BEDFORD ARCHITECTURAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL & LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY

BEDFORD LOCAL BOOK REVIEW

RETURN TO MAIN BOOK REVIEW PAGE

BOOK REVIEW By Bob Ricketts

From SAXONS to SPEED
A New History of Old Bedford
By Ian Freemen

Book Castle Publishing. 9.99. ISBN 1-903747-73-2.

Ian is to be congratulated on producing a very accessible, affordable, but also very informed addition to the histories of Bedford. No comprehensive history of Bedford has been published since Joyce Godber's "The Story of Bedford" in 1978. Ian not only provides a welcome update, but uniquely focuses on the early history of the town.

"From Saxons to Speed" is written in three parts:
From early Saxon times to King Alfred.
Norman Bedford.
Late Medieval Bedford, including John Speed's town.

It also includes two very useful appendices :

A transcription of the terrier and survey of Brickiln Farm [Brickhill Farm] c. 1750

A brief history of Bedford street names. Did you know that Newnham Road was 'Temesse Street' in the 16th century, and 'Thames Street' through the 18th and 19th centuries ; 'Newnham Road' appears on the O.S. map of 1884. Midland Road was 'Well Street' (after the Colles Well which was situated in the road) in 1240; it was still called Well Street in the Census Return for 1861, but by 1871 was 'Midland Road'.

lan's book is a must for anyone interested in the archaeology, history and townscape of Bedford, and would provide a good accompaniment to a 'town trail'. Chapter 6 ('John Speed's Bedford) provides a vivid invocation of pre-Civil War Bedford (Speed's map was published in 1610) which is unparalleled.

Illustration of book cover