Shefford in Bedfordshire lies in the parish of Campton cum Shefford which contains the village of Campton as well as the market town of Shefford, which is arranged around the junction of the Bedford to Hitchin Road with the Ampthill Road/High Street, in the lowest-lying part of the parish. Shefford High Street takes the form of a wide linear market place, which lies at right angles to the Northbridge and Southbridge roads which run along the valley of the River Flit. The south end of Northbridge Street is also wide, suggesting use of this also for market trading. It is plausaible that the area between this and Duck Lane to its west was formerly part of a larger rectangular open market place. The earliest standing buildings in Shefford date to the 16th century but generally the town’s buildings are considered ‘in no way remarkable’. The parish church is located on the south side of the High Street and was until 1812 a chapel of ease for Campton Church. Shefford Church has been extensively rebuilt in 19th century. The oldest surviving structural element is the tower which dates to the first half of the fifteenth century. Windows in the nave are of 13th century style and may or may not imitate 13th century originals.
Despite its apparent insignificance as a minor holding within a larger estate lacking its own church, Shefford had the right to hold a market from at least 1225. At this time, Shefford’s market was of sufficient size to be considered a threat to that at Bedford, although these allegations were successfully refuted on investigation. The market at Shefford may have benefited from the presence nearby of Chicksands Priory, which was part of the same estate in Domesday Book.
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