"Luton - one big arrival and departure hall" Luton by iris2002
Luton Travel Guide: 37 reviews and 71 photos
LUTON during the SAXONS
Luton began when the Saxons conquered Bedfordshire in the 6th century. (that's early!!)
They created a farm or settlement called a tun by the river Lea. (Lea may be a Celtic word meaning bright river). (VERY clever those celts - smirk!)
By the 10th century the little settlement of Lea tun had grown into a town. It would seem very small to us with a population of only several hundred.
Many of the townspeople lived by farming, at least part time but there was a market in the town and it acted as a focal point for the surrounding villages. By the time of the Domesday Book (1086) 'Loitone' probably had a population of 750-800. Again it would seem tiny to us but by the standards of the time it was a respectable size. Most villages only had populations of 100 or 150. Later in the Middle Ages the population of Luton probably rose to around 1,500.
LUTON IN THE MIDDLE (dark dark dark) AGES
In the Middle Ages Luton had 6 watermills. (talking about showing off...ahem!) One mill gave its name to Mill Street. (Again - how CLEVER)
In 1137 the Lord of the Manor built a new church. In 1139 he built a castle. This castle was demolished in 1154 but it gave its name to Castle Street. Again - no I wont' say it...!)
In the late 12th century a 'hospital' where poor travllers could stay was built in Farley Hill. There was another hospital in Luton, this one for sick people. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene.
As well as a market Luton had a fair in the Middle Ages. A fair was like a market but it was held only once a year. Luton's fair was held for 1 week in August and it would attract sellers from as far away as London. After 1338 Luton had a second fair in October. (ANY excuse for more retail therapy ts,ts,ts)
In 1336 there was a great fire in Luton which destroyed much of the town. Fire was a constant danger in those days because most buildings were made of wood with thatched roofs. However, if they burned they could be easily rebuilt. Luton soon recovered from the disaster.
For centuries Luton continued to be a quiet market town serving the surrounding countryside. In the 16th century a brick making industry grew up in Luton. Until then most houses were of wood but in the 16th century many people rebuilt their houses in brick. In the 17th century a straw hat making industry began. (Back to the fire hazard ehy) In the 18th century it came to dominate Luton. (and so did fire insurance sales men...)
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