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Harlington Manor (formerly Harlington House)

Harlington Manor (rear) 1936 Z1306-53-5

Harlington Manor from the rear, 1936 [Z1306-53-5] 

Harlington Manor was listed in 1952 as Grade II*, a particularly important building of more than special interest. The listing entry describes the house as originally built in the 16th century, reworked and extended in the 17th and 19th centuries, with a 1937 addition by Sir Albert Richardson. The whole structure has a colourwashed plaster  render, and the front elevation has incised banded rustication. The roofs are of clay tile. The house is built on a complex plan: the front elevation has a two storeys and attics to the central block, with slightly projecting two-storeyed gables  to either end; the rear elevation has two projecting gables, one of two storeys and the other of two storeys and attics, with a 19th century service wing projecting from the right hand. The 1937 extension with two storeys and attics projects from the north elevation. The front elevation has mullion and transom windows with leaded lights; the flat heads have heavy voussoirs in moulded render. The ground floor central block windows were replaced by two 19th century French windows; the surrounding wall is cased in colourwashed brick. There is a modillion cornice to the eaves. The rear elevation has a variety of windows, including some casements with leaded lights, a round-arched sash with glazing bars lighting the staircase, and cast iron latticework full-length windows to the left hand gable and a part-glazed door to the right hand gable. The main block has a substantial red brick ridge chimney stack with four linked diagonal shafts. The north cross-wing has two substantial external chimney stacks to the north elevation, both of three stages, with coursed ironstone ground stage and red brick upper stages. These flank Richardson’s projecting block. Inside the north cross-wing ground floor rooms have early 17th century oak panelling, with the panelling of the rear room including reeded Ionic pilasters, dentil cornice and more ornate panelling above the fireplace. This room also has moulded spine and cross-beams and foliate boss, as well as a moulded stone four-centred arched fire surround. Plainer 17th century panelling  has been retained elsewhere, mostly to the first floor. The pine staircase is 18th century with turned balusters and panelled dado.  


From the 16th century onwards the manor of Harlington was held jointly with the manor of Toddington. The original medieval manor house built by the Pyrot family fell out of use in the 15th century and with the lord of the manor now an absentee it was not replaced. The property now known as Harlington Manor may not have been a manor house in the strict sense of the term, but it has important historic associations. From the 17th to the 19th centuries Harlington Manor, or Harlington House as it was also known, was owned by the Wingate family. In the 17th century mathematician Edmund Wingate was tutor to Queen Henrietta Maria, and it is reported that King Charles II visited him at Harlington Manor. However, it is uncertain whether the reference is to this property or to Goswell End Manor (now demolished), which was also owned by the Wingates. In 1660 John Bunyan was brought before Francis Wingate, Justice of the Peace, for interrogation after his arrest. It is believed that this took place in a room at Harlington Manor, which carries a blue plaque to this effect. An inquiry made in 1704 into the property held by Arthur Wingate, who owed £1600 to a London goldsmith, found that it included a "capital  messuage called Harlington House, late in the occupation of Francis Wingate, now Anne Wingate, widow”. In 1880 the antique contents of the house were put up for sale.  

Harlington Manor in 1926

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuation book compiled at this time shows that Harlington Manor was owned and occupied by S. Tabor [DV1/C232/1]. Mrs Tabor described the house as the “right size”! It was lighted by oil lamps, with central heating in the hall, landing and dining room only. Drainage was to a cesspool and was described as “good”. The house was described as in good repair, with well kept gardens and tennis lawn. The valuer noted: 

Charles I hid here. 

Charles II slept here. 

John Bunyan tried by Magistrate and sentenced to Gaol in Bedford. Passed one night in the attic here.  

The layout of the house at this time was as follows: 


  • Hall: 5 feet by 17½ feet and 6 feet by 21½ feet 
  • Maids Sitting Room: 9½ feet by 11¼ feet  
  • Larder: 9½ feet by 8 feet 
  • Kitchen: 16½ feet by 17¼ feet 
  • Scullery 
  • Drawing Room: 18½ feet by 23 feet. John Bunyan stood under Rose in centre of Room for his trial. 
  • Morning Room: 15 feet by 18¾ feet 
  • Dining Room: 23 feet by 17 feet  
  • Study: 14 feet by 13 feet 
  • Store Room  


  • Bedroom 18½ feet by 14½ feet 
  • Corridor: 18½ feet by 6½ feet 
  • WC 
  • Small Dressing Room 6½ feet by 5 feet and 3½ feet by 3½ feet 
  • Bedroom: 15½ feet by 19 feet 
  • Bedroom: 17 feet by 16 feet 
  • Bedroom: 6 feet by 16¾ feet 
  • Bedroom: 14¾ feet by 13½ feet 
  • Bedroom: 13½ feet by 6 feet 
  • Corridor  
  • Maids Bedroom: 13¼ feet by 8¾ feet 
  • Bathroom and WC 
  • Maids Bathroom 
  • Small Cupboard 
  • Schoolroom: 13½ feet by 15½ feet 
  • Small Cupboard 

Attic, where John Bunyan was hidden in the priest hole: 38¾ feet by 15 feet. Attic not used, except for Rubbish 

Basement and Cellar 

OUTSIDE there was a range of buildings, which the valuer noted were hardly used:  

  • Engine for Pumping water 
  • Coal barn (brick and slate) 
  • Stoke hole for green house (brick and tile) 
  • Four sheds for storing odd things (brick and tile) 
  • Laboratory 13 feet by 11 ¼ feet (brick and tile) 
  • Harness Room (brick and tile) 
  • Coach House (brick and tile) 
  • Stable with three stalls and a loose box (brick and tile) 
  • Barn for rubbish (weatherboard and tile) 
  • Wood Barn (weatherboard and tile) 
  • Potato Store (weatherboard and thatch) 
  • Shed (weatherboard and thatch) 
  • Fowl House (weatherboard and thatch) 
  • Hen House (weatherboard and thatch) 

Documents held by Bedfordshire Archives include: 

  • AD560: Bundle of 87 items relating to "capital mansion house near Church" at Harlington and estate there, early 19th century 

  • HN7/1/HAR1: Sale catalogue of antique contents of Harlington House, 1880 

  • WG2037/2: Inquisition into Arthur Wingate’s holdings, 1704 

  • X291/83/71: Postcard of Harlington Manor, early 20th century 

  • X291/83/165: Photograph of Harlington Manor, c.1920 

  • Z50/53/6: Photograph of early print of drawing of Harlington House, c.1800 

  • Z384/16: Postcard showing rear of Manor House, c.1920 

  • Z384/24: Engraving of Harlington House “as it appeared in the 17th century”, 19th century 

  • Z851/1/8: Side view of Harlington Manor, c.1965 

  • Z949/4: Postcard depicting watercolour of Harlington Manor, 1930s 

  • Z1130/53/5: Postcard of Harlington Manor, 1955 

  • Z1306/53/5: Postcard showing rear of Manor House, c.1935 

  • Z155/23: Sale catalogue, Harlington Manor House and Manor Farm, 1913 

  • Z449/1/3: Sale catalogue of Harlington Manor, 1984 

  • Z449/1/14: Sale catalogue of Harlington Manor, 1995