St Mary's parish church in Woburn
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||MILTON KEYNES|
|Fire||Bedfordshire and Luton|
|Ambulance||East of England|
Woburn (//, meaning twisted or crooked stream) 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.
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. 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.
During the nineteenth century, Woburn was an important staging post on the London–Newport Pagnell–Northampton 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. 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.
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.
Apart from the new Center Parcs, Woburn has its own lido. 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.