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The lovely town of Ampthill lies sheltered by hills in the sandstone belt of Bedfordshire. It is an historic place with roots stretching back into the mists of time. The name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, it translates 'ant heap' or ant hill. However, neither translation seems appropriate for such a picturesque, historic place.
A market charter was granted to the town by King Henry III in the 13th-century, and today the market held in Ampthill every Thursday, is a ively, colourful event attracting folk from miles around.
The town is famous for its connections with Royalty which began after the Battle of Agincourt in the 15th-century when Sir John Cornwall built a castle fit for his bride who was the sister of Henry IV. Later the castle was to become the home of tragic Katherine of Aragon, first of Henry VIII's six queens, and the woman he divorced for Anne Boleyn. It was whilst being kept prisoner at Ampthill Castle that Katherine heard the news of the divorce, she was later moved to Kimbolton. The castle fell into ruin during
the 17th-century, Charles II gave the surrounding land to the powerful Ashburnham family, who built the present house in 1694. The site of the castle is marked by a stately memorial cross, which bears Horace Walpole's dedication "to the mournful refuge of an injured Queen" inscribed at the base. Ampthill House remains private but the picturesque park with its many ancient oak trees is open to the public.
A walk around the village reveals an astounding number of architectural gems. There are houses ranging from the Tudor period, through to the 18th and 19th-century, as well as interesting conversions of the modern day. There are beautiful timber-frame thatched cottages, and memorable Georgian homes. The outstanding White Hart was once a former coaching inn. Over two hundred properties in the village are listed and preserved for their historic merit, these include 15th-century almshouses in Church Square.
The graceful church dedicated to St.Andrew dates 10th-century. It is an awe-inspiring structure, particularly notable for the stunning marble memorial commemorating the life of Colonel Richard Nicholls, whose family once owned Ampthill Park and who gave New York its name. He served with the Duke of York, and was given the task of capturing the Dutch Colonial City of New Amsterdam, Long Island. After attacking the Dutch with threats of destroying their fort, they quickly surrendered, thus the town was named for the Duke, and Nicholls became the first colonial governor of New York. Richard Nicholls was later killed in the Battle of Solway Bay in 1672, he was hit by a Dutch cannon ball.
Ampthill has literary connections, the writer John Bunyan was a frequent visitor to Houghton House, now naught but a romantic ruin. It was however believed to be the model upon which Bunyan based his novel, House Beautiful. Bunyan is mostly remembered for his preaching and for Pilgrims Progress, there is a statue of him in Bedford. Houghton House, although a ruin is cared for as an ancient monument by English Heritage, the staircase in the house was said to be the work of Sir Christopher Wren.
The town is surrounded by spacious countryside, where there are several wildlife country parks, and plenty of places of historic interest. Maulden Wood, an ancient woodland lies to the north-east of the town and offers pleasant walks with pretty picnic areas.
Visitors to the town will find pleasing shops, welcoming inns and a friendly atmosphere.
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Hotels & Accommodation in Ampthill
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Menzies Hotels Woburn - Flitwick Manor
Flitwick, Bedfordshire, England (2.4 miles, 3.9 km, direction S)
Nestled amid the tranquillity of acres of rolling gardens and parkland, this classical Georgian house aims to continue its ancestral traditions of hospitality throughout its 18 individually furnished ...
More info and book online.. Price from £79.00
Premier Inn Bedford South - A421
Bedford, Bedfordshire, England (4.8 miles, 7.8 km, direction N)
Premier Inn Bedford South (A421) is set just of the Marsh Leys junction of the A421, near Kempston. It offers free parking and a Brewers Fayre Restaurant, only 7 miles from the M1 and 3 miles from Bed...
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Beadlow Manor Hotel
Shefford, Bedfordshire, England (5.0 miles, 8.1 km, direction E)
Set in the Bedfordshire countryside, Beadlow Manor Hotel offers refurbished en suite rooms and two 18-hole golf courses. There is a bar and free private parking on site. Rooms are serviced from the G...
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The Bull Hotel
Barton in the Clay, Bedfordshire, England (5.2 miles, 8.4 km, direction SE)
Located in the village of Barton-le-Clay,The Bull Hotel is a Grade II listed building with free Wi-Fi access and free on-site parking. It is 9 miles from Woburn Safari Park. Each room provides a TV w...
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Woburn, Bedfordshire, England (6.0 miles, 9.6 km, direction SW)
Longs Inn is a 17th-century coaching inn situated in the historic village of Woburn. It offers individually designed en suite rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a traditional wood-beamed bar....
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Nearby travel help
|Flitwick Station||(1.6 miles, 2.6 km, direction S)|
|Millbrook (Bedfordshire) Station||(2.2 miles, 3.6 km, direction NW)|
|M1 Junction 13||(4.6 miles, 7.4 km, direction W)|
|M1 Junction 12||(5.2 miles, 8.4 km, direction S)|
|London Luton Airport||(12.0 miles, 19.3 km, direction SE)|
|Cambridge Airport||(31.0 miles, 49.9 km, direction NE)|
|Ampthill to London||(39.5 miles, 63.5 km, direction SE)||
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