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Bedford Higgins Museum, Bedfordshire

(52°8′11″N, 0°27′35″W)
Bedford Higgins Museum
TL 055 498
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Bedfordshire
now Bedfordshire
  • Hazel Gardiner

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=14277.

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Feature Sets

The Bedford Museum was housed in the former Castle Brewery from 1981. In 2005 it was merged with the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, but the two institutions remained separate until their closure for redevelopment in 2010. In 2013 they reopened as a single museum, under the name of The Higgins Bedford (editor).


Loose Sculpture


The mid-12thc. corbel was discovered in 1959 when workmen were engaged in uncovering a late 11thc. or early 12thc. window in the E wall of the S transept of St Mary's Church, Bedford, as part of a repair and restoration campaign led by Major John Gedge. The corbel was found amongst the rubble used to block the window. It was exhibited at Manchester City Art Gallery in 1959, and acquired by the Bedford Museum in 1971/2.

Kauffmann notes the similarity of the corbel to the Ely Carvings of c.1135 as does Zarnecki, although Zarnecki suggests that the carving on the corbel is more dependent on pre-Conquest models than the work at Ely, and that it may be identified as 'Saxon survival'. Zarnecki dates the carving to c.1160.

Kuhlicke (Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal), compares the corbel to a damaged, reset corbel at St Mary's Church, Luton. The Luton corbel is similar to but much less accomplished than the corbel in Bedford Museum. See St Mary's Church, Luton.

See also St Mary's Church, Bedford.


The Bedfordshire Times, 6 February 1959.

C. M. Kauffmann, 'Romanesque Art in Manchester', Museums Journal 1959, 175–81.

F. W. Kuhlicke, 'A twelfth-century carved head from St Mary's Church, Bedford', Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal, 7, 1972, 84–86.

P. Lasko, J. Gedge, correspondence, 1959.

G. Zarnecki, 'Exhibition of Romanesque Art in Manchester', The Burlington Magazine, London, 1959, 452–6.