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AMPTHILL: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1835.

[Transcribed information from A Topographical Dictionary of England - Samuel Lewis - 1835]
(unless otherwise stated)

"AMPTHILL, a parish and market-town in the hundred of REDBORNESTOKE, county of BEDFORD, 7 miles (S. by W.) from Bedford, and 45 (N. W. by N.) from London, containing 1527 inhabitants. In the reign of Henry VI., Sir John Cornwall, created Lord Fanhope, built a castle on the manor of Ampthill, which, about the year 1530, came into the possession of the crown, and was made the head of an honour by act of parliament. Catherine of Arragon resided here while the business of the divorce was pending, where she received the summons to attend the commissioners at Dunstable, which she refused to obey. In memory of this, the Earl of Ossory, in 1770, erected on the site of the castle a handsome column, with an appropriate inscription by Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford. The modern seat is chiefly remarkable for the number of very ancient oaks which ornament the park. The town, pleasantly situated between two hills, is irregularly built, paved with pebbles, and amply supplied with water; it has been of late years considerably improved by the removal of old buildings, and the erection of a handsome market-house. The market is on Thursday; fairs are held on the 4th of May and 30th of November, for cattle. The county magistrates hold here petty sessions for the hundred; and a court for the honour of Ampthill is held in the moot-house, an ancient building, under the lord high steward, at which constables and officers are appointed. The living is a discharged rectory, in the archdeaconry of Bedford, and diocese of Lincoln, rated in the king's books at £10. 6. 8., endowed with £300 private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of Lord Holland. The church, dedicated to St. Andrew, is a handsome cruciform structure, partaking of the decorated and later styles of English architecture, with a square embattled tower rising from the centre. There are places of worship for the Society of Friends and Wesleyan Methodists. A charity school, for twenty boys and twenty-four girls, was endowed by Mrs. Sarah Emery, in 1691, with lands producing £30 per annum; and a rent-charge of £5, given by Mr. George Watson, in 1740, is appropriated to the instruction of sixteen poor children. About a mile from the town is an hospital, founded by John Cross, in 1690, for a reader, twelve poor men, and four poor women; the reader has £15 per annum, and the others £10; they must be unmarried. The Vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, and the Bishop of that diocese, are visitors. The interest arising from a legacy of £700, left by Mr. Arthur Whitchelner, in 1687, for apprenticing poor children, is shared by this parish conjointly with the parishes of Maulden, Millbrook, and Ridgemont."

[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2010]