Woodend or Launcelayns Manor Cople
The coat of arms of the Barony of Bedford
Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912, gives the histories of each of the six manors in the parish. Domesday Book of 1086 records that Cople was divided into eight holdings, seven of them in the possession of Hugh de Beauchamp, later Baron of Bedford. One of his tenants, of four hides, was called Robert and it is this holding which was later known as Woodend Manor or Launcelayns Manor. The overlordship passed from the Barony of Bedford in 1265 when the last baron, John de Beauchamp died fighting for Simon de Montfort against King Henry III (1216-1271) at the Battle of Evesham. His estates were divided amongst his three sisters and the overlordship of Cople eventually passed to the Howard family, Dukes of Norfolk.
The first known tenant after Robert was the Rufus family, a man named Godfrey Rufus owning one and a half hides in Cople in 1201. The last mention of the family was in 1347 when land in Cople was settled on Laura, daughter of Simon Rufus on her marriage with John Oyledeboeuf [French for bull's eye!].
The Laucelayn family coat of arms
It is not the Oyledeboeuf family next found holding Woodend Manor, however, but the Launcelayns. Walter laucelayn owned land in Northill as early as 1316 and Richard Launcelayn was a Justice of the Peace in the county in 1382. Another Justice of the Peace, John Launcelayn held Woodend from the Duke of Norfolk in 1433, dying two years later, his brass still surviving in Cope church.
The brasses of Sir John Launcelayn and Margaret his wife [X67/934/40]
His daughter Anne was a nurse to King Henry VIII (1509-1547) and married Sir Walter Luke, Justice of the King's Bench. He died in 1544 and his son Nicholas, a Baron of the Exchequer, succeeded him.
The Luke family coat of arms
The family were prominent in the area, with Sir Oliver Luke being member of Parliament for Bedfordshire from 1614 to 1648. His son, Sir Samuel Luke was Scoutmaster General to the Parliamentary armies during the First Civil War (1642-1646). Sir Samuel died in 1670 and was buried in Cople church.
The Gostwick family coat of arms
In 1686 Woodend Manor was sold to Sir William Gostwick of Willington, who was High Sheriff in 1679/80 and Member of Parliament for Bedfordshire from 1698 to 1713. His grandson William sold Woodend Manor in 1731 to Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, widow of the great general, the victor of Blenheim, she died in 1744.
In 1779 the Duke of Bedford purchased Woodend Manor from the Duke of Marlborough and it remained in the family's possession until 1902 when it was sold to George and James Keeble of Peterborough. The manorial estate was quickly broken up with Colonel Frank Shuttleworth of Old Warden being the principal landowner. A succession of Law of Property Acts in the 1920s abolished manorial fines and incidents as well as copyhold land tenure, thus abolishing manors in practically all but name.