With The Hamlets Of
East And West Hyde, Stopsley, Limbury Cum Biscott, And Leagrave
Lygetune (viii cent.); Lygeanburh (x cent.); Loitone (xi cent.); Lectuna, Lutune (xii–xiii cents.); Leweton (xvi cent.).
Bissopescote (xi cent.); Byscote (xiv cent.).
Lightgrave, Litgrave (xv–xvii cents.).
Luton is a large parish comprising, with its hamlets, 15,434 acres, of which 9,897 acres are arable, 3,427 permanent grass, and 692 woods and plantations. (fn. 1)
The soil is composed of chalk, loam, and gravel, and the parish contains much good arable land.
In Stopsley the soil is strong clay, the subsoil strong clay on a bed of chalk, and the crops are wheat, barley, oats, and beans. In East and West Hyde the soil is sandy loam, and the subsoil chalk and clay. The slope of the ground is irregular; the highest point, in the south-west of the parish, is 534 ft. above the ordnance datum; the lowest, in the north, 360 ft.
The position of the present centre of the town and of the parish church of St. Mary suggests that the original settlement at Luton occupied a piece of low ground close to the River Lea, perhaps at some important ford.
Starting from this nucleus the town spread, at first south, up the slopes on that side of the river, later in a north-westerly direction, when the present factories were built, and is now beginning to occupy the northern slopes of the valley and the steep wooded rise known as St. Anne’s Hill, which overlooks the town from that direction.
The main streets appear to have preserved to some extent their original plan, and until recently contained numerous old houses and inns, now rebuilt or entirely removed. The Cross Keys Inn was pulled down in 1905, and the present George Inn retains parts of an older house, much concealed by modern reconstruction.
George Street, with the Corn Exchange at the south end and the Town Hall at the north, forms a short main street upon which numerous others converge. The majority of these streets are narrow and in some cases steep, so that the traffic which enters the town by wide and open roads in the outskirts often becomes somewhat crowded in the main streets, particularly on market days, when a portion of George Street is used for the purpose of a marketplace.
The church of St. Mary, surrounded by a large graveyard, is half-way between George Street and the river. The original vicarage was probably close to the church, but the present house is modern and lies on the north side of the river.
To the north of the town are the parishes of Leagrave and Stopsley, formed respectively in 1866 and 1861 out of Luton. To the south is Hyde parish, formed in 1843.
The neighbouring country is mostly higher than the town, and is often well wooded, particularly in Stockwood and Luton Hoo parks to the south and on the slopes of St. Anne’s Hill to the east.
To the north and north-east the chalk downs run in long sweeping undulations towards Hitchin. The town is provided with water from deep borings in the chalk, the supply being stored in reservoirs on high ground to the north and south of the town.
The Hatfield road enters the town from the south by Park Road and Manchester Street; and to the north the main roads run north-west to Dunstable, and north to Bedford.
The Midland Railway Company has a station at Luton on their main line from St. Pancras, and a branch of the Great Northern Railway from Hatfield to Dunstable also has a station here; whilst the London and North-Western have running powers over the Great Northern Company’s line from Leighton Buzzard. The Great Northern Railway has a station, Luton Hoo, in the parish of Hyde, facing which is Chiltern Green Station on the Midland Railway.
Palaeolithic implements and neolithic remains have been discovered at Dallow, Round Green, Ramridge End, Leagrave, and Wauluds Bank, Luton; and gold British coins at Leagrave. (fn. 2)
Wauluds Bank, Drays Ditches near Limbury, and Someries Castle near Luton, are examples of ancient defensive earthworks, the last being manorial in character. (fn. 3)
Among place-names found in documents relating to this parish may be mentioned the following:—Catenho, Campsters hul, Haldwyk, in the thirteenth century; le Haut Close, from the thirteenth to the seventeenth, and Payshull or Popeshull from the thirteenth to the sixteenth; Hydemanfeld, Stapleford field, and Wychhull in the fourteenth; Ryndelee or Rondeleyes from the fourteenth to the seventeenth; Goffes, Chapelhaut, in the fifteenth; Burymill mead, from the fifteenth to the eighteenth; Allwyn’s Close, Aschebesland, Bassetts, Begersland, Courgend Close, Derie Boughte, Fenylfield, Gallows, Hermytage lands, Lepers, Mayndenfield, Newmans, Ramridgehill, Sewell field, Theydon’s Close, Welhavering, in the sixteenth; Baylyfield, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; Gregory Shaws, Pursleys, and Sears Close, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth; Bassets, Broomfield, Copthall, Deadwoman furlong, Priestsmeadow, Lawcroftes, in the seventeenth; Kitnow Close, Onyons, in the seventeenth century; Nocehilles or Mixeshill, from the seventeenth century to the present day.
Luton is a town which has developed during the nineteenth century. This may be well exemplified by an examination of its population at various times. Thus, in 1546 the population included 1,500 ‘houselyng people’; in 1801 the official returns give 3,095; in 1831, 5,693; in 1851, 12,787; in 1871, 20,733; and in 1891, 32,401. (fn. 4)Previous to this extraordinary nineteenth-century expansion Luton appears to have been a quiet market town with a comparatively uneventful history. No mention of it has been found before the Survey, when it already possessed a market whose tolls were valued at 100s. (fn. 5)
In 1246 Luton was the scene of a great assembly of lords and knights, who met there to keep a ‘martial just and triumphal tourney.’ The celebration was stopped, however, by command of the king, the real intention of the meeting having been to organize resistance to the oppression of the pope, at that time very grievous. (fn. 6)
In 1336 Luton suffered severe damage by fire, (fn. 7) from which the town had not recovered in 1340, when about two hundred messuages in the parish were uninhabited and 6 carucates of land uncultivated on account of the impoverishment of the parish by the recent fire. (fn. 8)
Leland, writing in the early half of the sixteenth century, mentions Luton as famous for its barley market; whilst Camden, a generation or so later, says: ‘As for Leighton Buzzard on the one side of Dunstable and Luton on the other, neither have I read nor seen anything memorable in them, unless I should say that at Luton I saw a fair church, but the choir there roofless, and overgrown with weeds.’ (fn. 9) This looks as though Luton had sunk into a state of decay not uncommon amongst agricultural towns in the sixteenth century, but with the introduction of the manufacture of straw plait in the beginning of the seventeenth century the town entered on a new era of prosperity. (fn. 10) Tradition assigns the introduction of this industry to Mary queen of Scots, who brought straw-plaiters from Lorraine to Scotland, and whose son James I, when he acquired the English crown, transferred the little colony to Bedfordshire and the neighbouring districts, where the conditions, owing to the abundance of good straw, were specially adapted for this manufacture. So well did it take root and flourish that in 1689, in a petition presented to the House of Lords against the passing of a Woollen Manufacture Wearing Bill (afterwards rejected), it was estimated that if a clause in the bill enjoining the wearing of woollen caps were to take effect, over one thousand families, including 14,000 persons, in Luton, Dunstable, and neighbouring towns would be thrown out of employment. (fn. 11)
Francis Blomfield, writing of Luton between 1724 and 1734, says: ‘It hath a market house and large Monday market for corn, with which this part much abounds, there being but little pasture; firing is very dear and scarce by reason of the small quantity of wood, the county is chiefly champion, and the long carriage of coal by land makes that also chargeable.’ (fn. 12) In the beginning of the nineteenth century a further development of the straw-plait trade took place when Thomas Waller obtained a patent for the manufacture of Tuscan grass plait, and since then a vast amount of raw material of foreign growth has been imported to be prepared, plaited, and formed into the finished article in Luton.
From sixteenth-century court rolls it would appear that the lord of Luton exercised a somewhat extended jurisdiction over the town. Constables were elected at the courts, not only for Luton, but also the hamlets of Stopsley, Limbury, East and West Hyde, and Leagrave. (fn. 13) As late as 1830 the town was governed by a high constable, two day constables, and one night constable, elected at the yearly court leet of the lord of Luton manor. In a court roll of 1542 the following entry occurs:—’A peyne put that every householder shall gather or cause to be gathered stones for the streets and high way in Luton one hole day in peyne of 4d.… that all the rich men in Luton and them that have carts shall carye one hole day the seyde stones and lay them where there is most need in peyne of 3s. 4d.’ (fn. 14)
Luton had a market at the time of the Survey, which was valued at 100s. (fn. 15) In 1203 this market, hitherto held on a Sunday, was transferred to Monday, (fn. 16) but in a grant of 1338 to Hugh Mortimer, a Thursday market is named, (fn. 17) which at the present day is held on a Monday.
Leland mentions Luton market as famous for its barley, and Blomfield, writing between 1724 and 1734, says it was noted for its corn. (fn. 18)
The introduction of the straw-plait industry into Bedfordshire in the seventeenth century largely increased the importance of Luton market, which at the present day does a large trade in cattle, corn, and straw plait. The rights of market tolls belong to Sir Julius Wernher, lord of Luton manor, subject however to a lease of the same to the corporation of Luton for seventy-five years at £150 per annum rent from 25 March, 1866. (fn. 19) During the nineteenth century a second market has been established on Saturdays, mainly for the sale of provisions.
The right of a yearly fair on the feast of the Assumption (15 August) was early appurtenant to Luton manor, and during Baldwin de Bethune’s tenure of the manor (1195–1212) was the subject of a controversy which was finally settled by Baldwin allowing the claims of St. Albans to the profits of the fair except for the sale of gold, horses, tanned skins, and men, qui antiquitus vendebantur, the men of the abbot to enjoy the same rights as in the time when the manor was the king’s. (fn. 20)
In 1338 Hugh Mortimer obtained the grant of another fair in this manor on St. Luke’s Day (18 October), (fn. 21) and Sir Robert Napier in 1620 received a confirmation of these two fairs, the date of the former being altered to St. Mark’s Day (25 April). (fn. 22) Two fairs are still held at these dates, as well as one at Michaelmas, formerly held for hiring servants, but now as a pleasure fair.
In 1876 Luton obtained a charter of incorporation by name of the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of Luton, with the right to use armorial bearings and devices, (fn. 23) and the town is now governed by a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors. Luton is divided into three wards, north, east, and west.
At the present day, besides the straw plait manufacture (for which material is now imported from China, Italy, and Japan), there are in Luton iron and brass foundries, boiler works, and a brewery. In 1896 the following hamlets were detached from Luton and became separate civil parishes:—East and West Hyde (now known as the parish of Hyde), Limbury-cumBiscott, Leagrave, and Stopsley. (fn. 24)
Luton contains a specially large number of MANORS, which will be found treated according to the following classification:—
1. Manors held in chief:—(1) Luton; (2) Woodcroft or Halyard; (3) Woodcroft; (4) Luton Hoo; (5) Picks.
2. Manors held of Luton Manor:—(6) Brache; (7) Dallow; (8) David Ashby; (9) East Hide or The Hyde; (10) Farley; (11) Fennels Grove; (12) Greathampstead; (13) Hayes or Hooburne; (14) Haverings; (15) Limbury; (16) Limbury; (17) West Hyde Aynel; (18) Whiperly or Stockwood.
3. Miscellaneous Manors:—(19) Bailiffs; (20) Bennets; (21) Biscott; (22) Bramblehanger; (23) East Hyde and West Hyde; (24) Lalleford; (25) Langleys; (26) Lewsey; (27) Northwood; (28) Plenties; (29) Someries; (30) Stopsley; (31) Woodcroft.
At the time of the Domesday Survey of 1087, LUTON MANOR is found among the king’s lands, and had been a royal manor during the reign of Edward the Confessor. (fn. 25) It was then a manor of considerable importance, assessed at 30 hides, and included six mills and tolls of market worth 100s. (fn. 26) Subsequently this manor passed away from the crown. The earliest authenticated grant is that of Henry I to Robert earl of Gloucester (c. 1100–47), his illegitimate son, who during the civil war of the reign of King Stephen fought on the side of his half-sister, the Empress Maud. (fn. 27) He died in 1147, when William his son succeeded to the Luton estate, and he appears to have enfeoffed Earl Gilbert, who proved a traitor to King Stephen, and whose estates consequently escheated to the crown, and were granted by the king to Robert de Waudari, (fn. 28) one of his knights. William was subsequently restored to his estates, (fn. 29) and died without issue in 1182, and the manor having returned to the crown was next granted to Baldwin de Bethune, afterwards earl of Albemarle, who in 1190 held crown land in Luton valued at £80 a year, (fn. 30) and in 1214, on the marriage of his daughter with William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, Luton passed to him as part of her marriage portion. (fn. 31)
During the civil war between John and his barons William Marshal took the side of the latter, and Luton fell into the hands of King John, who granted it to Fulk de Breauté, ‘as he was permitted to do in times of war.’ Afterwards, when there was peace between the king and his barons, Fulk, not wishing to be against the peace, returned the manor to the earl, who restored it to Fulk by a charter by which William, son of William Marshal, quitclaimed to Fulk de Breauté the whole manor of Luton to hold to himself and his heirs. (fn. 32) This Fulk, who thus acquired Luton, was the famous Norman adventurer who took a prominent part on the king’s side in the barons’ war. He appears to have made himself very much disliked at Luton, as he did throughout England. In 1221 he built a castle here, which the prior of Dunstable complained was a source of danger to the priory and the neighbourhood. (fn. 33) In the previous year he had unjustly disseised William de Stanes of free tenements in Luton, (fn. 34) and in 1224 he similarly dispossessed thirty-two freemen in the manor of Luton and appropriated their pasture for himself. (fn. 35) On another occasion the abbot of St. Albans complained that the outflow of a pool constructed by Fulk had injured the abbot’s crops whereupon Fulk replied that he wished that the overflow had occurred when the grain was garnered, so that the injury would have been greater. (fn. 36) Fulk died in disgrace in 1226, and in 1229, on the occasion of the marriage of William Marshal with Eleanor, sister of Henry III, Luton manor was regranted to him, (fn. 37) and thus in the words of the Chronicler he ‘recovered what he had formerly foolishly given.’ (fn. 38) William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, died in 1231, leaving no issue, but his widow, who subsequently married Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, survived until 1274, (fn. 39) when Luton fell to the heirs of Isabel de Clare, wife of William de Ferrers, earl of Derby, she being one of the co-heirs of Anselm Marshal, earl of Pembroke. (fn. 40) She had six daughters who became their mother’s co-heirs, and the consequent subdivision of the manor into sixths leads to some complication in its history. The names of these daughters were Isabel, wife of Reginald de Mohun; Maud, married first to William de Kyme and afterwards to William de Vyvonia; Sybil, wife of Frank de Bohun; Joan, wife of John de Mohun; Agatha, wife of Hugh Mortimer of Chelmarsh; and Eleanor, married successively to William de Vaux, Roger de Quincy, and Roger de Leyburne. (fn. 41) The portions of three of these sisters, Isabel de Mohun, Maud de Kyme, and Agatha, wife of Hugh Mortimer, after following a separate descent for some time, subsequently became reunited in what was later known as Luton manor. (fn. 42) Isabel de Mohun, the eldest daughter, appears to have received as her share in addition to the hundred of Flitt, rents of free tenants in Luton amounting to £5 19s., for these rents were held by her son, William de Mohun, at his death in 1282. He left a son Reginald, who died without issue previous to 1297, in which year his sister Mary, wife of John de Meriet, received as her portion of her father William’s estate all his lands in Luton, valued at £17 10s. 4d., (fn. 43) for which her husband rendered feudal service in 1316. (fn. 44) Mary de Meriet left no issue, and on her husband’s death in 1327 this portion of the manor reverted to the heirs of Isabel de Mohun, who are given as John de Beauchamp of Somerset, and Henry son of Roger (representing Maud de Kyme), John de Bohun, John de Mohun, and Hugh Mortimer. (fn. 45) In 1332 John de Bohun transferred his share to Hugh Mortimer, (fn. 46) and in 1341 he received a similar grant from John de Beauchamp. (fn. 47) The shares of John de Mohun and Henry, son of Roger, appear to have become absorbed in their other Luton property, and no further separate descent of them has been found.
Maud de Kyme, second daughter of Isabel de Clare, survived her mother until 1299, when she died seised of the sixth part of Luton manor which included a water-mill and free fishery, also a free court and view of frankpledge, and a market. (fn. 48) She left four daughters as her co-heirs, Joan de Vyvonia wife of Reginald Fitz Piers, Cicely wife of John de Beauchamp of Somerset, Sybil, wife of Guy de Rochechouart, and Mabel de Archiaco, whose son Aymer succeeded to his mother’s share. (fn. 49) In 1300 Sybil de Rochechouart conveyed her fourth of her mother’s property to Cicely de Beauchamp, (fn. 50) and in 1308 Aymer de Archiaco enfeoffed Joan Fitz Piers and Reginald her son of his mother’s fourth. (fn. 51) Thus of Maud de Kyme’s sixth of Luton manor, onehalf now belonged to Joan Fitz Piers, the other to Cicely Beauchamp. Joan Fitz Piers held in 1302 one-fourth of her mother’s lands, valued at 17s. 10½d., and including one-fourth of a windmill, a market, and view of frankpledge. (fn. 52) She died in 1314, (fn. 53) and was followed by her son Reginald, who died in 1328, (fn. 54) His grandson Reginald Fitz Herbert held this portion of Luton manor till 1347, when he was succeeded by a son, Edmund Fitz Herbert (fn. 55) whose son Edmund Fitz Herbert in 1377 conveyed his estate in Luton, worth at this time £8 per annum, to William de Wenlock. (fn. 56) In 1389 William Wenlock made a settlement of this estate on William Wyvell of Wenlock, (fn. 57) but no further mention of it has been found until the following century, when, together with the larger portions of the manor which had accumulated in the hands of the Mortimers, it reappears still in the family of the Wenlocks. (fn. 58)
In 1318 Cicely Beauchamp, who had acquired the other half of Maud de Kyme’s property, effected an exchange with Hugh Mortimer, by which, in return for his property in Sturminster, she gave him her share in Luton manor. (fn. 59)Thus of the four parts into which Maud de Kyme’s share in Luton manor had been divided, by the fourteenth century one-half had gone to Hugh Mortimer, and one-half to the Wenlocks to await subsequent amalgamation in the fifteenth century.
Agatha Mortimer, a third of the co-heiresses of Isabel de Clare, inherited in 1275 one-sixth of the manor of Luton, which included the capital messuage of the manor. (fn. 60) She died in 1306 leaving a son Henry Mortimer, (fn. 61)who in 1316 rendered feudal service to the king in Luton, (fn. 62) and whose son Hugh, in 1331, claimed a market, view of frankpledge, and free warren in Luton for himself and as feoffee of Cicely de Beauchamp. (fn. 63) In 1344 Hugh Mortimer made a settlement of the manor on his son Henry and his heirs, with remainder to his other sons, and failing them to his daughters Joan and Margaret and their heirs. (fn. 64) Hugh Mortimer died in 1372 leaving as his heir his grandson William, son of Henry, (fn. 65) who, in an inquisition dated 1391 is described as a fool and idiot, his lands in consequence being in the king’s hands. (fn. 66) His brother Hugh inherited his estates, and died in 1403 without issue, when this moiety of Luton manor, in accordance with the settlement made by Hugh Mortimer in 1344, passed to John de Cressy, his second cousin, son of Mabel granddaughter of the aforesaid Hugh. (fn. 67)John Cressy died in 1407, leaving a son Thomas, aged six, who only survived his father a few months, and left as heir a brother John, aged at the time of the inquisition thirty-three weeks. (fn. 68) He continued to hold the manor until 1467, in which year he alienated it to John Lord Wenlock, (fn. 69) who fought on the Lancastrian side at the first battle of St. Albans in 1455. He next, ‘with contemptible tergiversation, ‘joined the Yorkist party in 1459, and was attainted. He fought for them at Towton in 1461, but again changed sides and was slain at Tewkesbury in 1471 fighting under the Lancastrian banner. (fn. 70) His estates thus escheated to the crown, and were granted to Thomas Rotherham, at that time bishop of Lincoln, and subsequently archbishop of York. (fn. 71) This grant must have occurred before 1475, for Thomas Rotherham’s will, which is found enrolled at that date, mentions Luton manor amongst his real property. (fn. 72) Two years later, probably in order to consolidate Thomas Rotherham’s title, Thomas Lawley of Wenlock, kinsman and heir of John Lord Wenlock, released to the bishop all claim to the Luton manors, formerly held by his cousin Lord Wenlock. (fn. 73) Thomas Rotherham died in 1500, and in accordance with his will his Luton property passed to Thomas, son of his brother John, (fn. 74) who held the manor till his death in 1504, when it passed to his son, another Thomas, aged about five. (fn. 75) He died in 1565, when the property passed to his son George, (fn. 76) who, at his death in 1600, left a son Sir John Rotherham, knight, as heir, (fn. 77)who in 1610–11 conveyed his manor into the hands of trustees preparatory to a sale to Sir Robert Napier aliasSandy, which took place in the same year. (fn. 78) Sir Robert Napier died in possession of this property in 1637, when it passed to Robert Napier his son by his third wife Margaret Robinson. (fn. 79) He sat for Parliament, representing Weymouth in 1628 and Peterborough in 1640. During the troubles in the reign of Charles I he sided with the crown, and in 1644 the Committee of Sequestrations for Bedford reported that Sir Robert Napier ‘being a member of the House of Commons did in August last depart from London and Westminster and neglected the service of the House till December’ and that his estates were accordingly sequestered. He submitted and offered to compound for his estates in 1646, but was not finally discharged until 1647. (fn. 80) His death took place in 1660, when he was succeeded by a grandson Sir Robert Napier, who died unmarried and under age in 1675. (fn. 81) His heir male was his uncle John Napier, who held the Luton estate till his death in 1711, when his son Theophilus came into possession. (fn. 82) The latter died in 1719 leaving no direct heir, and Luton passed to his nephew John Napier, who dying unmarried in 1748, devised his Luton estate by will to his aunt Frances Napier, from whom it passed to her nephew Francis Herne of Middlesex. (fn. 83) In 1763–4 Francis Herne sold it to the earl of Bute. (fn. 84) After having resided at Luton nearly thirty years he died in 1792, and the property passed to his eldest son John, created marquess of Bute in 1796. He died in 1814, when the whole of this property was conveyed into the hands of trustees for John, his grandson, then a minor, (fn. 85) who, in 1844, sold the Luton estate, which then consisted of some 4,000 acres, to Mr. Ward of Clopton. (fn. 86) He never came into residence, and in 1848 it was purchased from him by John Shaw Leigh, (fn. 87) who died in 1871, when he was succeeded by John Gerard Leigh, on whose death in 1878 his widow, afterwards Madame de Falbe, succeeded to the estate for her life. She died in 1899, when the Luton estate passed to her husband’s nephew Gerard Leigh, a minor. He died within a fortnight of his entry into possession, leaving an infant son, whose trustees sold it in 1903 to Sir Julius Wernher, in whose possession it is at the present day. (fn. 88)
It now remains to account for the sixths of the ancient Luton manor, which Joan de Mohun, Sybil de Bohun and Eleanor de Leyburne acquired in 1274 as three of the co-heirs of Isabel de Clare. The portion of Joan de Mohun passed to her son John de Mohun, whose son John, then aged ten, succeeded him in 1279. (fn. 89) In 1305 the latter was negotiating a marriage between his son John and Christina, daughter of John de Segrave, when her dower was provided from rents in Luton manor, (fn. 90) and the son of this marriage, John de Mohun, in 1375, enfeoffed Sir Neel Loryng of Chalgrave, one of the first founders of the Garter, with his share of Luton manor. (fn. 91)
On the death of Sir Neel Loryng (March 1385–6), William Loryng, a clerk, obtained a licence in 1387 to alienate this property to the prior and convent of Dunstable to celebrate services daily for the soul of Sir Neel and others. (fn. 92)
The priory appears to have retained this property, for at the Dissolution Dunstable owned in Luton rents amounting in all to £16 16s. 1d., (fn. 93) and in 1545 Henry Audely and John Maynard received a grant of the lands in Luton which had belonged to Dunstable Priory.
From the fact that these names frequently occur as trustees about this time, and that the greater part of these lands were already leased by Sir Thomas Rotherham, lord of Luton manor, it seems likely that this grant was preliminary to a final transfer to him, and that this portion of Luton manor again became absorbed in the whole. (fn. 94)
The one-sixth which fell to Sybil de Bohun, later known as WOODCROFT alias HALYARD MANOR, (fn. 95) was transferred almost immediately by her son John de Bohun to Emery de Lucy, who in 1276 obtained a confirmation of the grant of ten librates of land in Luton held of the king by the service of half a knight’s fee. (fn. 96) Emery de Lucy was succeeded some time previous to 1296 by Geoffrey de Lucy, (fn. 97) who died in 1305 holding ‘one-sixth of the manor of Luton, namely the hamlet of Woodcroft.’ (fn. 98) He left a son Geoffrcy, aged 17 at the time of his father’s death, who in 1332 obtained a charter of free warren in his demesne lands of Woodcroft, (fn. 99) and dying in 1346 was followed by a son Geoffrey, (fn. 100) who held the manor till 1400, when Reginald his son succeeded him. (fn. 101) Reginald de Lucy was followed in 1437 by a son Walter who died in 1444 leaving a son William. (fn. 102) On the death of the latter in 1461 (fn. 103) the manor passed for life to his widow Margaret, who held it until 1467, (fn. 104) when it was divided between his niece Elizabeth, daughter of his sister Eleanor and wife of John earl of Worcester, and his nephew William Vaux, son of Maud, another sister, who was attainted on account of a speech made against the king. (fn. 105) Woodcroft eventually passed to William Vaux, who was slain at Tewkesbury in 1471, and whose grandson, Sir Thomas Vaux, Lord Harrowden, transferred this manor to the earl of Essex, (fn. 106)who in 1544 conveyed it into the hands of Robert Dormer and other trustees. (fn. 107) This was probably preliminary to an alienation for when the manor reappears a generation later it is as the property of Ralph Alwey, on whose death in 1623 it passed with his other property to his three daughters, Mary, Anne and Dorothy. (fn. 108) It eventually became the portion of Mary, wife of Edward Wingate, (fn. 109) who in 1653 conveyed it by fine to Robert Napier, (fn. 110) and Woodcroft or Halyard, as it is henceforward called to distinguish it from the other Woodcroft, from this time onwards follows the same descent as Luton manor (q.v.). It has never lost its separate identity, however, and at the present day is distinguished by name as one of the manors which collectively are styled the manor of Luton with its members. (fn. 111)
One-sixth only of Luton manor—that which Eleanor de Leyburne inherited as co-heiress of her mother—now remains to be accounted for. It became later known as WOODCROFT MANOR, and appears to have passed almost immediately from Eleanor de Leyburne to Walter de Mandeville, who in 1288 held at Woodcroft in Luton 129 acres of arable land, 6 acres of meadow, 18 acres of pasture, and £9 6s. 11½d. rents held of the king in chief for one-sixth of two knights’ fees. (fn. 112)
His sister and heir was Sibil, wife of Henry de Boderigan, who did not long retain it, for in 1310 it was held by John le Poer, who then received licence to grant Woodcroft manor to Robert de Kendale. (fn. 113) The latter is returned as owing service for this manor in 1316, (fn. 114) and died in 1330 leaving a son Edward as his heir. (fn. 115) In 1372 Edward de Kendale conveyed the manor to William de Croisores and other trustees, (fn. 116) and died the following year, leaving sons, Edward and Thomas, who both died without issue in 1375, when their sister Beatrice, wife of Sir Robert Turk, became their heir. (fn. 117) Beatrice pre-deceased her husband, who held the manor till his death in 1400, when their daughter Joan, wife of John Waleys, acquired Woodcroft. (fn. 118) Her eldest daughter Beatrice married Reginald, son of John Cockayne, of Bury Hatley, and in 1421, probably on the occasion of this marriage, John and Joan Waleys conveyed this manor to her and her heirs. (fn. 119) On the death of Reginald Cockayne Beatrice married William Milreth, a citizen and alderman of London, and on her death in 1448, (fn. 120) Woodcroft manor passed to John Cockayne, her son by her first marriage, who died in 1490. (fn. 121) His widow Joan, however, held the manor till her death in 1507, when Edmund Cockayne succeeded to the estate. (fn. 122) From Edmund Cockayne Woodcroft manor then appears to have passed to a younger branch of the family, for in 1522 William Markham and Frances his wife (who was daughter of William Cockayne, son of Edmund) conveyed the manor by fine to John Markham. He was still holding in 1584, (fn. 123) between which date and 1630 the manor passed to Edward Wyngate, (fn. 124) who also held Halyard, and it has since followed the same descent as that manor (q.v.), and like it has preserved to the present day its separate identity as a member of Luton manor.
The manor of LUTON HOO is declared by some writers upon historically worthless evidence to have been held by the Hoo family prior to the Norman Conquest. (fn. 125) It appears always to have been separate from the royal manor of Luton, and to have been held in chief. (fn. 126) It is not mentioned in Domesday, and no documentary evidence has been found of the Hoos holding in Luton prior to 1245, in which year Thomas de Hoo conveyed land and a small rent to his father Robert. (fn. 127) In 1292 Robert de Hoo, probably a son of Thomas, received a charter of free warren in his manor of Hoo, (fn. 128) and in 1306 conveyed the manor by fine to his son Robert, (fn. 129)who in 1319 leased his capital messuage of Hoo at a rent of £10 to his mother, Hadwisa de Goushill, and about the same time acquired the mill of Thatchford by purchase from Thomas de Keston. (fn. 130) In 1337 Thomas de Hoo, Robert’s son, obtained a charter of free warren: (fn. 131) his death took place some time before 1391, in which year his widow Isabella obtained a confirmation of this charter. (fn. 132) He left a son William, whose widow Eleanor in 1415 conveyed the manor to her son Sir Thomas de Hoo, probably on the attainment of his majority. (fn. 133) He distinguished himself greatly in the wars with France, and in 1447 was created Baron of Hoo and of Hastings. He died in 1454–5 leaving a brother of the half blood, Thomas Hoo (who died without issue in 1486) and four daughters and co-heirs—Anne, wife of Geoffrey Boleyn, Eleanor, wife of Sir Richard Carewe, Elizabeth, wife of Richard Devenish, and Anne wife of Roger Copley, (fn. 134) who all appear to have inherited an interest an interest in the manor, and it was probably by a mutual arrangement that the manor was sold to Richard Fermor about 1523. (fn. 135) He appears subsequently to have forfeited his lands to Henry VIII, ‘because he gave help to a certain James Thayne, a convict,’ but on his humble petition recovered Luton Hoo manor in 1551. (fn. 136) Jeremiah Fermor, probably his son, was holding the manor in 1559, (fn. 137) between which date and 1594 it passed to Sir John Brocket, (fn. 138) and was sold by his trustees to Sir Robert Napier, (fn. 139) who, in 1611, acquired Luton manor (q.v.) and Luton Hoo has henceforward followed the same descent. Sir Robert Napier built a residence here, and Luton Hoo has since been known as the seat of the lords of Luton manor and its members. In 1623 he received licence to inclose 300 acres to make a park with free warren, (fn. 140) and this was enlarged to 1,200 acres by Lord Bute, after his purchase in 1763, (fn. 141) who employed ‘Capability Brown’ to lay out the park, and widen the River Lea, which flows through it, into a considerable lake. He also added largely to the house which has been injured by fires in 1771 and again in 1844. (fn. 142)
Luton Hoo Park, at the present day the residence of Sir Julius Wernher, lies to the south of the town, the Lea forming its eastern boundary, making a long sheet of ornamental water. The house stands on the brow of the slope, surrounded by picturesque welltimbered park land and plantations. The entrance is by a colonnaded portico to the west, opening to a large central hall, from which a lately inserted staircase at the north-east angle leads to the upper floors. The dining-room is in the middle of the east front, with library and drawing-rooms, etc., to the south, and the chapel is at the north-east angle. The collection of pictures for which the house was famous was almost entirely dispersed at a late sale, and only a few still remain in their old quarters. The house itself is of little interest architecturally; the fittings of the chapel, and the marble panelling in the dining-room are costly modern additions, and the present owner has spared no expense in fitting up the house.
PICKS MANOR, held in chief, is first mentioned as a manor in 1470. In that year Lord Wenlock held a court for Luton, Langley and ‘Pykes’ bracketed together. (fn. 143) He had obtained Luton from John Cressy in 1467, as previously stated, whilst his ancestors had in 1377 acquired the portions of two of the co-heirs of Maud de Kyme, so that it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that Picks is a distinctive name given to one of these portions, more especially as it was held in chief. (fn. 144) From 1470 it continued to follow the same descent as Luton manor (q.v.). The last mention found of it before its reabsorption in Luton occurs in 1638 when Sir Robert Napier died seised of Picks Farm. (fn. 145)
There were several manors in this parish held of Luton manor. The estate afterwards known as BRACHE MANORundoubtedly belonged at one time to the royal manor of Luton, for whilst the latter was in the possession of William Marshal earl of Pembroke (who held Luton between 1214 and 1231) he granted a yearly rent of 20s. from his mill at Brache to St. Paul’s Cathedral for prayers for the soul of his late wife Alice de Bethune. (fn. 146) By 1282 it had become the property of the Kendales, who held it of the heirs of Joan de Mohun, (fn. 147) for in that year Jordan de Kendale granted to Andrew de la Brache lands in Brache for his life. (fn. 148) After the acquisition of Woodcroft manor by Robert de Kendale in 1310 it followed the same descent as that manor (q.v.) until the sixteenth century. It is called a manor in 1531 (fn. 149) when it was held by William Markham in right of his wife Frances, daughter of William Cockayne. (fn. 150) In 1576 a preliminary settlement of Brache manor on George Rotherham was made by Francis Markham, probably their son, (fn. 151) and another settlement in 1585 on the same by John Markham, (fn. 152) which appears to have taken effect, for George Rotherham held the manor in 1595. (fn. 153) In 1602 John Rotherham transferred it with other manors to Robert Napier, and it has since followed the same descent as Luton manor (q.v.), of which it is a member at the present day. (fn. 154)
The origin of the manor of DALLOW or DOLLOW is to be sought in the 5 hides belonging to Luton Church, which in the time of Edward the Confessor belonged to Morcar the priest, but by the time of the Survey had passed to William the Chamberlain, (fn. 155) who also held lands in chief at Battlesden, Potsgrove, and Totternhoe in Bedfordshire. Mr. Cobbe in his history has contended that William the Chamberlain was also a priest, but though he may well have been in minor orders, he held Luton Church with its lands by knight service, and transmitted them to his heirs under the same tenure. (fn. 156) In the reign of King Stephen William Chamberlain, probably a son of the Domesday tenant, held these lands and Luton Church of Robert earl of Gloucester, and the desire of the latter to put in a kinsman of his own led to the final transference of both the church and the manor which formed its endowment to St. Albans. (fn. 157) The story is given at some length in the ‘Gesta Abbatum.’ Robert, earl of Gloucester, wishing to put in his kinsman Gilbert de Cimmay, was greatly shocked at the idea of this church being held by laymen. Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, refused however to dispossess William the Chamberlain without legal forms; but after three days had been appointed for the hearing of the case, and the defendant refused to appear, he was disseised, and Gilbert de Cimmay was instituted. The fall of Robert of Gloucester put the manor for a time into the hands of Robert de Waudari, a kinsman of the abbot of St. Albans, who was thus able to mediate between him and Gilbert de Cimmay. A serious illness of the latter, combined with the persuasions of the abbot, moved him to resign the benefice into the hands of the archdeacon Nicholas of Bedford; it was then conferred on the abbot’s nephew. As soon as William, earl of Gloucester was restored to his father’s property the abbot approached him and obtained from him a grant of the church for 80 marks, and a discharge of knight service for another 30 marks. This was confirmed by King Stephen between 1151 and 1154, and also by Henry II. (fn. 158)
The first reference which has been found to Dallow manor as such occurs in 1258, when Godfrey of Biscott and twelve others acknowledged that they had neglected to attend the view of frankpledge held annually at Dallow. (fn. 159) In 1291 the value of the manor was £7 3s. 1d. (fn. 160); and in 1331 the abbot claimed view of frankpledge in his manor and a yearly fair in the town of Luton on the Feast of the Assumption. (fn. 161) At the Dissolution the manor became crown property, and was granted in 1544 to Sir Thomas Barnardiston, (fn. 162) who in 1586 transferred it to Thomas Crawley. (fn. 163) In 1606 Richard, his son, by alienating a portion of this manor, divided it into two parts, each of which became known as Dallow manor, and followed a separate descent until the middle of the nineteenth century, when they again became united in the possession of the Crawley family. The first of these fractions, that which included the manor-house and grounds, was sold by Richard Crawley to Richard Scudamore in 1606, (fn. 164) who in the same year transferred it to Sir John Rotherham, (fn. 165) by whom it was conveyed in 1615 to Sir Robert Napier, (fn. 166) and thus became part of the Luton manor estate (q.v.). It was not sold with that estate, however, in 1844, but part of it was purchased in 1859 from Lord Bute, and the remainder in 1862 from J. Shaw Leigh, by T. Sambrooke Crawley, whose son, Mr. Francis Crawley, holds it at the present day. (fn. 167)
The other fraction of Dallow manor was sold by Richard Crawley in 1613 to Robert Faldo of North Mimms, (fn. 168)who in 1620 sold the property for £1,600 to Henry Denham and Ralph Merefield. (fn. 169) The latter released his claim in the manor in 1622 to Henry Denham, who in the following year sold it to Richard Peters, (fn. 170) who finally, in 1640, sold it for £1,450 to Bernard Hale of King’s Walden. (fn. 171) Dallow manor continued to be held by the Hales until 1859, (fn. 172) when by sale to T. Sambrooke Crawley it was reunited to the other portion of the manor, and a farm of this name exists at the present day in possession of Mr. Francis Crawley, his son. (fn. 173)
The first reference to what later became known as DAVID ASHBY MANOR occurs in an inquisition taken in 1375 when Edward de Kendale held those lands and tenements which were of David de Ashby in Luton, including 47s. 6d. rent of assize of free tenants, partly held of John and William Loryng by service of 27s. 2½d. per annum, and the residue of Hugh Mortimer by service of 2s. 7d. (fn. 174) This property followed the same descent as Brache and Woodcroft (q.v.), (fn. 175) until, like the former manor, it was alienated by John Markham to George Rotherham in 1585, (fn. 176) and so became included in Luton manor (q.v.). This manor is mentioned by name as part of the Luton estate in a Recovery Roll of 1815, (fn. 177) but all trace of it is lost at the present day.
The property afterwards known as EastHide MANOR or THE HYDE appears to have been held by a family of Hyde in the twelfth century, but is not mentioned as a manor until 1535. (fn. 178) It was parcel of Luton manor, but the only reference that has been found to the overlordship occurs in 1253, when the heirs of Alan de Hyde were distrained by the bailiff of Luton manor. (fn. 179) As early as 1197 Fulk de la Hyde is mentioned in a fine as holding the moiety of a mill here. Alan de Hyde, who is the next owner of whom mention has been found, was holding in 1232, when he acknowledged the right of Alice, wife of Roger de Luton, to her dower in his lands of Luton. (fn. 180) In 1240 he was admitted to Dunstable Priory and gave, ‘with his body,’ 1 virgate and rent of ½ a mark in Stopsley, which were leased to Walter de Hyde, who appears to have been his successor. (fn. 181) Roger de la Hyde was holding in 1247, in which year he held two parts of the moiety of a mill in Luton of Agnes de la Hyde. (fn. 182) His name appears in 1252 and again in 1262, and finally he released to his son Henry all his inheritance in La Hyde for the rent of one clove of gilliflower. (fn. 183) In 1305 Thomas de la Hyde was holding land in Luton, (fn. 184) and then all trace of this property is lost until 1534, when it reappears as a reputed manor in the possession of Richard Fermor, who in that year mortgaged it to Thomas Pope, together with Luton Hoo (q.v.). (fn. 185) Its history is the same as that of Luton Hoo manor until the death of Sir John Brocket in 1599, (fn. 186) when it passed by settlement to his brother Edward. His son John in 1647 conveyed it to Thomas Mitchell, (fn. 187) by whose family it was retained until 1717, when Richard Mitchell transferred it by fine to Samuel Hannot. (fn. 188) It was subsequently purchased by Philadelphia, widow of Sir Thomas Cotton, (fn. 189) who some time after 1741 sold it to Mr. Floyer, governor of Fort St. David, from whom it was purchased by Dr. Bettesworth, chancellor of the diocese of London, who died in 1779. (fn. 190) John Bettesworth, probably his son, held this manor in 1782, (fn. 191) and in 1806 John Bettesworth Trevanion (fn. 192)sold it to Robert Hibbert, the founder of the Hibbert Trust to provide lectures and scholarships for the spread of Christianity. (fn. 193) It was purchased in 1833 by Levi Ames, whose direct descendant, Lionel Ames, of Ayot St. Lawrence, holds it at the present day. (fn. 194)
The origin of FARLEY MANOR is found in the land which Henry II granted in 1156 to the Hospital of Holy Trinity, Santingfeld, Wissant, in Picardy. This grant is specified in the charter as ‘terram de Ferleya juxta Lectonam, usque ad terram ecclesiae de Lectona.… Et totam terram de Wyperleya usque ad viam de Presteleya.’ (fn. 195) This grant was subsequently augmented in 1204 by 45 acres in Luton from Baldwin de Bethune. (fn. 196) These lands were afterwards colonized, and became a dependent hospital, with a master and brethren, (fn. 197) known as Farley. In 1291 the master of Farley had in Farley and Luton in lands, rents, mills, and woods £4 12s., and on his non-appearance in 1331 to support his claim to view of frankpledge in his manor of Farley, the manor was taken into the king’s hands. (fn. 198) On the dissolution of the alien priories in 1447 Farley was granted to the provost and scholars of King’s College, Cambridge, (fn. 199) who did not continue to hold it however, for in 1522 Farley was again crown property. (fn. 200) Lysons offers a supposition, based on no ascertainable authority, and not corroborated by its subsequent history, that King’s College had conveyed Farley to St. Albans in exchange for other lands. (fn. 201) St. Albans certainly appears to have tried to enforce some claim on Farley, which lay adjacent to its own manor of Dallow, for in 1505 George Rotherham (whose son is found later as lessee of the manor) wrote to Pierre Caurel, master of the hospital of Santingfeld, warning him that the abbot of St. Albans had entered upon his lands at Farley and dispossessed the tenants. The master in reply desired Rotherham to sue the abbot, as the place had belonged to Santingfeld from time immemorial. (fn. 202)
George Rotherham, as appears in a manuscript of 1554, had the manors on a 92 years’ lease from the crown, dating from 1522, but before it expired his son George received a grant in fee of Farley and Whiperley from Queen Elizabeth in 1554. (fn. 203) George Rotherham held these manors at his death in 1594, when his son George succeeded him, (fn. 204) being followed on his death in 1632 by his son George. (fn. 205) In 1698 and also in 1707 Thomas Rotherham, probably a grandson of the lastnamed George, still held this estate, (fn. 206) which by 1783 had passed to John Sharpe Palmer. (fn. 207) He transferred it to the marquess of Bute, who held it in 1815. (fn. 208)Lord Bute sold it some time previous to 1855 to Mr. Crawley, whose family holds it at the present day. (fn. 209)
The manor of FENNELS GROVE, which derives its name from the Fitz Neel family, to whom it belonged in the thirteenth century, was held of Hugh Mortimer of his moiety of Luton manor (q.v.) by service of 6d. per annum (fn. 210) until 1370, when it fell into the king’s hands, and was subsequently held in chief. The first mention that has been found of the Fitz Neels holding in Luton occurs in 1283, when Robert Fitz Neel granted lands there to Roger Taylard. (fn. 211) In 1329 Roger de Gildesburgh acknowledged the right of Robert Fitz Neel, probably a son of the above Robert, to a messuage, seven score acres of land, 6 acres of meadow, 30 acres of wood, and the moiety of a water-mill. (fn. 212) On the death of the latter in 1332 his daughter Grace, wife of John de Nowers, became his heir. (fn. 213) Her son John in 1370 conveyed Fennels Grove to Edward III, (fn. 214) who in 1378 granted to Henry Downham for life ‘the house and place of “Fyneslesgrove” in Luton.’ (fn. 215) In 1399 Fennels Grove, still crown property, was valued at 60s., (fn. 216) but in 1416 was granted with many other manors by Henry V to his brother John, duke of Bedford, (fn. 217) on whose death in 1435 the property returned to Henry VI as heirgeneral of his uncle. (fn. 218) In 1462 Edward IV made a lease of the manor of Luton Fennels Grove—here definitely so-called for the first time, (fn. 219) and it seems to have been subsequently granted to John Lord Wenlock, for it appears both in the earlier will of Thomas Rotherham and the release of Thomas Lawley, Lord Wenlock’s heir-general, in 1477. (fn. 220) It thus became absorbed in Luton manor (q.v.), and subsequent to 1611 no mention has been found of it as a separate manor. (fn. 221)
GREATHAMPSTEAD, later known as FALCONER’S HALL, was another property held of Luton manor. In 1803 the owner still paid a quitrent of £1 2s. 7½d. to Luton manor, (fn. 222) but if, as its name implies, it at one time formed part of the Greathampstead Someries manor, payment was probably made on account of a former dependence on the manor of Woodcroft, at that time absorbed in Luton. Its history—which has been almost entirely compiled from papers in the possession of Mr. F. Crawley—begins in 1564, when, described as a messuage, farm, and dove-house, it was sold by Richard Laurence to William Crawley, whose grandson Thomas Crawley sold it in 1662 to John Miller, from whose grandson John it had passed before 1705 to Richard Fielden, at which date Hannah, widow of Richard Fielden, was acting as his executrix. Richard Fielden, son of the above, left it to his daughter Sara Jobson in 1725 ‘because that his son Richard had intermarried with a woman of mean parentage and doubtful reputation without his consent, and that he had since paid considerable sums of money for him as shown in his Book of Accompts.’ Finally in 1752 Greathampstead Farm was sold by Stafford Jobson to John Crawley. (fn. 223)Lysons says that ‘a reputed manor of that name is now a field belonging to a farm called Falconer’s Hall, which is the property of John Crawley,’ (fn. 224) to whose representative, Francis Crawley, it still belongs, though the farm-house has been pulled down of recent years. (fn. 225)
The manor of HAYES or HOOBURNE was held of Luton manor, though no mention of the overlordship has been found before 1487, when it was held of John Rotherham by a rent of 50s. for all services, (fn. 226) and at a court held at Luton in 1554. the lord of Hayes still paid service to that manor. (fn. 227) Very little has been found concerning the early history of Hayes, but from the twelfth century a family of de la Hayes held property in Luton, from which this manor possibly originated. In 1198 John de Sandon transferred 4 virgates of land in Luton to Reginald de la Haye, (fn. 228) the next mention found is in 1275, when Walter de la Haye and Matilda his wife recognized the claim of Agnes de la Barre to her dower, consisting of 2 marks’ rent and one-third of a carucate of land. (fn. 229) By 1296 Walter had been succeeded by Roger de la Haye, probably a son, who in that year transferred a messuage and land to Thomas de la Hyde. (fn. 230) The family apparently still continued to hold land in Luton, for in 1390 Nicholas de la Haye confirmed to his mother, Agnes Thrale, lands in West Hide, Luton. He was followed by John Hay, who is mentioned in the ‘Return of the Gentry of Bedfordshire in 1433.’ (fn. 231) He was steward of the archbishop of Canterbury, and was buried in the north aisle of Luton church, with an inscription to the effect that he had repaired the church at his own expense. (fn. 232) After his death in 1454 there is a gap in the history of the manor until it reappears in 1475 under the title of Hooburne manor, when John White acknowledged the right of John Catesby to it. (fn. 233) He died in 1487, leaving a son Humphrey Catesby, (fn. 234) who by 1534 had been succeeded by Anthony Catesby, (fn. 235) on whose death in 1554 his son Thomas succeeded to the estate. (fn. 236) In 1586, and again in 1589, Thomas Catesby conveyed Hayes manor to Edward Docwra and other trustees, (fn. 237) and finally in 1598 the manor was sold by George Catesby for £830 to Thomas Cheyne. (fn. 238)Thomas Cheyne, dying in 1612, left Hayes manor by will to his younger son George, who held it until 1645, when he appears to have transferred it to Robert Cheyne (probably his nephew), (fn. 239) and the latter in 1652 alienated it by fine to John Howland and others, probably trustees. (fn. 240) Twenty years later it appears as the property of Sir Samuel Starling. (fn. 241) From him it passed to the Etricks, though it has not been found possible to ascertain the exact date, and in 1716 Anthony and Elizabeth Etrick alienated it to Benjamin Morris, (fn. 242) whose family continued to hold it for upwards of 150 years. Lysons, writing about 1802, describes Hayes as ‘a spurious manor, a small estate within Stopsley, the property of Mr. Morris,’ (fn. 243) whilst Davis, writing a generation later, says that the manor was still held by this family, which belonged to Buntingford in Hertfordshire. (fn. 244) It was purchased from Mr. Morris about forty years ago by the late Colonel Sowerby, who owned Bennet’s manor (q.v.), and is now the property of Mr. Sowerby of Putteridge Park.
The first reference to HAVERINGS MANOR in Stopsley occurs in 1430, when the manor was held of John Cressy as of Luton manor. (fn. 245) After its escheat to the crown in 1543 it is described in 1627 as held as a moiety of the crown and a moiety of Sir Robert Napier lord of Luton. (fn. 246) The earliest holders of this manor were the Haverings, of whom first mention is found in 1258, when Richard de Havering and Lucy his wife conceded lands in Luton to Andrew de la Brache, (fn. 247) and in 1262 John de Havering, probably Richard’s son, acknowledged his father’s right to certain lands in Luton. (fn. 248) John, who was still alive in 1305, left a son Richard, who in 1348 received a charter of free warren in his demesne of Stopsley. (fn. 249) By 1402 this manor had passed to William Butler, who at that date granted it to his son John Butler. On his death in 1430 (fn. 250) it passed to his son John, whose descendants appear to have held for the next century, for when the manor appears in 1525 it is as the property of Thomas Butler, who at that date conveyed it to Sir Henry Wyatt and others. (fn. 251) This may have been preparatory to an alienation to Richard Fermor, who held it in 1534, (fn. 252) on account of whose ‘transgressions and contempts against the king’ it escheated to the crown, and was granted in 1543 to Sir Thomas Barnardiston. (fn. 253) He died in the same year, and his son Thomas Barnardiston alienated the manor in 1568 to John Crawley, (fn. 254) who was succeeded by a son Thomas in 1599, (fn. 255) and he was followed in 1627 by a son, Francis Crawley. (fn. 256) After 1684 no separate mention has been found in documents of this manor, which has become absorbed in the other property which the Crawleys held in this parish, (fn. 257) though Davis, writing in 1855, speaks of Haverings as an ancient seat of the Crawleys. (fn. 258)
LIMBURY MANOR was also held of Luton manor. (fn. 259) The first reference to this property is found in the messuage, the carucate of land, and the yearly rent which Richard de Lymbury held in Luton in 1275. (fn. 260) This reappears in 1368, when Philip de Lymbury died in ‘Constantyn Noble (sic), in parts beyond the sea,’ leaving to his son Philip the manor of Limbury, which included, besides the house within the site of the manor and garden, 100 acres of land, 2 acres of meadow, a water-mill worth nothing for want of repair, and 53s. 4d. rent of assize of free tenants. (fn. 261) Of this second Philip de Lymbury the Gesta tells the following incident:—Abbot Thomas, a man magnanimus et cordatus, had amongst his foes a certain knight of the soke of Luton, Philip de Limbury, a follower of Henry, duke of Lancaster. One Monday, which was Luton market-day, he ordered John Moot, the cellarer of St. Albans Abbey, to be put upon the pillory, which caused great scandal. The duke of Lancaster interfered on behalf of the abbey, and ordered Philip to make restitution, but when he made offerings at the shrine of St. Albans the martyr showed indignation and refused to accept his gifts. The chronicler concludes by saying that Lymbury and his followers died and were soon forgotten. (fn. 262) His death must have taken place before 1388, in which year his mother Joan, who had married John de Clynton, died, leaving as heir to Limbury her daughter Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Tryvet, (fn. 263) who must have died the same year as her mother, for in 1389 Thomas held the manor, now worth 20s. per annum only, in right of his late wife. (fn. 264) He left two daughters aged seven and five, and here all trace of the manor ceases.
A second LIMBURY MANOR was also held of Luton manor, to which overlordship it is declared to belong in 1531. (fn. 265) This manor has followed the same descent as Biscott (q.v.), though no mention has been found of it previous to 1386, when it appears as the property of Baldwin de Bereford. (fn. 266) It maintained a separate identity however until the sixteenth century. In 1546 George Acworth held a court for the manor of Limbury-cum-Biscott, (fn. 267) and when the sale of these two properties to John Dormer occurred in 1549 the alienation of Lymbury is recorded in the Luton Manor Court Rolls, and John Dormer and also William Harper (to whom he sold it almost immediately) are distrained for 2s. quit-rent. (fn. 268) No further separate mention occurs of Lymbury, which henceforward becomes absorbed in the more important Biscott manor.
The manor of WEST HYDE AYNEL, situated in East Hyde and West Hyde, acquired its distinctive name from a family of Aynel who held it from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. It at one time formed part of Luton manor, (fn. 269) on the subdivision of which in 1274 the overlordship of West Hyde Aynel appears to have passed to Joan de Mohun, and through her to Dunstable Priory, whose prior in 1415 gave seisin of the manor to trustees on the death of John Aynel. (fn. 270)
This property first appears in 1257, when Adam son of William Aynel granted land in Luton to Richard son of Simon, which his brother Robert had of the enfeoffment of Baldwin de Bethune (see Luton manor). (fn. 271) Adam was succeeded by his son Roger Aynel before 1287, in which year Robert de Hoo acknowledged the latter’s rights to rents in Luton. (fn. 272)
In 1351 John Aynel, son of William Aynel, and probably a grandson of the last-named Roger, received a grant from Ralph de Eccleshale of all his lands and tenements in West Hyde, (fn. 273) and in 1358 his brother Roger entered into possession of the lands and tenements of his father William. (fn. 274) The next mention that has been found of this property occurs in 1415, when, called for the first time West Hyde manor, it passed into the hands of trustees on the death of John Aynel. (fn. 275) The manor next passed, though how has not been ascertained, to Henry Frowick, who was holding it in 1423. (fn. 276) His daughter and heir, Elizabeth Frowick, married John Coningsby of North Mimms, (fn. 277) and the Coningsbys continued to hold the manor during the following century, for it reappears in 1530, and again in 1546, as the property of John Coningsby, who transferred it by fine at the latter date to William Day. (fn. 278)
His descendant, Benjamin Day, in 1612, conveyed West Hyde Aynel to Edmund Neele and Henry Halsey, preparatory to a sale to Robert Napier, (fn. 279) and it thus became a member of the larger Luton manor (q.v.), and has since followed the same descent.
Mention is found of it by name in a Recovery Roll of 1815, but it has since disappeared, having probably become absorbed in Luton Hoo Park. (fn. 280)
The history of WHIPERLEY MANOR, which includes the modern estate of STOCKWOOD PARK, is identical with that of Farley (q.v.) until 1640, when Thomas Rotherham sold to Richard Norton a detached part of the Whiperley estate, described as ‘all that capital messuage or mansion-house known as Stockwood alias Whiperly which the said Thomas Rotherham doth now inhabit together with the appurtenances known as New, Woodfield, Ponds Close, Stockwood Close, Woodyard Close, Slipp, and Highwood.’ (fn. 281)
Luke Norton held the property until 1658, but between that date and 1707 it had passed to Richard Crawley, whose representative, Mr. Francis Crawley, holds it at the present day. (fn. 282)
The house built by John Crawley about 1740 is a rectangular brick building with stone dressings, of two stories and an attic, with a balustraded parapet and hipped roof. The principal entrance is on the north-east, under a pillared portico, and the central bays of the east and south fronts are set forward slightly from the general wall-face. The house has a central hall with a stair on the west side, and to the west, or more accurately, north-west, lie the offices and stables. The garden is on the south and west, and running due northwards from a point in front of the house is a fine avenue. The ground is high, nearly the whole of the park being 500 ft. or more above sea-level.
The parish of Luton also contained twelve other manors, or so-called manors. BAILIFF’S MANOR, which was probably never organized on a true manorial basis, does not appear until the sixteenth century, when it was held of Luton Hoo (q.v.) with the exception of the gate-house, an orchard, and one acre of land, which were said to be held of Brache manor (q.v.). (fn. 283)
The known descent of this manor is as follows:—In 1542 Henry Bradshaw and Joan his wife transferred it to Thomas Field, who died in 1556–7, (fn. 284) and whose son, James Field, died in possession of the manor, leaving a son George, (fn. 285) and between this date and 1638 it passed to Sir Robert Napier, and so became one of the members of Luton manor (q.v.). (fn. 286) It is mentioned by name in a Recovery Roll of 1815, but at the present day its identity is lost. (fn. 287)
No reference at all has been found to an overlordship in BENNET’S MANOR, and the estate itself does not appear until 1504, when Thomas Rotherham died seised of it. (fn. 288) The Rotherhams retained it until 1573, when it was transferred by George Rotherham to John Franklin, (fn. 289) who was succeeded by Richard Franklin, whose son, Sir John Franklin, held the manor in 1622. (fn. 290) After this date there is a gap of 150 years, and the manor reappears in 1797 in a conveyance from Edward Southouse to John Sowerby, (fn. 291) and Mr. Sowerby of Putteridge Park at the present day owns property in Stopsley which represents this manor.
The origin of BISCOTT MANOR, later held of Dallow manor (q.v.), may be sought with some show of reason in the land of 5 ‘manentes’ or tenants in Luton, (fn. 292) which it is recorded were granted by Offa, king of Mercia, in 792 A.D. to St. Albans Abbey, which he had founded in the previous year. (fn. 293)
Between 792 and the date of the Domesday Survey Biscott was alienated from the abbey, for at the latter date it is given among the king’s lands, and was assessed at 5 hides. It was held by Edwin, a man of Asgar the staller, and was declared to have been separated by Ralph Taillebois from the hundred in which it was formerly assessed, and added to Luton on account of the additional payment. (fn. 294)
It remained crown property until 1115, when, on the occasion of the dedication of the restored abbey church of St. Albans, Henry I gave to Abbot Richard the manor of Biscott. (fn. 295) The abbey, however, did not long retain the manor, for during the abbacy of John de Cella, and in the reign of John, i.e. between 1199–1214, a grant was made to Robert Fitz Walter of 10 librates of land, chiefly in Biscott. (fn. 296)
After the alienation of Biscott manor by St. Albans it continued to be held of them as of their manor of Dallow in Luton; it is mentioned as so held in 1327 and again in 1531. (fn. 297) Subsequent to the dissolution of the abbey it continued to be held of Dallow, the last mention of the overlordship occurring in 1644. (fn. 298)
Robert Fitz Walter, to whom Biscott manor thus passed, was one of the twenty-five barons appointed to enforce the fulfilment of Magna Charta. He was outlawed and temporarily deprived of his possessions on two occasions— in 1212 and again in 1216. (fn. 299) Whether, after these alienations, Biscott was ever restored to him does not appear, and no record has been found of the manor until 1289, when Hugh de Philibert granted to William de Bereford £9 16s. rent in Biscott, together with all services of those holding in the manor. (fn. 300)
In 1327 William de Bereford, probably the original grantee, died seised of £9 9s. 4d. rent in Biscott, received from eleven free tenants, leaving a son Edmund as heir. (fn. 301) The manor was held in 1386 by his son Baldwin de Bereford, (fn. 302) who in 1401 made a settlement of the manor, in the event of his dying without heirs, on the heirs of Joan, Agnes, and Alice, sisters of his father Edmund. (fn. 303)
Biscott was held by Elizabeth, widow of Baldwin de Bereford, during her lifetime, but by 1419 the reversion had passed to Ralph Bush (in right of his wife Eleanor), who in that year conveyed it by fine to William Acworth. (fn. 304)
John Acworth was holding the manor in 1500, (fn. 305) and was followed by a son George, who, dying in 1531, left as heir a son, also George Acworth. (fn. 306) He sold the manor in 1548–9 to John Dormer, citizen and mercer of London, (fn. 307) who in the following year transferred it to William Harper, citizen and merchant tailor of London, (fn. 308) by whom it was sold in 1555 to John Alley. (fn. 309) His son Francis conveyed Biscott manor to Edward Wingate in 1593 by way of mortgage, (fn. 310) which was foreclosed in 1595, when the manor became the property of Edward Wingate. (fn. 311) At his death in 1598 it passed to his son George, (fn. 312) and from him, in 1606, to his grandson John Wingate. (fn. 313) He died in 1644, and was followed by a son Francis, (fn. 314) who was holding the manor as late as 1678. (fn. 315) In 1718 Arthur Wingate was holding the manor, (fn. 316) and in 1724 he sold it to John Crawley for £8,796 14s., (fn. 317) in whose family it still remains, Mr. F. Crawley being the present owner.
BRAMBLEHANGER MANOR was held of the prior of St. John of Jerusalem certainly from the thirteenth century onwards, for in 1247 Alan de Brambelhanger held a free tenement of the prior by the service of 22s. 1d. yearly. (fn. 318) The prior claimed view of frankpledge in Bramblehanger as appurtenant to his manor of Clifton in 1287. The last mention found of the overlordship occurs in 1515, when John Sylam held it by rent of 59s. (fn. 319) The first under-tenant of this manor of whom mention has been found is Alan de Brambelhanger, holding in 1247; he was still in possession in 1269, when the property consisted of one messuage and 4 virgates of land. (fn. 320) By 1309 Bramblehanger had passed to Peter Fitz Warin, who in that year conveyed it by fine to his son William. (fn. 321) In 1324 the manor of Bramblehanger—here definitely so called—became forfeited to the crown on account of the delinquencies of William Fitz Warin, and was granted to the king’s niece Eleanor, wife of Hugh le Despenser. (fn. 322) Fitz Warin appears to have obtained a free pardon and restoration of his property, for Bramblehanger was still in his family in 1348, when Hugh Fitz Warin conveyed it by fine to John de Northewell. (fn. 323) The descent of this manor is lost till 1425, when it is found as the property of Joan, wife of John le Waleys, who also owned Woodcroft manor. (fn. 324) She left a daughter Joyce, married to Robert Lee, who in 1434 held a messuage called ‘Braumangrebury’ in Luton, (fn. 325) and in 1446 alienated the manor to Thomas Boleyn and other feoffees. (fn. 326)This may have been preliminary to an alienation, for in 1513 John Sylam died in possession of the manor, leaving four daughters as coheirs, Elizabeth Mattock, Agnes Croswayte, Joan Snow, and Mary Lock. (fn. 327) It passed eventually to the last-named, subsequently married to Robert Cheyne, who in 1546 conveyed the manor into the hands of trustees on the occasion of the marriage of his son Thomas with Elizabeth Rotherham. (fn. 328) Thomas Cheyne succeeded to the manor in 1554, (fn. 329) and held it until 1614, when it passed to his son Robert, who died in 1632. (fn. 330) Thomas, son of the latter, conveyed the manor in 1676 to John Crosse, whose family continued to hold it for upwards of two hundred years. (fn. 331) Thomas Crosse held Bramblehanger in 1807, (fn. 332) and Hammond Crosse in 1855. (fn. 333) In 1890 the estate, consisting of two farms known as Great and Little Bramingham, was purchased by trustees of the will of the late Sir Edward Page Turner, and is at present in the possession of Mr. F. A. Page Turner. (fn. 334)
In 1504 Thomas Rotherham died seised of two estates in Luton called EAST HYDE and WEST HYDE MANORS. (fn. 335) His son Thomas held the same property at his death in 1565, (fn. 336) and as no further mention has been found, the presumption is that they became absorbed in the larger estate which the Rotherhams owned in Luton.
The property which later became known as LALLEFORD MANOR first appears in 1425 as the possession of Joan Waleys, and is then described as lands and tenements called Lalleford, of whom held it was not known, (fn. 337)and in 1447 as 40s. rent called Lalleford fee. (fn. 338) It followed the same descent as Brache manor, and subsequent to its transfer to Sir Robert Napier in 1602 is described as a manor. (fn. 339) It is mentioned by name in a Recovery Roll of 1815 as part of the Luton estate, but has since become absorbed in the larger manor, and no trace of it exists at the present day. (fn. 340)
The history of LANGLEYS MANOR is exactly identical with that of Picks (q.v.) until the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is mentioned in 1600 with that manor as the property of George Rotherham, (fn. 341) but does not appear in the conveyance of Picks and other manors by Sir John Rotherham to Sir Robert Napier. Davis, in his history of Luton, says this property was sold by John Rotherham in 1721 to Lady Elizabeth Napier for £2,000, which would imply that the Rotherhams continued to hold it long after they had parted with their other Luton property. (fn. 342)
The manor of LEWSEY belonged to the prioress of Markyate during the thirteenth century. The record of the original grant has not been found, but it seems probable that it was bestowed on Markyate by St. Albans, which owned extensive lands in Luton, and whose Abbot Geoffrey was instrumental in founding the priory in 1145. (fn. 343) At the time of the Taxatio of 1291 Markyate owned lands and rent worth £3 0s. 1½d. in ‘Levesey,’ (fn. 344) which by 1535 had increased to £4. (fn. 345) It remained crown property until 1545, when it was granted to George Acworth, (fn. 346) who owned Biscott manor (q.v.), and till 1718 followed the same descent as that manor, like it passing to the Wingate family. In pursuance of a settlement made by John Wingate in 1643 the reversion of Lewsey manor passed to his second son George, who must have been considerably under age at the time of his father’s death, (fn. 347)whose two daughters (Elizabeth married to John Pomfret in 1692 and Mary married to George Snagge in 1700) acquired joint possession of the manor in 1679. (fn. 348) George Snagge retained his wife’s moiety in the manor until 1741 when he transferred it to John Miller. (fn. 349) John Pomfrete and his wife held their half of the manor certainly as late as 1747, (fn. 350) but in 1771 Henry Wagstaffe and John Peck alienated it to John Miller, son of the above John, who thus acquired the whole of the manor, (fn. 351) and from him it was acquired in 1782 by the trustees of the duke of Bedford. (fn. 352)
It remained as part of the ducal estates until the middle of the nineteenth century, when it was purchased by Mr. Anstey, whose son at present owns this property. (fn. 353)
A property called NORWOOD MANOR was held by Thomas Rotherham in 1504, (fn. 354) and by his son Thomas in 1565. (fn. 355) In 1573 Thomas Catesby alienated Stopsley manor, together with Norwood, to Sir George Norton, (fn. 356) but no further reference has been found to the property.
It seems probable that in PLENTIES MANOR is to be found the most ancient seat of the Crawleys. The first mention that occurs of it is in 1519, when the will of John Crawley of Luton contains the following bequest:—’To my wife Joan, my house that I dwell in called Plentisse till Richard my son come of age of 23 years.’ (fn. 357) Richard eventually entered on his inheritance as is proved by a will made in 1551, in which he left to his son William Crawley and his heirs ‘the dwelling-house called Plenties with 7 acres of land,’ (fn. 358) and he in 1568 sold the manor to Robert Wolley, a draper of St. Albans, for £300. (fn. 359) Richard, son of Robert Wolley, held Plenties manor between 1635 and 1656, in which year he conveyed it to Henry Knight alias Brothers. (fn. 360) By 1688 it had passed to Guy Hillersdon, (fn. 361) and with its conveyance by him in 1708 into the hands of trustees all further trace of this property disappears. (fn. 362)
The estate afterwards known as the manor of GREATH AMPSTEAD SOMERIES was held of the manor of Woodcroft (q.v.), and first appears in 1309 as the property of Agnes wife of Roger de Somery of Dudley Castle, when it is described simply as a tenement. (fn. 363) Agnes was succeeded at this date by her son John, who dying in 1321 left two sisters as co-heiresses, Joan de Botetourt and Margaret wife of John de Sutton of Dudley. (fn. 364)Greathampstead Someries passed to Margaret, for in 1380 trustees conveyed this property to Sir John de Sutton, her great-grandson, who came of age at this date. (fn. 365) No further reference has been found to this estate until 1464, when, called for the first time the manor of Greathampstead Someries, it was transferred by John Aylesbury of Edeston to John, Lord Wenlock. (fn. 366) From this date until 1611 it followed the same descent as Luton manor (q.v.).
When Sir John Rotherham alienated the latter manor at that date he retained Greathampstead Someries, which he sold to his son-in-law Sir Francis Crawley in 1629, (fn. 367) whose family retained it, according to Nichols, until 1724, when it was purchased from them by Sir John Napier, and thus became attached to Luton manor. (fn. 368)
Ruins of Someries Castle, so called from the family who held the manor in the fourteenth century, still exist. In 1309 this property already included a capital messuage which points possibly to an earlier structure than that erected by Lord Wenlock. (fn. 371) Leland thus describes the castle:—’A faire place with in the Paroche of Luton caullyd Somerys, the which house was sumptuously begon by the lord Wennelok but not finischid. The Gate House of Brike is very large and faire. Part of the residew of the new Foundations be yet scene and part of the Olde Place standeth yet. It is set on a Hille not far from St. Anne’s Hill.’ (fn. 372)
At the present day the ruins consist of a gatehouse with a chapel and vestibule to the east, probably forming about two-thirds of the north front of the fifteenth-century building. They are built of narrow red bricks of excellent quality, ranging five courses to the foot, and here and there dark vitrified bricks are used in the facing, generally as it seems at random, but over the inner arch of the gateway a lozenge of such bricks occurs. The entrance gateway is 8 ft. wide, with a four-centred stone head and jambs, and above it the wall face is set forward on a pretty cinquefoiled arcade of moulded brickwork. The entrance is flanked by half-octagonal turrets, that on the west side containing the entrance to a lobby, from which a small round window commands the approach to the gate. The gateway passage is 20 ft. long, and was covered with a brick vault; from it doors opened at the south-west to a room with a fireplace, and a window overlooking the inner court, probably the porter’s lodge, and at the south-east to another room of like size and character. A stair which went up over the lobby seems to have occupied the north-east angle of the lodge, having a door into the gateway passage, and the remaining space in the west turret was used as a garderobe. The inner arch of the gateway is fourcentred, of plain brickwork, and opened to a courtyard 46 ft. wide from east to west, having a wide circular staircase at its north-west angle. It is clear that there was a flat-roofed pentice or gallery over the doorway, running right across the north side of the court, and the doorways on the first floor from the circular staircase, and from the room over the porter’s lodge, led on to it. These doorways have four-centred heads of moulded brick with square labels, and that at the foot of the stair is of the same character, but wider and with better detail. The stair itself has a central newel and radiating steps of brick carried on a brick vault, with a hand rail contrived in the wall and running spirally upward, following the rise of the stair. (fn. 373) To the west of this staircase the buildings are entirely destroyed, but the bonding of the west wall of the court remains to show its line.
To the east of the gateway is the chapel, with a two-centred doorway at its southwest angle, opening from a former range of buildings on the east side of the court. The chapel is 34 ft. by 18 ft., and at its east end its walls stand to their full height, with an external brick cornice, and inside at the plate level a row of shield-shaped brick corbels. The east window was of four lights with brick tracery, now fallen, and at the southeast was a like window of three lights. On either side of the east window are trefoiled image niches of brick, high in the wall, and at the south-east is a piscina with a stone drain, which has had two trefoiled arches in the head of its recess. On the north side are two blocked windows, the eastern of the two having its sill at a much higher level than the other, while the heads of both are at the same height. In the south wall, about half way down the chapel, is a squint commanding the site of the altar from a room on the south, now destroyed, the line of its east wall being marked by its bonding near the south window of the chapel. In the west jamb of the entrance doorway are traces of the start of a thin brick wall running across the chapel, and separating it from the vestibule at the west. Just within the doorway on the west is a recess for holy water, and beyond it the jamb of a blocked opening which is exactly equidistant from the centre line of the gateway with the west face of the staircase at the north-west of the court. Whether this is more than a coincidence is a matter for doubt, but there are signs of alteration here on both sides of this range, whether in the course of building or afterwards. A square-headed window lighting the vestibule now takes the place of the former opening, whatever it may have been. The changes of masonry in the north wall of the vestibule are chiefly noticeable from the outside. The lower six feet of the chapel wall are of different brick from the rest, and there is a joint in the masonry a little distance to the east of the east turret of the gatehouse, the work on the turret side being the older, and the plinth one course lower than on the rest of the chapel. The evidence points to the fact that the chapel was built after the gateway, and some change of plan may have been made in the interval, which must in any case have been a short one. Over the vestibule was a gallery or upper floor, doubtless reached by a wooden stair.
The lines of a rectangular earthwork to the west and south of the buildings may perhaps mark the site of an older building. There was evidently a second court here, with out-buildings, and there are traces here and there of an inclosing ditch. On the east are several cottages and farm-house buildings, the materials of which have in large measure been taken from the ruins, and fully account for their present fragmentary condition.
The manor of STOPSLEY was in the possession of the Hoo family during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and followed the same descent as Luton Hoo (q.v.). Robert de Hoo held land in Stopsley in 1245, (fn. 374) and in 1291 one of the same name obtained free warren in his demesne lands there. (fn. 375) He settled this estate on his son Robert, (fn. 376) whose son Thomas in 1338 received a confirmation of free warren in Stopsley. (fn. 377) Shortly afterwards the association of this family with Stopsley manor appears to have ceased, and all trace of it is lost until 1416, when Edward Brassington or Stopsley, heir of Alexander Stopsley, granted the manor to John Gedney and others. (fn. 378) In 1573 a manor of this name was in the possession of Thomas Catesby, who sold it between that date and 1593 to Edward Docwra, (fn. 379) and Thomas Docwra obtained confirmation of free warren there in 1617. (fn. 380) This manor appears to have passed to the Crawleys, for in 1772 John Crawley owned Stopsley manor, together with other manors in the same parish, (fn. 381) amongst which it probably became absorbed, for no further mention has been found of it.
A third, WOODCROFT MANOR, is found in this parish during the sixteenth century. It appears always to have followed the same descent as Bramblehanger (q.v.), and the first reference to it is in an inquisition of 1515, when John Sylam, in addition to that manor, held a messuage and lands in Luton. (fn. 382) In a fine of 1546 Robert Cheyney conveyed Bramblehanger and Woodcroft manors to trustees, (fn. 383) and though the inquisition taken on his possessions in 1554 merely calls this property Woodcroft Farm and lands, (fn. 384) it is invariably from this time onward called a manor, the last mention of it before its final absorption in Bramblehanger occurring in 1807. (fn. 385) It seems likely that the property is represented at the present day by the farm called Little Bramingham, which forms part of the Bramblehanger estate. (fn. 386)
To Luton manor is attached the right of holding a view of frankpledge, court leet and court baron. (fn. 387) The marquess of Bute has in his possession a transcript of Court Rolls of Luton manor, written in an early seventeenth-century hand, and covering a period from 1471 to 1559. Three volumes of Court Rolls, dating back to the beginning of the eighteenth century, still exist, but older volumes are supposed to have been burned at the great fire at Luton Hoo in 1771. The annual view of frankpledge, court leet, and court baron of the manor is still held with all customary formality at the Luton Corn Exchange on Thursday in Whit-week. The courts are always well attended, and a fair amount of business transacted; the tenants are all customary freeholders, as the customary tenements have been enfranchised. The town crier is appointed annually at the court leet of the manor; it is a lucrative appointment, as the crier is also bill poster and warden of the pound, which belongs to, and is maintained by, the lord of the manor. (fn. 388)
There is evidence that the lord of the manor of Limbury cum Biscott held courts baron between 1519 and 1635, but no courts are held at the present day, nor have been for long past. (fn. 389)
The lord of Dallow manor formerly possessed the right of view of frankpledge, and courts baron. (fn. 390)
Six mills, valued at 100s., are mentioned in Luton in Domesday. (fn. 391) Mills are subsequently found attached to the following properties in the parish:—Matilda de Kyme owned a water-mill in 1299 as part of her share in Luton manor, (fn. 392) which in 1372, valued at 6s. 8d., had passed to Hugh Mortimer. (fn. 393) This may be the mill known as the Brache, from which William Marshal, who held Luton manor between 1214 and 1231, granted a pension to the dean and chapter of St. Paul’s for prayers for the soul of his wife. (fn. 394) A water-mill of this name still existed in 1855, but has since disappeared. (fn. 395)
To Luton Hoo belonged a mill known as Stapleford Mill, of which the first mention is found in 1287. (fn. 396) East Hyde had a water-mill as early as 1247, which was still attached to the manor in 1599. (fn. 397) The mill mentioned in Biscott in Domesday as worth 10s. afterwards became attached to Dallow manor. (fn. 398)
David Ashby manor included a windmill ‘worth nothing’ in 1448, (fn. 399) and between 1332 and 1435 Fennels Grove held a moiety of a water-mill. (fn. 400) In 1330 a water-mill was attached to Woodcroft manor, which included a fish-pond worth 12s. (fn. 401) In extents of the Luton estate taken in 1677 and 1694, five water grist-mills are mentioned (fn. 402); in 1712 six water grist-mills, and in 1815 three water cornmills. (fn. 403)
Davis, in his History of Luton, written about 1855, mentions as formerly existing in this parish four post windmills—of which two had been blown down by hurricanes in c. 1765 and 1845, one burnt down in 1783, and one destroyed by lightning in 1841—and two smock mills burnt down in 1795 and 1812. At the time he wrote there existed two windmills, and four water-mills, three of which belonged to John Shaw Leigh, owner of the Luton estate. (fn. 404) At the present day the only mill belonging to the Luton estate is the Hyde Mill. (fn. 405)
The following manors in this parish acquired at various dates charters of free warren. Luton manor received a charter in 1330. (fn. 406) Luton Hoo was granted a charter in 1292, which received confirmation in 1337, 1520, and finally in 1623, on the occasion of the inclosure of the park. (fn. 407) Stopsley acquired this privilege in 1292, Woodcroft in 1317, Dallow some time previous to 1331, Woodcroft alias Halyard in 1332, and Haverings manor in 1348. (fn. 408)
The right of free fishing belonged to Luton and Dallow manors. (fn. 409)
The church of ST. MARY, one of the largest and finest parish churches in England, stands in a large churchyard, bounded on the north and east by Church Street and St. Mary’s Street.
The building is cruciform, with a chancel 49 ft. by 25 ft.; north vestry of two stories, 18 ft. square; north or Wenlock Chapel, 25 ft. east to west by 33 ft.; north transept, 24 ft. by 32 ft.; south transept of similar dimensions, with the Hoo Chapel to the east, 14 ft. wide; nave, including the crossing, 98 ft. by 25 ft., with north and south aisles 13 ft. wide, north and south porches with parvises above, and a western tower about 18 ft. square. All these measurements are internal.
In spite of much enlargement and rebuilding, enough is left to show that a cruciform church existed here in the twelfth century, and the arches still existing in the west walls of the transepts prove that the nave had north and south aisles by the end of the century, if not earlier.
About the year 1230 the chancel seems to have been extended eastward to its present limits, and it is possible that the transepts may have been enlarged at the same time, but the evidence is not conclusive. In the fourteenth century a general enlargement of the church was undertaken, beginning with the addition of the present western tower, which was to take the place of the old central tower. The arcades and aisles on both sides followed, the new work being built from the west eastwards to the crossing. The arches at the crossing were then built in place of those carrying the central tower, the opening to the west of the crossing being probably closed in by a temporary wall. It is noticeable that the western jambs of the transept arches are not fully developed like those of the eastern, but are set as far westward as possible, as though to avoid the destruction of some existing work, doubtless the side arches of the central tower, which would not be removed till the new work was ready to take their place. There was probably some short pause between the work on the west tower and the nave arcades, as the western responds on both sides have a different section from that of the arcade piers; they are of three engaged shafts, and had the arcades followed immediately the piers would probably have been of four engaged shafts to match the responds, instead of having a plain octagonal form. It is curious to note that when the south arcade met the eastern work it was found that, owing to some slight discrepancy in the setting out of the bays, there was not room for a semioctagonal respond; to narrow the archway would have entailed new centering, and rather than do this the difficulty was overcome by making the respond of less projection.
In the fourteenth century also the transepts were enlarged and chapels equal in depth to the transepts added on the east; the chapel on the north side was probably of the same depth as that on the south (now called the Hoo Chapel), but the arcade is of earlier and better detail. The lower story of the vestry, to the north of the chancel, with its stone vault, was the work of this century, as were also the porches to the nave.
Shortly before 1461 (fn. 410) Lord Wenlock pulled down the cast and north walls of the chapel east of the north transept and extended it to the west wall of the vestry, at the same time piercing the wall into the chancel and inserting the two beautiful arches (or, rather, double arch) there; the rood stair was either built at the same time or altered to make more room for this opening, as was also the doorway into the vestry from the east. Alterations amounting almost to a rebuilding were carried out in the chancel by the abbey of St. Albans, as rector, and nearly all the windows in the church were replaced by larger ones at different times during this century. At the same period the four western bays of the north arcade were rebuilt, probably for structural reasons, and the clearstory added. There appears to have still been a wall across the western arch of the crossing, as the corbel heads supporting the jacks of the trusses do not look north or south as the others, but are given a quarter turn to the west. The corbels to the roofs of the chancel and the crossing are of much coarser detail than those of the nave, and are doubtless of the early sixteenth century; it is probable that the space between the nave and crossing was entirely cleared at this time. The upper story to the vestry and the stair turret to it are also of this date; a fifteenth-century window on the north of the chancel was blocked up by their addition. The small chantry just west of the sedilia in the chancel was built by Richard Barnard, vicar, 1477–92.
The church was completely restored by the late G. E. Street, R.A., between the years 1865 and 1885. The east wall of the chancel was rebuilt, a triplet of lancets in thirteenth-century style replacing the fifteenth-century window which then existed. They purport to be a ‘restoration’ of the original thirteenth-century lancets, whose sills were found in the wall when it was taken down. Most of the outside face of the walls and window tracery has been renewed, and new doorways have been made in the south wall of the Hoo Chapel and in the west wall of the tower.
The tower is now (April, 1907) undergoing a complete external repair, the buttresses, which are very much perished, having to be entirely refaced.
The three lancets in the east wall of the chancel have round jamb-shafts both outside and inside, the latter being of marble; the arches are two-centred and plain. Externally the three lancets are inclosed by a large shallow arched recess.
The piscina and sedilia in the south wall have cinquefoiled ogee heads with rich crocketed canopies and carved cornice, and are divided by square shafts set diagonally with moulded bases and capitals and surmounted by crocketed finials. In the canopy are eight shields, whose colours suggest that they have been repainted. The first and the eighth shield have the arms commonly attributed to Abbot John of Wheathampstead, Gules a cheveron between three groups of three wheatears or; the second and seventh shields are Argent two cheverons between three roses gules; the third has three crowns, no doubt intended for the shield of St. Oswin, Gules three crowns or, although the field is painted blue; the fourth has the golden saltire on blue of St. Alban; the fifth is easily recognized as the four lions of St. Amphibal, although the painting of this shield is quite different from that of the arms attributed to the saint—Quarterly gules and or with four lions countercoloured—as they appear on the east side of the central tower in St. Albans Abbey Church; the sixth shield is that of St. Edward the Confessor, Azure a cross paty between five martlets or. Above these shields is the motto Valles babundabunt, which tradition assigns to Abbot Wheathampstead.
To the west of the sedilia is the small chantry chapel of Richard Barnard, vicar in 1477–92; its floor is some 21 in. below that of the chancel, which has been raised in modern times. Its north face is divided into three bays with hanging four-centred arches springing from angle shafts and pendants; the eastern pendant is octagonal in plan, and its top member is battlemented; the western one is broken off and now lies on the top of the chantry. The spandrels of the arches are carved with the rebus of Barnard, a bear and a hand holding a box of ointment (nard). The chantry is entered from the west by a small four-centred doorway, and in the south wall is a piscina with a small recess over it, the latter possibly for a lamp; to the west of these is a small window to light the altar, of two lights with cinquefoiled four-centred arches under a square head; the roof is vaulted in stone, the ribs springing on the wall side from corbels carved as winged angels.
To the west of the chantry is a small south doorway with a four-centred arch and two hollow-chamfered orders; it probably dates from the fifteenth century, but has been renovated in modern times. There are two windows in the south wall of the chancel; the eastern one, over the sedilia, of four trefoiled lights with simple trefoiled fifteenth-century tracery in a two-centred arch; the other, over the chantry, is of four cinquefoiled lights with tracery of fifteenth-century style, under a four-centred head; it has been partly renewed.
The arch opening from the chancel to the Hoo Chapel has plain splayed jambs and a moulded twocentred arch dying on to the splay without a break; it is apparently of fifteenth-century date.
In the north wall of the chancel is a fifteenth-century window of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery, now blocked by the upper story of the vestry, and filled in on the chancel side with mosaic.
Below and to the west of this is an early fourteenthcentury tomb recess, with a well moulded ogee arch with crockets and a finial; its position suggests that it may have been used for the Easter sepulchre. It seems to have been brought to its present place from a site farther to the west, as it partly blocks a later four-centred doorway to the west of it, which formerly gave access to the vestry. This alteration doubtless took place when the Wenlock Chapel was built, and a new approach from chancel to vestry was provided by a doorway at the south-east angle of the chapel, leading to the south-west doorway of the vestry, which up to this time had been external. The double archway to the Wenlock Chapel is a lofty opening with panelled responds, at the angles of which are pairs of slender engaged shafts with moulded bases, bands, and capitals; the main arch is fourcentred and has a panelled soffit, like the jambs, with moulded ribs springing from the angle shafts. The opening is divided by a central pier of the same detail as the responds, with solid panelling ending in cresting a little above the springing of the arches, while from the pier spring arched ribs, dividing the inclosing arch into two sub-arches, the central spandrel being filled with pierced tracery. Above the main arch runs a horizontal cornice, with panelled spandrels beneath it framing the arch, in which are shields with a cheveron between three crosslets; these also occur in the soffit of the main arch at the springing.
The central ornament of the cornice is a helm with mantling and torse, the shield which it surmounted having lately fallen from its place, and on either side encircled by garters are the arms of Wenlock. In the smaller carved bosses on the cornice the moors’ heads are repeated.
The stairs to the rood-loft pass through the thickness of the wall to the west of the archway, the lowest step being some distance above the floor of the chapel; the upper doorway is close up against the chancel arch.
The chancel roof is modern and of low pitch, but the stone corbels which carry it ate old and take the form of rather coarse heads surmounted by moulded abaci.
The vestry to the north of the chancel has a ribbed stone vault of fourteenth-century date springing from engaged wall shafts with moulded bell capitals, and from a larger central shaft with a moulded capital of less depth than the others, looking as though it had been reduced from the original size at some later date; there is no shaft in the south-west corner of the vestry, the vaulting springing from a corbel above the rear arch of the doorway, carved with a human face and appearing to be of later date. The three windows to the vestry (two in the east wall and one in the north) are modern restorations; each is of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over, and there is a modern doorway in the north wall. The doorway to the stair-turret in the north-east corner has a four-centred arch and belongs to the date when the upper story was added. This upper story is lighted by three windows similar to and above those of the lower chamber, but only the north-east window is old. The fifteenth-century window formerly lighting the chancel, but blocked up when the story was added, is to be seen on the south side of the chamber.
The door from the vestry into the Wenlock Chapel, the original external door of the vestry, has a single chamfered two-centred arch with a rear arch on either side. It is probable that the outer chamfered reveal of the doorway was once flush with the western face of the wall, and that when the doorway from the chapel to the chancel was built the reveal was moved inwards and the higher rear arch turned to the west of it to make room for the later doorway. (fn. 411) The three windows of the Wenlock Chapel, two on the north and one on the east, are of four cinquefoiled lights with tracery under segmental pointed arches; the external stonework of the windows has been completely renewed but the interior seems to be the original fifteenth-century work.
The two arches of the arcade between the Wenlock Chapel and the north transept, the chancel arch, and the arches opening from the crossing to both transepts are all work of one date, about 1320, and are similar in detail, with high moulded bases and bell capitals and arches of two orders with small chamfers. The responds consist of three, and the pier of four large engaged round shafts separated by small hollow chamfered angles. The height of the bases of the arcade to the chapel shows that the floor of this chapel was from the first, as now, 1 ft. 6 in. above the general level of the nave and transepts, and flush with the chancel floor. The small squint in the east jamb of the Wenlock arch would be useless if the floor were lower.
The arcade of two bays between the south transept and the Hoo Chapel to the east of it is of much simpler detail than the corresponding one on the north side and is perhaps a little later in date. The pier is octagonal, and the responds semi-octagonal with a filleted bowtell in the angle between them and the wall. It is to be noted that the face of the wall above is flush with the nosing of the abaci instead of being within it, a detail which suggests that the arches are cut through an older wall. The arches are two-centred, of two slightly chamfered orders with a roll and bead divided by a hollow between the chamfers. The three windows of the Hoo Chapel (two eastern and one southern) are each of three wide lights with cinquefoiled heads and fifteenthcentury tracery under pointed segmental arches; they have been partly renewed. The doorway in the south wall is new, its head cutting into the window-sill above; to the east of it is a modern recess in the head of which is built part of the cusped head of a recess of late fourteenth-century date, found in the wall when the doorway was made. In the east wall of the chapel between the two windows is a piscina with a circular bowl, in a recess with two hollow-chamfered orders and a cinquefoiled head; it is of fourteenth-century date.
The windows in the gables of the transepts are similar to each other, both being of five cinquefoiled lights, the foils sub-cusped to make nine foils in all, and with fifteenth-century tracery over.
The west window of the north transept preserves its old stonework of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a pointed segmental arch. The mouldings are of a different section from those of any of the other fifteenth-century windows, and of a somewhat earlier character. The west window of the south transept is of four lights and somewhat similar to the last; the outside is entirely new, but the inside jambs are old and of a section not found elsewhere in the church. The roofs of the chapels and transepts are modern, but there may be some old timbers in the latter.
The two arches from the transepts to the aisles of the nave are the earliest architectural details in position in the church; both are of the thirteenth century, the southern one being the earlier; its jambs are of two orders, the outer square and the inner with a small chamfer stopped out square below the abacus; the stops differ in the two jambs, the north side being merely a curve outwards whilst the south jamb has a kind of incipient capital. The narrow abacus is square above and hollow chamfered below with a V-shaped groove above the chamfer, and the archsection is like that of the jambs.
The arch on the north side has three detached round shafts in each jamb, with moulded bases and beautiful foliated bell capitals; the arch is two-centred of two chamfered orders.
In the west wall of the south transept above the arch to the aisle are the remains of a string course running southwards about as far as the outer face of the aisle wall; it then continues at a lower level until interrupted by the window; the upper string evidently marks the limits of the thirteenth-century transept.
There is now no arch between the crossing and the nave, the piers being flat and shallow with chamfered edges, setting back slightly at the level of the capitals of the arcade; the offsets may mark the springing of a former arch.
The nave arcades are of six bays, with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the piers on the south side and the eastern pier on the north are octagonal, and both eastern responds are semi-octagonal, that on the south being somewhat flatter than the other. The western responds on both sides are of three round engaged shafts, all have moulded bases and bell capitals. In the eastern respond of the south arcade is a niche now filled with a mosaic representation of St. Paul.
The four western arches on the north side with their three piers are fifteenth-century work, the piers being composed of four half-octagons with moulded bases following the plan of the piers, but with capitals to the inner orders only, the outer orders being continued round the arches without a break; the arches of two chamfered orders are higher than the earlier ones and the moulded labels are turned up at the points of the arches to mitre with the moulded string course at the base of the clearstory. The clearstory is of the same date as these later arches and has five square-headed windows a side, each of two cinquefoiled lights.
The roofs of the nave and crossing are at one level; they have been restored, but probably contain many of the old timbers. The tie-beams are moulded and are filled in above with tracery. The purlins are also moulded. The jacks of the trusses rest upon stone corbels carved into grotesque heads, some human and some of beasts; those at the east and west ends of the nave look out from the walls diagonally. The heads over the transept arches are large and coarse, like those in the chancel.
Of the aisle windows only those in the west walls are original, that in the north aisle being of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over. It has been forced northwards by the thrust of the tower arch. The north jamb is splayed, but the south is square, being the face of the north-east buttress of the tower. The west window of the south aisle has two lights with sharply-pointed cinquefoiled heads and a quatrefoiled spandrel over; the tracery has been renewed.
The westernmost window in the south wall is modern, of two cinquefoiled lights with tracery over, and all the other aisle windows are fifteenth-century insertions of three lights with cinquefoiled heads and tracery under segmental arches with labels. The four in the north wall have old jambs and tracery, and new sills and labels. The three in the south have been completely renewed on the outside.
The entrance doorways to the aisles are both of fourteenth-century date. That in the north wall has two continuous chamfered orders and a scrolled label, the outer order having broach stops at the base; while the south doorway has two continuous sunk chamfered orders. The south door itself, which is of oak with traceried panels, appears to be of the same date as the stonework.
Below the easternmost window in the south aisle is a piscina with the original fourteenth-century jambs and bowl; the jambs are carved with ballflowers in a hollow chamfer between two small rolls, but the head is now a square lintel formed by the fifteenth-century window-ledge. Close to the south door is a holy-water stone, partly blocked up, with an ogee head, and to the west are the upper and lower doorways to the parvise over the south porch; both are of fourteenth-century date. The porch and parvise have been completely restored outside, and the outer doorway and windows are new. There is a single ogee-headed light on either side of the porch, and a square-headed window of three trefoiled lights in the south wall of the parvise. The stair to the latter goes up in a round turret in the western angle between the porch and the aisle.
To the east of the north doorway of the nave is a holy-water stone with a two-centred head of square section. It is earlier in appearance than the aisle wall, and may be a thirteenth-century one re-used. There is no stair turret to the parvise over the north porch, but a square-headed door looks into the aisle at the parvise level. The outer arch of the porch is of three continuous chamfered orders, with a label stopping on carved human head corbels much defaced. The label is new, but the rest appears to be fourteenth-century work. The parvise window over the doorway is old, of two trefoiled lights under a square head.
The roofs of the aisles are modern, and are supported on cross arches, of two chamfered orders, from the piers to the side walls.
The eastern arch of the tower is fine and lofty, with three large engaged round shafts in the responds, separated by small hollow chamfers, moulded bases, and carved foliate capitals. The arch is of three moulded orders, with double ogees, wave moulds, and filleted bowtells, separated by deeply-recessed hollows, and with a scroll-mould label stopping on carved human head corbels. Over the arch the line of the former steep-gabled roof, before the addition of the clearstory, is plainly to be seen.
The doorway to the turret in the bottom of the tower has a two-centred arch and jambs of two chamfered orders, and is original.
The west doorway is a modern one in fourteenthcentury style, and has jambs and a two-centred arch with three continuous orders of double ogees with three quarter hollows between them.
The four-light window over retains its fourteenthcentury jambs and arch, but the tracery and label have been renewed. Besides the monial of a hollow chamfer and ogee mould, there are three orders with three quarter hollows between, the inner one being a wave mould and the other two double ogees.
The tower is of three stages, and some 90 ft. in height, with an embattled parapet and octagonal angle turrets, also embattled, rising above the parapet. There is a low pyramidal roof with a vane post and vane, and at the base of the parapet is a moulded cornice with gargoyles at the angles. The tower stair is in a turret at the south-east. The belfry windows, which look rather later in style than the lower part of the tower, have each two cinquefoiled lights with cusped piercing above, under a two-centered arch. The jamb moulds are much weathered, but appear to consist of a large hollow and an ogee mould. In the second story is a clock face on the west side, and on the other three sides a small single trefoiled light with a wave-moulded outer order.
At the angles of the tower are pairs of buttresses of seven stages, in the second and sixth of which are canopied niches for statues, but these with the buttresses are so decayed as to be almost shapeless; they are now undergoing a thorough refacing.
The walling is faced with chequered work of flints and Totternhoe stone. This chequering also appears on the walls of the aisles, porches, and transepts, a great deal of it being quite modern. The walling on the south side of the chancel is of roughly-squared rubble, once wholly plastered, and the modern east wall of the chancel is of dressed ashlar.
Most of the buttresses of the church have been restored or rebuilt, but the two at the south-west angle of the south aisle look like original fourteenthcentury work. There are buttresses to the clearstory walls between the windows.
The parapets of the church have for the most part been renewed in brick or stone, nothing but the string courses of the old work, at the bases of the parapets, having been here and there preserved.
A good many pieces of architectural detail have been collected at various times and stored up in the church, and many of them are arranged on a shelf against the south wall of the tower; the earliest appear to date from the latter part of the twelfth century, and are of very good style. Many more fragments of the older buildings on this site are doubtless used up in the walling, a piece of twelfth-century zigzag being visible in the south transept.
Parts of the wooden screen between the Wenlock Chapel and the north transept are of fifteenth-century date, notably the carved work along the top of the cornice containing winged beasts, &c., the vine-trail along the middle and lower rails, and the linen panels on the west face. This was brought in a dilapidated condition from the chapel at Luton Hoo and presented by the first marquess of Bute. It was first repaired and set up in the Hoo Chapel, but when the remains of the old rood screen were discovered, it was put in its present position and the rood screen repaired, repainted and placed there in its stead; only some of the lower panels are ancient.
The oak quire seats and fittings are modern, but in the boys’ desk is incorporated the old reading desk, which still retains the iron staple and a piece of the chain to which the Bible was fastened.
In the east window of the Wenlock Chapel has been preserved some fifteenth-century glass, including four figures, one apparently of our Lady and the other three of angels; a good number of the diamond quarries are also old, and have the letter M and in one case a T; the word HOLA also occurs several times. The rest of the window and the next to the north have been filled with modern copies of this glass.
The internal fittings are for the most part modern, the reredos, of alabaster and mosaic, being by Street, who also designed the pulpit of alabaster and marble.
The beautiful octagonal fourteenth-century baptistery at the west end of the nave is one of the chief attractions of the church. It is 7 ft. 3 in. wide inside, with an arcaded dwarf wall on each face, except the east, from which side it is entered, and traceried openings above which are surmounted by sharplypointed gablets with large foliate finials and crockets. At the angles are slender buttresses on which stand tall crocketed pinnacles rising nearly to the same height as the gablets. In the openings and the internal angles are slender engaged shafts, from the latter of which springs a beautiful ribbed vault rising to a central opening.
The font has an octagonal bowl with panelled sides and engaged shafts at the angles, standing on an octagonal stem, which is surrounded by smaller shafts, and is apparently of the same date, c. 1330, as the baptistery.
There are many monuments of interest in the church, and only the most important can be mentioned here. In the eastern bay of the Wenlock arch is an altar tomb on which is the brass figure of a lady unknown, (fn. 412) but conjectured to be Lady Rotherham, who died in the latter part of the fifteenth century; over the figure is a fine canopy, but there is no inscription. The sides of the tomb have cusped lozenge-shaped panels containing plain lozenges or shields. Until modern times this tomb stood in the middle of the Wenlock Chapel. In the western bay of the arch is a second altar tomb with the recumbent effigy of a priest, William Wenlock, master of Farley Hospital, who gave directions in his will, 1391, that he should be buried in St. Mary’s Church. The sides of the tomb are panelled with cusped tracery, the three middle panels being quatrefoils containing shields with arms of a cheveron between three crosslets. The top edge is moulded and battlemented with a row of quatrefoil panels containing alternately roses and shields; below this runs a marginal inscription in English as follows: ‘In Wenlok brad I, in this town lordschipes had I, Her am I now fady, Cristes moder helpe me lady, under thes stones for a tym schal I reste my bones, deye mot I ned ones, Myghtful God grãt me thy wones amen.’ On the north side of the tomb is a Latin inscription, the first words being defaced: .… etatus sic tumulatus: de Wenlok natus in ordine presbiteratus: alter huius ville: dominus laicus fuit ille: hic licet indignus anime deus esto benignus,’ and on the effigy a label with the words: ‘Salve regina mater misericordie ihu fili dei miserere mei’; at the end of the label is a shield with the Wenlock arms. The tomb stands some two feet clear of the eastern jamb of the bay, but touches the west jamb; from this it would appear that it was not intended originally to be put into this position, but was brought here from elsewhere. The place was doubtless at first reserved for the builder of the chapel, but for some reason he was not buried here.
In the north wall of the Wenlock Chapel are two tombs partly in recesses; the eastern one the late Mr. Cobbe attributes to Sir John Rotherham, ‘the first of the name who possessed Someries, who died in 1492–93.’ The front of the tomb had three traceried panels of diamond form inclosing shields. On either side of the recess are round attached shafts with a small bead on the inner side; the recess is roofed by a flat three-centred arch with a panelled soffit, and at the back are the matrices of two kneeling figures with scrolls issuing from their mouths. The western tomb is supposed by the same writer to be that of George Rotherham, younger son of the first Sir Thomas, who died in 1579 and desired to be buried in Luton Church where his first wife was buried. The style of the tomb is, however, of an earlier date than that suggested. The front has cusped traceried panels inclosing the spaces for small shields, now lost; the shafts attached to the sides of the recess are octagonal with concave sides and moulded capitals and bases, and the arch is a flat three-centred one with a panelled soffit; in the back are the matrices of a man and two women kneeling, with scrolls by their heads, and the emblem of the Trinity, and two shields above.
In the floor of the chapel is a slab with the brass, of early fifteenth-century date, of a man, and the indent of that of his wife on his right and of his son on his left, the last being in the dress of a priest. The inscription below reads: ‘Hic jacent Hugo Atte Spetyll et Alicia uxor ejus cũ d’no Joh’ne filio suo primogenito, quorum animabus p’picietur deus Amen.’ This was formerly in the chancel. There is also the matrix of two half figures united, without inscription or date, and others, of fifteenth-century date, of an armed man with a lion at his feet and his lady beside him, which are perhaps those of Sir Thomas Wenlock, 1416, who distinguished himself at the battle of Agincourt, and his wife. On the north wall between the windows is a small brass to Roland Stap, ‘late cetezin and clothworker of London,’ 1558, and Dorothy his wife, 1565.
In the north transept is a slab with a small brass figure of a woman with a pointed head dress, a close gown clasped by a girdle and fur cuffs; there is also the matrix of a man’s figure, and between them that of their two children, while below is the space for the inscription which is also missing. A rubbing in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries shows it to be that of John Barbar, 1415, and his wife Agnes and their children. The date on the brass is probably a mistake for 1515. It was formerly in the nave. There are also the slabs, removed from the Wenlock Chapel, of Thomas Crawley, 1629, Sir Francis Crawley, judge of Common Pleas, 1649, and Francis Crawley, baron of the Exchequer, 1682, with other members of the family of later date. There is also the brass of John Acworth represented in armour between his two wives, his head resting on his helmet; below the figures is the inscription: ‘Pray for the soules of John Acworth, Squyer and Alys and Amy his wyfes, whiche John decessed the XVII day of Marche the yer of or Lord M°VcXIII on whose soules J’hu have m’cy,’ and below the inscription are figures of eight sons and nine daughters. In the corners are shields, three of them bearing quarterly 1 and 4 on a chief indented three crowns; 2 and 3 three roses; the fourth bears a dragon; around the edge is the remains of a brass inscription ‘.… thow be, Timor mortis shulde trowble the, For when thow leest wenyst veniet te mors superare and so .… grave grevys: ergo mortis memoraris .…’ At the corners were the symbols of the Evangelists, but only one now remains. Near this slab is one to Daniel Knight with the following inscription:—
Here lyeth the body of Daniel Knight
Who all my lifetime lived in spite.
Base flatterers sought me to undoe
And made me sign what was not true.
Reader take care whene’er you venture
To trust a canting false dissenter.
Who died June 11th, in the 61st
Year of his age, 1756.
In the south transept is a slab with the brass of a priest wearing an almuce and albe, and a doctor’s cap, c. 1500. The inscription below the figure is now missing but was in place in 1889 and read: ‘Hic jacet Edwardus Sheffeld utriusq’ juris doctor, Canonicus eccl’ie Cathedralis leichfelden’ et Vicarius istius eccl’ie, ac Rector eccl’ie p’och’is de Camborne in Com. Cornub, et yatt in Com.’ Glocestr’ qui obiit … die, mes’ .… Anno D’ni Mcvc .… cuj’ a’ie p’picietur Deus.’ From his mouth issues a label with the words ‘Miserere mei Deus.’
At the corners of the slab are small shields bearing the arms quarterly 1, a cheveron between three sheaves, 2 and 3 fretty, 4 a cheveron, between two tau crosses fitchy in the chief, and a sheaf in the foot. The slab has been removed here from the chancel in modern times. North of this is the brass, also removed from the chancel, of a man in armour and two ladies with the inscription: ‘Off yo’ charite pray for the sowllis of John Sylam, Elizabeth and Jone his wyvis, the whych John decesyd the X day of Juin in the yere of owre lord MCCCCC and XIII on whos sowllis Jh’u have m’cy. Ame.’ There are also other slabs of modern date removed from the chancel and set here.
In the Hoo chapel is a small brass with an inscription in Latin to Penelope Countess of Pridgewater, and wife of Sir Robert Napier, of Luton Hoo, 1658.
In the eastern part of the south aisle wall between the first and second windows is a fourteenth-century tomb recess with a pointed segmental arch of two hollow-chamfered orders. Its original occupant is unknown, and it now contains an ancient coffin slab found in the churchyard some years ago; the slab is broken in two, and part of its lower end is missing; it is slightly coped and has a roll edge and a foliate cross in relief; it is evidently of early thirteenth-century date. With it is a piece of an ancient white stone coffin, with a hollow for the head.
At the west end of the same wall is another fourteenth-century recess with a low pointed arch with feather cusps, partly broken. In it lies the effigy of a priest in mass vestments, probably of late fifteenthcentury date; Mr. Cobbe (fn. 413) suggests that it is that of Richard Barnard, removed from his chapel in the chancel.
In the nave is a slab with small brass figures of a man and woman under a shield bearing the Merchant Taylors’ arms—a royal tent between two Parliament robes, in chief an agnus dei—and the inscription below, partly destroyed, as follows: ‘Of yor charite pray for ye soule of Anne Waren, dowgr [later] unto Thomas Waren gentylman and sũtyme wyfe [unto] Robert Colshill marchawnt taylor of London the [whiche] Anne decessed the XIIII day of Maye in the yere [of our] lord god M Vc XXIIII on whose soule Jhu hav [e mercy Amen].’
Other brasses of which rubbings exist in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries are those of John Lamar and Elinor his wife, 1512, John Hay and two wives, 1455, John Penthelyn, priest, 1449, and Robert Sw … and two wives, 15 …
There are eight bells, the first seven of which are by Pack and Chapman, of London, 1775, and the eighth by Joseph Eayre, of St. Neots, 1761. The priest’s bell bears the stamp and initials of Robert Oldfield, of Nottingham.
The plate includes a fine cup of 1610, inscribed ‘Given this cupe to the church of Lutoone by Thomas Attwood of Castel Street for a Cummunyan cupe, 1610.’ An engraved band runs round the bowl, with knots in three places. There is a modern copy of this cup, a large straight-sided flagon of 1669, a modern copy of the flagon, a standing paten of 1815, and a large almsdish, 18 in. across, of the same date. The border is worked with a lozenge pattern inclosing raised floral patterns, and the centre is engine-turned.
The registers date from 1603, the first book containing baptisms from that date to 1726, marriages to 1715, and burials to 1708. The second book contains baptisms and burials from 1731 to 1733, and marriages 1731 to 1756. The third book has burials 1772–79, and baptisms 1778–86, and the fourth burials 1787–98, and baptisms to 1797.
Luton Church is mentioned in Domesday when it was held by William the king’s chamberlain, having been held by Morcar the priest during the Confessor’s reign. (fn. 414) The history of its transference to St. Albans Abbey has been given under Dallow manor (q.v.) and a charter of confirmation was given to the abbey in 1199. (fn. 415) In consequence of dissensions between the bishop of Lincoln and the abbot a deed of composition was executed in 1219 whereby a perpetual vicarage was established in Luton. (fn. 416) In 1291 the value of the church was £66 13s. 4d. (fn. 417) St. Albans continued to present to Luton until the Dissolution, when the advowson became crown property and was granted in 1623 to Sir Robert Napier, lord of Luton manor, (fn. 418) and followed the same descent as that manor until 1845, when it passed by purchase from the marquess of Bute to Mr. Sykes (fn. 419) who in 1857 sold it to Dr. Peile. In 1862 it was purchased by Mr. O’Neill, who presented himself, and at his death in 1896 the perpetual advowson was finally purchased by the Peache trustees who exercise the right at the present day. (fn. 420) The rectorial tithes of Luton were worth £92 in 1544 and were payable in Luton, Chaul End, New Mile End, Leagrave, Limbury, Biscott, Bramblehanger, Woodcroft and Stopsley. (fn. 421)
The tithes of Stopsley were granted in 1555 to Sir Thomas Pope who bestowed them on Trinity College, Oxford; in 1642 these tithes were rented at £200, in 1844 at £820. (fn. 422) In 1575 Edward Wingate purchased the tithes of Chaul End, New Mile End, West Hyde, East Hyde, Leagrave, Bramblehanger, Woodcroft, Limbury and Biscott. The tithes of the two latter his family retained until the sale of the manors to Mr. Crawley in 1724. (fn. 423)
In 1623 the tithes of Chiltern Green went to Sir Robert Napier, (fn. 424) and in 1638 when his son’s property was sequestered, the tithes are spoken of, not as those of Chiltern Green, but as of East and West Hyde, in the former of which hamlets Chiltern Green was situated. Eventually, the remainder of the rectorial tithes were broken up into fragments, and either became merged in the rent of the land, or are found in the award of 1844 as belonging to ‘the rightful owners and impropriators of the rectorial tithes.’ (fn. 425)
Luton now includes the following ecclesiastical parishes with their churches:— Christ Church, formed in 1861, the church in the gift of the bishop of Ely; St. Matthew’s Hightown, formed in 1877, the church in the gift of the Church Patronage Society; St. Saviour’s parish formed from Christ Church in 1892, the church in the gift of the bishop of Ely; St. Paul’s parish formed in 1895 from St. Mary’s Luton, the church in the gift of the Peache trustees. Luton also contains one Roman Catholic church, three Baptist chapels, seven Wesleyan chapels, five Primitive Methodist, a Friends’ Meeting house, two Congregational chapels, and a Salvation Army barracks. In Park Street Baptist Chapel a chair, said to be that of John Bunyan, is preserved.
The church of the Holy Trinity, Hyde, was built by public subscription in 1840–1. It is of brick, in twelfth-century style, consisting of chancel, nave, porch and a small western tower. The register dates from 1841. The living is a vicarage in the gift of Mr. Lionel Ames of Ayot St. Lawrence.
The church of St. Thomas, Stopsley, consecrated in 1862, is of red brick in thirteenth-century style, consisting of chancel, nave, and turret containing one bell. The register dates from 1863. The living is a vicarage in the gift of the bishop of Ely. The Wesleyans have a chapel at Stopsley, and the Baptists a mission chapel in connexion with Park Street, Luton.
The church of Holy Trinity, Biscott, built in 1867, has chancel, nave, north transept, north porch, organ chamber on south, and western bell-cote containing two bells. The living is a vicarage in the gift of Mr. Francis Crawley, who holds Biscott manor. The Baptists have in Limbury a small mission chapel in connexion with Park Street, Luton, and in Leagrave are Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan chapels.
In 1467 Thomas bishop of Lincoln, John Rotherham, John Acworth and others obtained a licence to found a fraternity or gild of the Holy Trinity within the parish church of Luton, consisting of a master, two wardens, and brethren and sisters, and also a chantry of two chaplains to celebrate divine service for the souls of King Edward and his consort Elizabeth, and the said brethren and sisters. (fn. 426) At the time of its dissolution in 1547 the brotherhood was worth £21 4s. 11d., (fn. 427) and in 1549 the lands which belonged to it were granted to Ralph Burgh and Robert Beverly. (fn. 428)
The schools. See above, article on ‘Schools.’
In 1673 Cornelius Bigland, by will, gave £6 a year for educational purposes, now paid out of cottages in Adelaide Terrace, and two shops in George Street belonging to Mr. R. G. Sibley.
In 1695 Roger Gillingham, by will, gave £10 a year payable out of his manor of Shillington, now belonging to Mrs. Eyre, for a schoolmaster.
In 1736 Thomas Long, by will, left £1,000 income in part for a schoolmaster and in part for apprenticing. The legacy is now represented by £949 9s. 4d. consols with the official trustees, producing an annual income of £23 14s. 8d.
By a scheme of the Board of Education of 23 December, 1905, these charities constitute a fund for Exhibitions of £5 a year, tenable at a secondary school or technical institutions, and for Bursaries of £5 a year for pupil teachers in public elementary schools, or of £10 a year tenable at training colleges.
In 1731 John Richards, by will, devised a messuage in Luton for education, and for providing a twopenny loaf every Sunday morning for six poor widows. The trust property now consists of a shop and premises on Market Hill, let at £75 a year for ninety-nine years from Christmas, 1897, and £358 10s. 3d. consols with the official trustees, arising from the accumulation of income.
By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 19 April, 1882, two-thirds of the net income of about £50 a year is applicable in the promotion of instruction of boys in religious knowledge by grants to the Church of England schools, also for scholarships. See the Distribution Charities below for application of the remaining third.
Thomas Attwood’s Charity.—Deed 1610, rentcharge of £1 on Kitnowe Close, and rent-charge of £1 on Ivy Cottage, Langley Street.
William Crawley’s Charity.—Will 1682, threefifths of rent of homestead and land in Round Green. The net income of these charities, amounting to about £17 a year, is distributed in coal.
Elizabeth Rotherham’s.—Will 1715, rent-charge of £2 12s., charged upon land in Harthill, twelve penny loaves to be distributed every Sunday to twelve poor women attending divine service.
Sir Robert Napier’s.—Will 1637, an annuity of £5 4s. charged on Brache Farm, for twenty-six poor people in bread, 2s. every Sunday after divine service.
Sir Theophilus Napier, bart.—Will 1715, an annuity of £5 from land at Luton Hoo, in bread every Sunday morning.
George King’s.—Deed 1642, formerly £2 12s. a year out of land in Blackwater Field, to be laid out by 12d. a week in bread to twelve poor people every Sunday; redeemed in 1901 by transfer to the official trustees of £104 2½ per cent. annuities. These charities are duly distributed in bread.
In 1660 Elizabeth Winch by will devised 7 acres in Burge Field (subsequently known as Bell Close), the rents to be distributed on St. Thomas’s Day amongst the poor of the town. In 1902 the land was sold for £4,250, which—less £102 15s. for expenses—was invested in £4,453 7s. 11d. consols with the official trustees. The income amounting to £111 6s. 8d. is applied for the benefit of the poor under the provisions of a scheme of 12 November, 1886. In 1903 609 persons received gifts of coal.
Charity of John Richards.—See Education Charities above.
Under the provisions of the scheme of 1882 onethird of the net income, amounting to about £25 a year, is applied, as to £2 12s. a year, in distribution of bread to six poor widows, and the remainder in subscriptions to hospitals, provident clubs, and contributions towards the outfit of persons under the age of twenty-one years.
In 1624 Thomas Crawley and Edward Crawley, by deed, gave a messuage standing next the tithe barns, and 5 acres in the common fields of Luton, in trust for sustaining and amending the parish church and steeple for ever. The trust property now consists of a shop and beerhouse adjoining in Park Square, shop in Park Square, and seven cottages in Park Square let to weekly tenants, homestead and meadow land at Round Green containing 2 acres 2 roods, and £1,246 5s. 7d. consols, with the official trustees, arising from investment of the proceeds of sales. The income, amounting to about £210 a year, is applied, as required, in the repairs of the church and steeple. There was at Easter, 1906, a balance in hand of about £350.
Almshouses founded by Robert Hibbert by deed dated 2 January, 1819 (enrolled in Chancery). The endowment fund consists of £5,000 on mortgage of freehold estate in the parishes of Chalgrave, Tilsworth, and Stanbridge at £4 per cent.; £1,200 India 3 per cent.; and £1,385 14s. 11d. consols with the official trustees, of which £979 13s. 1d. consols was transferred in 1888 from a portion of the endowment fund of the Luton Benefit Society (Widows’ Fund), producing an annual income of £234, which is applied in the support of the twenty-four widows occupying the almshouses.
The almshouses in Chobham Street were built in pursuance of a scheme of the Master of the Rolls of 17 February, 1863, out of funds belonging to the Luton Charities, in respect of which proceedings had been instituted in the court. The almshouses are endowed with a messuage, baker’s shop, and premises at Trowley Bottom, Flamstead, Hertfordshire, let at £15 10s. a year; £250 consols transferred under an order of the Master of the Rolls as a repair and insurance fund; and £97 4s. 1d. like stock transferred in 1888 from a portion of the endowment fund of the Luton Benefit Society (Widows’ Fund), established in 1818, the dividends to be applied for the benefit of widows occupying two of the almshouses not receiving parochial relief. The sums of stock are held by the official trustees.
The Bute Hospital.—A cottage hospital in High Town Road was founded in 1872, which in 1882 was removed to a new building in Dunstable Road and called the Bute Hospital. The endowment funds consist of £700 India 2½ per cent. stock, £530 consols, and £376 17s. 4d. Liverpool Corporation 2½ per cent. stock held by the official trustees, producing an annual income of £40. The trust funds arise in part from accumulations of income and from a donation of £100 by Arthur Smart, esq. and a legacy of £200 by will (1898) of the Rev. Thomas Lye.
Union Chapel in Castle Street.—Martha Barber, by will, proved 12 July, 1893, bequeathed £167 6s. 9d. India 3 per cent. stock (with the official trustees), the dividends amounting to £5 0s. 4d. to be applied equally between the Union Chapel Auxiliary Fund of the Baptist Missionary Society, and the Sunday School in connexion with this same chapel.
The Friends’ Monthly Meeting at Luton and Leighton.—The official trustees hold a sum of £1,885 10s. 1d. consols, the dividends of which, amounting to £47 2s. 8d., are applied for the relief of poor Friends and for education and apprenticeship expenses in connexion with this monthly meeting in accordance with the trusts of a deed of 30 March, 1864. The stock arises from the investment of proceeds of sale in 1875 of four cottages and 7 a. 1 r. 2 p. at Dudswell, Hertfordshire, and from sale in 1878 of a small piece of land at Hendon, Middlesex.
Luton began when the Saxons conquered Bedfordshire in the 6th century. They created a farm or settlement called a tun by the river Lea. (Lea may be a Celtic word meaning bright river). By the 10th century the little settlement of Lea tun had grown into a town. Luton would seem very small to us with a population of only several hundred.
Many of the people of Medieval Luton lived by farming, at least part time but there was a market in the town and it acted as a focal point for the surrounding villages. By the time of the Domesday Book (1086) ‘Loitone’ probably had a population of 750-800. Again it would seem tiny to us but by the standards of the time Luton was a respectable size. Most villages only had populations of 100 or 150. Later in the Middle Ages the population of Luton probably rose to around 1,500.
LUTON IN THE MIDDLE AGES
In the Middle Ages Luton had 6 watermills. One mill gave its name to Mill Street. In 1137 the Lord of the Manor built a new church. In 1139 he built a castle. This castle was demolished in 1154 but it gave its name to Castle Street.
In the late 12th century a ‘hospital’ where poor travelers could stay was built in Farley Hill. There was another hospital in Luton, this one for sick people. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene.
As well as a market Medieval Luton had a fair. A fair was like a market but it was held only once a year. Luton’s fair was held for 1 week in August and it would attract sellers from as far away as London. After 1338 Luton had a second fair in October.
In 1336 there was a great fire in Luton which destroyed much of the town. Fire was a constant danger in those days because most buildings were made of wood with thatched roofs. However, if they burned they could be easily rebuilt. Luton soon recovered from the disaster.
For centuries Luton continued to be a quiet market town serving the surrounding countryside. In the 16th century a brick making industry grew up in Luton. Until then most houses were of wood but in the 16th century many people rebuilt their houses in brick. In the 17th century a straw hat making industry began. In the 18th century it came to dominate Luton.
During the civil wars of the 17th century there were 2 skirmishes in Luton. The first occurred in 1645 when some royalists entered Luton and demanded money from the townspeople. Parliamentary soldiers came and in the ensuing fight 4 royalists were killed and 22 were captured. A second skirmish occurred in 1648 when a royalist army passed through Luton. A group of stragglers were caught by parliamentary soldiers in an inn on the corner of Bridge Street. Most of the royalists escaped but 9 were killed.
In the 18th century Luton continued to be an agricultural market town serving the local villages. Hatmaking was its only important industry. In Georgian Luton there were the same craftsmen you found in any market town such as brewers, bakers, butchers, carpenters and blacksmiths. In the early 18th century a writer said: ‘It has a market house and a large Monday market for corn with which this area much abounds’.
Luton Hoo was built in 1757 for the 3rd Earl of Bute. It was designed by the architect Robert Adam (1728-1791). However it was largely rebuilt after a fire in 1843.
For centuries there had been a ford across the Lea. In 1797 a bridge was built and Bridge Street was created.
LUTON IN THE 19th CENTURY
Luton grew rapidly in the 19th century. In 1801 the population was 3,095. By the standards of the time Luton was a fair sized market town. By 1851 the population of Luton had exceeded 10,000 and it continued to boom. By 1901 it had reached 38,926 more than 10 times the 1801 level.
The straw hat making industry continued to dominate Luton although some felt hats were made after 1877.
There were many improvements to Luton during this century. From 1834 Luton had gas light. In 1847 a Town Hall was built. The first in Luton newspaper began publication in 1854. The same year the first cemeteries were opened (as the churchyards were becoming overcrowded).
Like the rest of the country Luton suffered an epidemic of cholera in 1848. However conditions in Victorian Luton gradually improved. In 1850 a Board of Health was formed and they set about building sewers. A water company was formed in 1865 and by 1870 the whole town had a piped water supply. Meanwhile the railway reached Luton in 1858.
The covered market was built in 1869 as a plait hall where plait could be bought and sold. Then in 1872 Luton gained its first hospital when a cottage hospital was built. The same year the first swimming baths were built.
Luton was made a borough in 1876 and Luton Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1877. Luton Town FC was formed in 1885.
LUTON IN THE 20th CENTURY
During the 20th century the hat making industry, which had dominated Luton for so long went into decline but new industries came to Luton. One of these was engineering. Vauxhall came to the town in 1905. Soon Luton became known for car manufacturing. In the early 20th century gas cookers and meters were also made in Luton as well as ball bearings. A chemicals industry also began in Luton in the early 20th century.
Even during the depression of the 1930s Luton was a prosperous town and suffered less unemployment than many towns thanks to its new industries.
Luton grew rapidly in the 20th century. It had a population of about 50,000 in 1914 but by the 1960s it had grown to over 130,000.
Conditions in Luton improved in the 20th century. In 1908 trams began running in the streets but in the 1920s they were superseded by buses. The last trams ran in Luton in 1932. The first cinema in Luton opened in 1909. Luton airport opened in 1938.
In 1904 the council purchased Wardown estate and made it a park. Wardown house became a museum and art gallery in 1931. In 1919 the Town Hall was burned during a riot. A new Town Hall was built in 1936.
Also in the 1920s and 1930s the council set about demolishing the worst slums in Luton and they built the first council houses. A New Court House was built in 1937.
The boundaries of Luton were extended in 1928 and 1933 to include Leagrave, Limbury and Stopsley. Luton and Dunstable hospital opened in 1939.
Luton was bombed during the Second World War. Altogether 107 people were killed by German bombing and over 1,500 houses were destroyed or damaged. After the war Luton council had to replace these and also demolish many remaining slums. Many new council houses were built to replace them. Estates were built at Farley Hill, Stopsley, Limbury and Leagrave. Meanwhile the M1 was built in 1959.
A new central library was built in Luton in 1962 and the Arndale Centre was built in 1972. Wigmore Park Shopping Centre was built in 1991.
In 1997 Luton was made a unitary authority and in 1998 The Galaxy Leisure Complex opened. In 1999 a new railway station Luton Airport Parkway was built. So was a new passenger terminal at the airport.
LUTON IN THE 21st CENTURY
Car production ended in Luton in 2002. It was the end of an era for Luton although the town continues to prosper. In 2007 St Georges Square was redeveloped. Today the population of Luton is 255,000.