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Kempston, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

Kempston, a village and a parish in Bedfordshire. The village stands on the river Ouse, 2¼ miles SW from Bedford railway station, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Bedford. The parish comprises 5026 acres; population, 4736. Pillow lace is made, and there is a large corn mill. The Bedford Barracks and the County School for boys of the middle class stand in this parish. The Grange, The Hoo, Kempston House, the Bury, the Lodge, Moorland, Crossland Fosse, and Austin Canons are chief residences. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely; net value, , £325 with residence. The church is partly Norman, has Decorated clerestory, aisles, and S porch, has a tower partly Norman, partly later, was restored in 1864, and contains a Decorated font. There is a fine peal of six bells. Another church, St John's, was erected in 1868. There are Baptist, Wesleyan, and Primitive Methodist chapels. An extensive Saxon burying-place was discovered in this parish, containing a large number of skeletons, an ancient British coin, two coins of Constantine, a variety of weapons, a unique drink-ing-cup, and a great variety of Saxon ornaments.

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 parishKempston All Saints 

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

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1570.


Church of England

All Saints (parish church)

The church of All Saints, standing near the banks of the river Ouse, about a mile from the largest part of the village, is a building of stone, in the Norman and Decorated styles, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, south porch and a western tower of Norman date, containing 6 bells, two of which were cast in 1603 and 1619 respectively: in 1893 three were re-cast and a treble added by Walter G. H. Harter esq. of The Bury: the roof of the porch, which is stone groined, was opened and cleaned in the year 1838, and an external staircase was built in the year 1837: in repairing the floor of the porch in 1840, a monumental slab, bearing a remarkably formed cross, was discovered, which is now placed outside, against the west wall: three feet below this slab a skeleton was met with, but there was no trace of any coffin: the Decorated east window was restored and filled with stained glass, as a memorial to N. Fitzpatrick M.D. his wife and daughter; the family are interred in a mausoleum by the north wall: the chancel possesses some beautifully carved oak benches, ornamented with poppy heads, and a handsome bench, the gift of the Rev. Henry Clutterbuck, patron and vicar from 1835: the font is Decorated, the sides having canopies, alternately surmounting mutilated figures: in 1901 it was set on a stone base and a new cover presented by Mrs. T. H. Barnard: there are no monumental remains of interest, except a memorial to the "seven sones" and ten daughters of William Carter, placed here by direction of his wife, Marie, in 1605: two panels from the rood-screen, preserved for some time in the vestry, exhibit ancient paintings of "God presenting Eve to Adam," the "Temptation," "God Pronouncing the Curse," and the "Expulsion from Paradise;" these have now been cleaned, glazed and framed and hang on either side of the arch at the west end of the church: there is also an ancient "Book of Homeleys:" in 1900-1 the church was restored, when the floor was lowered to its original level, the gallery taken down, and an organ loft constructed over the tower arch: the chancel roof panelled and other works carried out at a total cost of about £1,350: at the same time the rood loft was restored by Mrs. S. Carpenter in memory of her husband, and an oak chancel screen presented.

The church of St. John, a chapel of ease to the parish church, erected in 1868 at a cost of about £2,400, is a building of stone in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave and a turret containing one bell: the east window is a memorial: the church is was by the military from the barrack's, the vicar being chaplain to the forces here.

The church of St. Stephen, an iron building, in Spring road, was built in 1888, and will seat about 250 persons.

There is a Bunyan Meeting (Congregational), Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels.

Civil Registration

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

Kempston was in Bedford Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Kempston from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Kempston 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:

Parochial History

Under the provisions of Section 36 of the "Local Government Act, 1894" (56 and 57 Vict. c. 73), the old parish of Kempston has been divided into two parishes, known as the Urban and Rural, the former being that part of the parish bordering on the town of Bedford, and governed by an Urban District Council of 12 members, formed by Local Government Board Order No. 33,504, which came into operation April 1st, 1895; the rural parish is controlled by a Parish Council.

Poor Law

Kempston 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.

Visitations Heraldic

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

Postal districtMK42
Post TownBedford