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Woburn Park

The growth of Woburn Park [CRT130Woburn37]
The growth of Woburn Park [CRT130Woburn37] for a larger version pelase click on the image

The map above shows the growth of Woburn Park in stages between 1661, when it can be traced on Sir Jonas Moore’s survey [X1/33/1] and 1867 from an estate map [R1/243]. The work was undertaken in 1989 by the Hutton Nichols Partnership and is available in the Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service searchroom [CRT130Woburn37]. The boundaries of the parishes which the park lies are shown in red.

The wall enclosing the park is a very impressive achievement. Its nine mile length is now much patched where it has become unsafe or has collapsed over the years and every so often today bricklayers can be observed shoring up, replacing or repairing another section. Work carried out in 1983 by a researcher, Marie Draper, using evidence at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service to determine the history of the wall is available in the Searchroom [CRT130Woburn42] and is reproduced below.

Woburn Park wall in Crawley Road March 2012
Woburn Park wall in Crawley Road March 2012

The brick wall which encircles the Park of Woburn Abbey was begun in 1792 in the period of Henry Holland’s improvements for the 5th Duke of Bedford. Accounts for that year refer to the digging of sandstone for the park wall, the purchase of sandstone for coping the wall and to the cleaning of 15,000 bricks for re-use in the wall. Its completion was approaching in 1798 when The Times carried a new item about the Abbey: “The Duke of Bedford’s immense brick wall, which encircles all the paddocks, the park, and farms … is almost finished, not wanting above 200 yards to complete it, which will be done this spring. It is a most stupendous piece of workmanship. The basement part of the wall is four bricks thick, and the elevation (14 feet high) three bricks, made of beautiful red earth that will stand unimpaired for centuries. This vast work, before it is finished, will cost £20,000”.

In 1970 the 13th Duke of Bedford with his son the Marquess of Tavistock, later the 14th Duke, established a safari park in part of the Park along the boundaries of the parishes of Husborne Crawley and Woburn. The park has over eighty species of animal including lions, tigers, elephants and rhinos.

Zebra at Woburn Safari Park January 2009
Zebra at Woburn Safari Park January 2009