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Guide to Bedfordshire, home of Woburn Abbey and Eddie the Eagle

County motto: Constant be

Best thing: A proud history rich in social campaigners and reformers, from Bunyan to Huddleston to Whitbread Local food Wells Bombardier bitter; the Bedfordshire Clanger, a dumpling with meat at one end and jam at the other

Heroes: Trevor Huddleston, a ‘pillar of wisdom, humility and sacrifice’ (Mandela); Paula Radcliffe; Samuel Whitbread, Victorian champion of civil rights; Ronnie Barker; Glenn Miller was stationed and broadcasted from here during the Second World War

Events: Pascombe Pit Orange Rolling (symbolises the stone rolling away from Christ’s tomb); Woburn Oyster Festival; St George’s Day Festival, Wrest Park; Bedford Local Beer and Food Festival

Houses: Woburn Abbey, ancestral home of the Duke of Bedford; Robert Adam’s Luton Hoo; the ruined Houghton House, once an innovative Jacobean mansion

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Inventions: In 1902, Daniel Albone invented the Ivel Agricultural Motor, a light tractor that was stronger, more reliable and quicker than anything else. It changed agriculture at a stroke Battle The siege and total destruction of Bedford Castle in 1224 by Hubert de Burgh, ordered by Henry III to put down Fawkes de Breauté’s rebellion

Etymology: Recorded in 1011 as Bedanfordscir, from the Anglo- Saxon for Beda’s ford, which itself means ‘river crossing’

History: While imprisoned in Ampthill awaiting divorce from Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon taught the locals how to make lace

Worst thing
: The enduring association with Eddie the Eagle, the great English eccentric and Olympic skijumper, endearingly full of self-belief

Nickname: Locals are known as Bedfordshire Bulldogs or Clangers

What they say: A charming local adage says ‘Bedfordshire is a brickworks in the middle of a cabbage patch’

Literary connections: John Bunyan penned The Pilgrim’s Progress while in Bedford jail; Nicholas Rowe, Poet Laureate to George I, coined the term ‘lothario’; John Donne,rector of Blunham

Landscape and wildlife: Dunstable Downs; Vale of Aylesbury; Whipsnade Tree Cathedral; Willington Dovecote and Stables

Did you know? The world’s oldest flying machine is a Blériot XI in the Shuttleworth Collection.