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Pavenham, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

Pavenham, a pretty village and a parish in Bedfordshire. The village stands on the river Ouse, 2 miles NW of Oakley station on the M.R., and 6 NW of Bedford. It has a post and money order office under Bedford; telegraph office, Milton Ernest. The parish comprises 1345 acres of land and 25 of water; population, 387. There is a parish council consisting of seven members. Pavenham Bury is an old mansion standing upon an eminence facing the S. It was greatly altered and improved in 1842. The industries include mat and basket making, rush plaiting, and the making of pillow lace. The rush plaiting was brought into the village by the Hepwell family, who had migrated to London. Some of their descendants returned, when flying from the Great Plague, and established an industry that has since supported hundreds of people. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely; gross value, £204 with residence. The church, which stands on rising-ground at the back of Pavenham Bury, is a small building of stone of the Early English and Decorated periods, and consists of chancel, nave, N aisle, S transept, vestry, and a western tower with short octagonal broach spire. It contains some fine oak carvings, and some ancient tombs and memorials. There are a Wesleyau chapel and a reading-room in the village. There is an ancient custom of bestrewing the church with grass every " Feast Sunday." This is done by the parish clerk, who, though he now receives a guinea instead, has the privilege of taking as much grass as he can cut and carry away between sunrise and sunset from a certain meadow on a certain day.

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 parishPavenham St. Peter 

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

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1560, and contains entries of the Percy family from 1581 to 1592.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Pavenham: Baptisms 1561-1995, Marriages 1561-1993, Burials 1561-2000, Banns 1825-1908. 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. Peter (parish church)

The church of St. Peter, standing on rising ground immediately at the back of Pavenham Bury, is a small edifice of stone in the Early English and Decorated periods, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave, north aisle, continued eastward to the same length as the chancel, south transept with porch on its western side, vestry in the angle formed by the tower and aisle, and a Decorated western tower with short octagonal broachspire, relieved by two tiers of dormers, and containing 5 bells: the form of the church, widening towards the east, is peculiar, and the transept again widens southward: in the transept are two Decorated canopied rriehes and a piscina: the chancel aisle or chapel also has canopied sedilia, in the north wall: the church was fitted with fine old woodwork about 1848, at the cost of the late Thomas Abbot Green esq, then of Pavenham Bury; the chancel was restored in 1869, at the expense of Trinity College, Cambridge, and the chapel at the expense of the late Joseph Tucker esq. of Pavenham Bury, and the parish: there are memorials to J. Franklin esq. 1748; Lucretia, wife of Wm. Newell 1779; and others: here was also buried in 1508 Sir Thomas Hubrahum kt.; there are also memorials to several of the Alston family: there are 280 sittings.

Civil Registration

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

Pavenham was in Bedford Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Pavenham from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Pavenham 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

Pavenham 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 districtMK43
Post TownBedford