Woburn ParishChurch1.JPG

St Mary's parish church in Woburn
Woburn is located in Bedfordshire
Location within Bedfordshire
Population933 (2011)
OS grid referenceSP949331
Civil parish
  • Woburn
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtMK17
Dialling code01525
FireBedfordshire and Luton
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°59′18″N 0°37′10″W / 51.98826°N 0.61942°W / 51.98826; -0.61942Coordinates: 51°59′18″N 0°37′10″W / 51.98826°N 0.61942°W / 51.98826; -0.61942

Woburn (/ˈwbərn/, meaning twisted or crooked stream)[1] is a small village and civil parish in Bedfordshire, England. It is situated about 5 miles (8.0 km) southeast of the centre of Milton Keynes, and about 3 miles (4.8 km) south of junction 13 of the M1 motorway and is a tourist attraction. At the 2011 census, it had a population of 933.[2]


Woburn Town Hall

Woburn was first recorded as a hamlet in 969 and is found in the Domesday Book of 1086. It is best known as the location of Woburn Abbey (a stately home) and Woburn Safari Park. The abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 1145 and granted to the first Earl of Bedford in 1538 after the dissolution of the monasteries. The village may have been called "Woburne Chapell" in Medieval times, in order to distinguish it from the abbey.[3][4] Woburn has been burned down and rebuilt three times. A mediaeval chimney fire spread due to the prevalence of thatched roofs and closely built houses. Then, during the English Civil War, the Cavaliers burned down much of the village and in 1724 a third fire destroyed much of the town, which was re-built in the Georgian style that remains today.[5]

During the nineteenth century, Woburn was an important staging post on the LondonNewport PagnellNorthampton turnpike. The town had 27 inns and the first 24-hour post office outside London. However, with Woburn being bypassed by (what became) the West Coast Main Line and the Grand Union canal (north–south)) and the Varsity Line (east–west), Woburn's location ceased to be so significant. The population fell from 2,100 in 1851 to 700 about a century later.

Woburn Town Hall, designed by Edward Blore, was completed in 1830.[6] Under the 8th Duke of Bedford, a new parish church was completed in Woburn in 1868. It was equipped with a crypt beneath, which was originally intended as the burial place of the Dukes of Bedford and their family. In the end the dukes continued to use the ancient mausoleum at St Michael's, Chenies, and the crypt of St Mary's parish church in Woburn is now used for events and meetings. The hatch through which coffins would have been lowered into the crypt is still visible.[7]

Modern Woburn

Woburn is a residential village and tourist attraction. Aside from Woburn Abbey and Woburn Safari Park, tourists visit Woburn's Georgian villiage centre and the Woburn Heritage Centre local history museum. Woburn hosts a popular Village Festival around the last weekend in August every year attracting thousands of visitors. Facilities for residents include a heated outdoor swimming pool open in the summer months, the Village Hall, St Mary's Church, Woburn Lower School and various independent shops. Woburn also has a monthly Farmers' Market on the third Sunday of the month organised by the Village Traders.

Woburn Abbey has played host to many outdoor live music concerts including Dire Straits, Elton John and Neil Diamond. In July 2007 the Abbey hosted the three-day Woburn Live concert featuring Classic FM Live, Van Morrison and Ronnie Scott's Big Band on three consecutive evenings.

Woburn was chosen by Center Parcs as the named location for its fifth holiday village at a cost of £250 million. The actual location is 7 miles (11 km) away between Millbrook and Steppingley; Center Parcs Woburn Forest sits on an ancient wood called Millbrook Warren. It opened to guests in spring 2014.

Sports and leisure facilities

Apart from the new Center Parcs, Woburn has its own lido.[8] In addition to the good walks and cycling opportunities afforded by the Estate and the local roads, Woburn lies across the routes of both the Greensand Ridge Walk and the Greensand Cycle Way.

Woburn Golf Club, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) west of Woburn, has hosted the Women's British Open eleven times between 1984 and 2019.


  1. ^ "Map of Woburn, Bedfordshire". Aboutbritain.com. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Census 2011: Parish Headcounts: Mid Bedfordshire". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  3. ^ "Plea Rolls of the Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40 / 677 / 870". 1430.(third entry)
  4. ^ "Plea Rolls of the Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40 / 677 / 479". 1430. (first entry)
  5. ^ "About Woburn". Woburn Heritage Museum. Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Town Hall, Market Place (1321662)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  7. ^ Saint Mary's Church Woburn, accessed 26 July 2015
  8. ^ "Perfect Day Out at Woburn Swimming Pool". Retrieved 18 August 2014.