Leighton is a large but fairly pleasant Bedfordshire market town on the River Ouzel, with a lovely ironstone church and narrow streets lined with thatched brick and half-timber cottages.
The village of Linslade, on the west bank of the river, has now merged with the town and the two are collectively known as Leighton-Linslade. The Linslade side is more industrialized and contains the Grand Union Canal.
Many buildings of interest can be found in and around Leighton's old market place. The five sided Market Cross (circa 1400), is a fine two tiered Gothic style structure, topped by a 20ft pinnacle, which incorporates several religious statues. Opposite the cross stands the Swan Hotel, a Classical style early Victorian structure.
The former Victorian Library (Lecton House), in Lake Street, is a Grecian-style building with four plain Ionic columns. The Friends' Meeting House of 1789 has wooden cross-windows. The 14th-c Golden Bells Inn, near the Post Office, was originally two cottages and still retains its original oak beams.
The yellow brick and gabled almshouses, in North Street, were founded by Edward Wilkes in 1633. There is an interesting ceremony associated with the almshouses, where on Rogation Monday parts of the founder's will are read aloud while a choir boy stands on his head.
The local parish church of All Saints is a large attractive ironstone building, dating from 1288. It has a lovely 15th-c wooden roof and is topped by a magnificent 190ft (58m) tower with a broach spire.
The Grand Union Canal winds on through the valley of the Ouzel, following the river. The accessible towpath offers lovely views of the Bedfordshire countryside, with wooded hills rising to the east and west. Grove and Leighton Locks both have attractive and well-maintained lock keeper's cottages. The town also stands at the end of the Greensand Ridge Walk, a long-distance pathway that runs for 40 miles (64 km) across Bedfordshire into Cambridgeshire.
The nearby village of Wing has many fine 17th and 18th century cottages. The Dormer Hospital dates from 1569. The local parish church of All Saints has an Anglo Saxon crypt, one of only eight remaining examples in Britain.
Located just 2 miles southwest, near Wing, stands a attractive but irregular timber-framed mansion of 1606, with later additions made over the centuries. The house is set in twelve acres of landscaped parkland and gardens. Within, is a fine collection of Anthony de Rothschild paintings, French and Chippendale furniture and oriental porcelain.
Run by National Trust. Open to the public during the spring and summer, see website for details.
Image Credit: ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler
This narrow-gauge steam and heritage diesel railway (circa 1919), runs along the edge of the town and on through several miles of lovely wooded Bedfordshire countryside. Read more...