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A Rushden Family History

The Bygrave family; 374 years rooted to land and community

The surname is taken from the village of Bygrave which is situated one mile to the east of Baldock. To date the earliest confirmed record of the Bygrave surname appears in the Westminster Abbey’s Ashwell Manorial rental accounts for the year 1420.

Below are buttons to download the history of this family. Mark Bygrave in conversations with his father Mr Edward Bygrave has put this together with some incredible photographs taken at Church Farm, Southern Green Farm and antics at the village hall!


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The secret history of WWII’s Rushden Searchlight.

Mr Edward Bygrave recalls in WWII that at the end of Treacle Lane, in a small field behind Park Cottage there was a mobile searchlight. The bomb craters in the nearby fields are a testament to an attempt by the Germans to knock it out.

In further discussion with my father, he said there was no gun emplacement at the searchlight site, nor were there any other searchlights elsewhere in the area, Baldock, Royston, Letchworth or Stevenage.

We concluded, based on what we now know of the strategic importance of Southern Green Farm as a way marker for the German bombers heading for the northern cities. This searchlight was used as a beacon to guide the RAF fighters to the German raiding aircraft.

German bombers over Rushden were common even in the daylight hours! My mother, Pamela (nee Rowley) Bygrave recalled she was standing in the front garden of Southern Green Farm, when a German bomber returning home from a raid, flew so low over the farm she could see the pilot and gunners staring back at her. Then the realisation they could have opened fire!

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