Thursday 15 March 2012

A Dunstable Heritage Trail ~ Odd & Unusual Dunstable

This is one of the several Heritage Trails you can start from Priory House ~ Collect your map/information sheet and take an interesting walk around our amazing Historic Town.

This is exactly what I did this morning ~ What a beautiful way to spend approximately forty five minutes, walking around Dunstable with a map guiding you to all the interesting places that you normally just walk past.

From Priory House where I started the Trail, Middle Row where the bylaws 1221 were explained, to the square were the former cattle market stood. You can read about the unrest in 1444 of the two monastic houses and onwards towards Norton Court were the newest buildings through this arch are said to be built on the church grounds belonging to the Dominican Friary. Several Skeletons were found before the foundations could be laid.

The walk took me back towards the centre of town passing the history of Middle Row with its historic buildings, now the homes of many new, up and coming businesses.

As I looked towards the Nag's Head Public House there is a story about Elizabeth, a witch or the victim of a contagious malady?

To your left the on the corner of Dunstable Aquatics you can see a plaque marking the site of the towns Stocks. As you leave this spot and walk up West Street and glance across the road, you can see the 17th century building which is now Knowles Benning which was once the largest private house in Dunstable. Stop a while and admire the right hand side of this very old building. You will be pleased you did!

Back towards Dunstable town centre takes you past Maypole Yard, stand here a moment again and glance skywards at the amazing brick work on the side of the building. This wooden framed building dates back to the middle ages and was once an Inn.

As you walk down Matthew Street you are taken past a single story shed that was once Dunstable's first fire station.

Onwards through Eleanor's Cross car park and towards Eleanor's Cross itself standing very proud in this beautiful shopping precinct. Queen Eleanor beloved wife of Edward I following her death in 1290, had her body taken to London in slow procession and a cross was erected at every point were Eleanor's coffin rested on route. Of the twelve crosses erected only three original ones remain and Dunstable erected the one that stands in front of you at this point to commemorate Queen Eleanor's body resting at the Priory Church.

You continue to walk through the shopping precinct to Albion Street and to your right can be seen the wonderful old coaching inn The Old Sugar Loaf.

Staying on the same side of the High Street as you leave Albion Street walking towards the town centre again you pass The White Horse. Here was the 17th Century Dunstable and District's first post office and embedded in the pavement on the floor in front of this arch is a roundel with an image of Henry V111 commemorating his regular visits to the White Horse after he fell out with the Priors.

As you look across High Street North at this point you can see the Nationwide Building Society. Painted walls from the 16th and 17th Century were found here but have since been relocated to the Meeting Room at Priory House, which is a must to visit on your return at the end of your walk.

Towards the centre of town were now stands the Nat West Bank, up until the 1800's the inns The Lion and The Peacock once stood.

Cross Church Street and just to your left can be seen the building with the Castellated top which was the first Drill Hall in Dunstable.

Continue to walk to your left back across Priory car park and towards Priory House were you started. As you follow the footpath along the back of the Croquet Lawn listen for the Ghost of Catherine of Aragon as she is said to have walked here....

This is just a small snippet of the detailed information to can read on the 'Odd & Unusual' Heritage walk around Dunstable. There are other Walks available and hopefully over the next few years even more walks will become available.

You can pick these trails leaflets up from Priory House which is open 10am - 4pm every day except Sunday and the Trails are FREE.

So next time you are in Dunstable set aside a little time and wander about the streets and see what wonderful history our town has to offer. I have lived here in Dunstable all my life and I couldn't believe the amazing interesting things I saw today looking up and down at the buildings. Normally I'm rushing around in and out of the shops as most of us are in our busy lives. So next time your in Dunstable pick up one of these trails, enjoy the walk and then finish in Priory House with a wonderful cream tea ~ I did today and thoroughly enjoyed it! I hope you do to.

1 comment:

  1. Let's hope there is something left to see! A group with concerns has been set up on Facebook. Search for "Dunstable - Preserving the Past for the Future"