Wilstead is a village and civil parish in Bedfordshire, England. It's situated just off the A6 Bedford to Luton road, about 4 miles south of Bedford town centre and within the Borough of Bedford. Wilstead is at the foot of the Greensand Ridge escarpment. The origin of the village dates back to Roman times, or earlier; there are signs of a settlement in fields to the north of the village. The Doomsday Book (1086) records the village as Winessamestede with 23 heads of households'.
The name of the village has been spelt in many different ways over the years, including Wylhamstead and Wilshamstead. Wilstead is now the name of the village, but the civil parish is still currently named Wilshamstead. The council estimate the population of the village to be around 2,700 inhabitants, most of whom live in the main village, but some live in other hamlets and more isolated houses.
Near the centre of the village there's a parade of shops which includes a pharmacy / convenience store, an Indian takeaway, a Chinese takeaway and a used car lot is over the road. There's also a small shop that incorporates the Post Office. We have two pubs, three churches, a village hall, play areas and allotments.
Close to the crossroads in the middle of the village is the 14th century church All Saints. The church contains a memorial to William Tompson who in 1595 founded Wilshamstead Charities which still exists to help the villagers. In the churchyard there is the tomb of Sir William Morgan, Chief Secretary of the State of South Australia. A village born grocer's son, he founded gold in Australia and became one of Australia's richest men. He died on a visit to the village in 1883. At the top of Church Road is the Church House thought to have been a 'Pilgrim's Rest', for those journeying to shrines.
According to the Domesday Book, at the end of Cotton end Road there used to be another hamlet called Westcotes, probably where Littleworth is now. Near here down Elms Lane is Manor Farm, thought to be the location of Nigel de Albini's Manor. Much nearer the centre of the village on Cotton End Road is another Manor Farm, thought to be the likely location of Countess Judith's (sister of William the Conqueror) manor on Winessamestede, the second manor of the village mentioned in the book.
Housing is varied from traditional farms, older houses (including thatched cottages and several Listed Buildings), and more modern estate type dwellings. Dwellings on the estate are of a more spacious character than most modern developments. There is also a mobile home park called Briar Bank Park at the southern end of the village. The Millennium village signs are constructed with Wilstead bricks, made in one of the two brickyards the village once had, topped with dark engineering bricks.
On the other (Western) side of the A6 there is a large development of new, high density housing called Wixams. The new town is being developed in phases, with the first phase (Lakeview) originally located in the Wilshamstead civil parish. A new Wixams civil parish was created for the area in 2015.