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Milton Bryan Manor House

The Manor House in the 19th century [Z106/7]
The Manor House in the 19th century [Z106/7]

The Manor House was listed by the former Ministry of Works in October 1952 as Grade II, of special interest. At that time it was divided into two dwellings called The Manor House and Inglis House. The property dates from the 17th century with re-working in the 19th century. It is constructed from colourwashed render over brick and comprises two storeys in an H-plan beneath modern tiled roofs. The garden wall, dating from the 18th century “with much 19th century reworking” was listed at the same time as were two barns which later became Manor Lodge and Woburn Lodge. Both these date from the 17th century and are timber-framed with red brick infill beneath clay tiled roofs. In March 1987 an ice house about one hundred metres north-west of the Manor House was also listed. This dates from the 19th century and is made of mottled red brick.

Manor Lodge February 2012
Manor Lodge February 2012

In 1951 Charles J. Kilby put together a brief history of the manor house ahead of its being listed. He wrote [RDAH4/1]: “The oldest part of the Manor House known as the Laundry to modernists was demolished during alterations after the death of the late Miss Synnot. This appeared to be early 18th century. It is thought that the old Manor House, the home of the FitzBrians, was surrounded by a moat which also surrounded the Church and Rectory and the field known as “Buries”. The moat surrounds can be traced and it is said that the foundations can be traced if viewed from the top of the tower in a period of drought or after a snow fall. The old Free School, founded by Sir Robert Harry Inglis was opposite the new part of the churchyard. In it Sir Joseph Paxton of 1851 and Crystal Palace fame received his early education”.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Manor House [DV1/C261/27] found it owned by the Duke of Bedford’s London and Devon Estates Company and vacant, Major Charles Edward Thornton OBE, however, was expected to take up the tenancy. The house stood in 6.809 acres. The vaouer noted: “Installing Electric Light – own plant. Valued as with electric light. Poor staircase – also back stairs. Chief rooms face North”.

Downstairs were: a hall measuring 17 feet 3 inches by 15 feet (“poor”); a pantry; a kitchen with a tiled floor measuring 18 feet 6 inches by 18 feet (“bad”); scullery (“good”); the servants’ hall measuring 10 feet by 12 feet 6 inches (“new”); two larders (“new”); cellars; a dining room measuring 27 feet by 16 feet 6 inches (“back entrance and cloaks”); a drawing room measuring 25 feet by 17 feet and a library measuring 17 feet by 18 feet. Upstairs were bedrooms measuring respectively 17 feet by 14 feet 6 inches; 17 feet 6 inches by 18 feet 6 inches; 18 feet by 12 feet 6 inches and 17 feet by 15 feet 6 inches; a dressing room; a bathroom and W. C. (“combined – poor”); a linen cupboard; a maids’ bathroom and W. C. and a W. C. on the landing. Eight attics lay on the second floor. The valuer noted: “Water from Well at top of village stored in Barn”.

Woburn Lodge February 2012
Woburn Lodge February 2012

Outside stood a brick, stucco and tiled coach house (“?to be garages”); a barn and a range of storage sheds. There was also a dairy, a stable for five horses and grounds running to nine acres. Two of these outbuildings are today’s Woburn Lodge and Manor Lodge. The valuer observed: “Lovely Wellingtonia and Cedars”.

Directories for Bedfordshire were not published every year but every few years from the early to mid 19th century until 1940. The following people can be found living at the manor house:

  • 1854: Sir Robert Harry Inglis;
  • 1864 and 1869 Lady Inglis;
  • 1876 Mrs. Havart;
  • 1877 and 1885 Miss Thornton;
  • 1890, 1894, 1898, 1903, 1906, 1910, 1914, 1920 and 1924 Miss Synott;
  • 1928, 1931, 1936 and 1940 Major Charles Edward Thornton

The Manor House peeping through foliage February 2012
The Manor House peeping through foliage February 2012