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George Castleden: The Bard of Woburn

  • George Castleden: The Bard of Woburn

George Castleden (1804-1884) was a prolific letter-writer and poet from Woburn, in Bedfordshire. The son of the local Congregationalist preacher, he worked as a clerk in the Duke of Bedford’s offices at Woburn Abbey for twenty years. As well as many published poetical works, he also wrote extensively to the local papers. His subjects were as diverse as the trees in Woburn Park, the national and local political scene and elections, the education system, Britain’s wars, the Irish famine, European Royalty, the American Civil War, an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, and how to bottle sunbeams for use on cold winter nights! A Liberal Whig non-conformist, as well as being an abolitionist, temper-ance-supporting pacifist, he wrote openly and honestly about not only the important matters of the day, but also the trivial. His critics sarcastically labelled him the Bard of Woburn; a name he felt honoured to accept. For the first time, his newspaper letters and poems have been collected together and presented in a chronological format, with a detailed biogra-phy and bibliography. Paul Cox was born in 1971, and raised in a Victorian pub at Woburn Sands, run by his parents for 27 years. Having left catering to spend a year working at the Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service in 1999, he undertook a Records and Information Management diploma, and current-ly works in the Records Management department of a Government agency. He started researching the Woburn Sands area in 1989, and now runs the Woburn Sands district heritage website (Woburn Sands Collection), as well as a Facebook group (Woburn Sands and Aspley Heath History). He represents the area on the Milton Keynes Heritage Association, and is also a Board member of the Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre at Bradwell Abbey. He has previously produced books on the history of the Woburn Sands & Aspley Heath War Memorial and names inscribed upon it; the business empire of Down & Needham of Woburn Sands, and co-authored the Woburn Sands Heritage Walking Trail. In his spare time(!) he plays guitar to annoy his wife, children and cats.