Skip Navigation
 
 

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community archives > Blunham > Blunham Manor House

Blunham Manor House

The island site is shaded in pale blue on this map of 1884
The island site is shaded in pale blue on this map of 1884

The Manor of Blunham was in the hands of the Hastings family from some time during the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189) until the death of John de Hastings in 1289. After that date the manor passed into the hands of the Grey family, whose seat was at Wrest Park, Silsoe. The manor house was thus of much less importance from 1389 onwards and eventually fell, or was pulled down. This means that its site is uncertain but certain documents held by Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service point to it being on a site called The Island, a piece of land which is roughly semi-circular in shape, lies immediately east of the church and west of the River Ivel. It is not a true island but is bounded by the river to the south-east and a drain to the north and west (see the map at the ehad of the page). The site is rough grass and trees.

A situation next to the church would be a reasonable one for a manor house and a document of 1457 [L26/154] describes the demesne lands, i.e. those in the immediate vicinity of the mansion as being the "Montani", a pasture outside the Montani called the Orchard, Lytelgrascroft [Little Grass Croft] containing three acres and Mychilgrascroft [Mickle, or Great, Grass Croft] of ten acres. In 1498 George Grey, Earl of Kent, still had the "Montan", the Orchard, Little Grass Croft, Great Grass Croft as his demesne at Blunham [L26/212]. By 1555 the demesne was named as "the ylle land" which seems to be the "Montan" [Montagne in French meaning mountain or hill], "the bery closse with ii mydyll closes", presumably the orchard and Great and Little Grass Croft and "the hole barne yard" [L26/1256].

The main evidence for the site of the manor is a document detailing a half years' rent of the manor (1559-1560) which notes: "The scite of the manor called the Ilonde" along with "the wholl barne yarde" and "the berye close with the ii medowes". This clearly implies that the manor house was no longer in existence at this date.

When Blunham was inclosed in 1799 the Countess de Grey exchanged The Island Close, containing one acre, two roods, twenty four poles with the Rector, so that he could extend the pleasure gardens of The Rectory.

The trees behind the bungalows are the site of Blunham Manor House October 2009
The trees behind the bungalows are the site of Blunham Manor House October 2009

In the picture below the trees behind the bungalows mark the site of the old manor house. The bungalows themselves are interesting - a plaque on one of them reads as follows: "This plaque commemorates the opening of the Licensed Victualler's National Homes "Edinburgh Estate" at Blunham on 18th September 1974 by a Vice President of the Society, H. C. Whitbread esq., on behalf of the President, H. R.H. The Prince Philip, Duke of Eninburgh, K. G. assisted by the Chairman J. W. Mulligan Esq. and D. F. Wells Esq. M. C."