Oakley, a village and a parish in Bedfordshire. The village stands on the river Ouse, near the M.R., on which it has a station, 4 miles NW of Bedford. It has a very old five-arched bridge over the Onse, and a post office under Bedford; money order and telegraph office, Milton Ernest. The parish comprises 1748 acres of land and 38 of water; population of the civil parish, 250; of the ecclesiastical, with Bromham, 569. There is a parish council consisting of five members. A portion of the parish lies very low, and in wet seasons is inundated. Floods causing serious damage occurred in 1823, 1852, and 1876. The manufacture of pillow lace and rush plaiting is carried on. The manor belongs to the Duke of Bedford, who is also sole landowner. Oakley House, a fine modern mansion of brick, very pleasantly situated, is a seat of the Marquess of Tavistock. The Oakley hounds take their name from the parish, but are kennelled at Milton. The living is a vicarage, annexed to the vicarage of Bromham, in the diocese of Ely; joint net value, £270 with residence, in the gift of Eton College. The church is ancient but good, and consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with a tower. There is an endowed school.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Oakley St. Mary|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The parish register dates from the year 1560.
The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Oakley: Baptisms 1560-1928, Marriages 1560-1991, Burials 1560-1914, Banns 1794-1815, 1823-1976. 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 edifice of stone, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, porch and a western embattled tower, containing a clock and 5 bells, two of which were re-cast and rehung in 1899: under a canopy in the south wall is a mutilated recumbent figure: the chancel retains a piscina, and in the churchyard are the remains of a cross.
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
Oakley was in Bedford Registration District from 1837 to 1974
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Oakley from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (Oakley, or Oakley-Reynes (St. Mary))
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Bedfordshire is available to browse.
Online maps of Oakley 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
Oakley 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.