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Creakers or Crewkers or Westende Manor Great Barford

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912, gives the histories of all the five manors in Great Barford as far as they were known at the time. Of these five manors only one, Veseys, or Vaseys, can be traced back to the Domesday Book of 1086.

The coat of arms of the Barony of Bedford
The coat of arms of the Barony of Bedford

The overlordship of the manor formed part of the Barony of Bedford until 1265 when the barony was divided between the three sisters of the last baron, John, who died at the Battle of Evesham, fighting for Simon de Montfort against King Henry III. Beatrice Beauchamp received the overlordship of Burdelys; she married William Monchesney and her daughter and heir, Maud married John Botetourt . In 1328 Maud granted overlordship to her son-in-law William le Latimer. The overlordship later passed to John de Nevill of Raby [Leicestershire], husband of William's granddaughter. Richard Neville, Lord Latimer held the overlordship in 1495 and it is last mentioned, still with the family, in 1539.

 The Crevequer family coat of arms
The Crevequer family coat of arms

The odd name of the Manor comes from the Kentish family of Crevequer or Crewker. The Victoria County History states "Barford was probably acquired by marriage, for James de Crevequer, who is mentioned as holding two hides between 1250 and 1270 in Great Barford, had married Matilda the daughter and co-heir of Sir John de Bovil who was proved to hold estates in this county in 1225".

The Crevequers were tenants of the manor, holding it from the overlord, until some time in the 15th century. The manor is so-called for the first time in surviving documents in 1385. By the end of the 15th century the FitzJeffrey family held the Manor of Creakers. The first member of the family to hold it was William FitzJeffrey of Thurleigh whose son John died in 1535.

 The FitzJeffrey family coat of arms
The FitzJeffrey family coat of arms

The FitzJeffrey family held Creakers until they sold it and left the county in the late 1620s. By 1663 Londoner Thomas Garrett held the manor [AN15/2]. He and his wife had three daughters - Judith (who married Nicholas Waite), Ursula (who married John Ridges) and Ann (who married David Chandler). Their mother outlived her husband and then married Sir Thomas Gould. After her death in the early years of the 18th century [AN15/9] the estate, comprising 398 acres, 3 roods, 5 poles was divided into three equal parts in 1738 [AN22/1]. The heirs then drew lots for each part. Nicholas Waite tool one third, John Garthorne, who had married Ursula Ridges' daughter, took another. Ann Chandler was now dead, and had left three heirs. Her third piece was divided into three more parts - ninths of the whole [AN22/2] and divided between her heirs - Elizabeth (wife of Harry Mander), Judith Chandler, spinster and Dame Elizabeth Vanacher Sambrooke, widow [AN22/4].

In 1748 Elizabeth Mander's portion was sold by her widower to Mathew Pedley of Great Barford, maltster [AN22/12]. John Garthone's portion descended to his daughter Sarah, wife of John Downes [AN13/5], in 1750 the portion was conveyed jointly to William Becher of Howbury Hall and William Pedley of Great Barford [AN13/18], Becher's portion being sold by William's cousin and heir Robert in 1754 to John Pedley [AN13/30]. This portion was sold to John Alington of Little Barford in 1827 [AN14/4], remaining in the family through the rest of the 19th century. 

A moat lying to the west of Creakers farmhouse (itself a 17th century listed building) may have showed the site of the manor house. The moat is recorded by the Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER], which records every historic building and landscape feature in the county. A summary of each entry is now available on-line as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for the moat at Creakers [HER 818] reads: "a curvilinear enclosure recorded round the western side of Creakers Farm, the whole complex set within an outer rectangular enclosure. Much of the earthwork remains had been levelled by the mid 1970s. The outer enclosure may have been a medieval defensive work but the purpose of the inner earthworks is unclear".

The manor house was demolished shortly before 1738, a deed of that date [AN22/4] stating that joint owners Henry Waite, Gabriel Westbeer, John Garthorne, Harry Mander and Judith Chandler had agreed that it should be pulled down.

Creakers March 2010
Creakers March 2010