The Norman King - Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Around 1106 King Henry I ordered a palace to be built as part of his new town of Dunstable. Made up of a series of 'Houses' built around a great courtyard, it stood on a nine-acre site. It was finished in time for him to entertain a largeparty at Kingsbury in 1109. Both King Henry and later King Stephen used it for a great Christmas Court. In 1204, King John gave to the Augustinian Priory the site and garden where King Henry I 'once had houses'. The priory let it out to wealthy Dunstable wool merchants who could use the out-houses as a wool yard. Wool merchant John Durrant was one of the wealthiest men in Bedfordshire but, following his death in 1297, Kingsbury fell into disrepair. However, in 1329, it was repaired for the young King Edward III to host a great tournament. This tilting-yard type of tournament was probably held in the courtyard. By 1542, George Cavendish had bought Kingsbury and he was renting 'The Great Croft' between Kingsbury and North Street. This later became know as Walnut Close. By 1600, Kingsbury was owned by William Marshe, whose family had farmed part of Caddington and Kensworth. Some of his descendents developed Kingsbury Farm, others became connected with the City of London; their monuments are in the Priory Church. Between them they founded the Ladies Lodge, the Cart and Ashton almhouses were used to found the Ashton Schools. William's son, Francis Marshe, married Dorothy Wolsley, cousin of the 17th century traveler and writer, Celia Fiennes, who visited her at Kingsbury. It later became a commercial farm but in 1925, local businessman William Bagshawe converted it back into a gentleman's residence. Two years later, he turned the barn, which became The Norman King, into the Town Museum; this lasted for 7 years. In 1935, twelve acres of the farm were sold for the Kingscroft Estate. Around 1960, the estate was broken up; one end became the home of Dr. and Mrs. Aston, the others, The Old Palace Lodge Hotel. Flowers Brewery bought the Barn and, using contemporary materials, they enlarged it and, in October 1961, opened The Norman King. Your hosts Steve and Hayley who were both born in Dunstable and grew up together, bought the lease in July 2007. They will welcome you to The Norman King to enjoy the very best of English cuisine in the newly refurbished restaurant.