, north transept, or St. John chapel, small south transept, south porch and a central tower with plain parapet containing a clock and 6 bells, 5 of which were cast in 1786: an additional treble bell being hung on Easter Day, 1900, by the surviving children and families of Eleanor, widow of St. Andrew Beauchamp, 14th Baron St. John: there are three sedilia on the south side of the chancel, and a double piscina in the north transept, which also contains some fine monuments of the family of St. John, Earls of Bolingbroke; the first on the south wall consists of a panelled base, supporting two Corinthian columns, on which rests a slightly projecting flat canopy, surmounted by a quartered shield; within are kneeling figures of Sir John St. John, 1559, and Margaret (Waldegrave), his wife, and 9 children: on the east wall is another monument, elaborately carved with cornice, pediment and arms, to Frances, Countess Bolingbroke, 1673, and there are many others of the family down to 1887: there are also memorials to several of the late rectors, and to Arabella, wife of C. C. Vivian esq. 1673: in June, 1882, a reredos was erected to the memory of St. Andrew Beauchamp, 14th Baron St. John, d. 27 Jan. 1874: the east window was placed to the Rev. the Hon. Edmund Tudor St. John M.A. rector here 1881-84, who died 30 Sept. 1884, and there is another to St. Andrew, 15th baron, d. 2 Nov. 1887: the reredos occupies the whole width of the chancel, and under canopies on each side is an arcade of four arches: on the north wall of the nave is a painting of St. George and the Dragon: the organ cost £200: there are 190 sittings.
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
Bletsoe was in Bedford Registration District from 1837 to 1974
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Bletsoe from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Bletsoe (St. Mary))
- Kelly's Directory of Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire, and Northamptonshire, 1914
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Bedfordshire is available to browse.
Online maps of Bletsoe are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Bedfordshire papers online:
- Bedfordshire Times and Independent
- Biggleswade Chronicle
- Luton Times and Advertiser
- Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle
Bletsoe 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.
A full transcript of the Visitations of Bedfordshire 1566, 1582, and 1634 is available online.