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The County of Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire is a ceremonial county of historic origin in England that forms part of the East of England region. It borders Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Northamptonshire to the north, Buckinghamshire (and the Borough of Milton Keynes) to the west and Hertfordshire to the south-east. The highest elevation point is 243 metres (797 ft) on Dunstable Downs in the Chilterns.

As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose the Bee Orchid as the county flower.

The traditional nickname for people from Bedfordshire is "Bedfordshire Bulldogs" or "Clangers", this last deriving from a local dish comprising a suet crust dumpling filled with meat or jam or both.

History

The first recorded use of the name was in 1011 as "Bedanfordscir," meaning the shire or county of Bedford, which itself means "Beda's ford" (river crossing).

Bedfordshire was historically divided into the nine hundreds: Barford, Biggleswade, Clifton, Flitt, Manshead, Redbournestoke, Stodden, Willey, Wixamtree, along with the liberty and borough of Bedford. There have been several minor changes to the county boundary; for example, in 1897 Kensworth and part of Caddington were transferred from Hertfordshire to Bedfordshire.

Geography

The southern end of the county is part of the chalk ridge known as the Chiltern Hills. The remainder is part of the broad drainage basin of the River Great Ouse and its tributaries. Most of Bedfordshire's rocks are clays and sandstones from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, with some limestone.

Local clay has been used for brick-making of Fletton style bricks in the Marston Vale. Glacial erosion of chalk has left the hard flint nodules deposited as gravel—this has been commercially extracted in the past at pits which are now lakes, at Priory Country Park, Wyboston and Felmersham. The Greensand Ridge is an escarpment across the county from near Leighton Buzzard to near Gamlingay in Cambridgeshire.

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