Old Warden, (“Warden” meaning watch-hill in old English) is a village whose appearance shows the efforts of two families during the 19th century. The Ongleys and Shuttleworths lavished money and imagination to develop their ideas. Both families have now gone, but Old Warden Hall, built for the Shuttleworths in 1872, still stands in 500 acres of Old Warden Park. It has been renamed The Mansion House and is used as a conference centre.
Old Warden Park is home to the Shuttleworth Collection, one of the world’s most famous aircraft museums. In 1930, Richard Shuttleworth bought his first aeroplane, a de Havilland Gypsy Moth. He joined the RAF at the outbreak of war, but was killed in 1940. His mother founded the Shuttleworth Trust in 1944 in his memory and expanded the collection. There are regular flying days for these historic aircraft from the small airfield in the Park.
The Mansion House and Park
The Mansion House and Park are best seen from the hill opposite, on which St. Leonard’s Church stands. The whole interior is a mass of dark carved oak, which Lord Ongley brought back from his travels in France, Belgium and Italy, in 1841. The initials ‘AC’ appear in several places in the church. This is said to relate to carvings taken from Anne of Cleves’s private chapel in Bruges.
Where in England is Old Warden, Bedforshire?
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