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Cockayne Hatley, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

Cockayne-Hatley or Hatley-Port, a village and a parish In Beds, adjacent to the boundary with Cambridgeshire, 3 miles E of Potton station on the L. & N.W.R., and 6½ NE of Biggleswade. Post town, Potton; money order and telegraph office, Potton. Acreage, 1175; population of the civil parish, 104; of the ecclesiastical, 113. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ely; net yearly value, £211 with residence. The church, an ancient building of rubble and sandstone in the Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular styles, contains some very beautiful wood carving, and was restored in 1889.

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 parishCockayne Hatley St. John the Baptist 

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

Church Records

The register dates from the year 1701.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Cockayne Hatley: Baptisms 1701-1983, Marriages 1701-1978, Burials 1701-1970, Banns 1825-1949. 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. John the Baptist (parish church)

The church of St. John the Baptist, erected towards the close of the 14th century, is a building of rubble and sandstone, in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, and was completely restored in the year 1823 by the liberality of the Rev. the Hon. Henry Cockayne Cust, rector from 1806, d. 1861, and ornamented with exquisite wood carving, brought chiefly from the Low Countries; it consists of chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles and a western embattled tower of three stages, 66 feet in height, with battlements surmounted by pinnacles and containing 2 bells: in the nave is a piscina removed from the chancel: the chief feature of the chancel is the carved woodwork and stalls; the former, extending to nearly the whole length of the chancel, was brought from the Abbey of Alne, near Charleroi, destroyed by the French under General Charbonnais at the end of the 18th century, and displays sixteen carved medallions in oak, representing the busts, in alto-relievo, of some of the most distinguished of the later saints and writers of the Catholic church; the backs of the stalls, twenty-four in number, are ornamented with different patterns inlaid in black wood, and are all furnished with misereres; the date of the carving is precisely ascertained to have been 1689: the communion rail, purchased from a church at Malines in Flanders, and also of oak, consists of four compartments, with carved representations in alto-relievo, typical of the Holy Sacrament; the chairs are fac-similes of the well known Glastonbury chair, and were presented to the church by the brother and sons of the Rev. Edward Brickwell, rector here 1861-1900: the stained east window represents passages in the life of Our Saviour: the two side windows of the chancel are filled with stained glass, representing the armorial bearings of the Cockayne and Cust families: the hexagonal carved pulpit, formerly belonging to the church of St. Andrew in Antwerp, and transferred here at the beginning of the 19th century, is a most exquisite piece of workmanship, in the Cinque Canto style, executed in 1559, and decorated with small figures, in basso-relievo, of the four Evangelists, with their appropriate emblems; the sounding board of the original, with a figure of St. Andrew in basso-relievo, is now used as a front to the reading desk: the nave is separated from the tower by the organ loft, below which are large oak folding doors, pierced in a rich pattern: at the east end of the north aisle is a window containing old stained glass, representing four saints and Saxon monarchs; there is also some good screen work from the church of St. Bavon at Ghent, which has been re-arranged: the sliding panels seem to suggest its having been once used for confessional purposes: all the windows of both aisles as well as the west window are stained: there are four 16th century brasses to the Bryan and Cockayne families: a description of the church, written by Robert Needham Cust esq. and illustrated by Anna Maria, Lucy, Eleanor, and Georgina, the four daughters of the Rev. E. Brickwell, has been privately printed: the church was thoroughly restored in 1889, by subscription: there are 200 sittings.

Civil Registration

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

Cockayne Hatley was in Biggleswade Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Cockayne Hatley from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Cockayne Hatley 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

Cockayne Hatley was in Biggleswade Poor Law Union. For further detailed history of the Biggleswade Union see Peter Higginbotham's excellent resource: Biggleswade 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 districtSG19
Post TownSandy