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History of Leighton

  • council: Central Bedfordshire
  • population: 36,540
  • phone code: 01525
  • postcode area: LU7
  • county: Bedfordshire
  • twin Towns: Coulommiers, France

Leighton Buzzard is a town near the Chiltern Hills in Bedfordshire, and is between Luton and Milton Keynes. It adjoins Linslade and the name Leighton Buzzard is sometimes used to refer to the combination of the two towns; parts of this article also apply to Linslade. The town is expanding eastwards, and it encompasses RAF Stanbridge and the former hamlet of Leedon.

For local government purposes, the town is part of the South Bedfordshire district and is administered jointly with Linslade as the civil parish of Leighton-Linslade (population estimated to have been 34,370 in 2004 and forecast to rise to 39,180 by 2009).

There are a number of theories about its curious name but the most likely is that "Leighton" is an Old English language term meaning a clearing in the woods. The "Buzzard" was added by the Dean of Lincoln in whose diocese the town was in the 12th century. He had two communities called "Leighton" and in order to differentiate them he added the name of his local Prebendary or representative to that of the town. At that time it was a Theobald de Busar and so over the years the town became known as Leighton Buzzard. The other Leighton became Leighton Bromswold.

Leighton Buzzard boasts All Saints Church, a fine Early English parish church dating from 1277. The church has a 190ft spire and has been described as the cathedral of South Bedfordshire. This church suffered a large fire in the 80s, but has since undergone a full restoration.

The town is also known for the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway, a narrow gauge heritage railway.

The town has a combined library and theatre (called the Library Theatre) where both live events and film screenings are regularly held.

Leighton Buzzard is represented in terms of sporting teams. Leighton Town F.C. play football in the Southern League Division One East, whilst Leighton Buzzard R.F.C. play Rugby Union in Midlands East Division 3. Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club compete nationally in flatwater racing and have produced international paddlers.

Stockgrove Country Park is located in nearby Heath and Reach.

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