Leighton Buzzard has many ancient sites surrounding it from prehistoric to Roman. There are also three Saxon cemeteries which have been unearthed at nearby Chamberlain's Barn sand quarries.
The ancient name 'Leighton' is derived from a strange Old English word meaning 'garden where leeks are grown'. 'Buzzard', on the other hand is a corruption of the name of Theobald de Busar or Busat, Leighton's first canon or prebendary (1189-99). Leighton is mentioned as a Royal manor in the 11th century survey known as the Domesday Book
The fabulous Church of All Saints is the glory of Leighton Buzzard. Its tall spire of 190 ft is particularly striking. Construction of the church began about 1277 and it was amended over the next 200 years or so. For instance, by the ned of the 15th century the beautiful angel roofs were hung throughout the building. In 1985, a fire destroyed much of the upper parts of the building, although most of the nave roof was saved. The transepts were safe with the original painted angels. The 13th century oak eagle lectern, possibly the oldest in Britain, also survived the fire. An additinal interesting feature are numerous medieval graffiti on columns in the nave and transept area. The great west door is decorated with elegant scrolled ironwork designed in 1288.
The town is lined by many fine old buildings. The centre is marked by the 15th century Market Cross, a maginificent structure standing 27 ft high with five sides and pinnacled arches. Opposite the Cross is the Swan Hotel, built around 1840. There are a number of historic buildings in the High Street that continues to the the early Victorian Church Square. The Friends' Meeting House of 1789 sits in North Street, beyond which lie the yellow brick Wilkes Almshouses, founded by Edward Wilkes in 1633 and rebuilt in 1857.
A narrow gauge railway built in 1919 to transport sand from nearby qurries lies in Page's Park. In the late 1960's the commercial life of the line was ended and had it not been for local train enthusiasts who formed a preservation society, the line would have been destroyed. Now it serves both passengers and tourists.
For more information see http://www.touruk.co.uk/beds/bed_leig.htm