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Harlington is one of the most southerly parishes in Central Bedfordshire, covering an area of 713 hectares with an electorate of roughly 1,850. It is a hill top village in a rural setting, surrounded by Green Belt and the Chilterns 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' (AONB). It is centred on a church and village green, both of which are key features of the village and are in the Conservation Area.
The village is situated about 1.5 miles from J12 of the M1, 7 miles north of Luton and 10 miles south of Bedford.
There is a railway station which connects Harlington to Flitwick, Bedford, Leagrave, Luton, Luton Airport Parkway, Harpenden, St Albans, London, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.
Harlington has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and an Iron Age hillfort graces a nearby hill. Closer still is a Roman cemetery.
The oldest buildings in Harlington, including several attractive 15th-century half-timbered houses, are situated on Church Road, Station Road, Westoning Road and Sundon Road. Nearby Harlington Manor was the home of Edmund Wingate, tutor to Queen Henrietta Maria.
The parish church of St. Mary the Virgin was built by the Augustinian monks of Dunstable Priory in the 13th century, on the site of a still earlier wooden church. A tower was added in the 15th century.
The village is rich in "Bunyanisms" - Harlington Manor was the site of Bunyan's interrogation following his arrest for seditious preaching at nearby Lower Samshill. After his interrogation, Bunyan was taken to the county gaol in Bedford. It was while he was imprisoned that Bunyan wrote the work for which he is best remembered, The Pilgrim's Progress.
The parish church has an altar made from the bough of a tree that Bunyan stood beneath when he preached at Upper East End, and a stained glass window depicting scenes from Pilgrim's Progress.
The "Bunyan Oak" at Upper East End, just outside the village, can still be visited. The oak is some 600 years old, and its natural growth has provided a step-up "pulpit" from which it is easy to imagine Bunyan preaching.
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