Bromham Heritage Trail

Bromham Heritage Trail

Welcome to Bromham and the Village Heritage Trail, launched for the Queen’s Jubilee, June 2002. The Trail has been put together by Bromham Parish Council and a partnership of villagers and local authorities, and will introduce you to the history of a thriving village. As you walk, you will notice how the village has grown over the passage of hundreds of years. The last twenty years has seen substantial expansion and yet Bromham still retains the atmosphere of a small village. We hope you enjoy your visit.

How To Get There By Passenger Transport

BY BUS – Telephone Bedfordshire Bus Information Line : 01234 228337, 8.30am – 5pm open 5 days a week or Travel Line 0870 6082608.
BY TRAIN – For timetable information, please telephone National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950. Click here for the National Rail Enquiries website

How To Get There By Car

Bromham is 3 miles west of Bedford. Take the A428 out of Bedford, then turn right on the A6134.
Parking is available at the car park at Bromham Mill. The Mill is signposted from the A6134.

Start/Finish Point

The route starts from the car park at Bromham Mill.

Access and General Information


Access Information:
Surface types: You will walk across hard, firm surfaces with no stones greater than 5mm in size, to hard but variable surfaces with loose, variable sized stones, to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts.
Linear Gradient: There is a linear gradient of steeper than 1:6 as you leave the area around the Mill, and also gradients of between 1:6 and 1:9 and 1:10-1:13.
Cross Falls: There are cross falls of between 1:10-1:15 as you leave the Mill.
Width Restriction: There is a width restriction of 600mm at the bridge by the church.
Steps: There is a maximum step height of 100mm on the bridge entering Salem Thrift (on the long route).
Barriers: There is one 1-way opening gate with a width of greater than 750mm on leaving Salem Thrift (on the long route).
Refreshments: There are shops and pubs in the village of Bromham.
Public Toilets Located at Bromham Mill.
Picnic Tables: None recorded.
Seats: There are seats in Molivers Lane (point 18 on the map), at Bowels Wood (point 36 on the map) and on Oakley Road (point 10 on the map).

Before You Start

Please note before you start your walk - Many items of interest on the route are marked by Heritage Trail signs but walkers must respect the privacy of the householders and not enter gardens or properties so marked and mentioned in the text.

You may also like to purchase a set of postcards (from the Mill) containing pictures, many of them taken from old prints, of places you will see on route and which are identified by the asterisk * on the route description.

Tips for Good Walking

Parts of the walk can be muddy and cross a variety of terrain. Please wear strong footwear, take extra care where conditions are rough and let someone know where you are going. Please note that part of the walk is unsuitable for wheelchairs and can be difficult for pushchairs, but many places on the map are accessible by road.

Route Description

Walk through the gate at the rear of the car park and then turn immediately left. (You may like to look at the river and the flora along the banks before leaving the site.) Then proceed to the small gate leading into Millfield. Turn right and follow the path down to the brook.

1 Grove Spring - the water was once much sought after for its purity and was fetched with 'bucket and yoke' by the villagers.

2 River Stag (Bromham Brook) may look peaceful but was the subject of severe flooding in 1980 and 1983 with many houses in the village along its route flooded.

3 Bromham Park is owned by the Skinner family and the villagers have enjoyed walking permission for many years.

4 This thatched cottage used to be three cottages and dates from the 1640s. It was an overnight stop for coach drivers in the days of coach and horse travel, and at one time a pair of old pistols, old C19 newspapers and carved love hearts were found in the loft.

5 * At the end of the park, hidden by trees, is Bromham Hall. The house has been owned over the centuries by the families of Wideville, Dyve, Dynevor, Rice Trevor, Skinner and more recently Whittaker. One of the most famous residents was Sir Lewis Dyve, an ardent Royalist in the time of King Charles 1. Most of the outbuildings have been converted to residential properties. At the gateway to the Hall by the river is Heron Cottage which has a restored ice house.

6 The Briars was built in 1928 and was intended to be the first of five properties in the Park. Fortunately Robert Skinner bought the park and stopped the development. In 1938 a covenant was made with the then Rural District Council that no building should be allowed in the park.

7 * St. Owen's Church was not always as isolated from the village as it is now. There are indications from the air that there may have been dwellings within the park area. The church is at a junction of the old footpath routes but the village has grown up around the later vehicular routes. The present building dates from the C12, the oldest wall being the North wall which is a typical stone and rubble wall of that period. The church is well maintained and used but because of its position is kept locked except for services. Access may be obtained by contacting the vicar or churchwardens (information in the porch). The new area of the churchyard was consecrated in 2001. Leave the churchyard by the north gate, behind the church.

8 The Old Vicarage was last used as such in 1970s, when it was sold. The present Vicarage is on Stagsden Road.

9 Park House was built in C19 and is tucked away to the east of the Vicarage.

10 Vicarage Green leads on to the Paddock 11 which was donated to the village by a local farmer. Some 32 trees have been planted, donated by parishioners with commemorative plaques.

12 * Rose Cottage (thatched) dates from circa 1640 and behind it is the old Molivers Farm House.

If you wish to visit Bromham Nature Reserve you should continue along Lower Farm Road for approx. 1 mile. The main route now returns back down Village Road.

13 * Old Yews Cottage is again circa 1640 and was originally three cottages. The front wall used to house a Post Box but it was taken away during renovations in the 1960s. Along Village Road on the south east side is Kings Close 14 and on the north west side are Vine Cottages 15 restored in the 1970s. Orchard Close 16 is a modern development of the 1980s built on the site of an old orchard.

17 Modernised thatched cottages.

18 * This is the main Village Green surrounded by old cottages mixed in with modern developments.

19 * The old Post Office was in use until 1997 and prior to that two of the next row of cottages have also housed the P.O. at some time in the past.

20 * One of the earliest shops in the village run by Mrs. Webster and later her son Alec. Behind this shop there was an earlier store run by Mr. Church.

21 Back from the road this thatched cottage called 'Wescott' was William Ebenezer Stafferton's cottage. He was Parish Clerk until 1894. The property was damaged by fire circa 1915.

22 * The modern Baptist Chapel was built in 1992 replacing older buildings on land originally given by Mr. Rideout.

23 West Lodge is at the upper Park entrance circa 1600. From here you can see down the hill the cottage mentioned at (4).

If you wish to take the short walk continue down the hill along Village Road and join the trail on Stagsden Road (46). To continue the main route, turn back towards the Village Green on the north west side of the road.

24 This house was the P.O. at the turn of the 19th century.

25 * St. Owen's Lower School was merged with Rice Trevor Lower School in Grange Lane and is now all Bromham C of E Lower School. The clock on the front of the building was made by Joseph Fairer of London when the building was erected in 1861. It was fully restored in 1999 by Alan Scadding of Sawbridgeworth and the cost was borne by the School Governors and the Parish Council to mark the Millennium. Also note the inscription on the weatherboards. The adjoining school house is now privately owned.

26 * The Village Hall was built in 1992 to replace the older building of 1952. It is the centre of village activity and in daily use as a Nursery School.

27 The Playing Field is behind the Village Hall.

28 Cottages dating from the Victorian Era.

29 * Previously a row of Victorian Cottages, the centre one of which had a room where Miss Rice Trevor taught some of the village girls. These were demolished in 1972 and the ground was left until the present new development was built in 2001.

30, 31, 33 Old thatched cottages around the Green.

32 Kerry House has a room that was at one time used as a chapel. The Garage was the village Bakehouse and on Feast days villagers brought their joints for cooking at the cost of 1d. We pass the backs of 30 as we proceed up Molivers Lane (previously Stevington Lane).

34 Molivers Shopping Centre was built in the 1960s at the same time as the development known as Moliver's Farm Estate 35 through which we shall now be passing.

36 Leslie Sell Scout Camping Site (taking in Bowels Wood) was given to the Scouts in the 1960s by Leslie Sell for a peppercorn rent. It is now owned by the County Scout Association.

37 The Molivers Guide Centre (in Molivers Wood) has similar facilities for Guiding activities.

If you want the long walk around rural areas continue along the north edge of Bowels Wood. This will take you along rural footpaths and across fields where you may well hear the skylark. You will pass through Salem Thrift and you will rejoin the main route again at the west end of Grange Lane at 39 (Bromham Grange).

To continue the main route take the footpath through the small gate to the south east of the Camp Site gateway. This will take you alongside Bowels Wood. This is best seen in bluebell time and is the home to many animals and birds. You may hear (and see) the green woodpecker. You will reach the road again at a point where one of the village springs was visible until the building of this part of the estate in the late 1970s.

38 Bromham Library was built in the 1960s and serves the village and surrounding areas.

39 * Bromham Grange. [A grange is a farm with barns and buildings.] It is reputed that Oliver Cromwell stayed here.

The walk continues south along Northampton Road (formerly A428 trunk road until the new Bypass was built in 1980s) and over the River Stag.

40 Prince of Wales public house was built in the 1960s and is a contrast to the old style Swan public house (see 47).

41 Budgen’s Stores was opened in 1999 and serves Bromham and surrounding villages. The site was previously used for caravan sales.

42 Old Toll Gate Cottage was on the main route through to Stagsden and is a reminder of the days of stage coach travel.

43 * Tebbutt’s Garage is built on the site of several earlier garages since 1915. Quenby Way (opposite) leads to a development of 270 houses built in the 1980s when the new by-pass was built to the south of the village.

44 Dovehouse Close is built on the site of an ancient dovecote.

45 Old Police House until 1960s. The date on the building (1890) is the date of Victorian restoration of an older property. From here along Village Road can be seen the bridge over the River Stag and South Lodge 46 * (1640s with recent extensions).

47 * The Swan public house, through the centre of which at one time ran the Bromham/Kempston Parish Boundary. It has been used as a pub since 1798.

48 * Swan Green where the hounds used to meet.

49 * Site of the Old Crown Inn which was, according to old boundaries, in the parish of Kempston and was demolished in 1906.

50 * The site of Mrs Swann’s Laundry. There were steps leading down to the river where presumably all the water for washing was obtained.

51 * The Old Smithy (built c1600) - a reminder of bygone days of horse power.

52 Bromham Bridge, first mentioned in 1224, widened in 1902, at the end of which once stood a Chantry Chapel of Our Lady and St Katherine ‘founded 1295 for the safety of travellers who were in danger from thieves’.

53 Holy Well mentioned in ‘Ouse’s Silent Tide’ by Rev C F Farrar in 1921.

54 Mill House was traditionally inhabited by the families who operated the Mill.

55 * Bromham Mill (see information boards inside the Mill).

Further Points of Interest

Bromham Mill

The earliest record of a watermill in the village is in the Domesday Survey of 1086. The present mill is of varying dates having been expanded and altered over the centuries. The earliest surviving parts date from the 17th century and house 2 sets of gearing, previously driven by 2 wooden waterwheels. The one surviving iron waterwheel dates from 1908 and drives 2 sets of mill stones. Traditional flour milling takes place regularly, solely driven by the power of the water. The remaining outbuildings include timber barns with raised floors, used for grain storage, stabling for horses and an open fronted hovel for carts. The Mill is owned and maintained by Bedfordshire County Council and is open as a museum, an events centre and an art gallery. Telephone the Mill on 01234 824330.

Bowels Wood

Bowels Wood is a fine example of semi-natural broadleaved ancient woodland, managed in the past as coppice with standards.

Coppicing is the practice of cutting deciduous trees down to ground level. This encourages re-growth in the form of poles which can be used to provide many different woodland products. Bowels Wood has hazel coppice which would probably have been used to provide material for hurdle making, tool handles, bean poles, building poles and fencing material. Hazel can also provide rods for basket making, tent pegs, walking sticks, furniture, hazelnuts and more. The housing estate by Bowels Wood would once have been fields, and it is likely that the hedgerows around these fields would have been laid to form a livestock-proof barrier, using hazel stakes cut from the wood.

The wood is no longer managed for these products but would have been well used by the villagers of Bromham in the past, along with nearby Molivers Wood and Salem Thrift. Coppicing also helps to encourage a diversity of ground flora because it allows light in to the ground at periodic intervals. Bowels Wood has flowers such as bluebells and dogs mercury. This sort of diversity is rarely found in more recently established woodland and can indicate that there has been a woodland here for many years, long enough for such a ground flora to establish.

Bromham Local Nature Reserve

This Local Nature Reserve is nearby. The reserve was created from 25 acres of former mineral workings. New woodland and wildflower meadow were planted in the 1980s - now the site is allowed to develop naturally. In 1991 the site was declared a Local Nature Reserve, a place which is of local importance to wildlife, that people can enjoy and have contact with. There is an abundance of wildlife to enjoy.
Click here for more details


The Countryside Agency, Thelma Coles (St Owen’s Church), Terry Rooke (Bromham Parish Council), Parish Paths Partnership, Bromham Mill, Bedfordshire County Council and the Local Heritage Initiative (LHI). The LHI is a partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund, Nationwide Building Society and the Countryside Agency.

If you have any comments or find any problems, please contact the community paths team on 01234 363222.