Houghton Conquest.

(From the "Pictorial Guide to Bedfordshire" by Eric Meadows, White Crescent Press Ltd, Luton, Bedfordshire, UK, 1975. ISBN 0-900804-10-6)
The Conquest family held the manor from 13C to 18C when it was known as Conquestbury or Houghtonbury. The manorhouse was near Bury Farm in a secluded hollow.

The church is an interesting one - Decorated Gothic arcades and chancel arch with a faint Glory painting above it, Perpendicular Gothic the rest. The tower contract of 1393 with a mason of Dunstable and of Totternhoe was 10s per foot of foundations and, above ground, 13s 4d per foot plus six quarts of frumenty; completion in three years. The south doorway is magnificent. Inside are a roof with carved bosses, carvings on the choir stalls, Conquest brasses of 1493 and 1500, and a grand alabaster monument 1629 to eminent Dr Thomas Archer, rector 1589-1631, showing him preaching. The former rectory is early Georgian, built for Zachary Grey, rector 1724-66, editor of Hudibras, author of a number of books of religious controversy and of a commentary on Shakespeare, none of which enjoy popularity today.

Houghton House, West and South fronts.

The well-known ruin of Houghton House lies to south on the hill towards Ampthill, once Houghton Park. Lady Pembroke, Sir Philip Sidney's sister, had the house built circa 1615-21, on crown land. The three-storeyed house with corner towers was a grand still late-Tudor building probably by John Thorpe. What gave it magnificence and makes it outstanding architecturally are the classical features of stone central on three fronts - the south porch-tower, a Tuscan north arcade and, on the west front, an incomparable Tuscan-columned loggia, its frieze with heraldic devices of Sidneys and Dudleys that prove its early date, circa 1620. This is about the earliest Stuart style in England and is attributed to Inigo Jones. The Haynes Grange Room at the Victoria and Albert, pine-panelled with Corinthian pilasters, may have come from this house and also be by Inigo Jones.

After Lady Pembroke's death, the Bruce family acquired the house in 1624 and lived in it until 1696. In 1738 it passed to the Russells and the Duke of Bedford in 1794 unroofed it, removing most of its fittings. The staircase dated 1688, said to be by Wren or Hawkesmoor, is in The Swan Hotel at Bedford; also a fine 18th century gateway with screen is in Church street at Ampthill. The ruin is now an ancient monument.

Bedfordshire abounds in traditions concerning the origin of places mentioned in Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress" and, of these, the belief that Houghton House was the original 'House Beautiful' is by far the most persistent.