Founded in 1666 in a bend of the Barrow River by Sir Henry Bennett, Lord Arlington. After the Jacoite wars, the lands were given to General Rouvigney, Earl of Galway who established a thriving colony of French Huguenots in the town: separate chapels and schools were built for the English and French. Along with education (eventually 16 schools) the town became a centre for silversmiths and banking. Rouvigney sold his estate to the London Hollow Sword-blade Company, and from them it passed to the Dawson family until the late nineteenth-century. The town has Georgian, Huguenot and Victorian architecture of exceptional quality. An annual French Festival is held in the town.
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