The pretty Georgian village of Woburn is located deep in the picturesque countryside of Bedfordshire. Although is has a population of less than 1000, it boasts many fine white stone and red brick Georgian buildings, thatched cottages and several old coaching inns; plus a good selection of specialist shops, pubs, hotels and restaurants.
The village was much more important during the 16th to 18th centuries when it was a key staging point on the London Road. It is now rarely visited, as most tourists now either head for the palatial Woburn Abbey or the world famous Woburn Safari Park, to the northeast.
It is well worth visiting however, with a good number of very attractive and interesting old buildings, particularly around the Market Place. The Market House (1830), in the centre of the village, is a very fine red-bricked property. There are some excellent Victorian yellow-brick almshouses with fine Jacobean stepped gables in Bedford Street, built by Francis the 7th Duke of Bedford in 1850. Woburn's stately 18th-c Old Parsonage, now a design studio, is adorned with impressive half columns. Near to this is an old ironstone school with mullioned windows, founded by Francis, 2nd Earl of Bedford in the 16th-c.
Woburn's new parish church of St Mary's, in Park Street, was built between 1865 and 1868 by the architect Henry Clutton, and sponsored by William Russell, 8th Duke of Bedford. Most of the old church on the High Street was demolished in 1868 and a Victorian mortuary chapel now stands alongside its old medieval tower (rebuilt in 17th-c). This building now houses the Woburn Heritage Centre Museum and Tourist Information Point. The museum is devoted to the history of Woburn, from its Saxon origins right up to the present day, with displays, artifacts and photographs.
The main route into the village passes by the Woburn estate, which has been the country seat of the Russells (the Dukes of Bedford) since 1550. The current Palladian style mansion was built by Henry Flitcroft in the 1740s. Within there is a remarkable art collection with works by many famous old master's, plus much fine period furniture, silver, gold plate and porcelain. The vast surrounding parkland was landscaped by Humphry Repton.