Skip Navigation
 
 

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community archives > Harrold > Swanton Manor Harrold

Swanton Manor Harrold

 Arms of the Knights Templar
Arms of the Knights Templar

Volume III of the Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912, gives a detailed account of each of the four manors in Harrold. Swanton Manor was owned by the Knights Templar in the 13th century, claiming, in 1279, to hold it from the overlord John de Grey, Lord of the Manor of Harrold. The manor was traced to a grant by Flandrina Maudit and her husband Ralph de Carun in 1240 to Robert de Sanford, Master of the English Templars. The grant comprised 151 acres of land and a sixth of a mill. The grant was ratified in 1242. In 1244 Ralph Morin, the rapacious Lord of Harrold Manor trespassed on the Templars' common lands and acknowledged the Templars' right to sommon pasture for 460 sheep, 35 cattle and 40 pigs in Swanton. In 1253 the extent of the Templars manor was reckoned to be 200 acres of land, 2 acres of meadow and 3 virgates of land with four cottagers as villeins (serfs of their landlord, for whom they were expected to work for part of the time as well as tending their own fields held from the landlord).

By 1324 the manor was in the hands of John de Grey, the Templars may have alienated soon after their Order was violently suppressed by the King of France Philip IV (1268-1314) in 1314. At the time of John de Grey's death the manor comprised a capital messuage, or mansion house, with a garden, 260 acres of land, six free tenants, five tenants at will, nine bondmen and eleven cottagers - a total value of over £16 per annum.

 

The de Grey family coat of arms
The de Grey family coat of arms

The de Grey family had their seat at Wrest Park in Silsoe and were later Earls of Kent. In 1706 Henry Grey, Earl of Kent, was also created Earl of Harrold. Marquess Grey and Duke of Kent.

The Lucas coat of arms
The Lucas coat of arms

He died without surviving male heirs in 1740, the Earldom of Harrold and Dukedom of Kent becoming extinct at that point. His granddaughter Jemima inherited the title of Marquess Grey and Baron Lucas of Dingwall. She married Philip Yorke, later Earl of Hardwicke and they had two daughters, the eldest, Amabel, marrying Philip Yorke, later created Earl of Hardwicke. She was created Countess Grey of Wrest in her own right in 1816 and on her death without children in 1833 Swanton Manor passed to her nephew Thomas Philip Weddel. He died in 1859 and was succeeded by his daughter Anne, Lady Lucas, who married Earl Cowper and was succeeded by her son Francis Thomas de Grey in 1880. On his death without issue in 1905 the manor passed to his nephew who became Lord Lucas and Dingwall. A succession of Law of Property Acts in the 1920s abolished manorial fines and incidents as well as copyhold land tenure, thus abolishing manors in practically all but name.