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The Manor of Melchbourne

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912 and details the history of the Manor of Melchbourne which, in 1086, was held by Geoffrey de Montbray, Bishop of Coutances who was part of William I's army at Hastings. After his death in 1093 the property reverted to the Crown and, at some time in the following century passed to Alicia de Clermont who gave manor and church to the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem, a gift confirmed by King John (1199-1216) in 1199. It remained their property until the dissolution of religious houses and orders under King Henry VIII (1509-1547).

The Russell family arms

Edward VI (1547-1553) granted the manor to John, Baron Russell in 1549 – he became 1st Earl of Bedford in 1551. The earls continued to hold Melchbourne until 1608, though it is possible that for a short time under Mary I (1553-1558) the manor reverted to the Knights Hospitaller.

The Saint John family arms

In 1608 Edward, 3rd Earl of Bedford conveyed the manor to Oliver, 3rd Baron Saint John of Bletsoe. It remained in the hands of the Saint John family into the 20th century. A succession of Law of Property Acts in the 1920s effectively abolished manors in all but name.