antique map of Bedfordshire from ‘Curiosities of Great Britain. England and Wales Delineated. Historical, Entertaining & Commercial, Alphabetically Arranged by Thomas Dugdale, Antiquarian. Assisted by William Burnett.’ (Dugdale was a professional artist, whilst Burnett was a civil engineer by profession.) Together they produced a series of steel engraved prints of English and Welsh architectural and topographical features, together with County Maps. The county maps were drawn and engraved by Joshua Archer of Pentonville, London. Included in the maps was a considerable amount of information including: the ‘hundreds’ and ‘wapentakes (divisions within a county), county towns, market towns, villages and hamlets, country seats and parks, canals, turnpike roads, cross roads, rail roads built and planned, stations, rivers and water courses, woods and plantations, polling places for the county, boundaries of counties, hundreds and boroughs, together with distances between towns and the capital city, London. Each map was hand-coloured at the time.
Bedfordshire abbreviated Beds. is a county in the East of England. It is a ceremonial county and a historic county. The first recorded use of the name in 1011 was “Bedanfordscir,” meaning the shire or county of Bedford, which itself means “Beda’s ford” (river crossing). Bedfordshire was historically divided into nine hundreds: Barford, Biggleswade, Clifton, Flitt, Manshead, Redbournestoke, Stodden, Willey, Wixamtree, along with the liberty and borough of Bedford. There have been several changes to the county boundary; for example, in 1897 Kensworth and part of Caddington were transferred from Hertfordshire to Bedfordshire.