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Cotton End Parish is situated about 3 miles south east of Bedford on the A600 and comprises of land South of Shortstown and includes Cotton End Village, Shocott Spring and the hamlet of Herrings Green. It is flanked by the Parishes of Wilstead in the west and Cardington to the east and reaches its boundary in the south with Warden Great Wood and Haynes . On the crest of the hill in the depths of Exeter Wood, lies a mound measuring 90 feet across with a surrounding ditch. This has been identified as a likely site for a Norman watchtower, well positioned for observing the Ouse valley. Although no remains can be seen above ground, coins dating from AD 200 onwards have been found in the fields suggesting links with the Romans. The name 'Exeter Wood ' is a reminder that much of the land was owned by Lord Exeter until the late I800s. The Manor Farm House, built in the 16th century, was originally an 'E' shaped Elizabethan house. Unfortunately, at some time, it suffered from the ravages of a fire which destroyed the south wing. The house still retains some Tudor windows and massive chimney stacks, an interesting square porch, and a dovecote at the back. Three old cottages still stand in Bell Lane and these have strong links with John Bunyan; it is believed he may actually have preached from there. There is a suggestion that there was an iron age settlement on the land of Rookery Farm. Today the Parish has within its borders the Herrings Green Bird of Prey Centre, a Miniature railway and, right in the south of the Parish, a trout farm.


In the early 1900s, Cotton End boasted two pork butchers, a famous sausage maker, two shoemakers, a baker and two hurdle makers. There was also a lace pillow maker, a lace bobbin maker and a policeman. The shoemaker made hand sewn boots, stout and thick, sewn with waxed twine, for work on the land. The bread was delivered to surrounding villages and on Christmas Day the bakehouse fires were stoked up to cook dinners, as the villagers would take their joints and poultry along to be cooked in the oven. Not long ago Cotton End had 2 pubs The Bell a charming thatched country pub and The Harrows, which became a restaurant and has now been converted to dwellings. There was also a shop and a post office which have since disappeared. Amenities today include a new Forest school, a village hall and play area and playing field.

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