Much of Ampthill's unique charm is owed to the residents of Ampthill Park House. Lord Upper Ossory reorganised the layout of the Market Square, built the charming thatched Ossory Cottages and erected the Katherine Cross. Lord Ossory's nephew, Lord Holland, endowed the town with its fine avenue of lime trees, the Alameda (Grade II listed).
Henry III granted a charter for a weekly market to be held on a Thursday (1219).
Just beyond the town centre is the park, site of Ampthill's former castle, here Henry VIII would come and hunt. It was in the castle's Great Dining Room that Queen Katherine of Aragon defiantly received news of the end of her marriage. Today, a cross erected in the 1770s marks the site of this important building which is set within Ampthill Great Park, a 'Capability' Brown landscape.
North of the town the majestic remains of Houghton House, a Jacobean mansion, can be seen. Once the home to the Bruce family (Earls of Ailesbury and Elgin) who served their Stuart kings most honourably. It was spectacularly dismantled in 1794.