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HYDE

The rural parish of Hyde, south of the county, lies immediately south-east of Luton.  Although the whole of the parish is in Bedfordshire it has borders with both Luton and Hertfordshire and includes East Hyde, West Hyde, Luton Hoo, The Hyde, Someries and Chiltern Green.  Although it is one of the largest in the county it has a population of just 400.  Essentially a farming parish it has excellent communication links, being situated near to the Ml, rail links and Luton Airport which which runs along its perimeter.  The River Lea flows through from Luton to Luton Hoo and East Hyde to Hyde Mill and there are a number of county wildlife sites along its banks.  Much of the parish is taken up by the extensive parkland of Luton Hoo, a 1,600 acre estate landscaped in the 1760s by Capabililty Brown. The house itself was originally designed by Robert Adam but it has been extensively remodelled on a number of occasions.  For many years it was the home of the Wernher family but it has recently been acquired for use as an exclusive hotel.  The house has also been used in recent years as a set location for many films including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Ktdman.  

Another famous building in the parish is Someries Castle, just off the B653.  It is a small brick 'castle' built in the late 15th century by John, Lord Wenlock, a leading political figure of the time who was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury.  The house was one of the earliest brick built buildings in the county. Although now in ruins the gatehouse and chapel survive.  It is managed by the County Council and is open to the public.  Next to Someries Castle is an 18th century farmhouse where between 1907 and 1909 the author Joseph Conrad lived, most famous for his works The Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim.  It was whilst he was living here that he wrote Under Western Eyes.  Chairman of the Parish Council, Anne Spencer told Bedfordshire 2002, "I have lived in East Hyde for less than six years so I am still considered a newcomer in this almost lost area in the South East of Bedfordshire.  Stuck between the bustling towns of Luton and Harpenden I find when away from the traffic, trains and aircraft noise the tranquillity in Hyde is timeless.  Being involved in local politics has brought me in touch with many people in this scattered community and I feel it is important that rural areas such as Hyde have a say on local issues.

From "Bedfordshire 2002"
By kind permission of Bedfordshire County Council, acknowledging the Editor
Michele Smith.