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Turvey, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

Turvey, a village and a parish in Bedfordshire. The village stands on the borders of Bucks and on the river Ouse, 4 miles E from Olney, and 7 NW from Bedford. It has a station on the Bedford and Northampton branch of the M.R., and a post, money order, and telegraph office under Bedford. The parish comprises 4011 acres, population, 882. There is a parish council consisting of nine members. The manor belongs to the Higgins family. Turvey House is a fine three-storeyed mansion in the Italian style, standing in a park of about 150 acres. Turvey Abbey is an ancient mansion standing in a park of 100 acres. Woodside House, Holmwood House, Turvey Cottage, and Picts Hill are chief residences. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ely; net value, £259 with residence. The church is a building of stone, with traces of Saxon and Norman work, but chiefly in the Early English style with Decorated and Perpendicular additions, consisting of chancel with sacristy and organ chamber, nave, aisles, vestry, S porch, and a low embattled western tower with a short pyramidal spire. The church has a Norman font, many fine ancient tombs and memorials, chiefly to members of the Mordaunt family, and some good stained windows. There are Congregational and Wesleyan chapels. The charities are numerous and valuable, and they include a memorial hall and block of almshouses, erected and endowed in 1884 by Mr James Barton of London. These contain twenty sets of rooms, for either married or single persons. The Bedfordshire Reformatory has attached to it about 125 acres of land, and accommodates about seventy boys, who are maintained and instructed in agricultural pursuits.

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 parishTurvey All Saints 

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

Church Records

The register dates from the year 1629. An earlier book dating from 1606 is now lost.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Turvey: Baptisms 1629-1921, Marriages 1629-1975, Burials 1629-1955, Banns 1824-1955. 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

All Saints (parish church)

The church of All Saints is an edifice of stone, chiefly in the Early English style, with traces of Saxon and Norman work with Early Decorated and Perpendicular additions, and consists of chancel, with sacristy and organ chamber on the north, clerestoried nave of five bays, aisles, vestry on the south side of the tower, south porch, and a low embattled western tower, with short pyramidal spire and containing 6 bells and a clock, presented in 1893 by Mr. G. Sargent, a former parishioner: in 1852-4 the church was much enlarged and decorated under the direction of the late Sir G. G. Scott R.A. the cost being defrayed by the late Charles Longuet Higgins esq. lord of the manor, who also presented the very fine organ, at an additional expense of £1,600: the church was re-opened and consecrated anew, Oct. 10, 1854, by the Bishop of Ely: the east window and three others in the chancel are stained: the west window was given by William Bartholomew Higgins esq. of Picts' Hill: at the east end of the south aisle was a chapel of the Virgin: here still remain three Early English sedilia and a piscina: an arched sepulchral recess in the same chapel contains a wall-painting, now glazed for its better preservation, and representing the two Marys at the foot of the cross: the carved oak pulpit was the gift of the Rev. W. B. Russell, a former rector, and the lectern, also of oak, a present from Miss Gorst, of Preston, Lancashire: the font consists of a square-shaped basin, with sides carved in panels, and a massive rim adorned with volute ornaments, and resting on four shafts; it is probably Norman, though three of the panels appear to have been chiselled out at a later period: westward of the south door is a stoup projecting from a recess: two candelabra were given in 1872 by Miss Baker, the then lessee of Turvey House: the north chapel, now converted into an organ chamber, was the burial place of the Mordaunt family, a number of whom are interred in the vaults beneath, including John, Earl of Peterborough, Marshal-General of the Parliamentary forces, who died in 1643, and Charles, Earl of Peterborough and Monmouth K.G. General of the Marines, who died at Lisbon in 1735: in the chapel of St. Mary is an altar-tomb of Purbeck marble, with recumbent effigies, to Sir John Mordaunt kt. who died 11th September, 1506, and Edith (Latimer), his wife: the effigy of Sir John is in armour, over which is a robe, with the collar of SS.; that of his lady is in a long gown and coif; the inscription, now lost, is given in Halstead, and quoted in Harvey's History of Willey Hundred; the sides of the tomb are ornamented with traceried panels inclosing small shields; on the south side of the chancel, in the space between it and the chapel of St. Mary, is the lofty and magnificent monument of John, first Lord Mordaunt, son of the preceding, who died in 1562, and Elizabeth Vere, his wife, with recumbent alabaster effigies of both, on an altar-tomb under a senmi-circular arch, on either side of which are projecting pedestals with pilasters and coupled columns supporting an ornamental frieze and cornice; above this on either side are caryatides in turn supporting a plain pediment surmounted by three female figures; in the space over the cornice is a large quartered shield with crest and supporters; in the north aisle now stands the fine tomb of John, second Lord Mordaunt, who died in April, 1571, and was buried here on the 16th day of May following; it consists of eight stilted columns of the Roman Doric order, supporting a flat canopy, surmounted by a quartered shield, and formerly had eagles holding scrolls at the angles: within on separate altar-bombs, are recumbent figures of Lord Mordaunt and his wives, Eleanor (Fitz-Lewis) and Joan (Farmer}; at the west end of the same aisle is the tomb of Lewis, third Lord Mordaunt, who died June 16, 1601, moved hither from the east end of the north chapel during the restoration; it is a plain altar-tomb raised on two steps, represented in marble as covered with a black pall, fringed with white, on which are affixed inscriptions and shields of arms: at the west end is a large quartered shield with crest, mantling and supporters: on the floor of St. Mary's chapel is a small brass to a member of the Mordaunt family with impaled shield, and a scroll inscribed with a couplet in Latin, and there are two other brasses, one with the figure of an ecclesiastic, and another with arms and inscription to Alice Chubnoll, wife of Richard Bernard esq. 1606; suspended in the aisle are two helmets, a sword, gauntlets, collar and spurs: there are other memorials in the church to the Rev. Legh Richmond M.A., the well-known author of the Dairyman's Daughter, rector (1805-27), his sons, Samuel Nugent Legh, 1824; Thomas Henry Wilberforce, 1825, two infants, and others of his family; the Rev. Erasmus Middleton, rector (1804-5). Rev. Richard Rands, rector (1669-99), and the families of Higgins, Carter, Clarke-Jervoise &c.: the church was repewed in 1846, but has since been completely refitted in oak: the communion plate of silver gilt was presented by Margaret, daughter of the Hon. Henry Mordaunt, in 1788: there are 550 sittings: in the churchyard, adjoining the south wall, is a plain altar-tomb to John Richardson, a faithful retainer of the Mordaunts in the 16th and 17th centuries: a substantial modern lych-gate forms the entrance to the churchyard.

Civil Registration

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

Turvey was in Bedford Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Turvey from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Turvey 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

Turvey 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.