Church End, Arlesey
Arlesey is located in Bedfordshire
Location within Bedfordshire
Population6,022 (Parish, 2021)[1]
OS grid referenceTL190357
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townARLESEY
Postcode districtSG15
Dialling code01462
FireBedfordshire and Luton
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°00′25″N 0°15′55″W / 52.0070°N 0.2654°W / 52.0070; -0.2654

Arlesey (/ˈɑːrlzi/ ARL-zee) is a town and civil parish in the Central Bedfordshire district of Bedfordshire, England. It is near the border with Hertfordshire, about three miles north-west of Letchworth Garden City, four miles north of Hitchin and six miles south of Biggleswade. Arlesey railway station provides services to London, Stevenage and Peterborough. The Domesday Book of 1086 mentions Arlesey.[2][3][4][5] The town's name means the 'island of a man named Aelfric'.[6]


The area has a long history of habitation, with evidence of an Iron Age settlement having been found to the east of Arlesey around Chase Farm and Etonbury School.[7]

To the north of Arlesey (north of the modern railway station) was a medieval manorial complex known as Etonbury. The site's origins and history are unclear and continue to be debated by archaeologists; interpretation is made particularly difficult due to the earthworks having been damaged during the construction of the railway. The complex possibly originated as an inland harbour on the River Hiz near its confluence with the River Ivel, and seems to have been fortified with various ditches and possibly moats. It appears to have been used as a Danish camp from the time of the Viking invasions from the 9th century onwards, but they may have re-fortified a pre-existing site. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, Etonbury had become a manor.[8] The manor house there was subsequently abandoned, being described as "utterly decayed" in 1566.[9]

The Great Northern Railway built its main line from London to York through Arlesey. The line opened in 1850 with a station at the northern end of the village called "Arlesey and Shefford Road", renamed "Arlesey and Henlow" in 1933. It closed in 1959.[10] A new Arlesey railway station was later built on the site, opening in 1988.

The Three Counties Asylum opened immediately east of Arlesey in 1860. It was just over the boundary into the neighbouring parish of Stotfold, but was often described as being at Arlesey; the gates to its main West Drive entrance were in Arlesey, and from 1866 it was served by Three Counties railway station which was at the southern end of Arlesey. A tramway linked the station to the asylum. The asylum was later renamed Fairfield Hospital. It closed in 1999 and the buildings have been converted to housing and a new community called Fairfield built in the former grounds.[11]


Arlesey had a thriving brick-making industry through to the mid twentieth century. As of 1900 there were five brickworks around Arlesey. They were known for the "Arlesey White" bricks produced from Gault clay.[12] Bricks have not been produced there since 1992. Some clay pits have been used for landfill and others are now lakes. On the south-east side of the town there were two chalk pits operated by the Portland Cement Company, now filled with water and known respectively as the Blue Lagoon, used for sailing, and the Green Lagoon, used for fishing.

Second World War

During the Second World War there were two plane crashes at Arlesey. On 19 December 1943 a Handley Page Halifax belonging to 138 Squadron was in a collision with a chimney at Arlesey Brickworks. The aircraft BB364 (NF-R) had left its base at RAF Tempsford on a training mission. The crew of nine perished in the crash.[13][14]

On 28 March 1944 a Lockheed Hudson belonging to 161 Squadron RAF crashed on the Arlesey to Stotfold road killing the crew. The aircraft FK767 had left its base at RAF Tempsford on a training flight.[14][15]


Village Hall and Town Council Offices, High Street

There are two tiers of local government covering Arlesey, at parish (town) and unitary authority level: Arlesey Town Council and Central Bedfordshire Council, based in Chicksands. The town council has its offices on High Street in a complex which also includes a community centre, library and Gothic Mede School.[16]


The population of Arlesey was 5,584 in 2,344 households in the 2011 census.[17] In the census of 2011, 94.0% of people described themselves as white, 2.2% as having mixed or multiple ethnic groups, 2.9% as being Asian or British Asian, and less than 1.0% as having another ethnicity.[18] In the same census, 55.8% described themselves as Christian, 34.6% described themselves as having no religion, 6.8% did not specify a religion, 1.2% described themselves as Sikh, and 1.7% described themselves as having a different religion.[19]

Culture and community

Arlesey Old Moat and Glebe Meadows, adjacent to Arlesey railway station, is a nature reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, together with Arlesey Conservation for Nature.

The Arlesey Bomb fishing weight was developed by angler Dick Walker to catch specimen perch from the local chalk pits.[20]

Religious sites

St Peter's Church

St Peter's Church in Church End was built in the 12th century by the monks of Waltham Abbey. Its tower is a Victorian replacement after the original tower collapsed.

There is also a Methodist church in Arlesey.

Notable residents


See also: Sport in Bedfordshire

The town's football team is Arlesey Town, who play at Hitchin Road. The town also has a basketball team called North Herts Knights.


  1. ^ "Arlesey parish". City Population. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  2. ^ The entry reads: Alricesei(a)/eie: Bishop of Durham; Bernard from William d'Eu; Herfast; from Nigel d'Aubigny; Wulfsi. 3 mills.
  3. ^ Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40 / 677; Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine; first entry
  4. ^ Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40/629, year 1418; Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine; 4th entry, third line
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Key to English Place-names". Archived from the original on 3 July 2021. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age Settlement, 450m south-west of Etonbury School". Historic Environment Record for Bedfordshrie. Heritage Gateway. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  8. ^ Page, William (1908). A History of the County of Bedford. London: Victoria County History. pp. 261–265. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  9. ^ "Etonbury (Medieval Manorial Site)". Historic Environment Record for Bedfordshire. Heritage Gateway. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  10. ^ Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 18. ISBN 9781852605087. OCLC 60251199.
  11. ^ "Fairfield Hospital". Hospital Records Database. The National Archives. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  12. ^ "The Locations and Names of Five Brickworks at Arlesey featuring 30 old photos". Arcangelo Lombari. 5 December 2013. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  13. ^ "Roll of Honour - About us". Archived from the original on 16 June 2011.
  14. ^ a b "National Archives (website accessed 15.07.10". Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  15. ^ "Roll of Honour - About us". Archived from the original on 30 October 2010.
  16. ^ "Contact". Arlesey Town Council. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  17. ^ "Area: Arlesey (Parish), Key Figures for 2011 Census". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Area: Arlesey (Parish), Ethnic Group". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  19. ^ "Area: Arlesey (Parish), Religion". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  20. ^ Arlesey lake Retrieved 22 May 2009 Archived 30 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Bill Kitchener". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  22. ^ "Transfers to or from Arlesey Town". FoxesTalk. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  23. ^ "Stanley Brown". ESPN Cric Info. Retrieved 4 October 2023.