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Warden Abbey Manor

The Gostwick family coat of arms
The Gostwick family coat of arms

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912, gives details of all the manors in Old Warden. Warden Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1537. In 1544 the site of the abbey buildings, along with all lands in the monastery precints was leased to Robert Gostwick for forty one years. He bequeathed the lease to his son William in 1562. Other leases were granted in 1568 to Arthur, Lord Grey of Wilton, in 1588, to Sir Charles Morrison and in 1610 to John Eldred.

In 1628 Warden Abbey Manor was granted by the Crown to Edward Ditchfield and others on behalf of the Corporation of London from whom Sir Charles Morrison probably purchased the reversion. Certainly, in 1652 the manor was in the hands of his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Sir Arthur Capel. Capel fought for King Charles I (1625-1949) in the first two civil wars and was captured and beheaded by Parliamentary forces at the surrender of Colchester in 1649. His estates at Old Warden were then sequestered for a year and in 1652 rents on tenants were being levied by the parliamentary committee for compounding. This seems to be the end of the manor as such.

By 1669 Warden Abbey Manor was held by Sir Ralph Bovey who died without issue in 1679. By 1784 the site of the abbey had been purchased by Samuel Whitbread, founder of the Whitbread Brewery in London and that family held the site into the 20th century.