Tilsworth shown within Bedfordshire
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||Central Bedfordshire|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||LEIGHTON BUZZARD|
|Fire||Bedfordshire and Luton|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||South West Bedfordshire|
Tilsworth is a small village and civil parish in Bedfordshire. It lies to the north west of Dunstable, and the Roman Watling Street (A5) forms the north east boundary of the parish of 1200 acres (4.8 km²). The village lies on the gault clay, where springs well up just south of a gentle gravelly ridge. A large proportion of the area is still farmland.
The Domesday Book calls the place "Pileworde" because of a misunderstanding of the symbol for "th", and the name probably means "Thyfel's homestead". A further alternative spelling is "Tyllesworth", in a legal record, dated 1470, mentioning Thomas Carter, a husbandman of the village. 
The Medieval All Saints' Church, built of Totternhoe stone, stands in a prominent position on the hillside, and can be seen from a distance when floodlit at night. It has shared a vicar with Stanbridge since the 19th century, and the combined benefice now also includes Totternhoe. The Church House acts as a centre for many local organisations and there is an active community life in the village.
Across the road from the Church, on lower ground, is the ancient moated site of Tilsworth Manor (now a private house). The house itself has been much altered in modern times, but retains a picturesque 15th century gate tower. Tilsworth fête is held in the grounds each June. The manor was owned in the 16th century by the Fowler family. In 1600 a notorious trial followed a quarrel between Richard Fowler and his young wife. Richard was imprisoned in the Tower of London as the result of a forged letter implicating him in a plot to poison Queen Elizabeth I. His wife, her brother and her lover were convicted of the forgery.
Several old farmhouses, two of them thatched, survive in Tilsworth. There are new houses and bungalows, but the village has not yet increased greatly in size. One farmhouse in the north corner of the parish was lost to Hockliffe, to which it was adjacent, in the 20th century. The "Little Chef" restaurant and Travelodge on the A5 are called "Hockliffe", though in fact they lie in Tilsworth.
Tilsworth is part of the political ward of 'Heath and Reach' which sends a Councillor to Central Bedfordshire Council. The ward includes the villages of Heath and Reach, Hockliffe, Eggington, Stanbridge, Tilsworth, Tebworth, and Wingrave. The ward was created in 2011 and has since been represented by Councillor Mark Versallion.
- V. Watts, The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names, Cambridge, 2004, ISBN 0-521-36209-1.
- Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40/837; http://aalt.law.uh.edu/AALT2/E4/CP40no837/bCP40no837dorses/IMG_0577.htm; 4th entry with county margination Hertf, & plaintiff William Westby
- Tilsworth and Stanbridge Women's Institute.
- B. B. West, "Bedfordshire sketch-book CLXXX – Tilsworth", Bedfordshire Magazine, volume 25, number 197, pages 202–203, 1996.
- C. Pickford, Bedfordshire Churches in the Nineteenth Century, Part III: Parishes Salford to Yelden, Bedfordshire Historical Record Society volume 79, 2000, ISBN 0-85155-063-0, page 680.
- J. Schneider (editor), "I Can Remember ...": Village Life Recollected in the Words of People from Tilsworth, Bedfordshire, Friends of Tilsworth Church, 2006, page 51.
- B. N. de Luna, The Mortal Shakespeare: Some New Light on His Political and Personal Relationships, 1580–1616, c.1993. At the British Library.
- Murder in Blackgrove Wood 1821, Bedfordshire Notes and Queries, volume 1, 1886.
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