Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Cranfield > Ailwyn the Black

Ailwyn the Black

 This page was written by Sally Williams, Derry Young, Paul and Dawn Jeffery

Ailwyn was a significant land owner in the late Saxon period. On his death in 998, Ailwyn gave the manor of Cranfield to the Abbot and convent of Ramsey under its first Abbot Aednoth along with three other Bedfordshire manors. This grant was confirmed by Edward the Confessor in 1060, by William I (William the Conqueror) in 1078, and by Pope Alexander III in 1178. 

His name is given to Ailwyn’s Acre in Wood End.

The Benedictine Abbey of Ramsay, was founded on an island in the marshes near Cambridge in 969 by Aylwin, (not Ailwyn Niger) foster-brother of King Edgar, and Duke of East Anglia.

The Abbey of Ramsey was not only the earliest, but the most important, of the religious houses of this country at the time and became known as Ramsey the Rich or Ramsey the Golden on account of its vast wealth and power. 

Under Kings Cnut and Edward the Confessor, the abbey still increased in power and prosperity.

By the time of the Domesday Book, it ranked as one of the top monastic houses in the country. 

The Abbey held the Manor of Cranfield and its Grange throughout the medieval period until Ramsey Abbey underwent dissolution on the orders of Henry VIII in 1536. At this point, the manor passed to the Crown.