Logo of Bedford School
Coat of Arms of Bedford School
|Motto||Floreat Schola Bedfordiensis
(May Bedford School Flourish)
|Type||Independent day and boarding
|Religion||Church of England|
|Founder||King Edward VI|
|Location||De Parys Avenue
|DfE URN||109718 Tables|
|Colours||Navy and White|
|Former pupils||Old Bedfordians|
- Bedford School is not to be confused with Bedford Girls' School, Bedford High School, Bedford Modern School or Old Bedford School in Bedford, Texas
Bedford School is an HMC independent school for boys located in the county town of Bedford, Bedfordshire, England. Mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and refounded in 1552, it is the oldest of four independent schools in Bedford run by the Harpur Trust.
Bedford School is composed of the Preparatory School (ages 7 to 13) and the Upper School (ages 13 to 18). There are around 1,200 pupils, of whom approximately a third are boarders. In 2008, Mr John Moule succeeded Dr Philip Evans OBE FRSC as Headmaster.
According to The Good Schools Guide, Bedford School is "much-respected by those in the know" and is "an unpretentious school which has everything a boy could need." It has produced Nobel Prize winners, Olympic gold medal champions and recipients of the Victoria Cross, educating leading personalities from fields as diverse as politics and academia, the armed forces and sport.
- 1 History
- 2 Buildings and Grounds
- 3 Year Groups
- 4 Houses
- 5 School Officials
- 6 Colours
- 7 Extracurricular Activities
- 8 Headmasters
- 9 Notable Teaching Staff
- 10 Notable Old Bedfordians
- 10.1 Academia
- 10.2 Actors, Directors and Entertainers
- 10.3 Adventurers and Nonconformists
- 10.4 Architecture
- 10.5 The Armed Forces
- 10.6 Aviation
- 10.7 The Church
- 10.8 The Civil and Diplomatic Services
- 10.9 Industry and Commerce
- 10.10 Journalism
- 10.11 The Law
- 10.12 Literature
- 10.13 Medicine
- 10.14 Music
- 10.15 Politicians and Statesmen
- 10.16 Sport
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Bedford School is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and probably predates the Norman Conquest of 1066. Originally located at a site on Mill Street, then known as School Lane, the school was administered first by the canons of St Paul's Church and subsequently, from 1166, by the Augustinian canons of Newnham Priory, until the suppression of the priory in 1540.
Bedford School survived the dissolution of Newnham Priory due to the intervention of John Williams, Mayor of Bedford three times between 1546 and 1552, and MP for Bedford between 1554 and 1555. Born in Bedford in c1519 and, in all likelihood, a pupil at Bedford School at its Mill Street site when the school was still administered by Newnham Priory, Williams purchased unspecified former monastic lands to the value of £80 in October 1544 and, in 1545, he paid £254 for former monastic property in Bedford. The property he thereby acquired included Bedford School. During Williams' first mayoralty of Bedford, between 1546 and 1547, the Bedford church of St Peter Dunstable was demolished and the materials were utilised in carrying out repairs to the school.
In order to ensure the continued existence of Bedford School, John Williams, during his third mayoralty of Bedford, between 1551 and 1552, as well as the Burgesses of Bedford, petitioned the Crown. As a result, on 15 August 1552, Bedford School was refounded when the Mayor, Bailiffs, Burgesses and Commonality of Bedford were, by letters patent issued by King Edward VI, granted the right to "erect, make, found and establish a free and perpetual Grammar school" which was to provide "education, institution and instruction of Boys and Youths in Grammar, Literature and Good Manners."
Shortly thereafter, William Harper (born in Bedford in c1496 and, in all likelihood, another pupil at Bedford School at its Mill Street site when the school was still administered by Newnham Priory) and his wife, Alice, set out to provide funds for an educational endowment in perpetuity (later known as the Harpur Trust) for the "poore chylders ther to be nurryshed and enformed". The endowment included buildings in Bedford and thirteen acres of land acquired by Harper in Holborn. And so, conveying this endowment to the corporation of Bedford on 22 April 1566, Harper provided Bedford School with new buildings at its second location, in St Paul’s Square, and a house for the Headmaster, Edmund Greene. Elected Lord Mayor of London in 1561 and knighted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1562, Sir William Harper's coat of arms and crest included the eagle which remains a symbol for Bedford School.
In the 1680s, as a consequence of London's rapid expansion in the late seventeenth century, the land in Holborn, with which Sir William Harper had endowed Bedford School in 1566, was built upon. The rental value of the thirteen acres of land and three roods of meadow, purchased by Sir William in 1564 for just £180 13s, soared and the future of Bedford School was assured.
Sir William Harper's surname was changed to ‘Harpur’ in 1764, nearly two centuries after his death. This was supposedly in the belief that the new spelling looked much better when used in a Latin inscription, still visible today, below the statue of Sir William on the facade of the old school buildings in St Paul's Square. Whatever the truth of this story, in that same year, 1764, the Harpur Trust was formally created by Act of Parliament to administer Bedford School's endowment.
James Surtees Phillpotts was appointed as the twenty-second Headmaster of Bedford School in 1874, at the age of thirty-five, and he remained in that position until his retirement in 1903. It was during his time as Headmaster that, on 29 October 1891, a procession of masters, pupils and old boys moved the school from its site in St Paul’s Square to its third, current, and far more spacious location in buildings constructed on land to the north of St Peter’s Green.
The new Main School Building, in Gothic Revival style, included a great hall with galleries opening to classrooms on the second and third floors. The ground floor included the Headmaster’s study, the Bell Room, common rooms for masters and, later, for monitors, as well as more classrooms. Access to the upper floors was by narrow staircases situated at each end of the building.
Bedford School's Main School Building remained in this form until a disastrous fire on 3 March 1979 destroyed all but the west end where the Bell Room and the Headmaster’s study were located. All that remained of the rest of the building was the brick shell which was incorporated in the restored building. The restored Main School Building was opened on 10 September 1981. In the interim the school functioned in twenty-two temporary huts and by using the Howard and Craig buildings on the school estate.
In 2005, Bedford School was one of fifty of the country's leading private schools which were accused of running a price-fixing cartel which had allowed them to push up school fees. Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling £3 million into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.
The school estate has seen many developments over the past century, most recently the erection of two new buildings: the new Library in 2004, and the new Music School in 2006. Work on the construction of a new school theatre is currently proceeding apace.
Buildings and Grounds
Main School Building
The Main School Building, originally built in 1891, is a Gothic Revival Grade II listed building. On the night of 3–4 March 1979, much of the building was gutted by fire as a result of arson. The internal structure of the building was destroyed and thirty classrooms were lost. Almost all pupil records were saved but books, furniture and the large collection of portraits of former Headmasters were lost. Nevertheless the school was in full operation on Monday 5 March. The integral structure of the walls was not affected by the fire, and within two years the building had been restored. A number of alterations were made to the building during the restoration process: the most important was the raising of the central Great Hall to first floor level in order to provide more classroom and administrative space on the ground floor below.
Bedford School Chapel was completed in 1908 and is a Grade B listed building. It is significant as the last architectural accomplishment of George Frederick Bodley, a prominent Victorian architect who worked in the Gothic Revival style. Other notable buildings by Bodley include the chapels of Marlborough College and Queens' College, Cambridge.
In 2005, various refurbishment projects took place within the chapel. Most significantly, the ceiling was restored to its former Bodlian watercolour design, the original having been painted over in the 1960s due to deterioration. At the same time, the interior walls were redecorated and the stonework cleaned.
Observatory and Planetarium
The Charles Piazzi Smyth Observatory and the Wolfson Planetarium were opened in May 2002 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Situated on the Bedford School estate, the facility is operated by the school's Astronomer in conjunction with members of the Bedford Astronomical Society. The observatory was named after an Old Bedfordian who went on to become the Astronomer Royal for Scotland. It boasts a custom-designed GRP dome and a computer-controlled twelve-inch (305mm) telescope. The telescope has a hydrogen alpha filter, which enables the observer to view the magnetic plasma flow around the Sun. The adjacent Planetarium was named after the Wolfson Foundation.
Bedford School Music Department is housed in the new purpose-built Music School, designed by Eric Parry RA, and completed in November 2005. This state-of-the-art building houses a large recital hall with recording facilities, a recording studio, individual specialised teaching and practice rooms, and a rock music studio. The building was officially opened by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE, Master of the Queen's Music, in March 2006, and the recording facilities were officially opened by David Arnold on 20 May 2013.
The first recorded match on the Bedford School Cricket Ground was played in 1876, between Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire. Bedfordshire played its first Minor Counties Championship match on the ground in 1895, against Hertfordshire. Since 1895, the ground has been host to 181 Minor Counties Championship matches. In addition, the ground has been host to five MCCA Knockout Trophy matches for Bedfordshire, the first played in 1993 between Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
The ground has been host to two List-A matches for Northamptonshire: the first was played in the 1971 John Player League, between Northamptonshire and Lancashire; and the second was played in 1982, in the same competition and between the same two sides. It has also been host to twenty-five Second XI fixtures for the Northamptonshire Second XI in the Second XI Championship for the Second XI Trophy.
The first year at Bedford School (for 13- to 14-year-olds) is called the Fourth Form and is equivalent to Year 9 in the state system. After that come the Remove and the Fifth Form. The next two years are the Lower Sixth and the Upper Sixth. Bedford School also caters for the lower years (from Year 3 to Year 8) in Bedford Preparatory School. This is located on the Bedford School estate and many facilities are shared.
|Year Group||State school equivalent|
|Fourth Form||Year 9|
|Fifth Form||Year 11|
|Lower Sixth||Year 12|
|Upper Sixth||Year 13|
Bedford School has six houses. Each house is composed of a day house and an associated boarding house. The house names, dating from the mid-nineteenth century, refer to areas of Bedford; boys were originally allocated a house based on the area of town in which they lived. Whilst these are the official house names, it is common for boarders to refer to their house by the name of their boarding house. The houses are:
Ashburnham - The day house occupies a large building adjacent to the Design and Technology Building. The boarding house, Sandersons, is situated within a ten minute walk of the school, adjacent to Redburn. The house colours are dark red and brown.
Bromham - The day house is situated on Burnaby Road at the main entrance to the school, next to the Rice Building. The school's sixth form boarding house, Burnaby, is situated on Burnaby Road. The house colours are light blue and navy blue.
Crescent - The day house is situated in a two storey building towards the south of the school estate. The boarding house, Pemberley, is situated on Pemberley Avenue. The house colours are black and white. The name Crescent derives from the crescent shaped building housing its day house.
Paulo Pontine - The day house occupies a single storey ground floor area beneath the Art Department towards the south of the school estate. The boarding house, Redburn, is situated within a ten minute walk of the school. The house colours are yellow, brown and light blue. The house takes its name from the area around St Paul's Church ('Paulo') and the area south of the river, over the Town Bridge ('Pontine').
St Cuthbert's - The day house is located next door to the Medical Centre on Burnaby Road. The boarding house, Phillpotts, is situated in the north-east corner of the school estate. The house colours are dark blue and black.
St Peter's - The day house occupies a purpose-built building next to its boarding house, Talbots, on Burnaby Road. The house colours are scarlet (formerly cerise) and white.
Bedford School monitors are selected from amongst the boys of the Upper Sixth. These pupils are deemed to have demonstrated highly developed leadership skills. Since 2004, monitors have been chosen by a selection committee after application. They are entitled to wear coloured waistcoats and brown shoes as well as brass buttons on their blazers.
The Head of School and his Deputy Head are selected from amongst the monitors. Boys are also selected to act as heads of their respective boarding and school houses, and monitors may be chosen to fill these roles. Each Head of House is appointed directly by his Housemaster, who also selects the Deputy Head of House and house options; except in the cases of Burnaby (the sixth form boarding house) and Sandersons, where the boys elect their own Head and Deputy Head of House.
Bedford School recognises individual achievement in various fields by the awarding of 'colours', at the discretion of the appropriate master, to boys in the Fifth Form and above. The various colours entitle the bearer to wear a particular variant of his uniform, appropriate to that award, on given days. There are five types of colours: Academic, Arts, Headmaster's, House, and Sports (Major and Minor).
Academic Colours - Awarded to Upper Sixth boys for outstanding academic achievement or for significant contributions to extracurricular academic activities supported by the school. Academic colours consist of a golden eagle to be worn on the blazer.
Arts Colours - Awarded for excellence in art, music or drama. Arts colours consist of a white eagle on a purple patch.
Headmaster's Colours - Awarded by the Headmaster to a boy who has made a significant contribution to the school. Headmaster's colours are the highest form of colours to be awarded at Bedford School and are typically awarded only to one or two boys each year. Headmaster's colours consist of just a woollen scarf: navy blue with three vertical gold stripes and the school shield embroidered at either end. The scarf may be worn on a daily basis.
House Colours - Awarded by a Housemaster for contributions made to a boy's house, for example through success in an inter-house competition. House colours consist of a house tie with pronounced double stripes (thicker than on the standard house tie) and a knitted house scarf with multiple horizontal stripes, both in the house colours. House colours may be worn on a daily basis.
Major Sports Colours - Awarded for success when representing the school in one of the four major sports (cricket, hockey, rowing or rugby) by the master in charge of that sport and with the Headmaster's approval. Major sports colours consist of a club tie (dull blue with thick double white stripes), plain cable-knit cricket jumper, blazer and other accessories. The tie and jumper are common to all sports whilst the blazer and other accessories vary between them. The tie, jumper and scarf may be worn on a daily basis whilst blazers and other accessories are reserved for High Days, Saturdays and match days. The variants for each of the major sports are as follows:
Cricket: royal blue and white vertically striped blazer with a breast pocket white eagle; royal blue and white striped cricket cap; no scarf.
Hockey: navy blue woollen blazer with a breast pocket white eagle within a red shield; dull blue woollen scarf with three sky blue vertical stripes.
Rowing: navy blue woollen blazer with white trimming and a breast pocket white eagle; dull blue woollen scarf with white vertical stripes; white chino trousers.
Rugby: navy blue woollen blazer with a breast pocket navy blue eagle within a red shield; dull blue woollen scarf with three red vertical stripes.
Minor Sports Colours - Awarded for success when representing the school in a minor sport (i.e. any sport other than one of the four major sports) by the master in charge of that sport. Minor sports colours may also be awarded to successful second team players of major sports. Minor sports colours consist of a royal blue club tie with single white stripes, a woollen navy blue blazer with a white eagle on the breast pocket and a navy blue woollen scarf with three vertical stripes (royal blue on the edges, white in the centre). The tie and scarf may be worn on a daily basis; the blazer is reserved for High Days, Saturdays and match days.
The Chapel Choir sings the weekly and special services in Bedford School Chapel. The choir consists of eighteen choristers from the Preparatory School and twenty-four choral scholars from the Upper School, many of whom are former cathedral choristers.
The Choir regularly sings services and performs concerts in English cathedrals, including St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. The choir also tours abroad in alternate years. Previous destinations have included: Prague (1998); Oslo (2000); Paris (2002), where the choir sang mass in Notre Dame Cathedral; Rome (2004), where the choir sang mass in St. Peter's Basilica; Ireland (2006); and Madrid (2008).
The Choir has made several CD recordings in recent years. In 2007, the BBC recorded the school's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols for transmission on Christmas Day of that year on BBC Radio under the direction of Andrew Morris, Director of Music at Bedford School between 1979 and 2011.
Combined Cadet Force
One of the most popular extracurricular activities at Bedford School is membership of the Combined Cadet Force. Bedford School CCF differs from other Corps as it draws its members from two different schools (Bedford School and Bedford Girls' School) and since membership is voluntary. In spite of its voluntary status, the Bedford School Combined Cadet Force is one of the largest CCF contingents of any British school.
Bedford School stages an annual concert programme, culminating in a series of summer concerts at the end of the academic year. There are a number of senior music groups, including the Bedford School First (Symphony) Orchestra, the Concert Band, the Choral Society, the Chapel Choir, and a large number of chamber groups. In addition, there is the Second Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra and the Dance Band, as well as a number of jazz and rock bands. There is a musician in residence at the school and, between 2008 and 2011, that post was held by the composer James Lark.
Bedford School has a tradition of singing. Boys sing together in assembly and in chapel at least twice a week and the boarders have a weekly hymn practice. The inter-house singing competition, held annually every autumn, is one of the most fiercely fought contests in the school. The school hymn, Domus Pater, was written by Revd Henry Le Mesurier, Usher at Bedford School, in 1861, and is still sung regularly in Latin:
|Domus Pater Harperiae
Honus Tuus sit incola;
Tu porticus caelestibus
|In Harpur's house, O Father, may
Thine honour aye in dwelling stay
May ever round its portals be
The guardian angels placed by thee.
|Impubes usque tu manus
Huc ventitantes respice
Et inter mundi Semitas
Pedes securos dirige.
|The bands of youth look down and see
Restoring here continuously;
And safely on through life's rough way
|Infirma verbo pectora
Rectoque cultu robora;
Cibum caelestem porrige
Et mala procul abige.
|Strengthen the frail ones with thy word
And guiding discipline, O Lord;
Hold forth thy heavenly food, we pray,
And drive all evil things away.
|Ut omni mane gratiam
Tuam precentur cum fide
Et corde grato vesperi
Laudes tuas concelebrent.
|May they each morn the day begin
With prayer sincere thy grace to win
With grateful hearts at fall of even
May they exalt thy praise to heaven.
|Deo Patri sit gloria
Eiusque soli Filio,
Sanctissimo cum Spiritu,
Et nunc et in perpetuum.
|To God the Father and the Son,
And God the Spirit, Holy One,
May greatest glory henceforth be
Both now and through eternity.
Bedford School produces several magazines, of which the most prominent is The Ousel, published regularly since 1876. It is largely written by boys and managed directly by the school. It is published at the end of each Summer term and contains pupil and staff reviews of the school year. The school's Mosaic Society runs the Mosaic magazine which contains a range of essays and articles written by boys on subjects ranging from current affairs and politics to sport and science. In 2011, the Classical Society introduced its new publication, VIM Magazine. Run entirely by the boys, with support provided by members of staff from the Classics Department, the magazine contains academic essays as well as more light-hearted articles on classical fashion and travel. It bears testament to the burgeoning renaissance of Classics at Bedford School.
Bedford School has a different major sport for each term. The Christmas term is rugby union orientated, the Easter term is devoted to hockey, and Summer is the cricket season. Rowing takes place on the River Ouse throughout the year. Other popular Bedford School sports include athletics, badminton, basketball, canoeing, cross-country running, fencing, fives, football, golf, rifle shooting, sailing, squash, swimming, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, water polo and weight training.
On the rugby field, Bedford School competes regularly against Bedford Modern School, Dulwich College, Haileybury, Harrow School, Oakham School, Oundle School, Radley College, Rugby School, St Edward's School, Oxford, Stowe School, Uppingham School, Warwick School and Wellington College. Bedford School has also fielded rugby teams against Marlborough College, Merchant Taylors' School, Mill Hill School, RGS High Wycombe and St Paul's School, amongst other schools.
The school has produced many internationally famous sportsmen, including cricketer Alastair Cook MBE, who went on to captain the England cricket team, and whose coach at Bedford School was sports master and former England batsman Derek Randall. Other famous Bedford School sportsmen include England rugby internationals Martin Bayfield and Andy Gomarsall MBE; the rower Jack Beresford CBE, winner of five Olympic medals; and 1924 Olympic 100 metre sprint gold medalist Harold Abrahams CBE.
- 2014- TBC James Hodgson (Usher at Magdalen College School)
- 2008-2014 John Moule (Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford) Will leave at the end of the 2014 Summer Term
- 1990-2008 Dr Philip Evans OBE FRSC (Churchill College, Cambridge; Imperial College London)
- 1988-1990 Michael Barlen (Hertford College, Oxford; New College, Oxford; Vice Master under Ian Jones and Sidney Miller)
- 1986-1988 Sidney Miller (Clifton College; Jesus College, Cambridge; Harvard University; Headmaster of Kingston Grammar School)
- 1975-1986 Ian (C I M) Jones (Bishop's Stortford College; St John's College, Cambridge)
- 1955-1975 Revd William Brown (Bedford School, Pembroke College, Cambridge, Headmaster of the King's School, Ely)
- 1951-1955 Clarence Seaman (Christ's Hospital; St John's College, Oxford; Rector of the Edinburgh Academy; Headmaster of Christ's Hospital)
- 1928-1951 Humfrey Grose-Hodge FSA (Marlborough College; Pembroke College, Cambridge)
- 1910-1928 Reginald Carter (Clifton College; Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford; Rector of the Edinburgh Academy)
- 1903-1910 Dr John Edward King (Clifton College; Fellow and Tutor of Lincoln College, Oxford; High Master of Manchester Grammar School; Headmaster of Clifton College)
- 1874-1903 James Surtees Phillpotts (Winchester College; New College, Oxford)
- 1855-1874 Revd Frederick Fanshawe (Winchester College; Balliol College, Oxford; Fellow and Tutor of Exeter College, Oxford)
- 1811-1855 Revd John Brereton LLD FSA FRGS (Winchester College; Fellow of New College, Oxford)
- 1810-1811 William Stratford (Christ Church, Oxford; Headmaster of Thame Grammar School)
- 1773-1810 John Hooke (Fellow of New College, Oxford; Headmaster of Thame Grammar School)
- 1739-1773 George Bridle (Fellow of New College, Oxford)
- 1718-1739 Matthew Priaulx (Fellow of New College, Oxford)
- 1683-1718 Nicholas Aspinall (Emmanuel College, Cambridge)
- 1681-1683 William Willis (Fellow of New College, Oxford)
- 1672-1681 John Longworth (Fellow of New College, Oxford)
- 1665-1672 John Butler (Winchester College; University College, Oxford)
- 1663-1665 John Allanson (Chaplain of New College, Oxford)
- 1660-1663 William Varney (reinstated as Master at the Restoration of the Monarchy)
- 1656-1660 George Butler (Fellow of New College, Oxford)
- 1636-1656 William Varney (deprived of the Mastership during the Protectorate due to his Royalist sympathies)
- 1610-1636 Daniel Gardener (Fellow of New College, Oxford)
- 1601-1610 Robert Barker (Fellow of New College, Oxford)
- c1599-1601 Henry Whitaker
- 1597-c1599 Richard Butcher
- 1587-1597 Master Chambers
- 1577-1587 Francis White (Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; Bishop of Carlisle; Bishop of Norwich; Bishop of Ely)
- 1573-1577 William Smyth (Canon of Lincoln Cathedral)
- 1548-1573 Edmund Greene (Fellow of New College, Oxford)
Edmund Greene was appointed as Headmaster of Bedford School by the Mayor, Bailiffs, Burgesses and Commonality of Bedford following the dissolution of Newnham Priory in 1540. His appointment was made prior to Bedford School's refoundation in 1552. From then on the Wardens and Fellows of New College, Oxford were given the right to appoint the Master (Headmaster) and Usher (Deputy Headmaster). The tradition of New College and Wykehamist appointees came to an end in 1903 with the appointment of Dr John Edward King as Headmaster.
Notable Teaching Staff
- Dr Charles Abbot FSA FLS (1761-1817), Fellow of New College, Oxford, botanist and entomologist, Usher at Bedford School, 1787-1817
- Dr Robert Steele (1860-1944), Medievalist
- Dr W H D Rouse (1863-1950), Fellow in Classics at Christ's College, Cambridge
- Sir Jack Hobbs (1882-1963), Surrey and England cricketer
- Rex Alston (1901-1994), a master at Bedford School, 1924-1941, before becoming a BBC sports commentator
- Evelyn King (1907-1994), Labour MP, 1945-1950, Conservative MP, 1964-1979
- Godfrey Brown (1915-1995), History master, Olympic gold medal winner, 1936
- Dr Mary Midgley (born 1919), moral philosopher
- Bernie Cotton MBE (born 1948), Olympic hockey player, 1972, manger of the Great Britain Olympic hockey team, 1992
- Andrew Morris (born 1948), conductor and organist, Director of Music at Bedford School, 1979-2011
- Derek Randall (born 1951), Nottinghamshire and England cricketer
Notable Old Bedfordians
- Revd James Dennis (1815-1861), paleontologist and natural historian
- Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth FRS (1817-1890), geologist
- Francis Penrose FRIBA FRS (1817-1903), Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, architect, archaeologist and astronomer
- Professor Charles Piazzi Smyth FRSE FRS FRAS FRSSA (1819-1900), Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh and Astronomer Royal for Scotland, 1846-1888
- John Thompson Platts (1830-1904), Indian and Persian language scholar
- Dr Charles Heycock FRS (1858-1931), Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, chemist, winner of the Royal Society's Davy Medal, 1920
- Dr Walter Gardiner FLS FRS (1859-1941), Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, botanist, winner of the Royal Society's Royal Medal, 1898
- Professor Sir Wyndham Dunstan KCMG FRS FCS (1861-1949), chemist and Director of the Imperial Institute, 1903-1924
- Professor Sir Walter Langdon-Brown (1870-1946), Regius Professor of Physic, University of Cambridge, 1932-1935
- Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), Italian inventor, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1909
- Dr Thomas Cecil Fitzpatrick (1881-1931), President of Queens' College, Cambridge, 1906-1931, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, 1915-1917 and 1928-1929
- Dr Charles Meek FRAI FRGS (1885-1965), Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, anthropologist
- Dr Laurence Beddome Turner (1886-1963), Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and Reader in Engineering, University of Cambridge
- Professor William Rowan FRSC (1891-1957), Canadian biologist and ornithologist
- Sir Karl Parker CBE FBA (1895-1992), art historian and Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, 1945-1962
- Professor John Desmond Bernal FRS (1901-1971), pioneer of X-ray crystallography in molecular biology
- Professor Herbert Squire FRS (1909-1961), Zaharoff Professor of Aviation, Imperial College London, 1952-1961
- Dr Archer John Porter Martin FRS (1910-2002), winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1952
- Professor Richard D'Aeth (1912-2008), educationalist and President of Hughes Hall, Cambridge, 1978-1984
- Professor Peter Corbett (1920-1992), Yates Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology, University College London, 1961-1982
- Professor Geoffrey Matthews OBE FSB (1923-2013), ornithologist and conservationist, Director of Research and Conservation, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, 1955-1988
- Professor Paul Talalay (born 1923), John Jacob Abel Distinguished Service Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Laboratory for Molecular Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 1974- 
- Professor Roger Sargent FIChemE FIMA FREng (born 1926), Courtaulds Professor of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, 1966-1992
- Professor Frank Adams FRS (1930-1989), Fielden Professor of Mathematics, University of Manchester, 1964-1970, and Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry, University of Cambridge, 1970-1989
- Professor Robert Cassen OBE (born 1935), Professor of the Economics of Development, University of Oxford, 1986-1997
- Professor Quentin Skinner FRHS FBA (born 1940), Regius Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge, 1996-2008
- Professor Richard Hills FRAS FRS (born 1945), Professor of Radio Astronomy, University of Cambridge, 1990-2007
- Professor Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy FRHS (born 1959), Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and Professor of History at the University of Virginia
Actors, Directors and Entertainers
- H B Warner (1875-1958), actor nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, 1937
- H F Maltby (1880-1963), actor, playwright and screenwriter
- Roy Limbert (1893-1954), theatre director and producer
- Torin Thatcher (1905-1981), actor
- John Wood CBE (1930-2011), actor noted for his performances in Shakespeare and for his long association with Tom Stoppard
- Andrew McCulloch (born 1945), actor and writer
- Michael Radford (born 1946), film director and screenwriter, noted for films including Nineteen Eighty-Four, White Mischief and Il Postino
- Simon Chandler (born 1953), actor
- Bob Barrett (born 1966), actor
- Al Murray (born 1968), comedian
- Joel Beckett (born 1973), actor
- David Lloyd Vitty (born 1974), BBC Radio 1 presenter
Adventurers and Nonconformists
- Stainton Moses (1839-1892), spiritualist
- Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1842-1885), adventurer, army officer, author, balloonist, and correspondent for The Times
- Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers (1854-1918), occultist
- Ardern Hulme Beaman (1857-1929), adventurer, author, diplomat, and war correspondent
- Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Blacker OBE (1887-1964), adventurer, army officer, author of First over Everest, and weapons designer
- Reginald Teague-Jones MBE (1890-1988), intelligence officer active in the Caucasus and Central Asia during the Russian Civil War
- Norman Baillie-Stewart (1909-1966), traitor known as 'The Officer in the Tower'
- Simon Murray CBE (born 1940), adventurer, author, French Foreign Legionnaire, and the oldest man to reach the South Pole unsupported, at the age of sixty-three
- John Pollard Seddon FRIBA (1827-1906), architect
- Harry Bulkeley Creswell FRIBA (1869-1960), architect and author
- Oswald Milne FRSA FRIBA (1881-1968), architect
- Peter "Joe" Chamberlin CBE FRIBA (1919-1978), architect and town planner, of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, one of the most important modernist architectural firms in post-War Britain
- Sir Bernard Feilden CBE FRIBA (1919-2008), conservation architect, whose work encompassed cathedrals, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal
The Armed Forces
Five Old Bedfordians have been awarded the Victoria Cross:
- First World War
- Second World War
- Rear Admiral Edward Leopold Dyke Acland MVO CB (1878-1968), Naval Attaché to King George V
- Vice Admiral Sir Richard Lane-Poole KBE CB (1883-1971), Commander Australian Fleet, 1936-1938
- Admiral Sir Robert Burnett GBE KCB CStJ DSO (1887-1959), Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, 1944-1946, and Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth, 1946-1950
- Admiral Sir Geoffrey John Audley Miles KCB KCSI (1890-1986), Head of British Military Mission, Moscow, 1941-1943, Commander-in-Chief, Levant, 1943, Naval Force Commander, Eastern Expeditionary Force, 1943, Deputy Naval Commander, South East Asia Command, 1943-1944, Flag Officer, Western Mediterranean, 1944-1945, Senior British Representative on the Tripartite Naval Commission, 1945-1946, and last Commander-in-Chief, Indian Navy of the unified Royal Indian Navy, 1946-1947
- Commander Richard Jolly GC (1896-1939), awarded the George Cross, 1940
- Vice Admiral Sir Charles Hughes-Hallet KCB CBE (1898-1985), Chief of Staff, Home Fleet, 1950-1951, Head of British Naval Mission, Washington, 1952-1954
- Vice Admiral John Hughes-Hallett CB DSO (1901-1972), Naval Commander during the Dieppe Raid, 1942, Commodore commanding Channel Assault Force and Naval Chief of Staff, 1942-1943, Head of Naval Branch, Supreme Allied Command, 1943, Vice-Controller of the Navy, 1950-1952, Flag Officer, Heavy Squadron, Home Fleet, 1952-1953, Conservative MP for Croydon, 1954-1964, credited with proposing the idea of the Mulberry Harbour
- Vice Admiral Sir Raymond Hawkins KCB (1909-1987), Fourth Sea Lord and Vice Controller of the Navy, 1963-1964, Chief of Fleet Support, 1964-1967
- Admiral of the Fleet Sir Michael Le Fanu GCB DSC (1913-1970), Director-General, Naval Weapons, 1958-1960, Controller of the Navy, 1961-1965, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, 1965-1968, and First Sea Lord, 1968-1970
- Rear Admiral Robin Trower Hogg CB FRSA (born 1932), Flag Officer, First Flotilla, 1984-1986, and Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, 1986-1987
- Major General William Carmichael Russell (1824-1905), served in India during the First Anglo-Sikh War, 1845-1846, and during the Indian Mutiny, 1857
- General Sir Henry Augustus Smyth KCMG FSA FRGS (1825-1906), served in the Crimean War and was present at the Siege of Sevastopol, 1854-1855, General Officer Commanding, South Africa, 1886-1889, Governor-General of Cape Colony, 1889, High Commissioner for Southern Africa, 1889, and Governor of Malta, 1890-1893
- Major General Willoughby Clarke (1833-1909), served in India during the Santhal Rebellion, 1855-1856, and in China during the Second Opium War, 1856-1860 
- General Sir Walter Braithwaite GCB (1865-1945), General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command, India, 1920-1923, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Scottish Command, 1923-1926, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command, 1926-1927, Adjutant-General to the Forces, 1927-1931
- Major General Louis Lipsett CB CMG (1874-1918), General Officer Commanding, 3rd Canadian Division, 1916-1918, General Officer Commanding, 4th Infantry Division, 1918
- Field Marshal Sir Cyril Deverell GCB KBE ADC DL (1874-1947), General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command, 1931-1933, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command, 1933-1936, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1936-1937
- Major General Sir Horace de Courcy Martelli KBE CB DSO (1877-1959), General Officer Commanding 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, 1925-1930, Commandant, Shanghai Defence Force, 1927-1928, Major General Southern Command, 1930-1934, Lieutenant Governor of Jersey, 1934-1939
- Lieutenant General Sir William Montgomery Thomson KCMG CB MC (1877-1963), military governor of Baku, 1918
- Major General Sir Hubert Huddleston GCMG GBE CB DSO MC (1880-1950), Commandant, Sudan Defence Force and General Officer Commanding, Sudan, 1925-1930, and Governor-General of the Sudan, 1940-1947
- Major General Sir Claude Liardet KBE CB DSO TD DL (1881-1966), General Officer Commanding, 56th (London) Division, 1938-1941, and first Commandant-General of the RAF Regiment, 1942-1945
- Lieutenant General Sir William Baker KCIE, CB, DSO, OBE (1888-1964), Adjutant-General of India, 1941-1944
- Major General Austin Timeous Miller CB MC & Bar (1888-1947), Scottish Command, 1941-1945
- Major General Christopher Maltby CB MC DL (1891-1980), Commander British Troops in China, 1941
- General Sir Henry Colville Wemyss KCB KBE DSO MC (1891-1959), Adjutant-General to the Forces, 1940-1941, Head of British Army Mission, Washington, 1941-1942, Military Secretary to the Secretary of State for War, 1942-1945
- Lieutenant General Sir Harold Rawdon Briggs KCIE KBE CB CBE DSO (1894-1952), British Indian Army, Commander-in-Chief, Burma Command, 1946-1948
- Major General Raymond Briggs CB DSO (1895-1984), General Officer Commanding 1st Armoured Division, 1942-1943, General Officer Commanding 2nd Armoured Brigade at the Second Battle of El Alamein, 1942
- General Sir Sidney Kirkman GCB KBE MC (1895-1982), General Officer Commanding, 50th (Northumbrian) Division, 1942-1944, General Officer Commanding, XIII Corps, 1944-1945, Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1945-1947, and Quartermaster-General to the Forces, 1947-1950
- General Sir Frank Simpson GBE KCB DSO (1899-1986), Chief of Staff to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, 1940-1942, Deputy Director of Military Operations at the War Office, 1942-1943, Director of Military Operations at the War Office, 1943-1945, Assistant Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1945-1946, Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1946-1948, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command, 1948-1952, Commandant, Imperial Defence College, 1952-1954
- Major General Robert Cottrell-Hill CB CBE DSO & Bar MC (1903-1965), Commandant, British Sector, Berlin, 1955-1956
- Lieutenant General Sir William Pike KCB CBE DSO (1905-1993), Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1960-1963
- Major General Henry Maughan Liardet CB CBE DSO DL (1906-1996), Chief of Staff, British Joint Services Mission, Washington, 1956-1958
- Major General Timothy Toyne Sewell DL (born 1941), Commandant, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, 1991-1994
- Air Vice-Marshal Sir Sefton Brancker KCB AFC (1877-1930), Director-General of Civil Aviation, 1922-1930, and victim of the R101 disaster
- Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Burnett KCB CBE DSO (1882-1945), Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, 1931-1932, Air Officer Commanding British Forces in Iraq, 1932-1935, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RAF Training Command, 1936-1939, and Chief of the Air Staff, Royal Australian Air Force, 1939-1942
- Marshal of the RAF Cyril Newall, 1st Baron Newall GCB OM GCMG CBE AM (1886-1963), Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, 1926-1931, Air Officer Commanding Middle East Command, 1931-1934, Air Member for Supply and Organisation, 1935-1937, Chief of the Air Staff, 1937-1940, and Governor-General of New Zealand, 1940-1946
- Air Vice-Marshal Sir Paul Maltby KCVO KBE CB DSO AFC DL (1892-1971), Air Officer Commanding Java, 1942, and Black Rod, 1946-1962
- Major Charles Dawson Booker DSC (1897-1918), First World War flying ace credited with 29 victories
- Air Vice-Marshal Brian Courtenay Yarde CVO CBE (1905-1986), Commandant-General of the RAF Regiment, 1954-1957
- Marshal of the RAF Sir Thomas Pike GCB CBE DFC & Bar DL (1906-1983), Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, 1953-1956, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RAF Fighter Command, 1956-1959, Chief of the Air Staff, 1960-1964, and Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, 1964-1967
- Air Chief Marshal Sir David Lee GBE CB (1912-2004), the United Kingdom's Military Representative to NATO, 1968-1971
- Group Captain Brian Kingcome DSO DFC & Bar (1917-1994), Second World War flying ace, most notable for serving with No. 92 Squadron RAF during the Battle of Britain
- Air Vice-Marshal Michael Adams CB AFC FRAeS (born 1934), Assistant Chief of the Air Staff for Operational Requirements at the Ministry of Defence, 1984-1986, Senior Directing Officer at the Royal College of Defence Studies, 1987-1988
- Claude Grahame-White (1879-1959), pioneering aviator
- John Dudley North CBE (1893-1968), aircraft designer and chairman of Boulton Paul Aircraft
- Group Captain George Bulman CBE MC AFC & Bar FRAeS (1896-1963), chief test pilot and director at Hawker Aircraft
- Bob Feilden CBE FRS FREng FIMechE (1917-2004), mechanical engineer, an essential part of the Power Jets team that developed the first jet engine with Sir Frank Whittle, 1940-1946, author of the seminal Report of the Feilden Committee on Engineering Design, 1963, and Director General of the British Standards Institution, 1970-1981
- William Lockhart (1820-1892), Catholic priest and the first of the Oxford Movement to convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism
- George Maclear (1833-1902), theological writer
- William Percival Johnson (1854-1928), missionary in Africa
- Walter Ruthven Pym (1856-1908), Bishop of Mauritius, 1898-1903, Bishop of Bombay, 1903-1908, and grandfather of Francis Pym, (1922-2008), Foreign Secretary under Margaret Thatcher
- Ernest Augustus Anderson (1859-1945), Bishop of Riverina, 1895-1925
- Hubert Murray Burge (1862-1925), Headmaster of Winchester College, 1901-1910, Bishop of Southwark, 1910-1919, and Bishop of Oxford, 1919-1925
- Paget Wilkes (1871-1934), missionary in Japan
- William Surtees (1871-1956), Bishop of Crediton, 1930-1954
- John Gregg CH (1873-1961), Bishop of Ossory, Ferns and Leighlin, 1915-1920, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, 1920-1939, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, 1939-1959
- Walter Carey (1875-1955), Bishop of Bloemfontein, 1921-1935, theological writer, and rugby international for the British Isles XV on their 1896 tour of South Africa 
- John Weller (1880-1969), Bishop of the Falkland Islands, 1934-1945
- Richard Dyke Acland (1881-1954), Bishop of Bombay, 1929-1947
- Bertram Lasbrey (1881-1976), Bishop on the Niger, 1922-1945
- Wilfred Askwith KCMG (1890-1962), Bishop of Blackburn, 1942-1954, and Bishop of Gloucester, 1954-1962
- Noel Hall (1891-1962), Bishop of Chota Nagpur, 1936-1957
- David Farmbrough (1929-2013), Bishop of Bedford, 1981-1993
- Robin Smith (born 1936), Bishop of Hertford, 1990-2001
The Civil and Diplomatic Services
- Sir Walter Hillier KCMG CB (1849-1927), diplomat, author, Sinologist and Professor of Chinese at King's College London
- Sir Aubrey Vere Symonds KCB (1874-1931), Permanent Secretary, Board of Education, 1925-1931
- Gilbert Campion, 1st Baron Campion GCB (1882-1958), Clerk of the House of Commons, 1937-1948
- Sir Harold MacMichael GCMG DSO (1882-1969), Governor of Tanganyika, 1934-1938, High Commissioner to Palestine, 1938-1944
- Sir John FitzGerald Moylan CB CBE (1882-1967), Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, 1940-1945
- Sir Bernard Rawdon Reilly KCMG CIE OBE (1882-1966), British Resident in Aden, 1931-1932, Chief Commissioner of Aden, 1932-1937, Governor of Aden, 1937-1940
- Sir William Castle Cleary KBE CB (1886-1971), Principal Private Secretary to the President of the Board of Education, 1931-1935, Principal Assistant Secretary for Elementary Education, 1940-1945, and Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Education, 1945-1950
- Bertram Lamb Pearson CB DSO MC (1893-1984), Principal Private Secretary to the President of the Board of Education, 1937-1946, and Under Secretary, Ministry of Education, 1946-1955
- Sir Charles Belgrave KBE (1894-1969), Chief Administrator to the rulers of Bahrain, 1926-1957
- Sir Percivale Liesching KCMG KCB GCMG KCVO (1895-1973), Permanent Under-Secretary, Ministry of Food, 1946-1948, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, 1949-1955, and High Commissioner to South Africa, 1955-1958
- Sir Pierson Dixon GCMG CB (1904-1965), Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, 1943-1948, Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, 1948-1950, Deputy Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, 1950-1954, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, 1954-1960, and Ambassador to France, 1960-1965
- Sir George Godber GCB (1908-2009), Chief Medical Officer, 1960-1973
- Sir George Lisle Clutton KCMG FSA (1909-1970), Ambassador to the Philippines, 1955-1959, and Ambassador to Poland, 1960-1966
- Ian Clayton Mackenzie CBE (1909-2009), Ambassador to South Korea, 1967-1969
- Sir Bruce Fraser KCB (1910-1993), Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, 1960-1964, Joint Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Department of Education and Science, 1964-1965, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, 1965-1966, Comptroller and Auditor General, Exchequer, 1966-1971
- Thomas Rogers MBE CMG (1912-1999), Ambassador to Colombia, 1970-1973
- John Glendwr Owen CB (1914-1977), Under Secretary at HM Treasury, 1959-1973
- Major Martin Clemens CBE MC AM (1915-2009), colonial administrator who prepared the Solomon Islands for resistance to Japanese occupation
- John Gordon Doubleday OBE (1920-1982), Ambassador to Liberia, 1978-1980
- Peter Tripp CMG (1921-2010), Ambassador to Libya, 1970-1974, High Commissioner to Singapore, 1974-1978, and Ambassador to Thailand, 1978-1981
- Sir James Hennessy KBE CMG (born 1923), Ambassador to Uruguay, 1971-1972, High Commissioner to Uganda, 1973-1976, Ambassador to Rwanda, 1973-1976, Governor of Belize, 1980-1981, and Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, 1982-1987
- Peter Maxey CMG (born 1930), Under Secretary at the Cabinet Office, 1978-1981, Ambassador to the German Democratic Republic, 1981-1984, and Ambassador to the United Nations, 1984-1986
- Sir Alan Bailey KCB (born 1931), Principal Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1971-1973, Under Secretary at HM Treasury, 1973-1978, Deputy Secretary at HM Treasury, 1978-1983, Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury, 1983-1985, and Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, 1986-1991
- William Myles Knighton CB (born 1931), Principal Private Secretary to the Minister of Technology, 1966-1968, Assistant Secretary, Department of Trade, 1967-1974, Under Secretary, Department of Trade, 1974-1978, Deputy Secretary, Department of Trade, 1978-1983, Deputy Secretary, Department for Transport, 1983-1986, and Principal Establishment and Finance Officer, Department of Trade and Industry, 1986-1991
- Sir Michael Burton KCVO CMG (born 1937), British Minister in Berlin, 1985-1992, Assistant Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office (Middle East), 1993, and Ambassador to the Czech Republic, 1994-1997
- Sir Allan Ramsay KBE CMG (born 1937), Ambassador to the Lebanon, 1988-1990, Ambassador to the Sudan, 1990-1991, and Ambassador to Morocco, 1992-1996
- John Martin CMG (1943-1999), High Commissioner to Malawi, 1993-1998
- Paul Wright (born 1946), Under Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1992-1999
- Richard Northern MBE (born 1954), Ambassador to Libya, 2010-2011
- John Hawkins (born 1960), Ambassador to Qatar, 2008-2012
Industry and Commerce
- Sir William Harpur (c1496-1574), Sheriff of the City of London, 1556-1557, Lord Mayor of London, 1561-1562
- Julius Drewe (1856-1931), creator of Home and Colonial Stores, once one of the United Kingdom's largest retail chains, and builder of Castle Drogo in Devon
- Sir Reginald Butler, 1st Baronet (1866-1933), chairman of United Dairies
- Sir Harold Yarrow, 2nd Baronet GBE (1884-1962), chairman and managing director of Yarrow Shipbuilders and chairman of Clydesdale Bank
- Sir Peter Parker KBE LVO (1924-2002), chairman of British Rail, 1976-1983
- Sir Peter Hunt FRICS (1933-1997), chairman and managing director of Land Securities, 1978-1997
- Derek Bonham (1943-2007), CEO of Hanson Group, 1992-1997, chairman of Imperial Tobacco, 1996-2007, chairman of Cadbury Schweppes, 2000-2003, and chairman of Marconi, 2001-2002
- Miles Young (born 1954), chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, 2009- 
- Andrew Horton (born 1962), CEO of Beazley Group, 2008- 
- Henry Corbet (1820-1878), agricultural writer and editor
- E H D Sewell (1872-1947), cricket and rugby journalist, Essex and MCC cricketer, and author
- Henry Longhurst (1909-1978), BBC sports commentator and golf writer, Golfing Correspondent of The Sunday Times, Conservative MP for Acton, 1943-1945
- Michael De-la-Noy (1934-2002), author, journalist and gay rights advocate
- Richard Lindley (born 1936), BBC and ITN journalist
- John Percival (1937-2005), BBC and Channel 4 documentary film maker
- Michael Brunson OBE (born 1940), ITN Political Editor, Diplomatic Editor and Washington Correspondent
- Robert Hewison (born 1943), Theatre Critic of The Sunday Times
- John Witherow (born 1952), Editor of The Sunday Times, 1995-2013, Editor of The Times, 2013- 
- Matthew Chilton (born 1963), BBC sports commentator
- Will Gompertz (born 1965), BBC Arts Editor
- Ned Boulting (born 1969), sports journalist, commentator and author
- Sir John Leach KC (1760-1834), Judge, Privy Councillor, Tory MP for Seaford, 1806-1816, Chancellor of the Duchy of Cornwall, 1816-1818, Vice Chancellor of England, 1818-1827, and Master of the Rolls, 1827-1834
- Erskine May, 1st Baron Farnborough KCB (1815-1886), British constitutional theorist, Privy Councillor, Clerk of the House of Commons, 1871-1886, and the original author of Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice
- Henry Hawkins, 1st Baron Brampton QC (1817-1907), barrister, Judge in the High Court of Justice, 1876-1898, and Privy Councillor
- Sir Frank Beaman (1858-1928), Puisne Judge in the High Court, Bombay, 1906-1918
- Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson (1871-1951), barrister, Judge in the High Court of Justice, 1921-1939, Privy Councillor, and grandfather of Sir Richard Branson
- Sir Lynden Macassey KBE KC (1876-1963), barrister and labour lawyer
- Mr Justice Harold Blacker (1889-1944), Puisne Judge in the High Court of Judicature, Lahore, 1937-1944
- Sir Gerald Osborne Slade KC (1891-1962), barrister, and Judge in the High Court of Justice, 1948-1962
- Sir Audley McKisack QC (1903-1966), Attorney General of Nigeria, 1951-1956, Chief Justice of Uganda, 1956-1962, President of the High Court of the Federation of South Arabia, 1964-1966, and Judge in the Court of Appeal of the Bahamas and Bermuda, 1965-1966
- Sir Stephen Mitchell QC (born 1941), barrister, and Judge in the High Court of Justice, 1993-2003
- John Pomfret (1667-1702), poet
- Samuel Palmer (1741-1813), biographer
- Foster Barham Zincke (1817-1893), antiquary
- Morley Roberts (1857-1942), novelist and short story writer
- Frederick Carruthers Cornell OBE (1867-1921), South African short story writer and poet
- Saki (1870-1916), short story writer
- Hesketh Pearson (1887-1964), biographer
- Noel Carrington (1895-1989), book designer, editor, publisher, writer, originator of Puffin Books, and brother of the artist Dora Carrington
- John Fowles (1926-2005), novelist, author of The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman
- Jonathon Green (born 1948), lexicographer
- Shoo Rayner (born 1956), author and illustrator of children's books
- Sir Maurice Craig CBE FRCP (1866-1935), psychiatrist and pioneer in the treatment of mental illness
- Sir Adolphe Abrahams OBE FRCP (1883-1967), physician and founder of British sports science
- Professor Charles Enrique Dent CBE FRCP FRS (1911-1976), physician and biochemist who gave his name to Dent's disease
- Dr George Crichton Wells FRCP (1914-1999), dermatologist who gave his name to Wells' syndrome
- Frank Cockett FRCS (1916-2014), surgeon, author and art historian
- C H Bovill (1878-1918), lyricist, songwriter and writer, best known for his collaboration with P G Wodehouse
- Dr Marmaduke Conway FRCO (1885-1961), organist and writer
- Darrell Fancourt (1886-1953), bass-baritone singer who starred in more than 10,000 performances with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
- Dr Herbert Kennedy Andrews FRCO (1904-1965), composer, musicologist, organist and Fellow in Music at New College, Oxford
- Richard Kerr (born 1944), songwriter
- Frank Musker (born 1951), composer and songwriter
- Alec Dankworth (born 1960), jazz bassist
- Marius de Vries (born 1961), composer and producer
- Andrew Manze (born 1965), Associate Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, 1996-2003, Artistic Director of The English Concert, 2003-2007, and Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, 2006- 
- Philip Stopford (born 1977), choir director and composer of sacred choral music
- Xander Rawlins (born 1984), singer-songwriter and documentary film maker
Politicians and Statesmen
- John Williams (c1519-c1561), MP for Bedford, 1554-1555
- Lieutenant Commander Norman Carlyle Craig KC (1868-1919), Conservative MP for the Isle of Thanet, 1910-1919
- Sir Walter Preston (1875-1946), Conservative MP for Mile End, 1918-1923, Conservative MP for Cheltenham, 1928-1937
- Auberon Herbert, 9th Baron Lucas (1876-1916), Liberal politician and fighter pilot, Privy Councillor, Under-Secretary of State for War, 1908-1911, Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1911, Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, 1911-1914, President of the Board of Agriculture, 1914-1915
- Sir Richard Wells, 1st Baronet DL (1879-1957), Conservative MP for Bedford, 1922-1945
- Colonel Eric Harrison (1880-1948), Australian MP, 1931-1937
- Air Commodore Sir Frank Nelson KCMG (1883-1966), Conservative MP for Stroud, 1924-1931, and the first head of Special Operations Executive, 1940-1942
- Leslie Ruthven Pym (1884-1945), Conservative MP for Monmouth, 1939-1945, and father of Francis Pym (1922-2008), Foreign Secretary under Margaret Thatcher
- Charles Theodore Te Water (1887-1964), President of the Assembly of the League of Nations, 1933-1934
- Sir Walter Jackson Cooper MBE (1888-1973), Australian Senator, 1928-1968, Minister of Repatriation, 1949-1960
- Sir Trounsell Gilbert CBE KC (1888-1975), Chief Justice and President of the Senate of Bermuda, 1952-1958
- Alan Grahame Brown (1913-1972), Labour and Conservative MP for Tottenham, 1959-1964
- Sir Anthony Fell (1914-1998), Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth, 1951-1983
- Joseph Godber, Baron Godber of Willington (1914-1980), Privy Councillor, Conservative MP for Grantham, 1951-1979, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 1957-1960, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 1960-1961, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, 1961-1963, Secretary of State for War, 1963, Minister of Labour, 1963-1964, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, 1970-1972, and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 1972-1974
- Major Richard Harden DSO MC (1916-2000), Ulster Unionist MP for Armagh, 1948-1954
- Major Geraint Morgan QC (1920-1995), Conservative MP for Denbigh, 1959-1983, and champion of the Welsh language
- Stephen Ross, Baron Ross of Newport (1926-1993), Liberal MP for the Isle of Wight, 1974-1987
- Michael Morris, Baron Naseby (born 1936), Privy Councillor, Conservative MP for Northampton South, 1974-1997
- Krishnan Srinivasan (born 1937), Indian Foreign Secretary, 1994-1995, Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, 1995-2002
- Paddy Ashdown, Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon GCMG KBE (born 1941), Privy Councillor, Liberal Democrat MP for Yeovil, 1983-2001, leader of the Liberal Democrats, 1988-1999, international High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2002-2006
- Sir Gerry Neale (born 1941), Conservative MP for North Cornwall, 1979-1992
- John Carlisle (born 1942), Conservative MP for Luton, 1979-1997
- John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Holbeach CBE FRSA (born 1943), Conservative politician and minister at the Home Office, 2012- 
- Bob Clay (born 1946), Labour MP for Sunderland North, 1983-1992
- Malcolm Harbour CBE (born 1947), Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, 1999-2014
- Desmond Swayne (born 1956), Conservative MP for New Forest West, 1997-, and Parliamentary Private Secretary to David Cameron, 2010-2012
- Brooks Newmark (born 1958), Conservative MP for Braintree, Essex, 2005- 
- Percy Christopherson (1866-1921), England rugby international and Kent cricketer
- Freddie Brooks OBE (1883-1947), England rugby international and Rhodesia cricketer
- Lieutenant Colonel Stan Harris CBE (1894-1973), England and British Lions rugby international, water polo international, South Africa Davis Cup tennis player, South Africa light-heavyweight boxing champion, and Wimbledon mixed doubles winner, who turned down a place in the 1920 Great Britain Olympic team
- Gilbert Cook (1911-1979), England rugby international and Ireland cricketer
- Harold Abrahams CBE (1899-1978), sprinter, long jumper, barrister and civil servant: winner of the Olympic gold medal in 1924 for the 100 metre sprint; a feat portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire
- Brigadier Dick Webster (1914-2009), Olympic pole vaulter, 1936 and 1948
- William Woof (1858-1937), Gloucestershire and MCC cricketer
- Herbert Orr (1865-1940), Western Australia cricketer
- Lancelot Robinson (1905-1935), MCC cricketer
- Cyril Reed (1906-1991), Madras cricketer
- William Sime CMG MBE QC (1909-1983), barrister, Judge, and Nottinghamshire cricketer
- Brian Disbury (born 1929), Kent cricketer
- Michael Allen (1933-1995), Northamptonshire, MCC and Derbyshire cricketer
- Ian Peck (born 1957), Northamptonshire cricketer
- Robin Boyd-Moss (born 1959), Northamptonshire cricketer
- Toby Bailey (born 1976), Northamptonshire cricketer
- Will Smith (born 1982), Hampshire, Durham and Nottinghamshire cricketer
- Adrian Shankar (born 1982), Worcestershire cricketer
- Alastair Cook MBE (born 1984), Essex, MCC and England cricketer who has captained the England cricket team
- Alex Wakely (born 1988), Northamptonshire cricketer and captain of the England Under-19 cricket team
- James Kettleborough (born 1992), Northamptonshire cricketer
- Stefan Tewes (born 1967), Olympic gold medalist in hockey, 1992
- Sven Meinhardt (born 1971), Olympic gold medalist in hockey, 1992
- William Crofts (1846-1912), rower
- Jack Beresford CBE (1899-1977), rower, winner of five medals (three gold, two silver) at five Olympic Games in succession, 1920-1936
- Dr Edward Vaughan Bevan (1907-1988), rower, Olympic gold medalist, 1928
- James Crowden (born 1927), Olympic rower, 1952
- Michael Beresford (born 1934), Olympic rower, 1960
- Phelan Hill (born 1979), rower, Olympic bronze medalist, 2012
- Philip Jacob (born 1875), England rugby international
- Francis Palmer MC (1877-1951), England rugby international
- Curly Hammond (1879-1963), England rugby international
- Basil Maclear (1881-1915), Ireland rugby international
- Ernest Chambers (1882-1946), England rugby international
- Cecil Milton (1884-1961), England rugby international
- Jumbo Milton (1885-1915), England rugby international whilst still a pupil at Bedford School
- Henry Vassall (1887-1949), England rugby international
- Sir Arthur Blakiston, 7th Baronet MC (1892-1974), England and British Lions rugby international
- Sir Basil McFarland, 2nd Baronet CBE ERD (1898-1986), Ireland rugby international
- Robert Jones (1900-1970), Wales rugby international
- Leo Oakley (1926-1981), England rugby international
- Budge Rogers OBE (born 1933), England and British Lions rugby international
- Simon Smith (born 1960), England rugby international
- Martin Bayfield (born 1966), England and British Lions rugby international
- Andy Gomarsall MBE (born 1974), England rugby international
- David Callam (born 1983), Scotland rugby international
- Patrick Wheatley (1899-1967), tennis player who competed at Wimbledon on eleven separate occasions, 1921-1933, at the Olympic Games, 1924, and in the Davis Cup, 1926
- List of Victoria Crosses by school
- Nobel Prize laureates by secondary school affiliation
- List of high schools producing multiple Olympic gold medalists
- Bedford Preparatory School
- "Bedford School | Bedford | LEA:Bedford | Bedfordshire". The Good Schools Guide. 2012-05-12. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Godber, Joyce (1973). The Harpur Trust 1552-1973. White Crescent Press Ltd. ISBN 0-9502917-0-6
- WILLIAMS, alias SCOTT, John (by 1519-61 or later), of Bedford. | History of Parliament Online
- De-la-Noy, p.223
- Godber, Joyce (1973). The Harpur Trust 1552-1973. White Crescent Press Ltd. ISBN 0-9502917-0-6.
- De-la-Noy, p.227
- De-la-Noy, pp.47-72
- De-la-Noy, pp.63-64
- M.E. Barlen, M.P. Stambach and D.P.C. Stileman (1984). Bedford School And The Great Fire. Quiller Press. ISBN 0-907621-37-6
- Halpin, Tony (2005-11-10). "Independent schools face huge fines over cartel to fix fees". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- "The Office of Fair Trading: OFT names further trustees as part of the independent schools settlement". Oft.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- "www.bedfordschool.org". www.bedfordschool.org. 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
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