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The Manor of Pilling Shingay

The arms of the Knights Hospitaller
The arms of the Knights Hospitaller

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It gives detailed histories for each of the manors in Wootton. The manor of Pilling Rowsberry was centred on Wootton Pillinge, which was later transferred to help form the new civil parish of Stewartby.

The manor later known as Pilling Shingay is first traceable in the historical record in 1247 when a criminal sought sanctuary in the chapel of the Lords of the manor, the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem. The knights continued to hold the manor until their order in England was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547). In 1540 the manor was given by the Crown to Sir Richard Longe.

Longe’s son Henry had a daughter as his heir - Elizabeth, who married William Russell, fourth son of Francis, Earl of Bedford. Their son Francis, Lord Russell, presumably conveyed it to Sir Francis Clerke, who already held the Manor of Pilling Rowsberry who, in 1627, gave both manors to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge to found four new fellowships and eight scholarships. In 1836 both manors were still in possession of the college, remaining so into the 20th century. A succession of Law of Property Acts in the 1920s extinguished all manorial incidents, courts and copyhold tenure of land. This effectively abolished manors in all but name.

The coat of arms of Sidney Sussex College
The coat of arms of Sidney Sussex College