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Cardington, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

Cardington, a village and a parish in Bedfordshire. The parish is bounded on the N by the river Ouse, the village being about a mile from the river, and 2½ miles SE from Bedford. It has a station on the M.R., and a post and money order office under Bedford; telegraph office at the railway station. The parish includes the township of Eastcotts, which is noticed separately. Acreage of civil parish, 2523; population, 438; of the ecclesiastical parish of Cardington St Mary with Eastcotts, 1268. Cardington House is known also as Howard's Villa, because a portion of it was at one time the residence of John Howard, the philanthropist. The manor and most of the land belong to the Whitbread family. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely; gross yearly value, £250 with residence, in the gift of Trinity College, Cambridge.   The church is a building of stone chiefly in the Perpendicular style, but with a central Early English tower. It contains some ancient tombs and brasses, and a mural tablet to John Howard. There is a Wesleyan chapel, and at Cotton End, a hamlet in Eastcotts, there is a Baptist chapel. There is a brewery at Cardington, and some pillow-lace is still made.

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 
Ecclesiastical parishCardington St. Mary 

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

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1574.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Cardington: Baptisms 1572-1955, Marriages 1572-1948, Burials 1572-1952, Banns 1754-1939. 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, rebuilt, with the exception of the chancel, during the period 1898-1902, is in the Perpendicular style from designs by Mr. Highton F.R.I.B.A. architect, of Bedford, and consists of chancel with aisles, nave of four bays with clerestory, aisles, south porch and a western tower containing 8 bells, which have been re-cast and re-hung: an elaborately designed pulpit of English oak, standing on the south of the nave, was the gift of Mrs. C. Mills and Miss Elizabeth Whitbread: a new brass lectern, presented by Lady Isabella Whitbread, stands under the chancel arch and bears a large old Bible printed in 1770: the ireredos is a series of richly ornamented panels, four of which contain the Decalogue etc.; the fifth bears a scripture quotation: the clerestory has seven two-light windows on the south side and five on the north side, where a part of the space is occupied by the transept; the transept, which is adapted to the Whitbread monuments, has three windows above and two at the sides of the principal monument: the tower has a three-light cinquefoiled western window with trefoiled lights in the tracery, and two-light cinquefoiled belfry windows: in the north aisle of the chancel is a mural tablet to John Howard, the philanthropist, d. 20th Jan. 1790; there are also several marble monuments by Weekes and Bacon to the Whitbread family: under the arcades of the chancel are two canopied altar tombs with brasses, one to the family of Sir W. Gascoigne, comptroller of the household to Cardinal Wolsey, the other to Sir Jarrate Harvye: the stained east window is a memorial to W. H. Whitbread esq.: several tombstones with floriated crosses, found in the walls of the old church, are now embedded in the east wall of the south chancel aisle and within a blocked north doorway now marked by an arch: a Norman arch, formerly on the west, is now on the east side of the tower: the fittings, including the organ, were presented: there are 450 sittings.

Civil Registration

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

Cardington was in Bedford Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Cardington from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Cardington 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

Cardington 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.

Villages, Hamlets, &c


Visitations Heraldic

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

Postal districtMK44
Post TownBedford