Luton (St. Mary)
The town is situated between two hills, and on the Lea: from the market-house, which stands in the centre, three streets diverge obliquely. The inhabitants are well supplied with water from the river. The manufacture of straw-plat is carried on to a very great extent, and the town is said to produce a greater portion of that article than any other place in the county: the proprietor of one of the establishments obtained a patent for making Tuscan grass-plat, which is here wrought into hats and bonnets. There are two good maltinghouses. The market, which is plentifully supplied with corn and with straw-plat, is on Monday; fairs are held on April 18th and Oct. 18th, for cattle, and there is a statute-fair in September. A court leet is held annually under the lord of the manor, at which a high and two day constables are appointed. The powers of the county debt-court of Luton, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Luton.
The parish comprises 15,194a. 3r. 27p., of which 11,317 acres are arable, 2220 pasture, 831 wood, and 99 waste or common. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £35. 12. 1.; net income, £830; patron, John King, Esq., of Southampton. The church exhibits some fine specimens of the decorated and later English styles; it has at the west end a handsome embattled tower of flint and freestone in chequers, with an hexagonal turret at each angle, and a doorway, the mouldings of which are peculiarly beautiful. There are some curious monuments; a monumental chapel; and a baptistry chapel of decorated character, with pointed arches that terminate in elegant tabernacle work, and containing a stone font supported on five pillars. A church was erected in 1840 at East Hyde; and there are places of worship in the parish for Baptists, the Society of Friends, and Wesleyans. Benefactions for instruction, amounting annually to the sum of £36, are applied towards the support of a national school; and a Lancasterian school is maintained by subscription. At the principal entrance to the town are twelve almshouses, erected in 1808, for twenty-four widows. The union of Luton comprises 15 parishes or places, 12 of which are in the county of Bedford, and 3 in that of Herts; with a population of 19,010. The Rev. John Pomfret, author of The Choice and other poems, was born here in 1668.
Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.