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Imperial Gazatteer of England & Wales, 1866-9

Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire


LEIGHTON-BUZZARD, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district in Beds. The town stands on the river Ouse, at the boundary with Bucks, adjacent to the Grand Junction canal, and near the junction of the Northwestern railway with the line east-southeastward by Luton to Hertford, 19 miles SW by S of Bedford, and 40½ NW of London. It is thought, by some writers, but without good evidence, to be the Lygeanburg, mentioned in the Saxon chronicle as having been taken in 571, by Cuthwulf, brother of the king of Wessex; and it derives its suffix name, according to some, from corruption of the name Beaudesert, — according to others, from the Bozards or Basarts, an ancient family, one of whom was knight of the shire in the time of Edward III. A Cistertian monastery, a cell to Woburn abbey, was founded at the town, in the time of Henry II.; and an alien priory, a cell to Fontevrault abbey in Normandy, stood within the parish at Grovebury. A very ancient pentangular Gothic cross, supposed to have had some connection with the Cistertian monastery, stands in the market-place; appears to have been erected about 1330; was repaired in 1650, and restored in 1852; is about 40 feet high; and consists of five steps and a surmounting arch, supporting five niches, occupied by hagiological statues. The town consists chiefly of one long wide street, extending N and S from the market-place. The market-house was rebuilt in 1852. The corn-exchange was built in 1862, on the site of the old George inn, at a cost of about £7,500; is in the Italian renaissance style; has a two storey front, with Venetian windows and open balustrade, surmounted by an ornate tower about 85 feet high; and contains a hall, with accommodation for about 900 persons, and an assembly-rrom, with accommodation for about 325. The temperance-hall was recently erected by private enterprise. The parish church, or church of All Saints, is spacious, cruciform, and chiefly early English; has a central massive tower, with an octagonal spire 193 feet high, and with chimes which were restored in 1865; and contains an ancient font, stalls, and some ancient monuments. St Andrew's church, at the N end of the town, was built in 1866, at a cost of about £3,000; is in the early decorated style, with a spire upwards of 100 feet high; and measures, within walls, 110 feet by 50. There are five disenting chapels, an endowed school, a British school, alms-houses for eight poor widows, and charities, inclusive of the school and the alms-houses, £599. The town has a head post-office,‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking-offices, a police station, and six chief inns; and is a seat of county courts, and a polling-place. A weekly market is held on Tuesday; a large wool fair on the first Friday of July; and fairs for horses and cattle, on 5 Feb., the second Tuesday of Arpil, Whit-Tuesday, 26 July, 24 Oct., and the Tuesday after 10 Dec. The manufacture of straw-plait is largely carried on; and much transit traffic is conducted both by railway and by canal. The limits for lighting are not the same as those for poor-law registration; and the latter were followed by the census enumerators of 1861. Pop., 4,330. Houses, 833.

The township includes all the town, and extends beyond it. Real property, £18,476; of which £310 are in gas-works. Pop., in 1851, 4,465; in 1861, 4,882. Houses, 941. — The parish contains also the hamlets of Stanbridge, Egginton, Billington, and Heath and Reach. Acres, 8,768. Real property, £30,441. Pop. in 1851, 6,874; in 1861, 7,312. Houses, 1,463. The manor belongs to Col. H. Hammer. There is a Roman camp. The Northwestern railway, in the vicinity, passes through a tunnel 300 yards long. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely. Value, £453.* Patron, the Prebendary of Leighton-Buzzard. The p. curacies of Stanbridge, Egginton, Billington, and Heath and Reach, are separate benefices. — The sub-district contains also the parishes of Grove, Linslade, and Stoke-Hammond, — all electorally in Bucks. Acres, 12,278. Pop., 9,243. Houses, 1,848. — The district comprehends also the sub-district of Wing, containing the parishes of Wing, Mentmore, and Soulbury, — all electorally in Bucks; the sub-district of Ivinghoe, containing the parishes of Ivinghoe and Cheddington, — both electorally in Bucks; and the sub-district of Edlesborough, containing the parishes of Edlesborough, Slapton, and Eaton-Bray, — the two former electorally in Bucks. Acres, 38,015. Poor-rates, in 1863, £6,737. Pop. in 1851, 17,142; in 1861, 17,648. Houses, 3,564. Marriages in 1863, 123; births, 666, — of which 46 were illegitimate; deaths, 449, — of which 190 were at ages under 5 years, and 12 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,211; births, 6,285; deaths, 3,745. the places of worship, in 1851, were 16 of the Church of England, with 4,299 sittings; 2 of Independents, with 254 s.; 12 of Baptists, with 2,517 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 182 s.; 17 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 3,504 s.; 5 of Primitive Methodists, with 401 s.; 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 205 s.; and 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 100 s. The schools were 14 public day schools, with 1,045 scholars; 61 private day schools, with 1,099 s.; 38 Sunday schools, with 3,374 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 14s. The workhouse is in Leighton-Buzzard township; and, at the census of 1861, had 122 inmates.

     
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