Luton Hoo, Lady Bute's Lodge, Bedfordshire

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Feature Sets (2)


Luton Hoo is a great house set in a park, 2 miles S of the centre of Luton. The original house was built for Sir Robert Napier (1560-1637). Robert Adam made plans for a major remodelling  from 1764-67, and although the work was begun it was not completed, and Napier's house remained alongside the new work. In 1825 Robert Smirke was employed by the then owner of the estate, John Crichton-Stuart, to build a new mansion and take down the old one. In the course of this work, perhaps 1832-42, Lady Bute's Lodge was built near the S end of the lime avenue that ran from the Home Farm to join the West Hyde road on the outskirts of Harpenden. The lodge remained in use into the 20thc but was abandoned by 1960 and is now in a dangerous state of repair. The E facade of the lodge incorporates a reused and badly-weathered 12thc doorway, and this is described below.


Since the origin of the doorway is unknown, this account of the history of the manor is a brief one. There is no record of Luton Hoo in the Domesday Survey, The earliest reference to the manor dates from 1245 when Thomas de Hoo conveyed land and rent to his father Robert, and it remained in this family until the male line failed in 1486.


Exterior Features


E doorway (reset)

A badly weathered doorway of Tottenhoe stone incorporated in the fabric when the lodge was built in 1832-42. It is round headed and of a single order.

Engaged shafts on attic bases (the N surviving in fair condition) carry indeterminate weathered capitals, the N with remains of a roll necking. The imposts are chamfered, and the arch has an angle roll and a face roll between hollows. The label has a thin nook roll inside a flat fillet. The stone is badly weathered and crumbling throughout, and presents danger both to itself and to the visitor.

Height of opening 2.08 m
Width of opening 1.00 m


A late-12thc date is suggested by the moulded arch, and it seems clear that the original context was a church. O'Brien, following Pevsner (1968), suggests that it may have been a priest's doorway, but if so it was an unusually large one.


  • Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 36039

  • C. O’Brien and N. Pevsner,  The Buiuldings of England: Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough, New Haven and London 2014, 243.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Bedfordshire, Huntingdon and Peterborough, Harmondsworth 1968, 121-22.

  • Victoria County History II (1908), 355.

Exterior from SE
Exterior from SE
Exterior from E
Exterior from NE


Site Location
Luton Hoo, Lady Bute's Lodge
National Grid Reference
TL 105 169 
now: Bedfordshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Bedfordshire
medieval: London
now: St Albans
Type of building/monument
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
05 March 2018