The name "Lenton" derives from the River Leen, which runs nearby.
Lenton and its mills on the Leen get a mention in the Domesday Book in the late 11th century: “In Lentune 4 sochmen and 4 bordars have two ploughs and a mill.”
Lenton grew up around a Cluniac priory, which was founded in 1105. As the fortunes of Lenton Priory grew (becoming one of the wealthiest monasteries in the country), so did the village of Lenton; by the time of the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, Lenton village was well enough established to continue without its priory.
From the closure of the priory in 1538 to the late 18th century, Lenton was primarily a rural village, occupied mostly by those involved in agriculture. With the construction of the Nottingham Canal in the 1790s, however, a number of factories were built and the population grew rapidly, increasing from 893 in 1801 to 3077 in 1831. The 'New Lenton' area was formed to accommodate the expansion of both residential and industrial needs on what had previously been farmland. Much of the industry of Lenton, as with the Nottingham area as a whole, was related to lace.
Originally a separate village, outside Nottingham's city boundaries, Lenton became part of the city in 1877, when the boundaries were enlarged.
From the mid-20th Century onwards, Lenton absorbed immigrants from Britain's former colonial empire, especially the West Indies, India and Pakistan, and, increasingly, Africa. The area still maintains a strong multi-cultural flavour.
In 2005 Lenton celebrated its nine-hundredth anniversary, a date which represented 900 years since the foundation of Lenton Priory. The centrepiece of the celebrations was a special festival held in the grounds of Lenton Priory Church on 21 May 2005.