Friday, March 28, 2014

Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, England

This week I've decided it's time to post another installment of our trip to England in 1999.  Last year, I wrote about London, The Bellows Mill Hotel, and Stratford Upon Avon.  My husband was working on a computer software installation for his company, and I was able to travel to England and Ireland with him in the early spring of 1999.  It was a trip I'll never forget.

The company my husband works for has a  facility here in our town, as well as in Leighton Buzzard, England and Kilkeel, Northern Ireland.  Leighton Buzzard was a cute town; not in the least like the villages in the Cotswolds or the coastal regions.  Still, it had its own brand of charm and unique architecture.

The Swan Hotel on High Street, pictured above, is where my husband stayed on previous visits to Leighton Buzzard.  The Swan dates to the 16th century and was originally a drinking parlor.  It then became the town's main post house and coaching inn. 

Leighton Buzzard is a market town in Bedfordshire, England, close to Aylesbury, Dunstable, and Milton Keynes.  Leighton Buzzard -- an odd name for a town, don't you think?  Then again, we have a town here in North Carolina called "Whynot."  Bizarre, but true.  :)

It is thought that the name Leighton comes from the old English word Leahtun meaning a farm in a clearing in the woods.  Buzzard is derived from Theobald de Busar, a clergyman who served in the diocese of which Leighton was a part.  Leighton Buzzard is mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, where it is referred to as Lestone.  The Domesday Book mentions that Lestone had a market, which is still held in Leighton Buzzard today.

The market cross (above) is thought to date from the mid-15th century, where it probably replaced an earlier structure, almost certainly on the same site.  But even older than the market cross and the market in 1086, "...there is evidence that people have been living in and around the area currently occupied by Leighton Buzzard since Saxon times. Pottery and jewelry from the sixth century have been excavated in the town and earthworks have been found which are believed to date back to Roman times."  source  

All Saints Church in Leighton Buzzard was built in 1277, and its 190-foot spire in the above picture can be seen from many parts of town.

Can you see the gargoyle on the the church in the picture below?

I found a really pretty picture of the church online.


We took pictures of some of the houses around the town...

I love the lace curtains in these windows.

Notice all the chimney pots on the houses...

Pretty house and stone wall...

This building is called the "White House."  It was originally a private residence, but it's now used as offices and home to the Leighton-Linslade Town Council.

The post office, above, was originally Leighton Buzzard's first, purpose-built school (1790).  The post office moved to the building in 1884.

The war memorial, which you can see in the background behind these cars, honors Leighton Buzzard veterans from World War I and World War II.

No self-respecting British town would be without a public house (or two) where people can gather for a pint (or two)  :)  at the end of the day.  The Black Lion dates from the 19th century, but the building had previously been used as a pub.  In the 17th century it was The Bullhead, and in the mid 1700's it was the Pig and Sow.


Above is a much more recent picture of The Black Lion -- definitely has more charm, don't you think?

Above is The Golden Bell as it looked when we were there in 1999.


...and these are more recent pictures of the pub.


Isn't it charming with all the flower boxes, new sign, and benches out front?  I would have made a point to visit if it had looked liked this when we were there.

This building is not a pub; it's the Martini Italian Restaurant, and Mr. Forest Manor and I enjoyed a wonderful meal there.  The above picture shows how the exterior of the restaurant looked in March 1999; I think that's probably our rental car parked out front.

The picture below is the restaurant today.  It looks like they've had a fresh paint job, and again, added pretty hanging flower baskets.  You can see more pictures of the Martini Restaurant here; the building itself dates back 400 years.  In reading the website, it appears that they've changed owners since we visited, which isn't too surprising as it's been 15 years since we were there.


It makes me kind of sad to look back at this picture; it feels like such a long time ago.  That was a fun evening, and a delicious meal.  The owners at that time were Martini and Roberto, and they were so cute.  :-D  When we ordered dessert, Roberto informed us that there was only coffee, no cappuccino because the cappuccino machine had gone "Poof," which was said with arms thrown into the air in a general expression of disgust.  We took this to mean the machine had broken (but hopefully hadn't exploded).   :)

I loved the pretty pink linens and pink candles at each table -- made it feel like a really special dining experience.

This was such a charming restaurant.  The food was really good, and it was a fun evening because Martini and Roberto were such funny characters.  I was really lucky to be able to take that trip with my husband; I'll always have such good memories of my visit to England.

Have you ever been to England?  If so, I'd love to hear about your trip.  There are so many places there that I'd love to see.  Thank you for your visit and for reading me today.  :)

I'm joining The Tablescaper for "Oh, The PLACES I've Been."    
The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays


*All pictures in this post were taken by me unless otherwise noted.  The pictures I found online include a link to their sources.*


  1. Yes!! I love England and we're going again in July of this year. We were there last September with our son and his wife. This time around we are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary early in July for 2 weeks in the Cotswolds, South Wales and Windor/Henley on Thames area...
    We were also there in 2006, 2004, 2003, 1973 and 1974....
    Now my husband's company might be sending him in December of this year, too.

  2. Oh I never tire of seeing lovely images of Merry Old England.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  3. No, I've never been to England, only Ireland, Denise. However, I thank you for taking me along through your photos. I love the charm of the old buildings, the lace curtains and the window boxes. I d love to visit one day.
    I loved seeing you and your hubby holding hands... so sweet! xo

  4. I've never been to England,but it's on my list of places to go someday. Love seeing all your photos. Lace curtains are everywhere in Europe, aren't they? I like the look but somehow, they look out of place here. All those charming houses. Sigh.

  5. England is on my "bucket list"....I so love the countryside and the ever so charming seeing the pics of your travels!

  6. Amazing the contrast in the pics from 1999 and today. That proves my theory that flowers and gardening have become much bigger than it used to be. Window boxes and hanging flowers do make a difference in the appearance of a place. I also love the lace at the windows--in fact throughout all my travels in England and Europe that was my favorite thing to look at and photograph! My husband used to have business in England so I went with him whenever I could.

  7. Yes, I have traveled to England several times and loved each visit, One was with my husband and son while the other was with my father and mother. The memories come pouring back and I love your photos! Our trips always had one stop at the potteries in the Stoke on Trent area. We toured the china factories and brought home china and had lots shipped home. When I use the sets I think of the day we bought them! Thanks for your tour!


  8. Denise, I loved this post especially the picture of you and your husband. Such a charming restaurant and cute story about the coffee and cappuccino machine.

    The town of Leighton Buzzard sounds so interesting and full of history.Your photos of the charming houses and shops with their lace curtains, and window boxes and unique architecture make me feel as if I were there exploring the town and its culture. Thank you for the tour. I can feel the slight chill in the air and taste the tea and scones.

  9. Looks like you had a lovely trip. We took one of our granddaughters there for her 16th birthday a couple of years back. Her favorite was the cabbie who kept using the word blimmy.

  10. Denise, they are beautiful! I would love to visit England (and Ireland and Scotland) one day. Lucky for my phobia of flying that I also have the excuse of an empty wallet. It's hard to comprehend a town and buildings THAT old when you compare it to the 200 plus year old American culture.

    I loved the part about the cappucino machine going poof!

    And now, I'm going to be backtracking to read older posts I have missed. I have been so out of it that I haven't even watched the news, True story.

    I am not complaining,. I'm just stating the fact in the most nonpouty way I can,.

    Not that easy when you are a perpetual pouter..

  11. What a lovely post Denise! Its so interesting reading about a place I have never visited even though I live in England, and from an Americans viewpoint. I never realised LB had so much history!
    Its amazing the difference a few benches outside, and a lot of hanging baskets and window boxes add to the kerb appeal of the pub - I would have just walked past it before, but now would be eager to step inside.
    I'm so glad you had a great time there and have these photos and happy memories of your time there.
    Thanks for a great post!
    Gill xx

  12. Oh I enjoyed seeing all your photos. Love that restaurant! It looks charming beyond belief. (No, I have never been nor will I ever go because I don't travel well, but this post makes me dream a bit...)

  13. Deenise, I have never been to Europe, but England is one for my bucket list. I love how they have upgraded the buildings with colorful flower boxes and all. You are right that the town isn't as quaint as some we see pics of in England, but delightful just the same. I would love to go. I had to look back to your last post about Duncan as I missed it before. I have a big smile on my face, but I do think it would be awfully hard to deal with all things 'puppy' after such a long time, EXCEPT for that sweet little face..Happy Wednesday..Judy



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