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Leighton

There is great evidence of people having at least passed through what is now Leighton Buzzard as far back as prehistoric times. Here primitive tools and even early coins have been discovered.

The Roman Road in Watling Street passed through Hockliffe almost two thousand years ago, and earthworks in Pages Park relating to that time were also discovered. As early as the sixth century, people inhabited Leighton Buzzard. Anglo Saxon burial urns were revealed during excavation work on Leighton Heath containing cremated bones. Two brooches and a bead were also found from the sixth century from the same place.

The town of Leighton Buzzard remained unrecorded until 906, when it was noted that the Danes made one of their peace treaties at Tiddenfoot which rests next to the River Ouzel.

In the Doomsday Survey of 1086, compiled by the Normans, The Leighton Buzzard Manor is described as being land belonging to the Crown. Leighton Buzzard is also mentioned as having a weekly market, revealing that it may have been a fairly large town even then. Henry II gave most of the Leighton Buzzard Manor to the Abbey of Fontevrault in a town called Anjou in France. During the 13th to the 14th Century, A Priory was established at Grovebury which had a great influence on the town during this time. In the 1200's St. Mary's Church in Old Linslade was the centre point of a village. In 1251, the church was given a weekly market, and even a yearly fair. It was common at that time for pilgrims to come to see the church's holy well, until 1299 when the Bishop of Lincoln forbid pilgrims from visiting the well "on pain of excommunication".

The Manors of Leighton were let to many tenants during the reign of Elizabeth 1st between 1558 and 1603. One of these was Mr Hoddesdon, whose daughter married into the Leighs of Stoneleigh, and it was her only son who inherited the manor. During the civil war of 1642 - 1645 The Leighs were said to be strong supporters of King Charles 1st. During 1644 King Charles stayed in Ascott House in Wing, and ten thousand Roundhead soldiers came into Leighton Buzzard. Sir Thomas Leigh's wife was forced to share the Prebendal Mansion House with the family of the Roundhead commander.

In 1645 a fire broke out in the High Street and a petition was sent to the government asking for money to rebuild their houses. Even so, the town continued to grow and develop throughout the 18th Century.

The development of a canal and railway in the early 19th Century was a large industrial step for Leighton Buzzard, and the town began to grow into the prosperous commuter land it is today.

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