Over 550 years ago Sir John Cornwall, the King's uncle, created Ampthill Park and built a castle there. A later owner, frequently resident, was Henry VIII. Here languished his queen Katherine of Aragon, forlorn and discarded, while her marriage moved to its tragic end. In the 17th century the Bruce's, close friends of the Stuart kings, came to Houghton House. Their loyalty led to their downfall and impoverishment. A relative, Richard Nicolls, born in Ampthill, named the city of New York in honour of his friend James, Duke of York (later James II). His memorial in Ampthill Church incorporates the canon ball that killed him.
Ampthill Park landscaped by "Capability" Brown, was the delight of Lord Upper Ossory in the 18th century and his nephew Lord Holland in the 19th. To these two we owe much that gives Ampthill its unique charm today, not least the town clock, layout of the Market Square, the picturesque thatched cottages and the Alameda.