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Woburn, Bedfordshire

Historical Description

Woburn, a market-town and parish, the head of a union and petty sessional division, Beds. The town stands 2½ miles SE of Woburn Sands station on the Bedford and Bletchley branch of the L. & N.W.R., and 14 SW of Bedford. It grew adjacent to a Cistercian abbey founded in 1145 by Hugh de Bolebec; was visited in 1572 by Queen Elizabeth, and in 1595 was almost wholly destroyed by fire. It is now a clean well-built town, consisting of good streets intersecting one another at right angles. Lace-making and the manufacture of straw-plait are carried on, but not to any great extent. There is a weekly market held on Friday, and fairs on 1 Jan., 23 March, 13 July, and 6 Oct. The town-hall, which stands near the centre of the town, was erected in 1830 and is used for the petty sessions, and also for concerts and entertainments. There is an institute and reading-room with a library, and there is a county police station. The workhouse is a plain building with capacity for 240 inmates. Acreage of parish, 3446; population, 1193. There is a parish council of thirteen members and a chairman. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely; net value, £304 with residence, in the gift of the Duke of Bedford. The church, erected on a different site in 1868 at a cost of £35,000, defrayed by the then Duke of Bedford, is a fine building in the Continental Gothic style of the 13th century, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, vestry, organ loft, and a tower 110 feet high. The old church was pulled down in 1868, except the tower, which contains a peal of eight bells, and from which the spire was removed as unsafe in 1893. A mortuary chapel has been built adjoining the tower. There are Congregational and Wesleyan chapels, and almshouses for twenty poor persons.

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 parishWoburn St. Mary 

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

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1558, and contains records of the visitation of the plague here in 1625-6.

The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS) hold the registers for Woburn: Baptisms 1558-1963, Marriages 1558-2000, Burials 1558-1958, Banns 1838-1918. 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, Park Street (parish church)

The church of St. Mary, in Park street, consecrated 23rd September, 1868, was built solely at the expense of William, 8th Duke of Bedford, at a cost of £35,000, in the Continental Gothic style of the 13th century, from designs by Mr. Clutton: it consists of chancel, nave of five bays, aisles, vestry, organ loft, a large crypt under the chancel and a western tower 110 feet high containing one bell, weighing 65 cwt.: the font is of Bath stone, and there are four stained windows, three of which were erected in 1894 by the Duchess Adeline to her husband, the 10th Duke of Bedford, who died in 1893; carved oak choir stalls and a reredos from the design of Mr. J. E. Kempe were presented in 1902, by the 11th Duke of Bedford, who also gave a carved oak pulpit and erected an organ gallery, and in 1903 provided a new organ: there are sittings for 650 persons; the seats in the nave and aisles, which are all free, are of plain solid oak.

St. Mary the Virgin, Bedford Street (parish church)

The old church of St. Mary the Virgin, in Bedford street, rebuilt by Richard Hobbs, last abbot of Woburn, was pulled down in 1868, and a mortuary chapel erected on its site with the materials, but the tower remains: this is an embattled structure of two stages, standing at a distance of six yards from the site of the north aisle of the former church, and is about 9!2 feet in height, with pinnacles at the angles and an open cupola, with a cross and vane; the tower was built, or rebuilt, in the 17th century by Sir Francis Staunton knt. with the materials of the parish church at Birchmore, and it was again rebuilt in 1830 by John, 6th Duke of Bedford K.G. under the direction of Mr. E. Blore, and contains 8 good bells, two of which were given by the 9th Duke; four were recast in 1663 and a fifth in 1724: in the mortuary chapel are memorials to Sir F. Staunton and Elizabeth, his wife, 1630, and others to the Kay family, removed from the old church. On the floor of the nave are the remains of a brass, dated 1394, to the memory of John Morton, of Pottergrove, Lord of Lovelsbury.

Civil Registration

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

Woburn was in Woburn Registration District from 1837 to 1899 and Ampthill Registration District from 1899 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Woburn from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Woburn 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

Woburn was the head of a Poor Law Union, formed in 1835, which initially comprised the following parishes: Aspley Guise, Battlesden, Chalgrave, Eversholt, Harlington, Hockliffe, Holcutt, Husborn Crawley, Milton Bryant, Potsgrove, Ridgmont, Salford, Tilsworth, Tingrith, Toddington, and Woburn. Aspley Heath was added to the Union at a later date. The Woburn Union was dissolved in 1899, when all parishes were transferred to either Leighton Buzzard or Ampthill Unions.
For further detailed history of the Woburn Union see Peter Higginbotham's excellent resource: Woburn 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 districtMK17
Post TownMilton Keynes