Houghton Regis Timeline 3500 BC — AD 1930
by Alan D Winter

A Time Line For Houghton Regis

Houghton Saelig is an old English name for the parish of Houghton Regis. It means fortunate Houghton. Fortunate because the old village was on a hill, and therefore not likely to flood. The place-name Houghton derives from the OE ‘hoh’ (spur of hill) and ‘tun’ (farm). Regis was added to distinguish it from Houghton Conquest. Houghton Regis effectively gave birth to Dunstaple since some of the king’s land at the Icknield Way and Watling Street crossroads was given over to forming a market on the downs in the 12thCentury. You can see how the Civil Parish Boundaries of Houghton Regis have changed over the years through mapping websites. Significant parts of Houghton Regis have been lost, primarily to Dunstable.
This Timeline first compiled by Alan Winter, member of Houghton Regis Heritage Society, in 2014 and subsequent years to 2023.

Earliest Times

Ice Age (2.4 million years ago to 9500 BC)
Chalk hills are left above forest, rivers and marsh. Traders, immigrants, travellers follow the Norfolk to Hampshire ridge, and a track known as the Icknield Way develops.
Neolithic (9500 BC – 2500 BC)
Neolithic or New Stone Age men settle on Puddlehill (now a cutting used by the A5). Cows, pigs, sheep, and primitive arable farming.
Mesolithic (~9600 BC – 4000 BC)
During the archaeological study (Albion Archaeology) for the HRN1 housing development, a pit was excavated (adjacent to the where the Farmstead and Lidl Supermarket were built) and was found to date from ~6000 BC, the late Mesolithic Age. The dating was provided by radio carbon dating of bones found in the pit originating from an Orox (Aurochs. The Orox is a wild Ox which became officially extinct in 1627).
There were, prior to this discovery only four other large Mesolithic pits found in England. 12 have now been found in Houghton Regis which is the largest concentration ever found. Other archaeological companies have also found pits mostly clustered around channels and springs.
Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age (~3000 BC – 2600 BC)
Extensive field walking discovered many finds but there was no evidence of concentration.
Three Ring-Ditch Monuments have been found:
One in HRN3206, one on the line of the Woodside Bus Link Road, south of the Ouzel Brook and a third on the site of the new Houstone Academy.
These are possibly burial monuments – barrows.
Bronze Age (2500 BC – 800 BC)
Maidenbower was a site of importance in this area. Different groups lived at Puddlehill. Beaker people. Early bronze objects.
Iron Age 800 BC – AD 43
Evidence of a farmstead in the north east of the area of what is now Houghton Regis has been proven, together with a double ditch trackway.
600 BC: First iron ploughs.
100 BC: Belgium and Eastern France stock farmers arrive, using force to control.
Catuvellauni tribe at Wheathamstead, spread out, becoming prosperous traders, including to Maidenbower. Shards of Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman pottery found during trench excavations for A5-M1 Northern Bypass preliminary works (ref.)
AD 43: Roman Emperor, Claudius, invades forcing locals to build the hardened road of Watling Street, cutting away the summit of Puddlehill, cutting the hill off from Maidenbower ( – read ‘M Barber, P Topping (1994) Maiden Bower, Bedfordshire. RCHME Survey Report’. Farmers living in flimsy huts. Beginnings of Dunstable (Durocobrivis) at the Watling Street/Icknield Way junction. Romano-British *duro- “walled town.”
A pathway, now a bridleway, to the west of the A5 cutting is suggested to have been made in Roman times.
Excavations by the Manshead Archaeological Society under Les Matthews, archaeologists uncovered a number of Roman buildings before quarrying on Puddlehill. The site dates from AD 50-200. On display at Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton. Found in 1907 by Worthington Smith at Maiden Bower. In total eleven pots and five Samian vessels were collected. The remains of wooden coffins and cremation urns were also uncovered. Probably dated from AD 100-200. On display at Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton. Trackways lead to the Maiden Bower fort. Roman coins and pottery have been found at Shirrell Spring at Sewell. Also in the Sewell area have been found Roman coins, brooches, finger rings, and strap fittings. A useful source in the public domain is planning documents maintained by Central Bedfordshire Council, such as in the Heritage Statement for application CB/17/05378/FULL.
AD 217: Durocobrivae was listed in Antoinine Itinerary as being 12 Roman miles north of Verulamium (now St. Albans).
cAD 410: Roman soldiers finally leave to defend Rome.
AD 571: Cutha, a Saxon, wins a battle at Biedcanford (ref Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) taking settlements along the Icknield Way, causing destruction of Durocobrivis. Saxons rule this part of England. People make settlements away from the unsafe crossroads of Watling Street/Icknield Way. Some would have gone to the east to “hoe” – spur of a hill, “tun” – Saxon name for a village. “saelig” – holy or fortunate. Hence “Hoetun Saelig” which eventually became Houghton Regis.
The 1950’s saw the excavation of a burial of a Saxon warrior at Puddlehill. Orignally he would have been buried about 600AD and killed by a blow above his left ear that had smashed his skull. Now, it’s on display at Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton.
8th Century: Danish raiders in the area, burning, looting, invading.
AD 913 local people repel Danish invasion of Luton. (ref Anglo-Saxon Chronicles). AD921 Danes raid and destroy Durocobrivis.
926: North of Houghton Regis parish, the settlement at what is now known as Chalgrave was called East Coten (‘east cottages’)
AD 1000
1003-1066:During Edward the Confessor’s time, 3 hides of land at Sewell were in the tenure of Walgrave (a man of Queen Edith), and later were handed to the Royal Manor of Houghton by Ralph Tallebosc.
1042-66: Houghton is a Royal Manor. Edward the Confessor’s Queen gave Sewelle to a servant Walraven (#1). Sheriff of Bedfordshire gave it back to the Royal manor of Houghton.
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, previously owned by the Saxons (possibly by Morcar, rector of Luton). Sewell was an independent manor before the conquest, but was annexed by Ralf Taillebois, the Sheriff between 1066 and 1086 to the royal demesne.
1086: Houstone, Sewelle, Cadendone, Canesworde (modern day Houghton Regis, Sewell, Caddington, and Kensworth) listed as places in the four quadrants of the Icknield Way/Watling Street junction in the Domesday Tax Report. Durocobrivae is not mentioned, believed to have been in ruin for some time. Houstone, which probably included all the land later assigned to Dunstable, had about 1200 acres (10 hides) of productive land, 24 ploughs (24 x 8 oxen), woodland on heavier land for 100 pigs, plus meadow. Houghton inhabitants: 38 villagers (mainly arable workers), 12 smallholders (craftsmen, artisans), no serfs (teenagers, retired, disabled), 50 families, population estimated at 240. Potentially they were trading at the crossroads in what had been Durocobrivae, and at Upper Houghton. They were comparatively highly taxed.
AD 1100
1100: Henry I of England became king in August, and soon after builds a market town on his estate at Houghton in an effort to raise revenue from rents and levies on trade. ‘men to come and rent building land at 12d per acre’. About 450 acres (1.8 km2) of Houghton land was given over. This becomes known as Dunestaple which I will state simply means “the one market”: Explanation – as taken from the conjunction of the French D’un (meaning the one), and the Old French ‘estaple’ word which was a counter, stall; regulated market, depot,” taken from a Germanic source akin to see etymonline.com.
1109: A royal residence for Henry I is completed in Houghton at the North East of the crossroads in the Dunestaple area with stone from Royal quarry of Totternhoe. This is called Kingsbury.
1121: King Henry I gives the church lands in Houghton to his illegitimate son, Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester.
1122: King Henry I stays at Kingsbury for Christmas (ref.)
1125: An order of Augustinian canons is by now established in a Priory opposite the Palace.
1131: King Henry I stays at Kingsbury for Christmas.
1132: King Henry I gives to the canons the “the whole manor and burg of Dunstaple with the lands to the same town … the market of the said town and schools … common in the wood of Houghton and the pastures of Houghton and Caddington and Kensworth and Totternhoe and the quarry of the same town”. Privileges in the charter extended to giving the canons complete control over the town and its residents.
At the same time, the Royal Manor of Houghton was given to the Norman baron, Hugh de Gurney.
Freemen from Houghton lost their rights to grazing and wood gathering around the market crossroads (where Icknield Way and Watling Street met) so Henry gave to them Buckwood, an estate near present day Markyate. (Buckwood amalgamated with Humbershoe and other pockets of land in the late 18th century to form the parish of Markyate).
The confusion over exactly what Henry I had granted in Houghton lead to a constant struggle between the prior and the lords of the vil. More about Henry I on the Dunstable Timeline.
1136: Possible date for building a new church at Houghton.
1137: King Stephen stays at Kingsbury for Christmas.
1138: Enquiry on behalf of the King shows that 60 acres behind the church at Kyngggeshoughtone have become William Chamberlain’s (see 1066) personal secular property.
1153: Earl William, son of Earl Robert of Gloucester, gives Houghton church and its lands to St. Albans Abbey who continues to own and runs them until the dissolution of the monasteries. Tithes collected from the whole village on behalf of St Albans Abbey.
AD 1200
1203: King John visits the Priory at Dunestaple, and licenses a new annual fair, St Fremund to be held on 10-12 May.
1204: King John hands over ‘site and garden’ where the King once had gardens, to the Priory.
1216: King John at the Priory while troops are camped around. Before his death, King John gives Luton and Bedford to a mercenary soldier “Falkes be Breaute”. He has a home in London “Faukes-hale”, later transposed as Vauxhall.
1221: Priory produces a set of bye-laws, one of the first of its kind in England, laying down rules about markets.
1223: (November) Following a dispute with Hugh de Gurnay, the Prior takes complaints to Westminster. At the King’s court at Westminster the Prior is awarded a third share of all the woodland in the village and meadow at Houghton (including a third of land at Buckwood), and an enclosed farm near Chalgrave, called ‘Caldecot’, south of the Edeway.
1226: The Prior, Richard, builds a manor house at Caldecot, (Calcutt Farm) near Houghton Regis, diverting a stream to form a moat around it.
1227: King Henry III demands £100 to renew the Priory charter, leading to civil disobedience when the Priory attempted to collect two-thirds of this fee from local businesses.
1230: Prior demands further high taxes, causing more upset, leading to some Dunstable townsfolk purchasing 40 acres nearby and the establishment of the new town at Eaton (now Eaton Bray). About this time Houghton had North and South Fields, with these fields cropped in alternate years.
1230: Henry III gives land opposite Priory (in the south-west of the Dunstable crossroads) to Dominican Black Friars.
1250: A Matthew Paris map has “Dunestap.” marked as the confluence of meeting routes across the British Isles. Paris was a Benedictine monk of St Albans responsible for Chronica Majora
1264: Two men steal sheep from the Prior at Sewell, and are hanged at Pascombe Pit on Dunstable Downs.
1265: The tournament ground (now the sewage works in north of Houghton Regis) would have been a popular spot, but during King Henry’s time tournaments were made illegal.
1273: Milicent (de Gurney) inherits land at Thorn, a portion of Houghton Manor, which then passes to her second husband Eudo la Zouche of Harringworth.
1274: Edward I often stayed at Kingsbury for hawking expeditions on the downs.
‘John the Cook’ sparks another quarrel between Eudo la Zouche and the Prior. Eudo (or Eudo la Zouche) got his bailiff to forcibly remove the felon from the prior’s prison in Dunstable and threw down the Prior’s gallows at Edessuthe (Blow’s Downs), asserting that he had jurisdiction and not the prior. He then set up his own gallows below Pudele, later Gibbet Arch, beyond Puddle Hill.
1276: In March, King Edward I and Queen Eleanor visit the Priory. Priory gets cloth gifts. Friars get cash.
1280: Enquiry reveals that the poor canons have borrowed 100 shillings from the shrine of St Fremund to buy food.
1285: Edward I commands of Dunstable and Houghton people “… each one of you according to his estate and capability shall cause those roads to be filled in and mended…”
1287: Kynggeshonghthone – Name for the area mentioned in the Assizes
Assizes excerpt
1290: 12th and 13th December, Queen Eleanor’s coffin rests at the Priory.
1292: The Prior of Dunstable ferreted rabbits at Buckwood, an outlying plot of land belonging to Houghton (*).
1295: From 1295 until 1386 the whole of Bedfordshire is represented in Parliament by one representative. John de Sewelle established a right to hunt at Buckwood (*).
13th/14th Century: The original Saxon Church at Houghton is replaced by “All Saints”, but inconclusive as to when and by whom. The main door is 14thC. Chancel, naive, and aisles 13th/14thC. The porch is 15th/16C. The manor at Sewell was built 13th/14th century, as was Manor Farmhouse, whose first flooor was believed to have been used as a chapel (Heritage report in CB/17/05378/FULL).
AD 1300
1309: The taxable population at Houghton is nearly twice that of other local villages. It had 60% fewer taxpayers than Dunstable, but only 50% less tax.
1309-1332: Some cold wet winters, lost harvests, cows and pigs perished in the fields, possibly through foot and mouth disease.
1323: “The canons of the Priory grant free warren of their demesne lands in Houghton. ” (source Lordship of Caldecote).
1324: The Manor and Lordship of Thornbury is owned by William la Zouche. He settles the reversion of Thornbury onto his second son, William (ref).
1330: Most judgements in the manorial courts are in favour of the Prior and the prior’s view of frankpledge (dividing up responsibility in the manor into groups of ten men) is admitted on payment of a fine (source Lordship of Caldecote).
1333: William la Zouche releases his claim on Thornbury and it returns to his father.
1334: William la Zouche settles Thornbury on his late son’s eldest son, William. His son, Eudo, having died in Paris in 1325/6.
1340: Fighting in France; over 2,000 h.a. of Houghton downland was left uncultivated. People of the Houghton area in poverty. When the tax collectors came they found a small population who had “neither seed to sow, nor oxen to plough” (#5).
1347: Black Death (bubonic plague) on the Continent arrives in Britain carried by black rats; up to half the local population may have perished, having caught the decease through coughing and sneezing.
1349: Black Death reached its peak between March and August; 54 out of 123 clergy die in Bedfordshire. (O’Dell)
1352: William la Zouche succeeds his grandfather and is summoned to Parliament as Lord Zouche of Haringworth.
1353: First mention of ‘Houghton Regis’ in Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem. source
1381: Peasants Revolt. Businessmen storm Priory gate and forced a new charter.
1382: The Manor and Lordship of Thornbury, William la Zouche, passes to his son, also called William.
1385: REGIS appears in writings added after the variant names in use for “Houghton”.
1386: From this year until 1653 the whole of Bedfordshire returns two persons to Parliament.
1389: William la Zouche is one of the “evil councillors” banished from the court of Richard II.
1396: William la Zouche dies and his son, William la Zouche, inherits Thornbury (ref)
AD 1400
c1400: A new grange with stone foundations, slate roof, wooden beams and strong boundary wall with foundations is built in Houghton village probably at the behest of Abbot John de la Moote (1396–1401). Most likely this was the Tithe Barn that once stood at the site of Houghton Regis’ Bedford Square – similar barns were built in 1374 at Kingsbury, St Albans and 1397/8 at Croxley Green).
1405: 3rd November, Henry IV stays at “Old Royal Palace” Dunstable.
1413: William la Zouche of Thornbury participates in the French wars and is made Lieutenant of Calais.
1415: William la Zouche of Thornbury dies and the Thornbury title is inherited by his son, William. At date unknown, William’s son dies without issue and his son William inherits.
15thCentury: All Saints church gets a tower, and lead roof replaces the thatch or shingle roof. At this time the church at Houghton Regis is said to be ‘most adorned’ with figures of the Saints, Anne, Anthony, Christopher, Clement, John, Katherine, Margaret, Mary, Magdalen, Nicholas, Swithin, Thomas.(#5)
1461: Margaret of Anjou camps unpaid and unfed soldiers around the area, before and after the battle of St Albans.
1468: William la Zouche of Thornbury dies leaving a son and heir John la Zouche who is only a minor. His mother, who remarries, is wife to Gilbert Debenham, now holds Thornbury in trust.
1470: John la Zouche’s mother dies and he becomes Lord of Thornbury. He is the last person known to use the title.
1485: Lord of the manor at Houghton, John la Zouche of Eaton, loses his estates, including the manor at Thornbury, having fought alongside the losing King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.
1490: Henry VII grants new ownership of the Zouche estates, including Thornbury, to Sir Reginald de Bray.
AD 1500
1515: By the will of rich businessman William Dyve of Sewell, funds are provided for a chantry for a chaplain at Sewell, and an additional priest at All Saints to teach 6 poor children. The chantry is situated at the eastern bay of the south aisle of All Saints church (ref FWB). The site of the chantry chapel in Houghton is “where the road from Chalton runs into the green” (see #1). Other funds are provided for Dunstable.
1533: ‘Dunstaple’ is short of beds as civil servants and clergy arrive to debate at the Priory whether Queen Catherine’s marriage to King Henry VIII was legally binding.
1536: A document at the death of Sir John Dyve refers to Sewell as a manor for the first time. The property then passes to his grandson William until 1592.
1537: Henry VIII stays at the White Horse, Dunstaple, rather than at the Priory. The Dominican Friary closes.
1538: Houghton Regis Parish Registers start. Richard Why, the ‘brotherhoode P’ste” at Houghton buried 3 February.
1539: Dissolution of the Priory.
1540 and 1541: Henry VIII at Dunstable. “Willis’s Mitred Abbeys” records that he wishes to make Dunstable a cathedral city.
1541: Calcutt is included in the manor of Houghton after being purchased from the widow of one of Sir Reginald de Bray’s successors, (Urian Brereton and his wife Joan, widow of Edmund Lord Bray). Rectory of Houghton and the church land are bought by George Cavendish, close companion to Thomas Wolsey.
1548: Chaplain-teacher at Houghton was John Couper, received an annual salary of 26s. 8d to teach 6 poor children in East Street’s chantry school. He later becomes vicar of Houghton and Dunstable. Edict issued at King’s Council to destroy “vain” things, especially in churches.
1552: Church wardens at All Saints tell Commissioners that they have recently been robbed to explain why the possessions they could show are so meagre. All Saints church now had 4 bells. Spelling “HOWGHTON REGIS”.
After 1558: In Queen Elizabeth I’s time, adults had to attend church, or pay a fine of one shilling.
1560: Queen Elizabeth I grants the manor of Caldecote to Thomas Reve and George Evelyn (not taken up?).
1566: The descent of the manor of Houghton parted from Eaton, being sold by Sir Edward Bray to Lewis Montgomery and Jane his wife( see British History Online). The Houghton Manor then falls through family descent and trustees, and is eventually sold by John Earl of Bridgewater to Henry Brandreth in 1653/4.
1574: 13 May, “young man founde slayne at Puddell Brydge with his legs bounde and sore wounded upon his hed and face” – parish register. Bray family sell all their estate, including Thornbury, to Sir Walter Sandys who hold it until 1615.
1579: A grant of Caldecote manor is made to Edward Downing and John Walker.
1580: A 5th bell at All Saints bears the year 1580 (recast 1899).
1582: Between July and December 40 deaths in the Dunstable/Houghton Regis area are attributed to plague.
1588-1605: Rev Roger Rogers is vicar, but unqualified to preach.
1590: John Pare has come into the ownership of Caldecote and alienates (transfers) ownership to Francis Bevell.
1598 Land in Sewell Field in Houghton Regis is described as being owned by the Bell Inn, Luton.
AD 1600
1603: 340 communicants registered, population estimated at 550.
1605: A survey was carried out (a terrier or terrour) of all possessions belonging to Rectorie for village of Houghton Regis. Site of vicarage lay between Robert Pedder land to the north and tenement of Richard Andrew to the south
1613: Owner of Calcutt Farm, Joseph Medgate, and others are involved in a struggle for right to not conform to the King Edward VI Book of Common Prayer. Joseph and Thomas Medgate levy a fine in relation to the lordship but it is not known how they came to own Caldecote.
1615: Manor of Houghton passes from Sandys, and later to 1st Earl of Bridgwater.
1625: Nonconformists minister paid £20 per annum for next 7 years at the Priory Church, Dunstable. Cholera in the area.
1632: Joseph Medgate, buried in Houghton.
1639: Joseph Medgate son, Thomas, sells Caldecote Manor (Calcutt Farm) to John Smith.
1642: The manor of Sewell, inherited by Royalist Sir Lewis Dyve, is sold to Sir John Strangeways. Hostility between Parliamentarians and Royalists. Eleanor Cross (erected in 1311), a gift to Dunstable, after Queen Eleanor’s death, is believed to have been destoyed by Parliamentary soldiers.
1643-1657: Vicarage at Houghton Regis is empty – William Pedder is at war.
1644: Royalist soldiers in the area, enter the church at Dunstable firing pistols, shooting the minister in the pulpit, wounding some congregation members, and leaving behind bullet holes, still present today, in an unused door at the side of the main door of the Priory church.
1645: Owner of Red Lion, Dunstable, is shot dead by Royalists as they try to take his coach horses.
1651: The rectory is sold to William Bowyer for £4,677-10-0.
1652: Henry Brandreth, a rich London merchant, buys Sewell (source #1 says this was in 1658; #5, 1652). Sir Lewis Dyve, a Royalist supporter, had earlier forfeited the hamlet to Parliament.
1653/4: Brandreth purchased much land in the area including the Manor of Houghton, and the church of Houghton Regis. (The descent of the church over the previous 500 years is tracked in #1).
1654: By the will of Thomas Whitehead a house for schooling is set aside near the village green. Thomas Whitehead stipulates that the school be made up of 15 boys from poor families in Houghton and 5 boys from poor families in nearby hamlets (Sewell, Thorn, Calcutt). Other money is to be invested in land to provide an income for the school to keep going. Rev Daniel Clithero, Vicar of Totternhoe, is appointed for the first 2 years and the school is known as Houghton Regis Free School.
1654: John Smith passes Caldecote Manor (Calcutt Farm) to his son John (also called Smith). From 1654-1656 there are 5 representatives in the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate from the whole of Bedfordshire.
1656: 29th May, a petition before Oliver Cromwell says that the £20 a year collectable from 200 persons in parish of Houghton Regis is hardly worth the labour of collecting, so parish had not been able to afford a preacher.
1657: Rev James Paddon’s usher uses the Free School school house. Rev. James Paddon at Houghton Regis Free School until 1704.
1658: John Littlejohn paid as vicar of Houghton for one year.
1659: The Bedfordshire consituency returns 2 representatives to Parliament. Until 1831 the parties returned are either “Whig” or “Tory”.
1661: Cholera in the area. Caldecote Manor (Calcutt Farm) sold by John Smith to John Lawrence. This is the last reference to the manor or lordship of Caldecote (ref.). After the Restoration of the Monarchy Sir Lewis Dyve gets Sewell manor back, but appears to reach compromise with Brandreth and the manor of Sewell is handed to John Fisher and Henry Parr.PATRICK, JOHN (1632–1695), educated at the school of Houghton Regis, and admitted to Peterhouse, Cambridge, on 7 Aug 1661, and was among the foremost champions of the protestant against the catholic cause in the days of James II (ref.)
1662: A Bill in Parliament to repair Watling Street in county of Bedford; but not passed into an Act.
1664: Caldecote Manor (Calcutt Farm) is sold by John Lawrence to Andrew Campion, a clerk. William Strange, by will, charges his lands in Houghton with an annuity of £10 for the use of the aged poor frequenting divine service.
1666: Caldecote Manor (Calcutt Farm) sold by Andrew Campion to John Hockley.
1668: Shortage of regal coinage, and local people issued their own coins for local use. “On its face was a Greyhound and Hare between crossed pipes and a tobacco roll. This suggests that Daniel Fossey may have been a publican running, for example, a pub called ‘The Greyhound’. He may also have been a coffee shop proprietor or a tobacconist dealing in the recently imported Tobacco. Pipe tobacco was shipped over from America or transported from Turkey. It was a luxury item available to a few.”
1668: In negotiation of marriage of his daughter Alice, Henry Brandreth(1) received a communication from Ann Massingberd, “Sir, I received yours. Since you have been informed of my son’s estate in land, I shall tell you that for his wife’s portion I shall expect £4,000 at least.” The reply was: “Madam: in answer of yours, whoever gives £4,000 with his daughter will expect £1,200 p.a., at least, unless there is some defect of nature or morals.” (B. Mag. ix, 201-4)
1669: John Crook leads 40 regular Quaker assemblies in Sewell (Newman’s Farm?). Quaker belief is that they are answerable only to God, and soon became a target for persecution after Charles II restoration to the crown.
1671: Hearth Tax population calculation for Houghton Regis was 450, probably excluded Upper Houghton.
1673: In March Henry Brandreth(1) dies. Date on the 6th bell at All Saints is 1673.
1678: Quakers refuse to attend parish churches and lease land at Sewell for burial ground and a meeting house. Rectory transferred to John Elwes. Bowyer transferred rectory to John Elwes.
1683: Nehemiah Brandreth, son of Henry(1), marries Rebecca Price (an avid recipe collector) in Covent Garden, and then live at the Manor House in Houghton (site unknown, but believed to be around present day Park Avenue). Their eldest child, Henry(2), marries Mary Chibbald, who in turn go on to have 4 children, including Henry (3).
1689: Straw hat makers for Herts, Beds and Bucks petition Parliament against a Bill that would have made it compulsory to wear woollen hats. Late 1600s, many of Houghton Regis’s residents, particularly women and children, were employed in straw-plaiting for the hat trade in Luton. Following the Toleration Act of William and Mary, the Quaker House at Sewell is registered.
1691: March: Rectory at Houghton Regis is bought from Elwes by Alice Smythe, daughter of Henry Brandreth(1) from John Elwes.
1692: Thomas Smythe dies; Alice Smythe living at Ware. Alice next moves to the Manor House at Houghton to live with Nehemiah and Rebecca Brandreth. Alice purchases for £1750 land across the Village Green, and proceeds to have Houghton Hall built. Alice marries William Milard who is later knighted.
1696: In lieu of unpaid tithes Rev James Paddon sends men to impound a cow valued at £4 10s by Daniel King; and unthreshed corn valued at £12 was ‘stolen’ from Simon Merry’s barn.
17thC: Before the end of the century Nehemiah Brandreth, son of Henry Brandreth(1), has resumed possession of the Sewell manor.
AD 1700
1700: Houghton Hall is built and completed for Alice and William Milard.
1704: Usher Francis Paddon takes over the Houghton Regis Free School school house until 1731.
1706: Pike or pole is placed accross Watling Street near Sewell Turn. “Puddlehill Trust” starts to adminster road betwen Bull Inn, (in Houghton until boundary changes in 1907) and Hockcliffe (Ogilby’s map of 1675 refers this as “Hockley in the Hole” – See strip 4 in THE ROAD FROM LONDON TO TOWCESTER (VIA ST ALBANS & STONY STRATFORD) BY JOHN OGILBY C.1675).
1707: William Francis is gaoled for 19 months for refusing to pay a groat (4 old pence) to vicar Christopher Eaton at Easter. Local Baptist leader, William Brittin, yeoman of Houghton Regis togther with others, purchase land at Tile Kiln Close, Dunstable (map p.11).
1710: Sir William Milard dies.
1729: Alice Milard dies, childless; Houghton Hall passes to her nephew, Nehemiah Brandreth(2).
1732: Land in Caldecote (i.e. Calcutt Farm) is in the hands of Justus and Ann Gerhard.
1739: Henry Brandreth (3) inherits the old manor house at age 16, and later marries his cousin Rebecca Beech of Redbourn.
1732: Caldecote Manor (Calcutt Farm) is in the hands of Justus Gerhard and Ann his wife.
1737: “Indictment of John Olncy, of the parish of King’s Houghton, for laying in, upon, and over a certain rivulet or brook called Seywell Dryness Brook, otherwise called Cross Ih’ook, in the said parish of King’s Houghton, several large pieces of wood and timber whereby the common and usual course of the stream of the said rivulet or brook was stopped and obstructed, by which stoppage and obstruction the common footway, leading from the parish of King’s Houghton aforesaid, to the parish of Tilsworth on the north-east part of the said rivulet or brook and near or thereto adjoining, was overHowetl, and the meadows, pastures and commonable places near the said brook in the parish of King’s Houghton were entirely overflowed and drowned.” (County records)
1740: “10th July. Certificate signed by Samuel Che . . . , John Cooper, 111 S. Marsom, and Thomas Cooper, that a newly-erected house at Thorne, in the parish of King’s Houghton, near the messuage of John Bunker, is intended to be used as a place of worship for Protestant dissenters.” (County records).
1746: Thoswithan, eldest son of Nehemiah Brandreth(2) inherits the ‘mansion house’ of Houghton Hall.
1749: 1st April, an orchard belonging to the late John Bunker near to Thorn Green is sold for 10 shillings to a group of local people to form a Baptist Chapel and burial ground, independent of the Kensworth Baptists. Henry Brandreth (3), age 26, sells home and estate to Duke of Bedford.
1750: William Cox buried, ‘a dealer in straw hats’.
1750: Gabriel Tompkins, leader of a band of highwaymen, who robbed the Chester Mail coach near Hockliffe in 1746 was executed in March 1750 and his body hung in irons from a gibbet near Chalk Hill as a deterrent to potential future criminals (Smugglers page iv, http://www.mayfieldbonfire.co.uk/ as referenced by Dunstable History).
1750: “The manor (of Houghton) remained in the hands of the Brandreth family until 1750, when Henry Brandreth sold it to the Duke of Bedford.” (see http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42453#n51). Henry Brandreth (3), age 26 and ill, has no issue, and sells his estate to the Duke of Bedford, but continues to live at Houghton Hall. 19thC estate maps show a coach house near the foot of Drury Lane; the old manor house is believed to have been nearby. Weathercock erected on All Saints church.
1751: Mr Thos. Bunker is Pastor at Thorn Baptist Church.
1752: Thoswithan Brandreth, at Houghton Hall, dies, leaving a widow, Mary nee Buckeridge, 2 daughters and a son, Thoswithan(2). Richard Arnott, servant to Brandreth family for 40 years, dies and commemorative mural tablet is placed in the eastern bay of All Saints church.
1756: Sundial on south wall of All Saints church is repainted.
1760: Houghton Regis parish, along with Eaton Bray and Totternhoe parishes, was under attack by Marshe Dickinson, a Dunstable justice, for failing to upkeep the road of Icknield Way. Assessment of a fine of £50 to each parish if the road was not made good. (County records)
1762: A map is drawn up to show land plots in Houghton Regis parish. The map is copied in 1766 and is now available at Bedford Records Office.
1765: Thomas Jefferys’ map shows Puddlehill and Maidenbower divided by Watling Street.
1767: Marquess of Tavistock, founder of the Dunstable Hunt, died following a hunting accident at Houghton Park in 1767 (ref – p380.)
1768: May 21st, Rev. Edmund Wodley inducted into real and actual Possession of the Vicarage of Kings Houghton.
1771: The Poor Rate in Houghton Regis was 1 shilling and 6 pence in the pound and amounted to £188-14s-0d.
1772: May – Sheep stolen, believed the property of Andrew Cooper of Dunstable, sheep retained in HR; John Marks of Caddington on charge.
1773: John Lesley and family arrived at the Free School house; remain until 1815. A supporting garden is developed for the school, and other income is generated from clerical work.
1775: Mr William Butfield ordained as Pastor at Thorn Baptist Church (15th Feb) serving until death in 1778. Christopher Tower of HR was nominated as a Sheriff by the Lords of the Council at the Exchequer.
1777: Six farms being sold belonging to the late John Dickenson situated round about south Bedfordshire. A footway starting at Mill Hill was to be diverted
1780: All Saints’ Church clock was lower than it was in 1937 (Ref: FWB)
1781: Mr David Evans is Pastor at Thorn Baptist Church.
1782: The Poor Rate in Houghton Regis was 2 shillings and 6 pence in the pound and amounted to £323-11s-11d.
An alternative coach road is opened on the west side of ‘Chalk Hill’, around the hill, at a cost of £16,000, thereby avoiding Puddlehill’s steep incline that had required seven or eight horses to pull a coach up it. The new route follows the curve of the old Soch (salt) Way. The toll gate at the northern end of the route, also serves the route over the hill.
1784: A new road is made from Dunstable to Luton; the previous route had run from Dunstable to Leagrave.
1786: “Certificate of the conviction of Arthur Rocke of the parish of Woburn, carrier, for unloading from his waggon certain wares, goods or merchandize before the same came to the weighing engine at Puddle Hill tollgate in the parish of Houghton Regis, in order to avoid payment of toll.” From Full text of “Bedfordshire county records : notes and extracts from the county records comprised in the quarter sessions rolls from 1714 to 1832”.
1787: Thoswithan Brandreth(2), dies in Houghton leaving debts and estate to Henry Brandreth(4). Mr Robert Fawkner is Pastor at Thorn Baptist Church.
1787: £50 worth of goods stolen from Manchester coach at Houghton Regis (CRO QSR 1787/39); for this John Armsden was sentenced to be transported for 7 years. Toll gate known as Puddle Hill Gate was to be let by auction: Income above expenses was said to be £860. J. Lesley was the clerk of the Militia Meetings.
1788: Toll gate known as Puddle Hill Gate was to be let by auction; Income above expenses was said to be £785. A person was sort for the “keeping, maintaining and employing the Poor” of the parish.
1789: August – Mr, Daniel Willis, jun. of Adam’s-Court, Old Broadstreet, London married Miss Brandreth of Houghton Regis. Mansion house, believed to be Houghton Hall, is advertised for lett for a period of three years.
1790: 16 April, a new Baptist Chapel opens in Houghton village centre, converted from two cottages in Houghton High Street, as Thorn was too far to travel especially in cold weather.
1791: April – 134 acres site of arable land and meadow ground let to Mr Joseph Anstee and Mr John Eames, plus a cottage and tenement barn and orchard are advertised for let. Puddle-Hill Gate toll is offered to let by auction at the Sugarloaf Inn, Dunstable, said to have an income after expenses of £790.
1792: Henry Brandreth(4) of Houghton Hall, aged 22, marries Dionosia Turner, a wealthy landowner, who is able to sell those estates in Devon and Cornwall, and restore the Houghton estate that had by now fallen into debt. Nov – Thomas Fossey, a farmer of HR, was among those signing a petition in Leighton Buzzard agreeing to use the Winchester Bushel at market “and not by the customary measure”.
1793: A proposal is made to make a navigable cut (canal) from Puddle-Hill, HR, to join the Grand Junction Canal at Slapton, Bucks.
1794: Jul – Puddle-Hill Gate toll is offered to let by auction at the Sugarloaf Inn, Dunstable, said to have an income after expenses of £1235. Nov – William Deeves Goodge, a bricklayer, brought a mare to the King’s Arms HR without bridle or saddle, and was placed in gaol at Bedford on suspicion of having stolen it.
1796: Feb – A man, believed to be a Shrewsbury volunteer, was found dead near the road at Chalk Hill turnpike. April- ‘inclosure act”: “An Act for dividing and allotting the Common and Open Fields, Common Meadows, Commons, and Wastelands, within the Parish of Houghton Regis, in the County of Bedford” describes the main roads of the town that we know today. The poor harvest lead William Mead, curate of Houghton Regis, and others, to sign a pledge to reduce their consumption of wheat by at least one third, and called upon the recommendation to be adopted by all persons throughout Great Britain.
1797: Puddle-Hill Gate toll is offered to let by auction at the Sugarloaf Inn, Dunstable, said to have an income after expenses of £1344. Aug – Wm. Cumberland advertises that a mare has been stolen, offers a 100 guinea reward.
1798: Mr Thos. Claypole is Pastor at Thorn Baptist Church. Puddle-Hill Gate toll is offered to let by auction at the Sugarloaf Inn, Dunstable, said to have an income after expenses of £1350.
1799: Land is enclosed, and 1 and half-acre of land at Chantry farm, on Sundon Road, is owned by the Whitehead school (site of today’s Parkside Drive from Chequers pub roundabout goes through the old farm site). In June, Puddle-Hill Gate toll is again offered to let by auction at the Sugarloaf Inn, Dunstable, said to have an income after expenses of £1356 In July Mr Thomas Gibbs married Sarah Brandreth, daughter of the late Thomas Wihan Brandreth. Benjamin Knibbs, tollkeeper at Puddle-Hill Gate, is beaten by a horseman with his horsewhip. (C.R.O. QSR 1786/105)
AD 1800
1800: James and Thomas Fossey and Joseph Tween of Houghton Regis are issued with Gamekeeper’s certificates. In July Puddle-Hill Toll Gate is offered to let by auction. 40 acres in HR in 5 different Lots are offered for sale by auction.
1801: Houghton Regis population 784. The roads were in ‘ruinous condition’.
1802: Land enclosures: “allotments assigned to the impropriator and vica, in lieu of tithes” (ref FWB).
1803: The Old Gibbet Post(WS) at the corner of Gib Close, Chalk Hill, is destroyed by Irish recruits. On this post, a man from Sewell had been secured with chains for robbing the mail coach between Dunstable and Chalk Hill.
Rev. Thos. W. Morris is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
The roads are looking better.
1803/4: A new Baptist Chapel is built on the south side of High Street at its western end, to replace the smaller one of 1790. The Chapel at Thorn is physically moved into the village where Baptists from Dunstable also came. ( pdf Google document of Houghton Regis Baptist Church) .
1804: The farm estate of Mr Joseph Anstee is advertised for sale by auction.
1806: At Bedwell 16 acres of Tythe free arable and sworn land under the tenure of William Collier was auctioned.
1808: “11th May. Account of Capt. Oliver. To breakfast for 70 privates belonging to the Dunstable and Houghton Volunteer Company (beer included), £3 10s. To dinner for the same number (beer included), £7. Paid to i\rr. Thomas Squires for flints, 5s. 6d. “Pay” to 70 privates at one shilling each, £3 10s., &c” County records
1810: Rev. W.M. Anderson is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1811: Houghton Regis population 1,020.
1812: BRAY, EDWARD ATKYNS (1778–1857) (ref.), poet and miscellaneous writer, the only son of Edward Bray, and Mary, a daughter of Dr. Brandreth of Houghton Regis, became the vicar of Tavistock in 1812.
1813: Houghton Regis was asked to repair its road running between Whipsnade and Studham.
Explanation: Today’s Buckwood Lane and Buckwood Road run from Whipsnade to Markyate. Today’s Markyate was once known as Market Street. Buckwood Stubbs, a wooded area near Market Street, was added to Houghton Regis parish lands after part of its area was given over to create Dunstable in the 12th century.
1814: James Hardy, a straw hat manufacturer of HR declared bankrupt.
c1815: Charity boys are being asked to pay for their own pen, inks and firing at the Free School schoolhouse. An attempt is made by the Lesley’s to make an unqualified son of the family the next schoolmaster, and thereby retain a roof over their heads. But Henry Brandreth(4) recommends to the distant trustee that George Taylor from Markyate should be the next schoolmaster. Taylor is there until 1820.
1815: In November James Lesley died at his home in HR, after being the clerk to the Justices and Commissioners for 40 years, as well as clerk of the general and subdivision meetings.
By 1815 work had started to lower the height of Puddlehill.
1816: Henry Brandreth appointed sheriff of Bedfordshire by His Royal Highness the Prince Regent. William Sere, a child of almost 2, found drowned in a pond at Sewell.
1817: March – Gutley Blackhorn stole a sheep and a sack and received the death sentence but was afterwards reprieved. John Parker, 77, was found drowned in a ditch. George Taylor gives first official lessons at the Houghton Regis Free School in February. But by now fruit trees and shrubs have been cut down, an outhouse had been pulled down, and essential fittings and tiles have been removed from inside the schoolhouse by the annoyed Lesley family. (CRO B 695). Jun – An unknown man was found dead at Chalk Hill. Aug – 25 acres of arable land next to the Mixed Way, and Great Chester North Road in HR is offered for freehold sale.
Gutley BACKHORN, a native German, aged 37, residing in Houghton Regis was found guilty of sheep stealing and transported for life on the ‘Larkins’ to New South Wales, sailing on 20 Jul 1817.
1818: Young men are taught in branches of English Literature at Houghton Regis for a fee of 21 guineas, including board, by George Taylor. Nov – At the Annual Meeting of the Bedfordshire Agricultural Society, William Jones, a labourer, was awarded 3 guineas having worked on the same farm at Houghton Regis for 42 years. Notice is given of intention to bring in through Parliament a toll road between Luton and Dunstable.
1819: Rev J Dunne ‘instituted’ at HR. James Turner insolvent.
1820: The circuitous route around Puddlehill is sold off to Henry Brandreth for £20; tollgate is moved to “Kate’s Hill” near Toddington turn-off. George Taylor dies; Richard Cumberland carries on now as headteacher at the Free School until his death in 1874 when he is 87 years old.
1821: Houghton Regis population 1,283.
1822: Caldecote Manor (Calcutt Farm) is in the hands of Richard Gilpin, without manorial status (ref.)
1825: Repairs made to the masonry of the tower of All Saints church.
1826: Rev. Daniel Gould is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church, serving until death in 1881.
1827: All Saints church tower steps repaired.
1829: A well is discovered during the building of the Dunstable to Leighton Buzzard railway line. The well is at least 120 ft (37 m) deep and is filled with Roman material including pottery, tiles, human and animal bones, burnt wood and ashes. The well is recorded by James Wyatt and W. Monkhouse.
1830: A hand pulled fire engine is purchased.
Francis SANDERS, age 16 of Houghton Regis, was found guilty in July 1830 of stealing from a dwelling house and removed to Hulk Justitia at Woolwich from where he was transported for 14 years, sailing on 3 Sep 1830 on ‘York’ bound for New South Wales.
1831: Census for Houghton Regis shows the population at 1,424, 300 families in 287 inhabited houses, 2 uninhabited houses, Families chiefly employed in Agriculture 184, Families chiefly employed in Trade, Manufactures, and Handicraft 96, 710 Males, 714 Females, Employed in Retail Trade, or in Handicrafts as Masters or Workmen 88.
From now until 1885 the elected Members of Parliament for the area are either “Conservative” or “Liberal”.
1832: Between 1430 and 1832 who could vote in Parliamentary elections was defined by the Forty Shilling Freeholder Act. Basically, any man who owned freehold property worth £2 in the county could have voted since 1430, provided they made the journey to Bedford to cast it, and at the expectation of payment of journey costs by the candidates. The Great Reform Act of 1832, extended voting to male tenants-at-will paying an annual rent of £50 or more, and to owners of land in copyhold worth £10 (value around £850 in 2012 source). Despite these reforms, only 3,966 were registered and entitled to vote at the general election of 1832, out of a population in Bedfordshire of some 95,000.
1833: The “Liverpool Express” Stage Coach overturns near Chalk Hill; a person named Stern is killed.
1834/5: 86 seater Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, built at Chalk Hill, by the side of the 1782 road, where there were 26 cottages and Green Man public house.
1835: Puddlehill trust (Dunstable to Hockliffe) income from tolls £2,770.
Charles PARKINS, age 21, of Houghton Regis, was found guilty in January of sheep stealing and sent to the prison ship Hulk Justitia at Woolwich from where he was transported for life on 6th Jul 1835 on the ‘Mary Ann’ arriving in New South Wales 11th November, 1835(see convict records).
1836: Act of Parliament authorises £10,000 (£850,000 in 2012 money source) for “lowering Chalk Hill”.
Rev. Alex. Smith becomes Pastor of Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church, which is now separated from the Dunstable brethren, and continues as Pastor until 1843 when he leaves for America.
1837: Chalk Hill, the Roman road, was excavated further, the road of 1782 being abandoned.
Henry PATEMAN, age 18, of Houghton Regis, was found guilty on 9 Mar 1837 Assizes, of stealing potatoes and removed to Hulk Justitia at Woolwich on 10 Apr 1837, sentenced to transportation for 7 years, sailing on 4 Oct 1837 on the Neptune to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).
1838: The number of stagecoaches passing through Chalk Hill is greatly reduced as London-Birmingham railway is built, passing through nearby Leighton Buzzard.
1840: Puddlehill trust (Dunstable to Hockliffe) income from tolls £1,030.
c1840: Henry Brandreth(4) leaves Houghton Hall to the eldest son of his youngest sister, on condition that the boy, Humphrey Gibbs, change his name to Brandreth and live in the Hall.
1841: Houghton Regis population 1661. There are 364 houses in the parish. ( source)
Queen Victoria stopped overnight in nearby Red Lion at Dunstable. 36 ratepayers of the village showed their disapproval of the early police force, at quarter sessions, “.. the amount of crime being in our estimation in no respect diminished, and the enormous cost being totally disproportionate … We therefore respectfully entreat your worships [to relieve] us altogether from the rural police.”
1842: Early in the year it was reported that James Messenger died after being concussed through being struck by the sails from the Mill. Wooden pulpit bought for All Saints parish church.
James COOK, age 33, of the parish, was found guilty of sheep stealing on 4 Jan 1842, Epiphany, was transported to Gibraltar for 10 years, but in February 1848 was further moved to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on board the Mount Stuart Elphinstone.
Joseph SHORT, and Jesse SINFIELD, both of the parish was found guilty of sheep stealing on 4 Jan 1842 Epiphany, was sent to Hulk York at Gosport on 26 Jan 1842, sentenced to transportation for 10 years, sailing on 15 Jul 1842 on the ‘Marquis of Hastings’ to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)
1843: Rev. Geo. Hull is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1844: Primitive Methodist Chapel is built on the east side of King’s Street.
1845: Barn of Mr Fisher Scroggs of Sewell is destroyed by fire and three ploughs of Mr Cook are broken. David Humphrey and David Tennant confessed their guilt, as well as setting fire to Mr Cook’s premises (ref. Bedford Times, 14 March 1846).
1846: Humphrey Gibbs, in order to inherit Houghton Hall, pays £120 to change his surname to Brandreth and takes up Brandreth coat of arms in conjunction with his own family’s arms. 21st December: Humphrey Gibbs Brandreth purchases from the Duke of Bedford for £5,000 farmland and buildings south of Houghton Hall, to the west of the road leading from Houghton Regis towards Luton (now Park Road North), part of the farm being the occupation of William Eames. One plot was known as Home Close (now used by local football amateur teams); another part known as Old Close (now Houghton Hall Park, a free roaming space managed by Central Bedfordshire Council).
1846: Rev. M.W. Flanders is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church. A major fire destroyed several ‘old cottages’ at Thorn in May 1846 (BLARS B175).
David HUMPHREY, aged 21, of Houghton Regis, was found guilty in the March Assizes of arson and sent to Millbank Prison on 24 Jul 1846. He was later transported for 20 years, sailing on 31 Jul 1852 on the ‘Lady Montagu’ to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).
David TENNANT, aged 22, of Houghton Regis, was found guilty in the March Assizes of arson and sent to Millbank Prison on 24 Jul 1846. He was later transported for 20 years, sailing on 8 Oct 1846 on the ‘Pestonjee Bomanjee’ to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).
1847: A national school is established at Houghton Regis. Five newly built cottages at Thorn were sold to Humphrey Brandreth of Houghton House (BLARS B173; B174; B176; B178)
1848: John White’s slaughterhouse and barns at Chalk Hill caught fire. Estate cottages are built near Chequers roundabout.
1849: Bedford Assizes: three men from the area are accused of unlawfully and maliciously wounding two police constables. (A fascinating account of this case and life and times of those days was written by Judy Wright in 2006, called Selling Sparrows – dedicated website)
George WHITE, aged 25 of Houghton Regis is found guilty of a felony at 8 Mar 1849 Assizes. He is sent to Millbank Prison / Shorncliffe / Portland Prison, sentenced to 15 years transportation on 8 Aug 1849, and sailed on 30 Dec 1850 on the ‘Mermaid’ to Western Australia.
1848: ‘Dunstable North’ Railway Station opens for service between Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard. At this time the station is in Houghton Regis. Today this is one of the sites of Council Offices for Central Bedfordshire.
1849: Rev. J.W. Lance is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1850: Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is built, off of what was then Cumberland Street, (the site today is the entrance road to the Cemetery, south of Morrison’s supermarket). James Turvey stole 5 bushels of wheat and was sentenced to 12 Calendar Months Hard Labour (note)
c1851: Humphrey Gibbs Brandreth pays Henry Clutton £4,508 to renovate Houghton Hall.
1851: Census records 183 plaiters living on the main road between Townsend Farm and the Green. Houghton Regis population 2,213, There are 474 houses in the parish ( source).
Mrs Poulton, schoolmistress in the High Street; Sam Poulton, a ‘plaiting schoolmaster’ present at Church Place in front of the church. A top-earning plaiting child made 12s a week. At Puddlehill the census records 26 cottages with 82 plaiters.
1853: George POULTON, age 18, on 13 Jul 1853 Assizes, straw plaiter of Houghton Regis, was sent to Millbank Prison on 14 Sep 1853 for burglary and stealing money. He was transported for 10 years, sailing on 3 Jan 1856 on the ‘William Hammond’ to Western Australia .
1854: Rev. John Lewis is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1856: The final remaining distant trustee of the Thomas Whitehead Free School on the Green relinquishes trusteeship to a set of new local people. David Hunt, a shepherd of Houghton Regis, was charged at Luton for setting fire to 17 stacks of corn belonging to Edward Barnard; he had walked from Dropshort (just on the edge of Toddington) down Lord’s Hill towards Bidwell, walking past Barnard’s farm.; the account does not show whether he was found guilty or not.
Troops of Artillery returning from the war travel through Dunstable. There is a shortage of beds and stabling for the Hussars and their horses. Officers are given hospitality by Mr Henry Brandreth at Houghton Park.
c1857: The Church of England built a ‘National’ school at the northern boundary of the churchyard.
1858: ‘Dunstable Church Street’ Railway station opens with trains running from Dunstable to Luton. At this time the station is in Houghton Regis.
1860: A subscription was started for the building of the church-yard wall.
1861: Houghton Regis population 2,169; Houses, 452. Rev. G. H. Davies is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church. Act of Parliament restricts speed in the country to 10mph, and to 5mph in towns.
1862 Directory on the Houghton Regis Heritage Society website lists some names and occupations at this time. Smyth, Edward Herbert Gott, born at Houghton Regis, Beds, Aug., 1862 (ref.)
1863: A subscription is raised to bring a gas supply to the village. In the town centre, the foundation stone for a new Houghton Regis Baptist Church is laid in July by Rev. Davies, and the building opens in April 1864; the builder being Mr Joseph Tofield of Houghton Regis. The former Baptist Church is converted for use as classrooms and is used for that purpose for over 20 years under the British School Committee, then as Board School from 1878.
1864: Man and Flag Act, restricts road speeds in the country to 4mph, and to 2mph in towns, plus a man had to walk in front of mechanically driven vehicles with a red flag. This law in force until 1896. James Knapton set fire to a stack of oats the property of Richard Howes, (note) and was sentenced to 6 Years Penal Servitude.
1865: Thomas Whitehead school was handed over by the Rev Jacson to ‘six substantial inhabitants’ per the will of Thomas Whitehead.
1866: William Godfrey was found drunk and riotous on the 23rd Sept. 1866, and was sentenced to 1 Calendar Month or to pay 3 pounds 4 shillings (note).
1867: Factory Act prohibits children under 8 from working and those aged 9-13 were limited to part-time work if they had school attendance certificates, so this affects the local plaiting industry. Samuel Taverner, aged 28, in October 1867 stole one barrow wheel of the value of 2 shillings and a quantity of iron of the value of 1 shilling the property of William Malin; he was sentenced to 7 Years Penal Servitude. (note). Joseph Horwood, aged 27, in December 1867 stole three spades of the value of 6 shillings and 4 pence the property of David Searle at Houghton Regis on the 10th Dec.1867; he was sentenced to 7 Years Penal Servitude. (note).
Rev. Charles Butler Harris opened a school in 1867 in Upper High Street North (then in the parish of Houghton Regis); seven years later it was moving to smaller premises in High Street South. Harris was buried in Houghton Regis churchyard, alongside his first wife and his young son, who had died as the result of a tragic accident when riding a pony on a visit by the Harris family to the Smyths at Houghton vicarage. (ref. p 362)
1868: Puddlehill Trust sells the right to collect tolls.
1869: Factory inspectors record plaiters living in every cottage. John Deacon, 70, commits suicide by throwing himself down a well in the middle of the night after receiving a notice to quit his lodgings.
1870: Dunstable Church Street railway station is virtually destroyed by fire. Import duties are lifted and cheap foreign plait starts to come in, seriously affecting local employment.
1870: Rev. Alfred Walker is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1871: James Holt of High Street describes how he buys straw from farmers, processed it, and children help to prepare it for Dunstable’s plait market on Wednesday’s. Houghton Regis population 2,412.
1873: Serious accident on the railway between Dunstable and Leighton, several persons injured. The Turnpike on Watling Street between Houghton Regis and Hockliffe, known as the Puddlehill Gate is abolished.
Libel case after Gazette publishes a letter by Alfred Pratt casting a reflection on the character of Thomas Squire, a Houghton Regis blacksmith. Mr Pratt later withdraws his allegations.
1874: The Houghton Steam Corn Mill is offered for Sale by Auction (see the fascinating account on page 204 of Dunstable History Society Newsletter) and is sold to the tenant, Mr Smith, for £1,200.
Soldier Thomas Smith, from Houghton Regis, shoots Captain Bird of the 12th Hussars. He claims it was an accident but rifle should not have been loaded. He is found guilty and executed.
1875: National School closes. The Free School on the Green moves to the National School building. Asa Heap and wife at the Whitehead school until 1902, joint salary £100 p.a. Houghton Regis Public Baths opens daily.
1876: 25 pubs and 6 beerhouses are recorded – 1 for every 17 inhabited houses in Houghton Regis.
1877: Mrs Catherine Bleney of Houghton Regis charged with the wilful murder of the illegitimate newborn child of her daughter, Harriet Bleney (Bedfordshire Mercury). Annual treat for Church Sunday School scholars hosted by Henry Brandreth in Houghton Hall Park; 400 attended. Post office Directory for 1877 on the Houghton Regis Heritage Society website lists information and people at this time.
1878: After some resistance, local people are persuaded to have piped water. 41 children baptised on Whit Sunday. A parish meeting was called to decide whether to have a school board or not. After debate, the motion to have one was carried 31 to 26
1879: The 14thC chancel at All Saints is rebuilt. Stone pulpit erected at All Saints church. In July, Henry Pateman, a butcher of the village was fined £5 + £1 costs for sending bad meat to the Central Meat Market.
1880: After 1880 school attendance is made compulsory for children aged 5 to 12 years old. 1880’s: Daniel Bird and Sarah (nee Pratt) became publicans at the Crown in Houghton Regis.
1880s: Henry Chernocke Gibbs Brandreth buys back the Manor of Houghton Regis from the Duke of Bedford, and builds a fire station in front of the church.
1881: Houghton Regis population 2,406. There are 579 houses in the parish.( source). The old Free School building on the Green is replaced by a brand new building after trustees raised funds from the sale of some land assets near the railway line; now the Free (charity) school provides a school for both boys and girls.
1884: Rev. William Faux Lovell, is vicar at Houghton Regis; he had been at Oxford University. (ref.).M.A. Stone panels are carved in the pulpit as a memorial to Lovell.
1885: Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. The old Parliamentary seat of Bedfordshire (2 members) is abolished. Houghton Regis was reallocated to the “Luton” seat (1 member) along with Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard. 1885, Cyril Flower (Liberal), MP for Luton. Thomas Innes and Thomas Spittal fined for out of hours drinking at The Chequers. Joseph Burt, Thomas Higgs, Alfred Groom in brawl after drinking at ‘The Lion’. Leonard Scott, Edward Bleaney charged with stealing eggs from Thomas D. Cook.
1886: Rev. J.T. Frost is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1887: Mr W. Cooper of Tythe Farm, was a successful ram breeder at this time.
1889: The first elections to Bedfordshire County Council are on 24 January. Henry Chernocke Gibbs Brandreth is Houghton Regis’ first representative.
1890’s: J B Forder’s workforce is pictured at the Sewell Lime Works. Part of Maiden Bower is lost to excavations before the lime works eventually close.
1890: At this time Brewer’s Hill Road was part of Houghton Regis, (it’s in Dunstable these days) Originally a track leading to Brewers Hill Farm, a public protest took place in 1890 to secure public access over the road. It became known locally as “the battle of Brewers Hill”. After public access had been confirmed at a High Court hearing in London, there was a grand parade and local public celebration.
1891: Houghton Regis population 2,187. There are 584 houses in the parish ( source). Waterlow & Son Ltd printing works open in Upper Houghton (demolished 1990). ( Waterlow’s see p185 of DHS Newsletter and Also GracesGuide.
1892: Brewer’s Hill Road, s formally opened to the public. 1892 Samuel Howard Whitbread (Liberal) is elected MP for Luton constituency.
1894: Harrison Carter open engineering works in the south of Houghton Regis on the Luton Road. William Abel, butcher, and George Tompkins, the butcher is summoned for sheep wandering in a cornfield.
1895: In March, an application was handed to the HRPC for “one quarter and one acre” for allotments. Thomas Gair Ashton (Liberal) is elected MP for Luton constituency.
1896: It was the practice of the Parish Council (HRPC) to elect parish councillors on an annual basis at a public meeting by show of hands. If anyone called for a poll, and 4 people supported the call, then a poll had to be conducted. In March 1896, 25 nominations were received; topping the poll was Alfred Spittel, shoemaker of High Street, Houghton Regis with 77 votes and a poll was demanded.
1897: In March, 19 nominations for parish councillors were received. The Top 15 were elected.
30 Sep – Houghton Regis CP/AP was reduced to help create MARKYATE CP LGBO P1312. As part of this, Buckwood Stubbs, a long-time outlying parcel of Houghton Regis was transferred to help form the new parish of Markyate. HR Parish council “show of hands” decides who is elected.
1898: Kelly Directory of Bedfordshire mentions “…The church of St. Michael, formerly All Saints …”
In March, 21 nominations were received for parish councillors, a poll was demanded but insufficient support was found, and the top 15 were declared duly elected. In August, the Church Sunday school annual treat held, with scholars “marched to the Park” to enjoy a “sumptuous tea” at Houghton Hall.
1899: January – Up to 60 invitations were accepted to attend the annual Servants Ball at Houghton Hall. In March, 22 nominations were received for parish councillors, a poll was demanded but insufficient support was found, and the top 15 were declared duly elected. PC Gough retired after spending the last 15 years of his 28 years service stationed in Houghton Regis. November – Petitioners at Upper Houghton demand a separate polling district. In August the annual Sunday School treat was held at Houghton Hall with games and dancing, and with one of the “fire balloons” lodging in a Park tree. A Miss Harris was appointed as assistant mistress to the Chiltern Rd school in Houghton Regis at £35 per year.
AD 1900
1900: The Parish Council met on January 1st and resolved “That this meeting of the Parishioners of Houghton Regis enters its most emphatic protest against the scheme of incorporation proposed by the Borough of Dunstable”. The Council agreed to a levy of 6d in the £ (if necessary) to oppose the Incorporation of Upper Houghton Regis by Dunstable Town Council. Dunstable Borough Extension Local Government Enquiry Report (story link).
Cheap Chinese plait imports bring prices obtained for locally produced plait down to a quarter of what was obtainable in 1870. Building plots along Gilpin Street, Upper Houghton Regis, are advertised for sale.
1900: (anecdotal, referring to the Chalk Cutting, above.) “When I was 15 (1960) my boss who was 60 told me about his grandfather as a young boy rode a horse from Leagrave to here, jumped the hedges at the top not realising what was on the other side.Rolled all the way down.” – Roger Ellis.
1901: In March the number of candidates for parish councillor was reduced by the withdrawal of the Rev. William Wedge, to 15 and those 15 were duly elected.
Houghton Regis population 2,608. There are 681 houses in the parish.( source)
Rev. John T. Isles is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1902: Dales Dubbin manufactory starts up in Tavistock Street, Upper Houghton Regis, having previously been established in East Dulwich. In August the eldest of Squire Brandreth’s sons came of age and threw a party in the park inviting 150 farmers and nearby residents, including tea in the Hall.
1903: Harold Brown at the Whitehead school until 1930. January, a new scheme at Upper Houghton Regis to replace Station Chapel with a new Wesleyan Chapel. Letters were written on costs of adding Upper Houghton Regis to Dunstable’s drainage system. On the lack of proper drainage system at West Street, Upper Houghton Regis.
1904: Sketch Map by Worthington Smith see #4. 1905: Nancy Hawnt of Fulham, was killed on the Watling Street just north of Dunstable when she tried to overtake a heavy motor lorry and the wheel hubs touched. The occupants of the open-topped car were thrown out and Mrs Hawnt said the Gazette, “expired about 20 minutes after the accident”.
Dumb wells were prone to overflow at Upper Houghton ( story-link). Petitioners to Luton Rural District Council called for Upper Houghton Regis to be connected to the Dunstable sewerage scheme ( story-link). More discussion at LRDC.
1906: The Parish Council were not in a mood to tolerate Upper Houghton Regis being incorporated with Dunstable, and held a poll. See “The Boundary Extension Proposal”. Mr Brandreth, the largest landowner was opposed to incorporation, as was Mr A J Cook, chairman of Houghton Regis Parish Council.
June 1906: A page from the Parish Council minutes holds a copy of the notice declaring the result of the poll. “Are you in favour of Upper Houghton Regis being incorporated with Dunstable”. To which 148 voted in favour, and 347 voted against. The poster makes it clear that the proposal was lost.[Source: Houghton Regis Town Council archives.]
Two ratepayers in “Cumberland Road” (?Street?) were in court for not paying their rates because they were unsatisfied with the dreadful state of their road ( story).
Messrs Waterlow & Sons, printers of Upper Houghton Regis, wrote to LRDC complaining about lack of drainage and having to use dumb wells ( story). Boundary extension proposals hearing to add Upper Houghton to Dunstable, and the question of drainage (12/1906).
5 July 1906: Agreement of HCG Brandreth with Luton Rural District Council for sale of land at Parkside, Houghton Regis ( source).
23 Nov 1906: Agreement of HCG Brandreth with Luton Rural District Council for the sale of land at Bedford Road, Houghton Regis.( source)
1907: Vauxhall Ironworks – named after the home of the infamous Falkes de Bréauté of the 13th century – move to Luton.
Jun1907: Suggested agreement for Lower Houghton sewerage (21 June 1907, Luton Times and Advertiser). Hearings in House of Commons select committee over the incorporation of Upper Houghton. Link.
9th Nov 1907: Land north of Union Street, Dunstable (known as Upper Houghton) is transferred to DUNSTABLE CP/AP. Houghton Regis population reduced to 1,369. The Dunstable (Extension) Order, 1907.
1908: Henry Chernocke Gibbs Brandreth dies. 19th Oct, Marquis of Northampton’s car ends up in a ditch at Chalk Cutting. Sewage scheme – Parliament – But was Houghton Regis Parish Council consulted? Plans of alterations to Poynter’s Farm House, Houghton Regis (ref)
1909: The late Mr Joseph Green of Bidwell is reported as being the largest breeder of ducks in the country.
1910: Two ricks belonging to Mr E.G. Blow, and Mr J. Innes were set alight at Skimpot Farm; Mr Horace Taylor, 52, a tramp, was charged with causing £180 of damage.
1911: Rev. John T. Isles of Houghton Regis accepted a pastorate at Kingsbridge, Devon. (source: Times 16 Feb).
Cecil Bisshopp Harmsworth (Liberal) elected MP for Luton constituency. Houghton Regis population 1,369. A boy who later became the American film star, Gary Cooper, was baptised at All Saints’ parish church. He was known then as Frank James Cooper.
14 March: Houghton Regis Parish Council (HRPC) consents to the closure of the post office for a half day on Thursdays.
31 March: HRPC agrees to raise funds by voluntary subscription to celebrate the coronation of King George V.
18 Dec 1911 Agreement for sale of right of construction of sewers at Houghton Regis, Beds.
Between the Trustees of the late HCG Brandreth and Luton Rural District Council. [source]
1911: Claim for hail damage at Poynters Farm, Houghton Regis. Young Blow (ref subject term=Poynters Farm, Houghton Regis)
1912: Towns End Farm sold to Blue Circle Cement. JD Forder sold lime works to Blue Circle Cement.
The 1664 charge of William Strange is being received in gifts of money varying from 2s. to 4s. 6d. to each recipient from the owner of Brewer’s Hill Farm.
Rev. R. Raikes Davies is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1913: Houghton Hall sold by the Brandreth family to Colonel (later Sir) Dealtry Charles Part. In all, 2,500 acres owned by the Brandreth’s are sold to a dealer for speculative housing. The parish council is concerned over the implementation and cost of new sewers in the parish.
1914: First World War: 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.
The National Roll of Honour of the Great War lists 69 residents of Houghton Regis. 62 were men who served in various regiments. The Roll of Honour lists their address in Houghton Regis, the regiment, they served in and any medals they were awarded.
7 residents are listed under Special War Workers and they worked at the George Kent Fuse Works where they filled bomb fuses with explosive. They were nicknamed the canaries and the explosive turned their skin yellow.
A report to the HRPC in March is reproduced in the Parish Council minute book indicating annoyance with other authorities (Luton Rural District Council) for not supplying proper information about the cost and implementation of sewerage in the parish, whilst still expecting parishioners to pick up the whole of the costs.
In October the Luton News reported that a number of horses “belonging to B Squadron of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, stationed at Houghton Regis, stampeded from a field adjoining Poynter’s Farm, and rushed madly through High Street. Most of them took the road leading to the Icknield Way, but a number galloped to Luton along Dunstable Road and through different streets of the town. Members of the Yeomanry on mounted police duty rounded up the frightened animals, but two horses were so injured that they had to be shot.”
1915: 2nd Lieutenant Hugh Anthony Bertlin was seriously injured after the motorcycle he was riding was in collision with a car near the Chequers pub in Houghton Regis. He died at Wardown Park Hospital on the 12th July 1915, aged 24 (Inquest Into Motorcycle Death)
1916: In January the HRPC was concerned about the military taking over the village green, having “erected huts thereon and generally using it for manoeuvres. Road making and general work is going on under the direction of the colonel in command. No approach has been made to the parish council for permission …”. They later received assurances that the village green would be “reinstated or compensation paid in lieu of reinstatement” in due course (source HRTC archives).
Rev. H.T. Timewell is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1918: Rev. Robert Martin is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church. HRPC is asked to pay 10/6 subscription to Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society.
1920s: The corn mill that stood at the end of Mill Lane, overlooking what is today the Houghton Regis Quarry SSSI, is now derelict. Chalk Cutting is widened.
1921: Houghton Regis population 1,435. There are 362 houses in the parish (>a href=”https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10220361/cube/HOUSES” target=”_blank”>source.
1922: Sir John Prescott Hewett (Unionist) elected MP for Luton constituency.
Rev. E. Victor Whittle is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1923: Geoffrey William Algernon Howard (Liberal) elected MP for Luton constituency.
1924: Terence James O’Connor (Unionist) elected MP for Luton constituency.
Rev. Chas E. Duffy is Pastor at Houghton Regis (Baptist) Church.
1925: August, cement works are built.
1926: Portland Cement Company began operation: it was acquired in 1932 by Blue Circle Industries. Dust from the works on the south side of Houghton Road coated trees and roofs.
1928: 01 Oct – Houghton Regis CP/AP was enlarged by the abolition of LEAGRAVE CP/Hmlt (Leagrave was a Hamlet until 1896 and Civil Parish after that until 1928) Area: 143 acres. (M. of H. Provisional Order Confirmation (Luton Extension) Act, 1928).
1929: Edward Leslie Burgin (Liberal) elected MP for Luton constituency.
+ Book of Dunstable and Houghton Regis , 1985, Vivienne & Lewis Evans, ISBN 0 86023 223 9
+ Memories of Houghton Regis, Sue King, 2011, ISBN 978 1 906632 12 0
+ Old Houghton: Including Upper Houghton, Now Part of Dunstable, 1988, Pat Lovering ISBN 09509773 5 7
+ Royal Houghton: Story of Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire, 1986, Pat Lovering ISBN 0 9509773 1 4
+ Met Office Dunstable, WW II : bbc.co.uk
+ Dunstable History
+ Gary Cooper: Moviedatabase
+ Thomas Whitehead School
+ Dealtry Charles Part, Wikipedia
+ Bedfordshire Library Resources – Houghton Regis
+ british-history.ac.uk (Publication: A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3; Author: William Page (editor); Year published:1912; Pages 389-394)
+ O’Dell, IJ 1981 Bedfordshire clergy and the Black Death. Bedfordshire Magazine 18/138, 54-58
+ #1 Walgrave, according to british-history.ac.uk
+ #3 railwaysarchive.co.uk
+ #4 There is a sketch map produced by the local historian,Worthington Smith, in 1904 which marks the “site of gibbet” and “gib arch” roughly midway between Puddle Hill and Thorn Turn on the Watling Street – just a short distance north of the chalk cutting. Puddle Hill has now virtually disappeared as a result of quarrying, and the large roundabout at the end of Leighton bypass has been built about 150 yards from Thorn Turn. If the Worthington Smith map is right, it means the gallows stood at the foot of the chalk hill rather than on its crest. John Buckledee
#5 History of Bedfordshire, Joyce Godber, 1969. p148
+ enotes.com/topic/Bedfordshire
+ enotes.com/topic/Reform_Act_1832
+ The compleat cook; or, The secrets of a seventeenth century housewife; Author: Rebecca Price; Madeleine Masson; Anthony Vaughan, ISBN 0710074441 9780710074447
+ Bedfordshire Community And Living Archives And Record Office
+ FWB = “Church of All Saints. Houghton Regis” Francis W. Buckingham, 1937. Book contains list of vicars of All Saints parish church from 1226-1928.
+ pdf Google document “Houghton Regis Baptist Church
+ Wikipedia: List of British Prison Hulks
+ Charters of William II and Henry I Project , Dunstable Priory.
+A Roman Farmstead and Other late Neolithic to Post Medieval Land-use at Houghton Regis Bedfordshire by Mike Kuke and Jo Barber, Albion Archaeology, Monograph 7
Brewers Hill Farm: (Facebook anecdotes on Brewers Hill Farm Poynter’s Farm: mentioned in [BNHS Journal, 1951] HRTC Houghton Regis Town Council archives.
Census statistics from A Vision of Britain through time
Boundary Maps at ‘A GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, Houghton Regis CP/AP through time | Boundaries of Parish-level Unit, A Vision of Britain through Time.’
Recommended Reading
From Country Boy to Weatherman: A Houghton Regis and Dunstable YouthGeorge Jackson tells the story of what it was like to live in Houghton Regis when he lived in an isolated house surrounded by fields that were to become the Parkside estate. Follow George’s journey as he walks around the village and describes the things he remembers and the characters he used to meet.
Royal Houghton. Companion book to Old Houghton. A fascinating history of Houghton Regis
Old Houghton: Including Upper Houghton, Now Part of Dunstable, Houghton Regis as you’ve never seen before. With a fascinating selection of old photographs of the village.
Memories of Houghton Regis The stories of people who spent their lives growing up in the Houghton Regis area, with memories of World War Two evacuees from London, the jobs they did, and the things they enjoyed doing.
Book of Dunstable and Houghton Regis A wealth of historical knowledge of Houghton Regis, the land allocation to create the market area of Dunstable, and the subsequent growth of the town and the village in this part of Bedfordshire.
Toddington and Houghton Regis (Chiltern Society Footpath Maps) Toddington and Houghton Regis maps.
Grave stones, Houghton Regis Memorial Stone inscriptions of Houghton Regis Baptist Chapelyard and All Saints Churchyard
Vicars of All Saints’ Church pdf file
Discover history for Chalgrave, Tebworth, and Wingfield)al