Southill, Bedfordshire

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All Saints church Southill (geograph 3787371).jpg
All Saints parish church
Southill is located in Bedfordshire
Location within Bedfordshire
Population1,141 (2001)
1,192 (2011 Census including Broom , Ireland and Stanford)[1]
OS grid referenceTL1542
Civil parish
  • Southill
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBiggleswade
Postcode districtSG18
Dialling code01462
FireBedfordshire and Luton
AmbulanceEast of England
EU ParliamentEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°03′50″N 0°19′44″W / 52.063821°N 0.328790°W / 52.063821; -0.328790Coordinates: 52°03′50″N 0°19′44″W / 52.063821°N 0.328790°W / 52.063821; -0.328790

Southill is a village and civil parish in Bedfordshire, England, 5.5 km west south-west of Biggleswade. Its eastern fields are on the plain of the River Ivel; its west is hilly. The village centre is a close cluster.

The principal residence, Southill Park, was one of at least four manors, and was for three generations the home of the local branch of the landed Byng family, the Viscounts Torrington, Navy admirals, by whom it was sold at the end of the 18th century to industrialist Samuel Whitbread.

Admiral John Byng is buried in All Saints Church, which is a 14th and 15th century church embellished in 1814. The parish has three hamlets, Broom, Stanford and Ireland which share in the secular resources funded by the civil parish council; the latter is the part of the area beside the dismantled Bedford-Hitchin line on which Southill railway station provided passenger services until 1961.


Earliest written history[edit]

Stigand's office as Archbishop of Canterbury spanned Saxon and Norman monarchies before his fall from grace. He is depicted well in the Bayeux Tapestry.

Southill is part of the ancient hundred of Wixamtree and is mentioned as such seven times in the Domesday Book (detailing Southill landholdings of noblemen or freemen), some of which may be records as under-lords of the others (see subinfeudation).[2] The total tax assessed was 9.7 geld units (very large) and recorded households numbered 29 (quite large).[2] The Book shows sixteen freemen formerly owned its most valuable entry upon conquest, replaced by two Frenchmen at the time of its compilation in 1086. The annual value of this entry was estimated or attested as £3 upon conquest, £4 and a half pounds in 1070, then £4 in 1086. Southill landowners in 1086 included gentry Hugh of Beauchamp, Countess Judith (Judith of Lens) who founded nearby Elstow Abbey in 1078, Walter of Flanders, Richard Poynant, William of Cairon and Alric (Wintermilk) who was a Saxon landowner — his very small £0.2-rated estate was substituted by one of equal worth, though valued at more in the interim and having 40% more ploughlands. The estates of Archbishop Stigand were seized nationwide in 1070 including one here. Earlier seized were two holdings of Leofwin the noble of Caddington taken on conquest and which holder the Book adds held under King Edward's overlordship.

Church history[edit]

All Saints Church, Southill is a 14th and 15th century church embellished in 1814 built in courses of ferrous rubble stone, part-dressed in ironstone and limestone, altered and extended in red and pale brick. Some areas are cement- or lime-rendered. The church contains floor and wall monuments to local people mainly from the 17th and 18th century, some of which in polychrome marble. It is a listed building in the middle category of statutorily protected heritage, Grade II*.[3]

Its chancel, heightened in brickwork, has a reworked 3-pane fifteenth century main window and similar age 5-pane window with a pointed arch facing south by a blocked-off pointed-arch doorway. A sepulchral vault to the Byng family built in rendered brickwork has a round-headed doorway facing their former park to the east. The nave has pointed-arch 5-and-a-half bay arcades, believed to have been built in 1814. The clerestory between the sides above two has 4 small windows per side. Most windows have plain sub-panes. The narrow aisles have two five-pane and four three-pane reworked late medieval windows, a doorway with pointed head of that date and an earlier pointed-arch 3-pane window, a later north-west door and later connection to the Byng vault. It small south porch ends in a gable, above a pointed-arch entrance supported by angle buttresses. The fifteenth century west tower has three stages with opposing square and clasping lightly buttressing walls topped by pale-brick-built battlements of differing heights. The west door has traceried spandrels, surmounted by 3-light window. The roofwork, low-slant, and seating is circa 1814. The font was designed in 1937 by Sir Albert Richardson.[3]

The Byng vault includes George Viscount Torrington, Rear Admiral who died in 1732 and Admiral John Byng, executed 1757.[3]

Later descriptions[edit]

In 1805, a gazetteer reads:

"SOUTH HILL, or SOUTHILL, (Bedf.) village distance from Shefford 2 miles North which gives title of baron to Viscount Torrington, whose family seat is here. On a monument in the church is an inscription to the memory of the Hon. John Byng, Vice Admiral of the Blue, who fell a martyr to political persecution, March 14, 1757. Near it is Wardon, or De Sartes abbey, founded by Walter Espec, in 1135, for Cistercian monks."[4]

The equivalent in 1914 reads:

parish and village with railway station (1½ miles north-west, Midland Railway), east Bedfordshire; parish[...5,734 acres (23.20 km2)], population: 989, [population of] ecclesiastical district: 954; village 3 miles south-west of Biggleswade; Post Office; Telegraph Office at station. In vicinity is Southill Park, seat".

— Bartholomew's Gazetteer[5]

Executed Admiral, The Honorable John Byng[edit]

An event was held in the village in March 2007 and an eponymous real ale was brewed by B&T Brewery in Shefford to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the execution of Admiral Byng.

Former amenity[edit]

The first mention of a post office in the village is in 1850. Post Office archives record the issue to Southill on 6 August 1850 of a type of postmark known as an undated circle. Rubber datestamps were issued in May 1889 and April 1895.[6] The village post office closed on 14 October 2008. It was one of about 2,500 compensated closures of UK branches announced by the Government in 2007.[7]


The village has an active congregation in its church and the following:

  • A small park with playground, Southill Play Area toward the east of its clustered core.
  • Two village halls at Southill and technically at Broom which remains part of the civil (secular) parish as well as the ecclesiastical parish thus run by the same organisation. The latter by way of example is used by clubs, groups and pre-schools and pre-planned parties and receptions. It is usually available by prior arrangement at weekends.[8][9]
  • Its lower school, Southill Lower School educates children to the age of 9 and shares in leadership and combines in projects and programmes with Shelton Lower School.[10]
  • The White Horse pub-restaurant[11]
  • The parish has the Black House pub-restaurant, see Ireland, Bedfordshire, this is a 500 metres (1,600 ft) walk from the heart of Southill.

Topography and hamlets[edit]

The boundaries of the village include three lesser detached neighbourhoods which are linked by footpaths and straight roads, whereas the bulk of roads in the area wind, particularly in the west where the land rises out of the outer plain of the Ivel which covers the eastern half of the parish.[12] These hamlets are named 'Ireland', 'Stanford' and 'Broom'.


  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b c Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1274447)". National Heritage List for England.
  4. ^ Oulton, W. C.'s The Traveller's Guide; or, English Itinerary Vol 2|Oulton, W. C. (1805) The Traveller's Guide; or, English Itinerary, Vol II, p. 603. Ivy-Lane, London: James Cundee.
  5. ^ Bartholomew, J.G. (1914) The Survey Gazetteer of the British Isles; Topographical, Statistical and Commercial, compiled from the 1911 census and the latest official returns, Edinburgh: John Bartholomew & Co.
  6. ^ Mackay, James A. (1986) Sub Office Rubber Datestamps of England and Wales, pp 340-341, Dumfries: published by the author, ISBN 0-906440-39-4
  7. ^ "Proposed branch closure" (2008) Leaflet issued by Post Office Ltd.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^

Printed materials[edit]

  • Southill; a Regency House. Faber & Faber, 1951. A compilation introduced by Major S.Whitbread.

External links[edit]