Houghton Regis

Houghton Regis

infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 51.9039
longitude= -0.5247
official_name= Houghton Regis
population= 17,000(est.) [ [http://www.houghtonregis-tc.org.uk/infopage.asp?infoid=216 Houghton Regis Town Council] .]
region= East of England
lieutenancy_england= Bedfordshire
constituency_westminster= South West Bedfordshire
post_town= DUNSTABLE|postcode_district = LU5
postcode_area= LU |dial_code= 01582

Houghton Regis is a town sandwiched between the major towns of Luton to the east and Dunstable to the west. The parish includes the ancient hamlets of Bidwell, Thorn and Sewell. Houghton Regis, along with its near neighbours of Dunstable and Luton form the Luton/Dunstable Urban Area, with a population over 230,000. [ [http://www.abi.org.uk/display/File/Child/554/Managing_Flood_Risk_Vol1_Chapters1_5.pdf Luton Population] ]


Houghton Regis is considerably older than Dunstable, and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book when it was called Houstone"Domesday Book: A Complete Translation". London: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-14-143994-7 p.1361] . At that time it paid in tax the large amount of three pounds by weight and twenty shillings of blanch silver (to the King)and one ounce of gold for the Sheriff"Domesday Book: A Complete Translation". London: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-14-143994-7 p.563] .

Bordered by the Chiltern Hills, the town was once a small village that had its character changed when it was earmarked for a massive "London overspill" estate in the 1950s and 60s. The only remains of the areas around the small village centre are names such as Tithe Farm Road. An indication of the planners' attempts to make the London migrants feel at home is the naming of the local estate roads after London landmarks; Chelsea Gardens is an example. The town lacks identity due to being dwarfed by its much larger neighbours, becoming just a suburb.

The town council pays around £35,000 each year for patrols by a private security firm. The police state that the crime rate is at its lowest since 1981. ["Is the private security idea good value?", "Dunstable Gazette", 8 November 2006, page 9.]

Remnants of the town's past are still apparent with, for example, the fifteenth century Parish Church of All Saints (formerly St Michaels) with an excellent example of a Norman tower and the former Squire's residence of Houghton Hall, built in the eighteenth century.

Between the town centre and Dunstable there is the Townsend Industrial Estate.

;Houghton Regis Timeline

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. About convert|450|acre|km2 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

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"

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

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 convert|120|ft|m|abbr=on 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 Charles Part

1926: A cement plant began operation: it was acquired in 1932 by Blue Circle Industries.

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

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)

1969: Parkside Estate built on land east of Sundon Road

1976: The cement plant chimneys were blasted, production having ceased in 1971. Although these chimneys were blasted in 1976, the Blue Circle Cement works continued as a shipping depot until the 1990s. The first chimney was blown up and the second demolished with the aid of an enormous steel ball.

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

2006: Houghton Regis Community Centre burnt down by an arson attack along with the Co-Op.


A celebrity link is that the actor Gary Cooper used to live in the town when a young man.


External links

* [http://www.houghtonregis-tc.org.uk/ Houghton Regis Town Council official site]

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