Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Cranfield > Manor of Washingleys

Manor of Washingleys

This page was written by Sally Williams

In addition to the main manor of Cranfield estates built up chiefly at Bourne End by two families during the middle of the medieval period also achieved manorial status.

Washingleys manor house and farmstead was at Bourne End opposite Hillgreen Farm; part of its site is now occupied by a building called The Manor House, built in the early 20th century.  The demesne (manorial lands) comprised arable land scattered throughout the common fields of Cranfield and a group of closes at Bourne End south east of the manor house.  The site of the housing development called Washingleys at Broad Green did not belong to the manor, but originally was common land, part of Broad Green itself.

The estate was accumulated by members of the Washingley family during the medieval period.  Washingley was a parish in Huntingdonshire close to Ramsey Abbey.  In the early 13th century William of Washingley came to Cranfield, probably in the Abbot's service. William and his wife Maud are shown as receiving grants of land from Ralph Mareschal and Richer of Bourne.

William’s son, also William, the Abbot's steward, acquired a further substantial amount of land in 15 transactions between 1270 and 1287.  In 1287 he also obtained a large compact holding, possibly in Bourne End. He’s duties included presiding over the Abbot’s Court at Kings Ripton and acting as Steward of St Ives Fair.

In 1295, William of Cranfield granted, for twenty marks and a yearly payment of six marks of silver during his life all his land, tenements, and appurtenances, with the homage and service of free tenants, to William, the son of William de Wassingle [Washingley], of Cranfield.

Up to 1299, he continued to add several small properties, including arable and meadow land, a messuage (dwelling house) and a hedge. By 1301 he had also obtained the rents of over 30 free tenants.

 In 1309 William was the wealthiest individual in Cranfield with substantial holdings in the open fields and in the enclosed lands around the parish edges.  His son, another William, acquired further woodland and arable land up until 1313.  The earliest indication that the property had obtained true manorial status was in 1341 when John Washingley was holding three-weekly courts.  The estate became known as Washingleys Manor and the family remained prominent in Cranfield throughout the 14th and until the mid-15th centuries.

In 1515 Washingleys Manor was sold by Thomas Stafford to Richard Langley for £140.  By 1548 the manor was in the possession of the Leigh family of Stoneleigh, Warwickshire; they sold it in 1671/2 to William Field [CRT110/109]. It then passed through female heirs to the families of Baker and Coleman who were prominent in Cranfield during the 18th century.

In 1796 Mary Coleman left the property in her will to members of the Stapleton family [AD705]. In 1821 the property was devised by the will of William Ambridge to be sold by his executors and trustees, with the proceeds to be used to pay off a £1000 mortgage on the property to Thomas Garlick of Tebworth, gentleman, and the remainder to be invested on behalf of his daughters Elizabeth, Sarah and Alice, and son Thomas. [GA2822]

In 1822, Joseph Robinson became the owner/occupier having bought the estate from William Ambridge’s trustees. [BS911]  In 1829 he left it in his will to his daughter Mary Tongue.  Elizabeth Tongue held it at the time of enclosure in 1840.

List of sources held at Bedfordshire Archives

  • WN 1-140: Washingley family deeds; 1220-1360;
  • BC 327-395: property of Coleman family in Cranfield: 1699-1821;
  • AD705: copy of will of Mary Coleman: 1784-1796;
  • GA 2822: probate of will of William Ambridge of Cranfield: 1822;
  • Z297/1: terrier of open and common fields in the parish of Cranfield: 1827;
  • BS911: probate of will of Joseph Robinson: 1828-1829