Tuesday 22 January 2008


The Story of Limbury-cum-Biscot
by Colin R. Cook
Published by Colin R. Cook in conjunction with the Book Castle, Dunstable 2007

Limbury and Biscot were hamlets just outside Luton but both have now been urbanized and the former `rural paradise` has given way to housing and traffic. However, the river Lea can still be found, the Moat House, the oldest secular building in Luton, looks in many ways as it always did and the peaceful churchyard still gives Biscot a countryside feeling.

Even before the Norman Conquest, Limbury and Biscot would have been known to travellers along the Icknield Way and evidence of Roman occupation has been found. Saxons lived here and remained in control even though, in the ninth century AD, the boundary that separated them from the Vikings was in the immediate vicinity. The book gives details of the entry for Biscot (Bissopescote) in the Domesday book and then goes on to note the names of the manors and landowners who managed the area during the following eight hundred years.

Of particular interest is the Moat House which can be traced back to 1370-1400 AD. The original purpose of the building is disputed but the quality of the richly-moulded roof beams suggests that this was more than just a manor or farm house. There is speculation that a nunnery was set up in the area. Although there is no proof of this, it is said that `on dark foggy winters’ evenings you may still see black hooded figures hurrying along Nunnery Lane responding to the distant ring of a church bell`. Nowadays the Moat House is a very popular carvery and the old beams can still be seen.

There is an interesting chapter on rural industries: tanning, straw plaiting, hat making and osier gathering. The author has gathered information about schools in the hamlets and reproduced some entries from the log books. Biscot church, built in 1868, is described in some detail and, at the back of the book, is a note from the `Friends of Biscot Churchyard` who maintain comprehensive burial books from 1870 and have maps to help relatives to locate graves.

Sadly Colin Cook died just before Limbury-cum-Biscot was published but the book is a pleasing record of his love and dedication.

Reviewed by Anne Allsopp.

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