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The Peace Memorial (left and below) which stands in the Embankment Gardens was designed in 1921 by the sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger and depicts a Knight vanquishing a dragon.

The memorial commemorates those who died in the First World War.

The inscription reads:

The sculptor, Charles Sargeant Jagger, was born in 1885 at Kilnhurst, a colliery town near Sheffield where Jagger’s father, Enoch. was manager of the local pit.

From 1900 to 1906 he was apprenticed as a metal engraver to Mappin and Webb and, as part of his training, attended Sheffield Technical School of Art. In 1908 he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art and became an Associate in 1910. In 1914 he was awarded the Rome Scholarship in sculpture.

In September 1914 he enlisted in D Company, 28th County of London Artists Rifles, and in May 1915 was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in 13th Worcestershire Regiment. He saw action at Suvla Bay in Gallipoli, where he was wounded and sent to Malta for treatment. In December 1915 he returned to England but from 1917 to 1918 was back on the Western front with the 2nd Worcesters. In April 1918 he was wounded at La Trompe Cabaret during the battle of Neuve Eglise and later awarded the Military Cross.

After the war and until his untimely death from pneumonia in 1934, Jagger produced much magnificent work including The Royal Artillery Memorial, The Cambrai Memorial and the Guildhall Square Cenotaph in Portsmouth.

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Civic and private improvements in the late 18th and early 19th centuries included the building of a Sessions House (site of the Shire Hall) in 1753; the consolidation of the five parish workhouses into one House of Industry designed by John Wing in 1794, (now part of North Wing Hospital); the replacement of the medieval bridge by the present elegant Town Bridge (also designed by Wing) and the rebuilding of the Swan Hotel by Henry Holland for the Duke of Bedford in 1794 (left).

The Boer War memorial stands at the front of the hotel and is dedicated as follows :
"To the memory of the Officers and men of the Bedfordshire Regiments and of the Bedfordshire men serving in other branches of the Imperial Forces who lost their lives in the South African Campaign and whose names are hereon recorded. This monument was erected by public subscription in the county. War declared October 8th 1899 - Peace proclaimed June 1st 1902."

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Bedford's principal church is St Paul's situated in the square of the same name at the historic centre of the town. Its tall spire is one of the main features of the town.

There was a church on the site by 1066. Work on the present structure began in the early 13th century with construction in the early English style, but little remains from that period other than the south porch. Additions were made in the 15th century. John Bunyan and John Wesley both preached in the church.

In 1865-1868 the tower and spire were completely rebuilt and the two transepts added. Smaller alterations have been made since. From 1941 to the end of the Second World War the BBC's daily service was broadcast from the small side chapel (below right).

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The nave of St Paul's Church, prepared for a lunch-time concert (left)

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The side chapel of St Paul's Church (right)

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John Howard was a philanthropist and the first English prison reformer. He was born in Lower Clapton, London on September 2, 1726. His father was a wealthy upholsterer at Smithfield Market in the city. His mother died when he was five years old and John was sent to live at Cardington just outside Bedford where his father owned property.

After school, John was apprenticed to a wholesale grocer to learn business methods. When his father died in 1742, he was left with a sizeable inheritance but no true vocation. His Calvinist faith and quiet, serious disposition meant he had little desire for the fashionable endeavours of an English aristocratic lifestyle so in 1748, he left England to tour France and Italy.

Upon his return, he lived in lodgings in Stoke Newington, where he became seriously ill. He was nursed back to health by his landlady, Sarah Loidore, whom he then married despite her being thirty years older than him. She died within three years, and he distributed her meagre belongings amongst her remaining family and poor neighbours.

He then set out for Portugal following the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, travelling on the Hanover, which was captured by French privateers. He was imprisoned in Brest for six days before being transferred to another prison on the French coast. He was later exchanged for a French officer held by the British, and he quickly travelled to the Commissioners of Sick and Wounded Seamen in London to seek help on behalf of his fellow capitves. It is widely and reasonably regarded that this personal experience generated Howard's interest in prisons.

He then settled again at Cardington to live on a 200 acre estate part of which he had inherited from his grandparents. His grandmother, Martha Howard, was a relation of the Whitbread family, and he became a neighbour and close friend of his cousin, Samuel Whitbread. He spent the next two years building properties and trying to improve the lives of the tenants living on his land. A later survey of Cardington (in 1782) found that he was paying for the teaching of 23 children.

In 1758, Howard married Henrietta Leeds who died in 1765 a week after giving birth to a son, also named John, who was sent to boarding school at a very young age. The younger John was sent down from Cambridge for homosexual offences, was judged insane at the age of 21, and died in 1799 having spent thirteen years in an asylum.

John Howard was appointed High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1773, initially for a one-year period. Such was his dedication, rather than delegating his duties to the under-sheriff as was customary, Howard inspected the county prison himself. He was shocked by what he found, and spurred into action to inspect prisons throughout England. Of particular concern to Howard were those prisoners who were held because they could not pay the jailer's fee - an amount paid to the owner or keeper of the prison for upkeep. He took this issue to parliament, and in 1774 Howard was called to give evidence on prison conditions to a House of Commons select committee. Members of that committee were so impressed that, unusually, BedfordHoward3b.jpg - 98243 BytesHoward was called to the bar of the House of Commons and publicly thanked for his 'humanity and zeal'.

Having visited several hundred prisons across England, Scotland, Wales and wider Europe, Howard published the first edition of The State of the Prisons in 1777. It included very detailed accounts of the prisons he had visited, including plans and maps, together with detailed instructions on the necessary improvements.

In April 1777, Howard's sister died leaving him £15,000 and her house. He used this inheritance and the revenue from the sale of her house to further his work on prisons. In 1778 he was again examined by the House of Commons, who were this time inquiring into 'hulks', or prison ships. Two days after giving evidence, he was again travelling Europe, beginning in Holland. By 1784, Howard calculated that he had travelled over 42,000 miles visiting prisons. He had been awarded an honorary LLD by the University of Dublin and had been given the Freedom of the City of London.

His final journey took him into Eastern Europe, and into the Crimea, then Russia. Whilst at Kherson, in what is now Ukraine, Howard contracted typhus and died. He was buried on the shores of the Black Sea. When news of his death reached England, in February 1790, several John Howard halfpennies were struck, including one with the engraving "Go forth, Remember the Debtors in Gaol".

Howard became the first civilian to be honoured with a statue in St. Paul's Cathedral, London. A statue was also erected in Bedford and a further one in Kherson. His bust features in the architecture of a number of Victorian prisons across the UK, such as at Shrewsbury.

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Almost eighty years after his death, the Howard Association was formed in London, with the aim of "promotion of the most efficient means of penal treatment and crime prevention" and to promote "a reformatory and radically preventive treatment of offenders".The Association merged with the Penal Reform League in 1921 to become the Howard League for Penal Reform. Today, the Howard League is Britain's biggest penal reform organisation.

John Howard is also the namesake of various benevolent associations including the John Howard Society in Canada, The Howard Association founded in 1855 in Norfolk, Virginia in the United States, the Howard League for Penal Reform in New Zealand, and the John Howard Association of Illinois, USA

At about the time he was sheriff, Howard acted as patron to a group which left the Bunyan Meeting in Bedford over a religious dispute in 1772 and founded a separate chapel, later known as Howard Congregational Church in Mill Street. It was built in 1774 (architect Daniel Millard), re-fronted in 1849 (architect John Usher). It was last used for worship in 1971. Photograph (above left) with acknowledgement to the Bedfordshire County Council.

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A monument to Archbishop Trevor Huddlestone is situated in Silver Street near the intersection with the High Street. A comprehensive account of Father Trevor's life will be found on another page in the 'Travelling Days' series. Please click here.
The shop in the background to the right of the picture used to belong to the then well known and respected chemists, Taylor, Brawn and Flood. The original shop dated back to the mid eighteenth century. The first member of the Taylor family to take over the business did so in 1858. The full story of the firm which closed in the 1970s may be found by clicking here. For the author the shop was the major source of photographic materials and helpful advice!

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The Arcade runs between Silver Street and was opened in 1905. In the 1930a and 40s it contained a number of 'up-market' shops including Beavis' china shop, various clothing shops and Murdoch's music shop. At the high street end was situated the Cadena bakery and restaurant much frequented by the local population for morning coffee and aftenoon tea. Coffee was roasted in the ground floor shop and its pleasant smell regularly permeated through to the arcade and adjacent High Street.

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The regularity of the street pattern of the old town centre seems to indicate an attempt at town planning over a thousand years ago and it is possible that walls or some other fortification existed on the north side of the river. Kelly's Directory of Bedfordshire dated 1898 states, "The church was originally outside the walls of the town of Bedford, and was called St. Peter's-in-the-Fields and also St. Peter's de Merton, in order to distinguish it from St. Peter's de Dunstable, which stood below the bridge' in what is now St. Mary's square"

Both St Peter’s and St. Mary’s churches have towers which date from the late Saxon period and in one of them the Bedford mint may have been housed.
The following information is taken from the official St Peter de Merton Church website:
"The tower of St Peter's is built of rubble and cement and has survived storm, fires and restoration since Saxon times. The arch over the organ console and the small doorway above the arch in the east wall of the belfry offer good examples of Saxon architecture.

"The 19th century witnessed not only extensive restoration work in St Peter's, but also considerable enlargement. The nave was extended to its present size, the vestry and the aisles and west porch added.

"Work on the building has continued during the 20th century with the paintings in the east wall, the decoration of the tower ceiling, the addition of the chapter house and the placing of the Burma Star window."

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John Bunyan, whose statue (right) stands close to St Peter's Church, after possible military service in the garrison at Newport Pagnell, returned to ply his trade as a tinker in Elstow and Bedford, joining the Bedford Independent Church meeting at St John’s in the 1650s. After the Restoration in1660 he was imprisoned for illegal preaching and held in the County Gaol for 12 years until 1672. Here he probably began composing The Pilgrim’s Progress published in 1678. He lived in a cottage, since demolished, on the site of 17 St Cuthbert’s Street.

Other prominent Bedfordians include:
* Harold Abrahams, 1924 Olympic 100 metres champion later portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire
* Ronnie Barker, well known TV comedian in the sixties and seventies.
* Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, traveller
* Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Antarctic explorer
* Gail Emms badminton doubles 2004 Olympic silver medallist
* William Fitzhugh, also known as William the Immigrant, founder of an American dynasty that married into the lineage of George Washington and General Lee
* Tim Foster, men's coxless fours Olympic gold medallist
* Lil Fuccillo, former footballer and manager
* Sir William Harpur, who became Lord Mayor of London.
* Bishop Trevor Huddleston, anti-Apartheid activist (see above)
* Andy Johnson, England and Everton F.C. footballer
* John Le Mesurier, actor and comedian
* Charles Wells, founder of Charles Wells Brewery, a company still located in the town
* William Hale White, a minor Victorian novelist who wrote under the pseudonym, Mark Rutherford

Associated with the town but not born in Bedford:
* Paula Radcliffe, the UK's top female long-distance runner and current world record holder for the women's marathon

Attended schools in Bedford:
* Paddy Ashdown (later Lord Ashdown), former leader of the Liberal Democrats, attended Bedford School
* Alastair Cook, England cricketer attended Bedford School
* Christopher Fry, playwright, attended Bedford Modern School
* Al Murray, actor, also known as The Pub Landlord attended Bedford School
* Monty Panesar, England cricketer, attended Bedford Modern School
* Jean Muir CBE FCSD, fashion designer, attended Dame Alice Harpur School

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Bedford School with its extensive playing fields is situated to the north east of St Peter's Church and forms the subject of a special website to be found here

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