Suburb, city
Shire Hall and St Paul's Church by the River Great Ouse
Bedford is located in Bedfordshire
Location within Bedfordshire
• London46 miles (74 km) S
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBEDFORD
Postcode districtMK40–MK45
Dialling code01234
FireBedfordshire and Luton
AmbulanceEast of England
EU ParliamentEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°08′06″N 0°28′12″W / 52°08′06″N 0°28′12″W / 52.135; -0.470

Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire, England. The town has an estimated (2017) population of 87,590, whereas the Borough of Bedford had an estimated population of 169,912.[1][better source needed]

Bedford was founded at a ford on the River Great Ouse, and is thought to have been the burial place of Offa of Mercia. Bedford Castle was built by Henry I, although it was destroyed in 1224. Bedford was granted borough status in 1165 and has been represented in Parliament since 1265. It is well known for its large population of Italian descent.[2]

Bedford is on the Midland Main Line, with stopping services to London and Brighton operated by Thameslink, and express services to London and the East Midlands operated by East Midlands Trains.


The name of the town is thought to derive from the name of a Saxon chief called Beda,[3] and a ford crossing the River Great Ouse. Bedford was a market town for the surrounding agricultural region from the early Middle Ages[citation needed] The Anglo-Saxon King Offa of Mercia was buried in the town in 796;[4] this is believed to be in his new minster, now the Church of St Paul,[5] or on the banks of the Great Ouse where his tomb was soon lost to the river.[6] In 886 it became a boundary town separating Wessex and Danelaw.[7][8] It was the seat of the Barony of Bedford. In 919 Edward the Elder built the town's first known fortress, on the south side of the River Great Ouse and there received the area's submission. This fortress was destroyed by the Danes. William II gave the barony of Bedford to Paine de Beauchamp who built a new, strong castle.

Bedford traces its borough charter in 1166 by Henry II[9] and elected two members to the unreformed House of Commons. It remained a small agricultural town, with wool being an important industry in the area for much of the Middle Ages.[citation needed] The new Bedford Castle was razed in 1224 and today only a mound remains.[10] From the 16th century Bedford and much of Bedfordshire became one of the main centres of England's lace industry, and lace continued to be an important industry in Bedford until the early 20th century. In 1660 John Bunyan was imprisoned for 12 years in Bedford Gaol. It was here that he wrote The Pilgrim's Progress.[11] The River Great Ouse became navigable as far as Bedford in 1689. Wool declined in importance with brewing becoming a major industry in the town. The 19th century saw Bedford transform into an important engineering hub. In 1832 gas lighting was introduced, and the railway reached Bedford in 1846. The first corn exchange was built 1849,[12] and the first drains and sewers were dug in 1864.[13]

Other Languages
العربية: بيدفورد
asturianu: Bedford
Bân-lâm-gú: Bedford
català: Bedford
Cymraeg: Bedford
dansk: Bedford
Deutsch: Bedford
español: Bedford
Esperanto: Bedford
Gaeilge: Bedford
한국어: 베드퍼드
íslenska: Bedford
italiano: Bedford
Latina: Bedfordia
lietuvių: Bedfordas
lumbaart: Bedford
Malagasy: Bedford
Nederlands: Bedford (Engeland)
norsk: Bedford
norsk nynorsk: Bedford
polski: Bedford
português: Bedford
română: Bedford
русский: Бедфорд
Scots: Bedford
Simple English: Bedford
slovenščina: Bedford, Anglija
српски / srpski: Бедфорд
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Bedford
svenska: Bedford
татарча/tatarça: Бедфорд
українська: Бедфорд (Англія)
اردو: بیڈفورڈ
vèneto: Bedford
Tiếng Việt: Bedford
Volapük: Bedford
Winaray: Bedford
ייִדיש: בעדפארד
粵語: 百福
中文: 貝德福德