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Places > Woburn

1145: Woburn Abbey founded as a Cistercian monastery by Hugh de Bolebec.

1538: The Abbot, Robert Hobbes, found guilty of treason and the monastery confiscated. Legend tells that he was hanged from an oak tree at the Abbey's gate.

1547: The remains of the Cistercian monastery after their destruction by fire are granted to John Russell (later the first Earl of Bedford) in the will of Henry VIII .

1582: Woburn School for boys established by Francis, Earl of Bedford.  It is the oldest school in Bedfordshire.  

1595: A disastrous fire burns down 130 houses in the town.

1645: 27 houses destroyed by a fire in the town.

1669: Ellin Inch of Woburn acquitted of the charge of bewitching a small boy at the Assizes.

1724: 39 houses destroyed by fire in the town.

1747: The Fourth Duke of Bedford commissioned Henry Flitcroft to rebuild parts of Woburn Abbey, including the grand series of staterooms.

1760: Twelve almshouses built from a bequest by Sir Francis Staunton to the 4th Duke of Bedford.

1765?: A pamphlet printed detailing the "sad and dreadful account of one John Gill in the town of Woburn who lived a wicked life".  It gives details of "how coming home one night, he asked his father for money to carry on his debaucheries, who putting him off to the next morning, he grew so impatient, and desperately wicked, that he arose in the dead of the night and cut his fathers and mothers throats in their beds - Afterwards binding and ravishing the maidservant, he murdered her also and robbed the house of the plate and the money, and set it on fire, burning the dead bodies to ashes".  The leaflet also contains lurid details of how he was hanged in chains, visited by his parents' ghosts and ministered to by the priest.  It concludes with his last dying speech in which he gives warning to others not to imitate his career (the sub-title of the pamphlet is "a dreadful warning to disobedient children!).

1802: Humphry Repton employed to landscape Woburn Abbey Park. 

1815: Canova’s sculpture 'The Three Graces' commissioned for Woburn Abbey sculpture gallery.

1825: Woburn school for girls opened.

1830: Town Hall built, designed by the architect Edward Blore.

1865: Mortuary chapel built for St. Mary's 'Old' Church, Bedford Street (now Woburn Heritage Centre).

1865- 1868: New Woburn Church built in Park Street by William, 8th Duke of Bedford.

1903: Woburn hospital built by Mary, Duchess of Bedford.

1967: Woburn Hospital taken over by the Bedfordshire Education Committee.

1968: Almshouses converted into flats for retired parishioners and renamed Staunton House.

2003: Maryland College closed. 


  • Three murders by L.R. Conisbee in Bedfordshire Magazine Vol. 10, No. 77, Summer 1966

Page last updated: 4th February 2014