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The Normans

Places > Dunstable > The Normans

The first official detailed report on the local area was in the Domesday Book of 1086, put together 20 years after the Norman invasion. Several areas were mentioned in the report including Houghton, Luton, Leighton, Sewell, Caddington and Kensworth. Dunstable did not exist at this time.

It wasn't until after Henry I came to the throne in 1100 that Dunstable was first mentioned. Henry I founded new towns all over the country, one of which was at the crossroads of Watling Street and Icknield Way. The town was known as Dunstaple. It was an ideal site for a new town. Both Watling Street and Icknield Way were well used wide roads and where they crossed there was plenty of space for market stalls and animal pens. Henry also decided to have a palace built here, where he could stay when he was travelling in this area. It was built on a 9 acre site roughly where Church Street is now. Its name was Kingsbury.

Henry I also founded the Priory with Priory Church of St Peter at Dunstable in 1132.

Dunstable was a popular place to stay. Henry I spent Christmas here in 1123, and again in 1132 just after the foundation of the Priory. Stephen was the last king to stay at Kingsbury, when he spent Christmas here in 1137.

In 1204 King John gave Kingsbury and its gardens to the Priory.


  • Proud heritage, by Vivienne Evans
  • Dunstable its history & surroundings, by Worthington G. Smith
  • Dunstable down the ages, by Joan Schneider & Vivienne Evans
  • Victoria County Histories : Bedfordshire

Page last updated: 24th January 2014