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Houghton Regis 

Places > Houghton Regis

Prehistoric Period: evidence for prehistoric people has been found in the Houghton Regis area dating back to the Neolithic (New Stone Age) and Iron Age periods.  A camp was built at Maiden Bower.

1066: After the Battle of Hastings William the Conqueror took over the Manor of Houghton. He gave the church and its lands to William the Chamberlain.

1100: Henry I builds a market town on his estate at Houghton in an effort to raise revenue from rents and levies on trade. Approximately 450 acres of land were used.

1109: A royal residence for Henry I is completed in Houghton. This is called Kingsbury.

1121: Henry I gives the church lands in Houghton to his illegitimate son, Robert Earl of Gloucester.

1130: Henry I gives the new market town of Houghton to Dunstable Priory.

1153: Robert Earl of Gloucester gives Houghton church and its lands to St. Albans Abbey who continue to own and run them until the dissolution.

13th/14th Century: All Saints Church stands in the centre of Houghton Regis, sited a bit above the road. There are no written records of who originally built the church or when but it is mentioned in the Domesday book as having about 60 acres of land. What is certain is that it has been successively restored and rebuilt over the centuries. From the style of the church, it is clear that the main parts (chancel, nave and aisles) were built in the 13th/14th Century .

1340: At this time Houghton was a very impoverished place. When the tax collectors came they found a small impoverished population who had "neither seed to sow, nor oxen to plough".

1538: Houghton Regis Parish Registers started.

1652: Henry Brandreth, a rich London merchant, buys Sewell. He later purchased much land in the area including the Manor of Houghton. The Manor remained in the ownership of the family until 1913, when it was sold to Col. Dealtry Part. He built the original Manor House.

1654: The 'Free' School founded by Thomas Whitehead and built on the village green. Thomas Whitehead stipulated that the school be made up of 15 boys from poor families in Houghton and 5 boys from poor families in nearby hamlets.

1700: Houghton Hall built and completed for Alice (daughter of Henry Brandreth) and William Millard.

1829: A well discovered during the building of the Dunstable-Leighton Buzzard railway line. It was at least 120ft deep and was filled with Roman material including pottery, tiles, human and animal bones, burnt wood and ashes. The well was recorded by James Wyatt and W. Monkhouse.

1913: Houghton Hall sold by the Brandreth family to Col. (later Sir) Dealtry Part.

1914 - 1918: Many young men volunteered to fight in World War I. The Dunstable Gazette of 16th September 1914 lists the names of 29 men from Houghton Regis who joined up. Most of them went into the 5th Bedfordshire Regiment and Bedfordshire Yeomanry.

1936: The old 'Kings Arms' pulled down and replaced by the present building.

1964: The tithe barn demolished. It stood on the site of the present youth centre and was thought to have been built by Abbot John Moore (1396-1401).

1969: Parkside Estate built on land east of Sundon Road.

1980: Houghton Regis officially became a town in 1980.

1986: New club house built for the Dunstablian's Rugby Club at Bidwell Hill, costing 400,000

1986: Houghton Regis Community Centre opens on the High Street.

1964: The tithe barn demolished, as the timbers were too rotten to be preserved. This originally stood on the ground now occupied by the youth centre. It was originally built in the fifteenth century, possibly by Abbot John Moore (1396-1401).

1976: Cement chimneys blasted. They were all that remained of Houghton Regis Cement Works which closed in 1971. The first chimney was blown up and the second demolished with the aid of an enormous steel ball.

2006: Co-Op destroyed by fire on Wednesday 7th June. The fire completely destroyed the Community Centre and the Co-Op Superstore.

2008: Bedford Square under re-development.  New library and health centre to be created.


Further Reading:

  • Houghton Regis by Eric Rayner in Bedfordshire Magazine Vol. 13 No. 104 p. 349


Page last updated: 29th January 2014