In early times Houghton Regis was a place of considerable importance. It was one of the principle Saxon townships of Bedfordshire, and was described in the Domesday Book as: -
"HOUSTONE. A demesne manor of the King. Tenant-In-Chief, the King. Hidage 9 Hides 2 virgates. Teamlands 22; teams 2 ; 12 meadows for teams .Wood to feed 100 swine. 38 villans; 12 bordars. In all, it renders yearly ten pounds by weight, and a half-day in grain and honey and other things that belong to the King’s farm. From small dues and from one sumpter horse sixty-five shillings. From the custom of dogs sixty-five shillings. And to the Queen two ounces of gold. From the increment Ivo Tallebosc levied, three pounds by weight and 20 shillings of blanch silver, and an ounce of gold to the Sheriff."
The CHURCH of this manor was held of the King by William the Chamberlain. Its endowment of half a hide was valued at 12 shillings.
The manor of Sewell was the subject of a separate entry in Domesday.
“Two manors are included in the present parish; Houghton Regis was ‘ ancient demesne of the Crown’ under King Edward the Confessor, and continued to be royal demesne under King William I; Sewell was an independent manor before the Conquest, but was annexed by Ralf Taillebois the Sheriff between 1066 and 1086 to the royal demesne; between the two, the boundary was and is the Watling Street. As is the rule in such cases of double manors, each had its own separate field-system. Besides these two manors, the township included three ends or hamlets, Thorn and Caldecote (or Carcutt), and Bidwell; from each of these a family drew its name in the 13th century. Thorn and Caldecote at least seem to be further cases of little independent holdings which originally were neither manors nor members of manors; such holdings would presumably be subject to an over- lord (In this case the King), but not necessarily a lord (In this case also the King); they were later absorbed into Manors or themselves reputed to be manors. Bidwell is less clear, and was probably a mere outlier of the main village of Houghton”
(From “Notes on the Strip Map of Houghton Regis of 1762” by G Herbert Fowler).
Between 1086 and 1353, many variants of the name Houstone were used, some of them being Hohton, Hohtun; Hocton; Hochton; Hochtun; Houcton; Hoghton; Houton and Houtun. In 1287, we find Kyngeshoughton. The name in it present form appeared in 1353, Regis, because already in Doomsday Book, it is a royal manor. Later in 1552, we get Howghton Regis.
The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘hoh’ – spur, the sense being ‘farm on the ‘hoh’ or spur of land.’’
Skeat says this word ‘hoh’ should not be confused with the northern ‘ ho’ of Scandinavian origin from the Icelandic ‘haugr’ –height.