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Campton and Shefford Manor

Domesday

Shefford is not named in the Domesday Book of 1086. This was because it was, at the time, a hamlet of Campton. During the Middle Ages Shefford was administered by the Manor of Campton-cum-Shefford. Domesday records three land holdings in Campton and it is the largest of these which became the Manor of Campton-cum-Shefford. In 1086 it was held by Walter Giffard, with one Ralph de Lanquetot as his tenant. The manor comprised 4½ hides and a quarter of a virgate. It included 4 villagers, a mill and woodland for forty pigs. In 1066 it had been owned by six freemen who, naturally, were deprived of it by foreign conqueror king William I. In their time it had been worth 60 shillings, had sunk in value to 20 shillings when Giffard was given it and then risen again to 70 shillings in 1086.

Middle Ages

The next mention of this manor is in 1228 when Henry, son of Gerold, was in possession. Next year this Henry was guarantee to a charter granting a market to Shefford. Henry later gave the manor to one Warine, son of Gerold, perhaps his brother and it passed to his descendent Warine de Lisle of Ridgmont, who died as its lord in 1296; de Lisle's son was just six years old at the time and the manor was divided by the King, Edward I, two thirds to one Robert de Ispannia and a third to de Lisle's widow Alice. When Robert de Lisle came of age in 1312 he was duly granted the manor. He died in 1343 having alienated the manor to his son John and his wife Maud. The de Lisles continued to hold the manor until about 1404 when William de Lisle died without issue. By 1428 it was held by Reginald de Grey, 3rd Lord Grey of Ruthyn.

Three court rolls dated between 1435 and 1436 survive and are translated as CRT130Sheff11. They cover the dates October 1435April 1436 and October 1436.

Later History

In 1504 Richard Grey, Earl of Kent, appointed one Thomas Ernst as bailiff of the Manor of "Camilton and Shefford" for life, at a salary of two pence per day. By 1507, however, the manor had been sold to Giles, Lord Daubeny who died in 1508. By 1528 the manor was held by Sir William Compton, who died in that year. Sir Henry Grey then recovered the manor following a suit. In 1543 Henry VIII annexed the manor to the Honour of Ampthill and thus it was, in future, leased from the Crown.

 Possible area of Campton cum Shefford Manor
Possible area of Campton cum Shefford Manor

A rental and survey of the manor of 1606 [CRT100/16] notes the boundaries of the manor as follows [sadly there is no accompanying map; the 6 inch Ordnance Survey map above marked with points from the text is our best guess - to see a full sized version, please click on the thumbnail]: "Beginning from the east corner of the meadow called Fords Mead [B?] next Milles Holmes in the north part of the parish of Shefford and Campton by the great river [Flitt] to the furthest end of a field called Burnhame Meadowe [A] by space of 1½ miles. And from the said field called Fords Meade extending to the south part of the parish by another River up to a close of Francis Ventris [C?], knight, formerly of Papworth for a space of 1½ miles. Thence across a pasture formerly Brightman's [part, at least, of the "village street" of Campton was included as a survey of 1649 makes clear] to Keynhoe parke gate [D?] by a space of ½ a mile. Thence along the hedge [E?] of the said park to Beadloe gate [F?]. Thence to the end of Burnham meadow aforesaid containing by estimation ½ mile".

The Bruce family, Earls of Elgin and Ailesbury, strong supporters of King James I, leased the manor from the crown in 1613. In 1738 the Bruces sold their lease of the Manor to the Dukes of Bedford who held it until 1839 when the Crown presumably resumed its manorial rights, Queen Victoria being listed as Lady of the Manor in a Directory of 1847. In Directories of 1877 and 1885 the Lord of the Manor is recorded as John Lewis ffytche, those for 1894 and 1906 recording the Lord as Robert William Powell of Shefford Hardwicke. He was succeeded by his wife. The 1920s saw the final stripping away of manorial rights including the status of copyhold land. Lords of the Manor are recorded as late as a Directory of 1940 (the widow of Alfred Inskip) but by that date the title was purely honorary.