The Romans named this
place Durocobrivis. It lies at the junction of
two ancient roads, the Roman Watling Street
and the prehistoric Icknfield Way.
Henry I gave the area to an Augustinian priory which survives, in part, as the parish church of St Peter. It was here that Archbishop Cranmer announced the divorce of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon in 1533.
At one time Dunstable was famous for the making of straw bonnets but in the 20th century this industry was overtaken by the production of Vauxhall motorcars.
Dunstable Downs lie at the
eastern end of the Chiltern Hills and not only
afford panoramic views but are popular with
enthusiasts of both gliding and hang-gliding while
the Downs themselves are home to rare wildlife
including the Bee Orchid.
Nearby is the 600-acre Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, owned by the Zoological Society of London.
The Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Gary Cooper lived in Dunstable as a child and for a time was a pupil at Dunstable School. At the age of 13 he was injured in a road accident and went to live on his father’s American cattle ranch.