Ampthill Timeline


Ampthill Charter Market established. The market originally traded on the market square and later moved to a new site in Bedford Street in 1987. The current location of the Thursday market is in the lower part of the town centre car park (nearest to the Church Street entrance).


Ampthill Castle becomes the property of Henry VIII.


Henry VIII divorces Katherine of Aragon and she is held in Ampthill Castle.

The site of the castle is now marked by a cross erected by Lord Ossory in 1770 with an inscription said to be by Horace Walpole on its base.

"In day's of old here Ampthill's towers were seen,
The mournful refuge of an injured Queen;
Here flowed her pure but unavailing tears,
Here blinded zeal sustain'd her sinking years.
Yet Freedom hence her radiant banner wav'd,
And Love aveng'd a realm by priests enslav'd;
From Catherine's wrongs a nation's bliss was spread,
And Luther's light from Henry's lawless bed."


Henry VIII sets up the Honour of Ampthill.


Houghton House built for Mary Herbert, Dowager Countess of Pembroke.


King James I visits Mary Herbert, Dowager Countess of Pembroke at Houghton House.


Richard Nicolls of Ampthill whilst commanding a fleet of Battleships accepts the surrender of New Amsterdam and renames the settlement New York.


Richard Nicolls serves as the first Governor of New York State.


Richard Nicolls is killed whilst fighting the Dutch at Solebay. A memorial in Ampthill's St.Andrew's Church incorporates the cannonball that supposedly killed him.


John Bunyan publishes 'Pilgrims Progress'. Houghton House is said to have been the model for Bunyan's 'House Beautiful'. Indeed records show that he did visit the house to make repairs to cooking utensils.



The present Ampthill House was built for the Dowager Countess of Ailesbury and Elgin by Robert Grumbold.


Ampthill House sold to the first Lord Ashburnham.


Houghton House acquired by the Duke of Bedford.


Lord Ossory builds a memorial cross to Katherine of Aragon on the site of Ampthill Castle in Ampthill Great Park.


Lord Ossory gives Ampthill the gift of a pump with an obelisk of Portland stone designed by the architect Sir William Chambers.


Houghton House de-roofed and stripped of everything of value by order of the Duke of Bedford.


The House of Industry (Workhouse) was built in Park Hill at a cost of £837 and demolished in 1963.


The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built in 1813 on corner of Chapel Lane and Woburn Street. A very small graveyard to the rear of the Chapel remains. The chapel was later replaced by a new building in Dunstable Street in 1884.


Thatched cottages built in Woburn Street.


Ampthill Park House becomes the property of Lady Holland.


Union Church opened in Dunstable Street on land purchased for £60. It was not until 1858 that there was a harmonium to accompany the singing. In the 1870s the church was enlarged and in 1893 the land beside the church was bought and extra rooms and upstairs hall were built. 


The Alameda of lime trees gifted to Ampthill by Lord and Lady Holland.


National School opened (closed 1954).


Gas Works built.


Ampthill Clock House built


Ampthill Station opened.


Foundation stone laid for Primitive Methodists Chapel in Saunders Piece. The land was sold to them by George Pyke Robinson, a surveyor, carpenter and builder who was developing the street.


New Chapel built for the Methodist Community in Dunstable Street.


Mark Rutherford (the pen name of William Hale White publishes the novel 'The Revolution in Tanner's Lane' "re-naming" Ampthill 'Cowfold'.


The Maharajah of Koihapur and his suite visit Ampthill Park for a picnic. They arrived from London on the 4th August, and detrained at Millbrook Station. They were met by Earl Cowper and Lord Alwyno. The band of the Bedfordshire Regiment played for them in Ampthill Park and the inhabitants of the villages of Ampthill, Clophill, Silsoe and Flitwick took part in sports (reported in The Times newspaper).


Strict Baptist Chapel opens in Oliver Street in October 1904.


First public telephone installed in the town in the Post Office, 4 Bedford Street.


The Pine trees at The Firs, the local name of Cooper's Hill, were felled by the 126th Company Canadian Forestry Corps. The logs were taken to a saw mill at Ampthill Station for transport to France for the war.


Sir Albert Richardson purchases Avenue House, Church Street. This became his home until his death.


A memorial cross is set up in Ampthill Park to commemorate those who died in the Great War by the Duke of Bedford.


Electric Kinema opens in Saunders Piece (formerly the Primitive Methodist Chapel).


Princess Beatrice comes to Ampthill to unveil The Cenotaph in the Alameda.


Lady Ampthill died at Park House. Her daughters, the Hon. Constance and the Hon. Romola Russell, continued to serve the community.


The Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) visited the Bedfordshire County Agricultural Society annual show in Ampthill Park.


Work starts on the building of the Roman Catholic Church (closed 1986). In 1934-1935 by the local Roman Catholic congregation. The church was built in Flitwick Road on a field near to where Redborne School would later be built. The church, dedicated in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham and Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, was extended in the 1960s, but closed in 1986 with the opening of a new church in Flitwick.



Zonita Cinema opened in Bedford Street (closed in 1960).


Electric Kinema closes on the 1st April.


The Kinema becomes the headquarters of the Army Cadet Force in October and is opened by General Bridgeman.


Ampthill Council purchased Ampthill Park in Woburn Street.


Ampthill Library opens on the 26th September in the converted Electric Kinema building (formerly the Primitive Methodist Chapel) in Saunders Piece. The library was opend by Mrs J Arnold Whitchurch, a founder memberr of hte Library Sub-Committee.


New Fire Station opened in Oliver Street.


Redbourne Upper School opened.


Park House sold to Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC for use as a Cheshire Home (moved in 1977 to new premises in Woburn Street).



Police Station opens in Woburn Street.


Magistrates Courts open in Woburn Street.


Sir Albert Richardson dies in Avenue House, 20 Church Street, the house he lived in from 1919.


Offices of Mid Bedfordshire District Council opened, designed by Sir Albert Richardson.


Wall paintings discovered in the White Hart Hotel showing the Prince of Wale's feathers and dated to 1646.


Ampthill bypass opened. The main contractors were the Jackson Group.


Library in Saunders Piece closed and re-opened in the former Board Room of the Workhouse in Flitwick Road.


Saint Luke's Church, Ampthill moves into the ex-library building in Saunders Piece.


Budgens Supermarket, Rosewalk (old Zonita cinema) and the Shell Petrol Station demolished for new supermarket and retail units development.


Budgens Supermarket, Rosewalk (old Zonita cinema) and the Shell Petrol Station demolished for new supermarket and retail units development.


Waitrose supermarket opens.


Mid Beds District Council vacate their offices at The Limes, Dunstable Street and move to new offices at Chicksands. Russell House (next door) is also vacated by Beds County Council.


Center Parcs open their fifth holiday village in the UK, named Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire.


Ampthill Town Council awarded a grant of over £606,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund/BIG under the 'Parks for People' initiative to carry out restoration work in Ampthill Great Park.


Tommy's Footprints installed in Ampthill Great Park, a commemoration project for WW1 in November 2016.


Tommy's Footprints memorial poppy crosses planted in November 2016.


Work begins on the redevelopment of Ampthill Town Football Clubhouse. Once completed, it will be home to the Ampthill Town Council offices and new football facilities.


September 2017 the Ampthill Town Council offices relocated to Ampthill Great Park. The offices are known as 'Park Lodge' and the redeveloped Ampthill Town Football Club building is adjacent to the town council offices.


New icicle lights to light up the beautiful town of Ampthill.

Through donations from all the businesses in town and from individuals the new Christmas lights display in 2018 was an overwhelming success!


In July 2019 the Market800 steering group (consisting of a representative of the Town Council and other volunteers from the town) commemorated the eight hundredth anniversary of the Charter Market and promoted the Charter Market by encouraging people and stall holders to use the market that from 2006, to the present takes place in the Town Centre Car Park on Thursdays from 8.30 am to 2.00 pm.

The market (the oldest secular tradition in Ampthill) was first granted rights by King Henry III in 1219.  Confirmation of these rights was received by Royal Charter in 1242 when the King also granted the right to hold a three day annual fair on July 21, 22 & 23.  This Charter was witnessed by the Archbishop of York and other Bishops and noblemen.  On 26th May 1922, the Duke of Bedford conveyed the market rights to the Ampthill Urban District Council.  In 1974, these rights passed to the Ampthill Town Council.  A search of the council files found a copy, made in 1620, of the charter and this has been transcribed and translated by volunteers.


Masquerade 40th Anniversary

Masquerade40 celebrated the 40th anniversary of Kit Williams' eclectic book 'Masquerade' which sparked a national treasure hunt. On the 7th August 1979 Kit Williams and Bamber Gascoigne buried the Golden Hare jewel in Ampthill Great Park. 

The spot chosen is where Kit knew that the shadow of Katherine’s Cross fell on the Spring and Autumn Equinox. The puzzle solver would need to be in the correct place, on the right day, at the requisite time to unearth the golden hare treasure. The book Masquerade was published at the end of August 1979 and the puzzle solved some two years later.