The history and families of Turvey in Bedfordshire, England

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Charles Longuet Higgins of Turvey

Turvey Abbey Higgins

Charles Longuet Higgins of Turvey Abbey

30 November 1806 - 23 January 1885

This is the gentleman to whom Turvey owes so much of its beauty and wealth. He was the eldest son of John Higgins, the artist, and his wife Teresa. He was baptised in Turvey Church on 2 December 1806. He seems to have had a happy youth, enjoying sport and hunting.

Cartoon of Charles Longuet Higgins from Bedford Bee, a local magazine

5 November 1879

(click the picture to enlarge it, and click the words Bedford Bee to read the original article)

Charles made a huge contribution to the village of Turvey.  Here are some of the things he did:

Charles died on 23 January 1885. He is buried in the beautiful Higgins Mausoleum in the grounds of Turvey Church.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Turvey Abbey

home to Charles Longuet Higgins

In 1834 Charles was elected Chairman of the Bedford Board of Guardians, working to manage the new Poor Laws that were making life more bearable for the many impoverished people in the county.

In 1847 he toured the Middle East, bringing back many souvenirs and pictures to share with the villagers in his regular magic lantern lectures.

In 1853/4 he commissioned the well known architect Gilbert Scott to restore and enlarge the Parish Church.

In 1860 Charles was made High Sheriff of Bedfordshire.

In 1885 Charles dies of bronchitis.


A heavy gloom was cast of Turvey yesterday, by the death of Mr Higgins, of Turvey Abbey, who died in his sleep about 8.30 a.m. He had been ill about a fortnight with bronchitis and although he seemed very ill, his end came unexpectedly. Mr Higgins was 78 years old.  He will be missed by all, especially in the church, where he had been choirmaster and organist upwards of 50 years, and by the village clubs.

Mr Higgins was the son of Mr John Higgins, and married in the year 1853 two Ellen Eliza, the daughter of Mr Thomas Burgon. He has no family, and his nephew (Mr Henry Longuet Higgins) is heir to the estate, which includes about half of the village and the extensive Park. The deceased gentleman was chairman at the Bedford Board of Guardians for many years, and attended the meetings up to the last few weeks.

Northampton Mercury

Saturday, 24 January 1885

Charles was went to Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated with a BA in 1830 and an MA in 1834.

On 16 November 1830 he was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn, where he studied law until 1833 but was never called to the Bar.
From 1836 he also studied medicine at Bedford Infirmary and later at St Bartholomew’s in London, qualifying in 1838.

He acted as the GP (doctor) for Turvey for many years.

Charles and Tanders

Charles was born on St Andrews Day 1806 (30 November).

St Andrew is the patron saint of lace makers - the local profession, so the saint’s day was celebrated, and known locally as “Tanders”.

Every year, on his birthday, CL Higgins would give gifts of figs to the villagers to celebrate this happy coincidence.

Tandy’s Close in Turvey is named after Tanders.