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On the Western boundary of South Bedfordshire
is Leighton Buzzard with its street market, Market Cross and
Georgian High Street, and the adjoining canalside town of Linslade.
Market Cross is a 15th century pentagonal cross with five statues
showing Christ, the Madonna and Child, a Bishop, a King, and
St John. It was built when the Duchess of Suffolk, Alice Chaucer
- grand-daughter of the poet, was the Lord of the manor of Leighton.
Leighton Buzzard today is a
busy market town. It is believed that there was a settlement
here from around AD600 and that Christianity arrived about AD625,
when a church was established perhaps on the site where the
parish chuch stands today. In the Doomsday Book in 1086, the
name of the town was recorded as Lestone which may be derived
from the Saxon word 'Leahton' meaning woodland. The suffix Buzzard
is believed to have been taken from Theobold de Busar, and was
later added to distinguish the town from Leighton Bromswold
in Huntingdonshire, both of which were, at the time, in the
Diocese of Lincoln.
Leighton's High Street
was established in the middle ages when the town prospered and
the present Church was built. During the Civil War troops from
both sides were billeted here and may have precipitated the
Great Fire in the town in 1645. A petition was sent to Parliament
for money for the town after the fire.
The area is surrounded by attractive and diversified countryside,
with mixed woodlands and heaths to the north, the river scenery
around the town, and the Chiltern Hills rising over 800 feet
between Dunstable and Tring giving beautiful panoramic views
across the countryside.