Large industrial town in south-central England, noted for its international (secondary) London airport. The prosperity of the town was founded on straw-hat manufacture and lace making and other consumer goods, which began in the early 17th-c and prospered until the late 19-c. Today the prominent industries are motor-vehicles, light engineering and electrical goods.

Airplane at Luton Airport
Luton Airport (by Polski (CC0))

Luton is a vibrant, modern town with good transport links and excellent shopping facilities. The centre of London is only 40 minutes away by train. Major improvements have been made to the town centre in recent years, including The Mall Shopping Centre (formerly the Arndale), creating one of the largest undercover retail complexes in Britain. The nearby streets and squares also boast a diverse range of specialist shops and cafes, with attractive pedestrianised areas. Although densely populated, the town is also surprisingly green with several landscaped parks and the rolling countryside of the Chiltern Hills within easy reach. There is also a top-notch 18-hole public golf course.

There are a number of museums well worth visiting, including the award-winning Wardown Park Museum, which tells the story of hat and lace manufacture in the area. The Mossman Collection of horse-drawn vehicles is one of the largest in Europe, providing an insight into what life was like before motor vehicles. One of Luton's other major attractions is the Stockwood Discovery Centre, a craft museum that explores the arts, crafts and trades of rural Bedfordshire. Its beautiful period gardens are not to be missed.

Luton has a number of ancient monuments and historic buildings. The Town Hall, was built in 1934 of Portland stone, with an impressive 144ft (44m) clock tower. The medieval Moat House, in Moat Lane, is one of the oldest buildings, originating in the 14th-c as a moated manor house. There are also many ancient and modern churches to be found. The early Victorian Union Chapel in Castle Street, is one of the finest buildings in Luton, dominated by its giant Greek Doric Entrance columns. The magnificent St Mary's Church, constructed of flint and stone chequer-work, is one of the largest churches in England. Two important scheduled ancient monuments in the area include, Waulud's Bank, a Neolithic earthwork near the River Lea to the north and the Bronze and Iron Age Dray’s Ditches; both of which are related to the Icknield Way ancient trackway.

Places of interest to visit in Luton

Luton Hoo

Image Credit: Dave Skinner (CC2)

Impressive stone mansion with Robert Adam exterior, set in extensive Capability Brown landscaped parkland and beautiful gardens. Packed with family treasures, including, French furniture, porcelain and tapestries, plus Renaissance jewellery, Faberge jewels and other Russian gems. Of important note is the Wernher family's magnificent art collection, with paintings by Titian and Rembrandt.

The Grade 1 listed mansion has been converted into a luxury hotel now called Luton Hoo Hotel. It has a golf course and spa complex and has appeared as the setting in a number of films.

Luton Museum and Art Gallery

Hosted in a Victorian Mansion house in Wardown Park. It has a wide range of exhibits and local history collections, including social and natural history displays, costume, domestic textiles, furniture and straw-hat and lace-making. Archaeological artifacts include important Saxon jewellery discovered in the local area.

Opening times: Tue to Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1pm-5pm (also BH mondays) - Free Entry
Location: Old Bedford Rd, Luton LU2 7HA
Tel: 01582 546722

Wardown Park

Luton Park

Traditional 11 acre Edwardian park, with wide green spaces, a large boating lake and a cricket ground. The park was restored to is original splendour in 2005.

Opening times: 24 hours - Free Entry
Location: situated on the banks of the River Lea

Map of Luton


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