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Leighton Buzzard and Linslade

Places > Leighton Buzzard and Linslade

William Duke of Normandy invaded in 1066 to claim the throne of England which had been claimed by Harold following the death of Edward the Confessor

After the Battle of Hastings the victorious Norman Army marched along the Icknield Way seizing royal manors as they travelled. Leighton, Luton, Houghton Regis, Bedford and Aylesbury and Westoning were taken.

Some manors were burned to the ground but Leighton and the other royal manors escaped that fate

William commissioned a survey of all the land and wealth, which was compiled in 1065-6 and became known as the Domesday Book

According to the Domesday Book, a Saxon church was already on the site in Leighton which is now occupied by All Saints Parish Church. It was endowed with a good deal of land and came under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Dorchester

That building would have been made primarily of wood and is now completely gone. The current church was built on the site at the end of the 13th Century

During Norman times the Episcopal See was transferred from Dorchester to Lincoln, where it stayed until 1837. In 1189 Hugh, the Bishop of Lincoln, converted the church and its lands into a prebend to support a canon as a prebendary

Lincoln had two places called Leighton in its diocese and it is thought that the Dean and chapter decided to add to each town's name to distinguish them. Theobold de Busar held the prebendary office for Leighton and part of his name was taken and added to the name of the town. Leighton Busard may then gradually have developed into the current name of Leighton Buzzard

There are stalls in Lincoln Cathedral representing each of the churches that were in the Lincoln diocese, including a stall for 'Leighton Busard'

Also reported in the Domesday Book are the following facts about the town:

  • Three or four hundred people with a thriving market, the largest of the three markets in Bedfordshire
  • Two mills on the same site on the Ouzel, one for barley and one for wheat

In 1164 the royal manor of Leighton was granted to the Abbey of Fontvrault by Henry II to pay a debt. A Priory was  built at Grovebury, called Grove Priory,   originally known as the Priory of Lecton


  • Through fire and rebirth, a visitor's guide to All Saints' Parish Church Leighton Buzzard. by Terry Warburton
  • The story of Leighton Buzzard, 1984
  • Three records of the Alien Priory of Grove and the Manor of Leighton Buzzard by Robert Richmond, BHRS Vol8 1924
  • Victoria County Histories : Bedfordshire


Leighton Buzzard in Norman times, by Bedfordshire Libraries, 2010

Page last updated: 31st January 2014