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The Manor of Clapham

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912 and has histories of the various manors in Clapham. The Manor of Clapham may perhaps, unusually, be traced well back before Domesday Book. In 986 Æthelstan Mannesunu died having given Clapham to his wife with a reversion to Ramsey Abbey [Huntingdonshire]. This was recorded in the chronicles of the abbey but must be treated with some caution as it was not uncommon for documents and entries purporting to grant land to religious houses to be medieval forgeries designed to boost the house’s land holdings, and hence income. Another entry in the chronicle notes a grant by Æthelwine Sweart to the abbey before his death in 998. The chronicle further states that in 1049 a man named Ælfric claimed to be the heir of Æthelwine and argued that the grant to the abbey was invalid, however King Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) supposedly confirmed Clapham to the abbey, a grant confirmed by William I (1066-1087) in 1078.

Ramsey Abbey
Arms of Ramsey Abbey

The tenancy of the manor was granted by Ramsey Abbey to a thegn called Brictric, from whom it passed to Robert d’Oilly and from him to Miles Crispin, recorded as holding it in 1086. Crispin’s only other Bedfordshire manors were in Milton Ernest and Thurleigh. Ramsey Abbey claimed that it should have Clapham as the grant to Brictric had only been for life but their claim was held to be spurious. Crispin’s manor was later split into two - the manors of Clapham Greenacres alias Fitzjeffrys and the Manor of Oclee-cum-Clapham alias Clapham Bayeux alias Vauxes.