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The Manor of Bolnhurst

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912 and gives detailed histories of the manors in Bolnhurst. The Manor of Bolnhurst can be traced back to the holding of Thorney Abbey in the Domesday Book of 1086 and continued to be held by the abbey until it was dissolved by Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1539.

Saint John
The Saint John family arms

In 1541 the Crown granted the manor to Sir John Saint John of Bletsoe. The manor remained in the family until 1640 when Oliver Saint John, 1st Earl of Bolingbroke alienated it to Sir William Fleetwood.

Fleetwood armsThe Fleetwood family arms

Fleetwood was elder brother of Charles Fleetwood, a general in the parliamentary army during the civil wars and the Commonwealth. The family came from Northamptonshire. Sir William was a Royalist during the civil wars and kept his estates at the restoration of Charles II in 1660. By the second half of the 18th century the male line of the Fleetwoods had died out. In 1746 Smith Fleetwood devised the manor to his nephew Joseph Churchill [WG1501].

In 1780 the manor was sold, according to the will of Fleetwood Churchill. The buyers were John Caldcot, Jacob Turner and Samuel Wyatt [BS1819-1820] but by 1811 the holders were Sir James Duberly, the heirs of a Bedford surgeon named Campion and Rev Robert Selby Hele (parson from 1803 to 1806 who purchased Wyatt’s portion in 1807 [BS1828-1829]). The last mentions of the manor are the sale of his portion by Rev Selby Hele to a man named George Chalmer who immediately sold it to two speculators called Ambrose Charles and Francis Johnson in 1812 [BS1831/3]. The following year the portion was purchased by Nicholas Waterhouse of Liverpool [Lancashire] for £10,600 [BS1831/5]. Manor Farm probably marks the site of the medieval manor house.