Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for AMPTHILL

AMPTHILL, a small town, a park, a parish, a subdistrict, and a district, in Beds. The town stands on a pleasant spot, overlooked by hills, 2½ miles SE of the Ampthill or Marston station of the Northwestern railway, and 7 S by W of Bedford. It is neat and regular; and has a head post office,‡ a banking office, two chief inns, an old moot-hall, a new market house, a parish church, three chapels for Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Quakers, a national school, a workhouse, and two alms houses. The parish church consists of nave, aisles, and chancel; is in the later English style, with a tower at the west end; and contains a mural monument to the me mory of Governor Nicholl, who fell in the sea-fight off Solebay in 1672. The town is a seat of petty sessions, and a polling-place. Most of its inhabitants are agricultural; but some are employed in an extensive brewery, and many are employed in straw-platting and bonnet sewing. A weekly market is held on Thursday; and fairs on 4 May and 30 Nov. Ampthill Park adjoins the town on the NW, and is united to Houghton Park on the NE. It was the seat of the late Lord Holland; and is now occupied by Lord Wensleydale. A castle was built on it, in the time of Henry VI., by Sir John Cornwall, afterwards Lord Fanhope; and was the residence of Catherine of Arragon, during the process instituted against her by Henry VIII. A cross, in commemoration of this event, was erected in 1770 by the Earl of Ossory, then proprietor of the estate, and bears an inscription from the pen of Horace Walpole. The present mansion stands on lower ground than the site of the ancient castle, yet commands an extensive view of the vale of Bedford, and is a magnificent edifice, built by Lord Ashburnham, and containing some valu able paintings and a museum. The estate was consti tuted by Henry VIII. a royal domain, under the name of the Honour of Ampthill. The park is spacious, well diversified with picturesque scenes, and much studded with venerable oaks. Houghton Park contains the pear tree under which Sir Philip Sidney is said to have written part of his "Arcadia," and remains of the house built by "Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother." A beautiful grove of lime-trees, called the Alameda, was planted by Lord Holland for the recreation of the townspeople. The parish of Ampthill comprises 1,928 acres. Real property, £8,651. Pop., 2,144. Houses, 438. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ely. Value, £280.* Patron, the Lord Chancellor.-The subdistrict comprises 9 parishes, and part of another. Acres, 19,118. Pop., 9,076. Houses, 1,897.—The district comprehends the subdistrict of Cranfield, containing the parishes of Cranfield, Lidlington, and Marston-Moretainc; the subdistrict of Shillington, containing the parishes of Shillington, Upper Gravenhurst, Lower Gravenhurst, Higham-Gobion, Clophill, and part of Flitton; and the subdistrict of Ampthill, containing the parishes of Ampthill, Houghton-Conquest, Hawnes, Manlden, Pul loxhill, Westoning, Flitwick, Steppingley, Millbrook and part of Flitton. Acres, 41,551. Poor-rates in 1866, £10,281. Pop. in 1861, 16,970. Houses, 3,519. Mar riages in 1866, 159; births, 6 46,-of which 47 were illegi timate; deaths, 370,-of which 160 were at ages under 5 years, and 8 at ages above 85 years. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60,1,293; births, 5,742; deaths, 3,565. The places of worship in 1851 were 20 of the Church of England, with 6,308 sittings; 1 of Independents, with 290 s.; 6 of Baptists, with 1,052 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 220 s.; 13 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 2,360 s.; 3 of Primitive Methodists, with 309 s.; and 3 undefined, with 672 s. The schools in 1851 were 18 public day schools, with 1,209 scholars; 19 private day schools, with 423 s.; 36 Sunday schools, with 3,657 s.; and 3 evening schools for adults, with 91 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a small town, a park, a parish, a subdistrict, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Ampthill CP/AP       Ampthill SubD       Ampthill PLU/RegD       Bedfordshire AncC
Place: Ampthill

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