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Rowney Grange Manor

The arms of Warden Abbey
The arms of Warden Abbey

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912 details each manor in the parish of Southill. In the Domesday Book of 1086 William Speke or Espec held five hides and half a virgate, tenanted by "two Frenchmen". Walter Espec may have been William's son. When Warden Abbey was created in the 1130s Walter granted it woodland in both Old Warden and Southill and in 1198 Rowney Grange was given as property of the abbey in a charter of Richard I (1189-1199).

Warden Abbey was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1537 and Rowney Grange was granted temporarily to William Rolte. In 1544 it was granted to Francis Pigot of Stratton whose widow Margery surrendered it to Thomas Pigot, her late husband's son. He alienated it to Hugh Cartwright in 1566 and William Cartwright to Nicholas Thurgood in 1587. Thurgood conveyed the grange to Sir John Brett in 1599.

Sir John's son Owen fought for Charles I (1625-1649) during the Civil War and was fined £1,396/13/4 by parliament in 1651, of which he could only pay £100. Rowney Grange was then conveyed to Henry Wynn and his son John for £200. The last mention of Rowney Grange as a separate estate is in 1663 when quitclaimed to Peter Newes and others from Brett Norton and Sarah, his wife.

There is no suggestion that Rowney Grange was a manor in documents after the dissolution of Warden Abbey. A grange, however, was a manor house serving as an administrative headquarters for farmland owned by a religious house and so was probably considered a manor before 1537.