Heath and Reach

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Heath and Reach
Heath and Reach is located in Bedfordshire
Heath and Reach
Heath and Reach
 Heath and Reach shown within Bedfordshire
Population 1,350 [1]
OS grid reference SP925280
Unitary authority Central Bedfordshire
Ceremonial county Bedfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LU7
Dialling code 01525
Police Bedfordshire
Fire Bedfordshire and Luton
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament South West Bedfordshire
List of places

Coordinates: 51°56′35″N 0°39′20″W / 51.9430°N 0.6555°W / 51.9430; -0.6555

Heath and Reach is an English village and civil parish near the Chiltern Hills in Bedfordshire. It is two miles north of Leighton Buzzard and three miles south of Woburn and adjoins the county boundary with Buckinghamshire.

The parish is bounded in the south-west by the River Ouzel, in the north-east by the A5 (Watling Street), and includes the Kings's Wood nature reserve and the famous 400 acre Rushmere Country Park woods. Heath and Reach is also home to an 18-hole golf course and a heritage narrow gauge railway. Nearby places are Leighton-Linslade, Great Brickhill and the Duke of Bedford's Woburn Abbey, Woburn Safari Park and Woburn Golf Club.

There was a sizeable Roman settlement at Heath and Reach. Fragments of pottery, coins and traces of buildings were found in 1971 near Overend Green Farm, by the Roman road, Watling Street.[2][3] The village was originally two small hamlets in the Royal Manor of Leighton[4] and records are found for Heath in 1220 and Reach in 1216.[5] The village boasts several grade II listed properties.[6] St Leonard's Church dates from the 1580s.[7]

The village lower school St Leonard's was founded in 1846 by the Church of England and educates 100 children aged 4–9. There is also an on-site pre-school. The school's key stage 1 results remain "exceptionally above national and local averages"[8] and Ofsted rate the school Outstanding.[9]

Heath Green with pump house and Duke's Head public house

There are 570 homes in the parish and besides the church, school and golf club, the village has two pubs and a village store and a thriving Royal British Legion.[1] There is also a sports association with tennis courts, playing fields and pavilion and a separate recreation ground. The village benefits from several community use meadows, public footpaths and bridleways. There is also a fishing club at the ten acre Jones Lakes.[10] The highest point is 480 feet above sea level[11] 'Heath and Reach' is also included in the postal addresses of properties in nearby Old Linslade. Leighton Buzzard Golf Club lies just to the southwest of the village.

Located 40 miles from central London, the village is 6 miles from the M1 and benefits from a non-stop fast train from nearby Leighton Buzzard to Euston in just 32 minutes.

The village's annual Pancake Race organised every Shrove Tuesday by the Heath and Reach Women's Institute is a major feature of village life, raising money for charity.[12]

'Heath and Reach' is also the name of the constituency that sends a Councillor to Central Bedfordshire Council. It includes the villages of Heath and Reach, Hockliffe, Eggington, Stanbridge, Tilsworth, Tebworth and Wingfield. The seat has been held by Councillor Mark Versallion since its creation in 2011.[13][14]


Henry VIII's wars[edit]

Heath and Reach was part of the parish of Leighton and was the property of the King of England. In 1539 a Muster Roll during the reign of Henry VIII listed the fighting men of the village, those aged 16–60, as "25 males who could be relied upon to fight in Henry's wars with France and the defence of Calais."[15]

English Civil War[edit]

As a prominent Royalist, Lord Leigh's estates were seized in 1644 and given to Parliamentarians: the Royal Manor of Leighton, which included Heath and Reach, handed to Colonel John Okey, commander of the New Model Army dragoons and a signatory to the execution of Charles I. When Okey was executed for treason at the 1660 Restoration Charles II transferred the royal manor lease back to Lord Leigh whose line continued as lords of the manor into the 19th century.[16]

First World War[edit]

Lieutenant Robert Strong, who was killed in action near Ypres in 1915, was from Heath and Reach. First born son of Robert Strong of Gig Lane, Robert Jr was British Army bandmaster in India prior to the war and a noted sportsman.[17] Lieutenant Arthur Pearson was also from Heath and Reach, a pilot of 29 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, was awarded the Military Cross in the Battle of the Somme for "conspicuous gallantry". He was shot down in flames and killed 1917 by von Richthofen.[17]


The disused quarry on the outskirts of Heath and Reach has been used for film purposes, most notably The Mummy Returns (2001), The Da Vinci Code (2006),[18] and Singularity (2012).[19][20]

The world relay gold medalist and TV presenter Kriss Akabusi MBE lives in Heath and Reach.[21]

The narrow-gauge railway maintains the largest collection of narrow-gauge locomotives in Britain.[22]


  1. ^ a b http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/Images/Census%20parish%20profile%20Heath%20%26%20Reach%20050213_tcm6-40306.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/HeathandReach/RomanHeathAndReach.aspx
  3. ^ http://www.heathandreach.org.uk/Home/History/tabid/64/Default.aspx.
  4. ^ Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service. http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/LeightonBuzzard/TheRoyalManorOfLeightonBuzzard.aspx
  5. ^ Heath and Reach parish web site: http://www.heathandreach.org.uk
  6. ^ Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service. http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/HeathandReach/71And73WoburnRoadHeathAndReach.aspx
  7. ^ from Heath and Reach.com. http://www.heathandreach.com
  8. ^ http://schoolsfinder.direct.gov.uk/8233310/school-profile/
  9. ^ Osted assessment November 2011. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/109618
  10. ^ http://www.fisharound.net/location/public/3965/Jones-Pit
  11. ^ Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service. http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/HeathandReach/TheParishOfHeathAndReachInGeneral.aspx
  12. ^ Leighton Buzzard Observer newspaper, http://www.leightonbuzzardonline.co.uk/news/videos/ready_steady_toss_1_2483871, retrieved 21Mar11.
  13. ^ http://www.markversallion.com/
  14. ^ http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/modgov/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=5231
  15. ^ A History of the Village of Heath and Reach by Maureen Brown, page 11. Published by the Leighton Buzzard Archaeological and History Society, 2007.
  16. ^ http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/LeightonBuzzard/TheManorOfLeightonBuzzardAliasGrovebury.aspx
  17. ^ a b Roll of Honour. http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Bedfordshire/HeathandReachRollofHonour.html
  18. ^ http://www.ukonscreen.com/gdhdjeb-The-Da-Vinci-Code-(2006)
  19. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1321869/locations
  20. ^ http://www.leightonbuzzardonline.co.uk/news/local-news/war-breaks-out-in-heath-quarry-as-blockbuster-move-in-1-3910997
  21. ^ http://www.aroundampthill.org/forum, retrieved 13 June 2010.[dead link]
  22. ^ http://www.iloveleightonbuzzard.com/content/14/town-history

External links[edit]