Christmas Tree Festival

Ampthill and District Preservation Society are exhibiting “A Tudor Christmas” in St. Andrews Christmas Tree Festival which is happening on 2nd and 3rd December 2023.

Imagine you have found yourself back in Tudor times. It is December 1526, and the small town of Ampthill is situated on the edge of one of Henry VIII’s favourite hunting lodges. As in years past, the residents are preparing for this special time. However, while some parts of the Tudor celebrations would be recognised today, others would not.

Christmas trees were not a tradition adopted by the Tudors.

A Tudor Christmas saw homes decorated on Christmas Eve with mistletoe, holly, ivy, yew and laurel, such as in the kissing bough shown above, and carols were sung.

Notice the pomegranate hung in pride of place in the centre of the bough in honour of the Queen, Katherine of Aragon. The pomegranate is her favourite heraldic badge.

Christmas was also about rest for the Tudors and was a time when work on the land stopped and women stopped spinning.

Flowers were put on the spinning wheels to stop their use.

As a nod to Henry VIII, we have created our Tudor Rose flowers from recycled books rather than real flowers

The day before Christmas, Tudor families would also have chosen a large log then decorated it with ribbons to be laid on the hearth. It was then kept alight throughout the twelve days of Christmas (25 December to 5 January).

As in Tudor times, the log and greenery used in this display have been gathered with permission from Ampthill Great Park, and we are grateful to Phil for all his help with this.

So come to the Tree Festival this weekend, see our entry amongst over 40 ‘Trees’ (and maybe cast your vote for ours!) Full details and a link, below:

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Programme of Walks 2023-24

Whilst retaining some of the popular walks, John Hele has introduced some new walks for this year.

PLEASE email to reserve your place and get more joining information as numbers are always limited.

Tuesday 31st October 2023

Ghost Walk  A town the age of Ampthill seems to have more than its fair share of ghost stories, with more coming to light all the time. Come and hear these stories together with other historical facts about the town

Saturday 11th November 2023

Ampthill in Wartime. The Civil War and both World Wars have had a marked influence on the development of the town. We look at why Ampthill has four war memorials, as well as visiting important buildings in the town that were used for wartime activities.

Please note that this will be a 2 hour walk and we will be walking for approximately 3 miles.

Tuesday 16th January 2024

Ghost Walk.   A town the age of Ampthill seems to have more than its fair share of ghost stories, with more coming to light all the time. Come and hear these stories together with other historical facts about the town

Saturday 20th April 2024

John’s Pub Crawl!  Over the years, there have been at least 22 hostelries in Ampthill. These inns and alehouses have been the mainstay of quenching the thirst of residents and visitors for centuries. Although the Morris Brewery was the main producer of ale for about 130 years, there were many other small brewers in the town. This tour around Ampthill will point out where the hostelries were and how they fitted into the local community. 

Saturday 11th May 2024

St Andrews Church.   The church as it stands today is almost certainly the oldest building in the town, being over 500 years old. Much of Ampthill’s history is contained within its walls and roof. This walk around the church will point out many of these historical features, together with some amusing stories concerning the clashes between Ampthill’s nobility!

Saturday 15th June 2024  

Secret Ampthill.   With any town of the age of Ampthill there are going to be those interesting little features that you probably walk past every day and never notice. This walk explores the town and highlights the hidden gems and why they are there, including the various graveyards in the town

Saturday 20th July 2024

Graveyard Tour.    For its size, Ampthill has one of the largest graveyards in the county. There are some fascinating characters buried there with interesting stories to be told. The tour covers some sad stories together with memorials and graves of the Lords and Ladies with fascinating stories to tell. 

Saturday 7th September 2024

Ampthill’s Origins through the ParkAmpthill Park has had an enormous influence on the town, from prehistoric times to the present day. This walk around the park will highlight a whole range of historical features and why they are there, as well as piecing together how various historical events have contributed to the nation’s historical past

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Ampthill Past Memories Project is awarded an Ampthill Town Council Community Grant

We are pleased to announce that our application for a £500 grant to Ampthill Town Council Community Grant Fund, towards purchase of equipment for the Ampthill Memories Project has been successful subject to the ATC Community Engagement Committee agreeing with our plans for archiving the memories recorded.
Grateful thanks is conveyed to The Ampthill Town Councillors.
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Introducing our Acting Chairperson.

Sarah Wright

Sarah has lived in Millbrook since 1999 but has family links with the Ampthill area which go much further back.  Her paternal grandparents were from Millbrook and Ampthill, marrying at the Methodist Church in 1927 and her father was brought up in Flitwick. Furthermore, a great, great aunt used to run the Old Sweet Shop in Woburn Street and her great grandfather on her mother’s side was the one-time publican of the King’s Arms. Family History research has shown that she had relatives living in Dunstable Street as far back as 1757!

Sarah was brought up in the nearby village of Wootton and attended Dame Alice Harpur School in Bedford before completing her degree at Trinity College, Cambridge and a PGCE at New College, Oxford.

She then spent 4 years as a History teacher at Watford Grammar School for Boys, before moving to Bedford Modern School. Here, she was Head of History for 19 years between 2003 and 2022 and since September 2023 she has taken up the new post of Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

She is a regular contributor to Hindsight GCSE History magazine, published by Hodder and since 2014 has been involved in a project to transcribe, research and publish the family papers of Keynes family, especially focussing on those of Geoffrey Keynes and his wife Margaret Darwin.

Sarah is a keen supporter of all the different aims of ADPS and hopes that the society is able to go from strength to strength.


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Ampthill Past Project

Would you like to be involved in an exciting new project dedicated to bringing the more recent history of Ampthill alive?

To engage with long-standing residents of Ampthill and around, to collect and record memories of Ampthill Past in the form of stories, photos, interviews, videos etc.

The records will be uploaded and stored on our website initially, and access will be made available to the public through membership.

Through a previous project that we were involved with, we have access to recording equipment and have permission to borrow it.

Those wishing to become involved in this project can help in many ways, e.g., recruiting residents for interviews, interviewing residents, researching topics, writing up memories, transcribing recordings, general help, and admin etc.

All volunteers will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure privacy is maintained for individuals participating and all records will be centrally maintained.

Get involved now and help to share Ampthill memories for posterity

More details will be available shortly.

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