Status: Ceremonial & (smaller) Non-metropolitan county
Region: East of England
- Total
- Admin. council
- Admin. area
Ranked 41st
1,235 km²
Ranked 34th
1,192 km²
Admin HQ: Bedford
ISO 3166-2: GB-BDF
ONS code: 09
- Total (2004 est.)
- Density
- Admin. council
- Admin. pop.
Ranked 36th
466 / km²
Ranked 32nd
Ethnicity: 86.3% White
8.3% S.Asian
2.9% Afro-Carib.
Arms of Bedfordshire County Council
Bedfordshire County Council
Executive: Conservative
Members of Parliament

Alistair Burt, Nadine Dorries, Patrick Hall, Kelvin Hopkins, Margaret Moran, Andrew Selous

District map
  1. Bedford
  2. Mid Bedfordshire
  3. South Bedfordshire
  4. Luton (Unitary)

Bedfordshire is a county in England and forms part of the East of England region.

Its county town is Bedford. It borders Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire (with the Borough of Milton Keynes) and Hertfordshire.

The highest elevation point is 243 metres (797 feet), on the Dunstable Downs in the Chilterns. The county motto is "Constant Be."

John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72) notes that the highest point in Bedfordshire is Kensworth, at 904 feet.

Kensworth was, until 1897, a part of Hertfordshire.

As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose the Bee Orchid as the county flower.

Most English counties have nicknames for people from that county, such as a Tyke from Yorkshire and a Yellowbelly from Lincolnshire; the traditional nickname for people from Bedforshire is 'Bedfordshire Bulldogs' or 'Clangers', this last deriving from the popular local dish comprising a suet crust dumpling filled with meat or jam or both.


The first recorded use of the name was in 1011 as "Bedanfordscir," meaning "Beda's ford" (river crossing).

Bedfordshire was historically divided into the nine hundreds: Barford, Biggleswade, Clifton, Flitt, Manshead, Redbournestoke, Stodden, Willey, Wixamtree, along with the liberty and borough of Bedford.

Luton was part of Bedfordshire until 1997, when it was made a unitary authority. However, it remains part of the ceremonial county of Bedfordshire, with a single Lord Lieutenant representing the sovereign throughout this entire area. Except where otherwise indicated, this article relates to the whole Ceremonial County of Bedfordshire, including Luton.

Geography and geology

The southern end of the county is part of the chalk ridge known as the Chiltern Hills. The remainder is part of the broad drainage basin of the River Great Ouse and its tributaries.

Most of Bedfordshire's rocks are clays and sandstones from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, with some limestone. Local clay has been used for brick-making at Fletton. Glacial erosion of chalk has left the hard flint nodules deposited as gravel — this has been commercially extracted in the past at pits which are now lakes, at Priory Country Park, Wyboston and Felmersham.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Bedfordshire at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added4 Agriculture1 Industry2 Services3
1995 4,109 81 1,584 2,444
2000 4,716 53 1,296 3,367
2003 5,466 52 1,311 4,102

Note 1: includes hunting and forestry

Note 2: includes energy and construction

Note 3: includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Note 4: Components may not sum to totals due to rounding


Although not a major transport destination, Bedfordshire lies on many of the main transport routes which link London to the Midlands and Northern England.


Three of England's six main trunk roads pass through Bedfordshire:

To these were added in 1959 the M1 motorway London to Yorkshire motorway. This has three junctions around Luton, and one serving Bedford and Milton Keynes.


Again, three of England's main lines pass through Bedfordshire:

There are rural services also running between Bedford and Bletchley along the Marston Vale Line.


Bedfordshire is well served by a large number of taxi companies, in particular, Luton is noted for having the highest amount of taxi cabs per head of population in the United Kingdom with companies such as Cabco, Britannia cars and Five twos competing for work in the town and from London Luton Airport


The River Great Ouse links Bedfordshire to the Fenland waterways. As of 2004 there are plans to construct a canal linking the Great Ouse at Bedford to the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes, 23 km distant.


London Luton Airport has flights to many UK, European and North African destinations, operated by low-cost airlines.

Towns and villages

Places of interest

National Trust National Trust
English Heritage English Heritage
Forestry Commission Forestry Commission
Country Park Country Park
Accessible open space Accessible open space
Museum (free)
Museums (free/not free)
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House

List of notable Bedfordians


United Kingdom | England | Ceremonial counties of England Flag of England

Counties of the Lieutenancies Act 1997

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United Kingdom | England | Traditional counties of England Flag of England

Counties that originate prior to 1889

Bedfordshire | Berkshire | Buckinghamshire | Cambridgeshire | Cheshire | Cornwall | Cumberland | Derbyshire | Devon | Dorset | Durham | Essex | Gloucestershire | Hampshire | Herefordshire | Hertfordshire | Huntingdonshire | Kent | Lancashire | Leicestershire | Lincolnshire | Middlesex | Norfolk | Northamptonshire | Northumberland | Nottinghamshire | Oxfordshire | Rutland | Shropshire | Somerset | Staffordshire | Suffolk | Surrey | Sussex | Warwickshire | Westmorland | Wiltshire | Worcestershire | Yorkshire

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