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The Manor Of Nether Dean alias Over Dean and Nether Dean

The Saint John family coat of arms
The Saint John family coat of arms

The history of the two manors in Dean is given in Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire published in 1912. It seems that Nether Dean Manor can be traced back to two holdings recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, one of the Bishop of Coutances, the other of William de Warenne. The bishop’s land was granted to William Meschin after the bishop’s death and Meschin in turn granted it to Huntingdon Priory. Four virgates of de Warenne’s land were also later held by the priory. Huntingdon Priory was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1538.

Henry VIII granted Nether Dean Manor to Sir William Butt in 1545 and in the same year Butt alienated it to Richard Neale of Dean. The Neales held the manor until the late 17th century. In 1700 Hester, widow of John Neale and her two daughters Anne Stevens and Hester Delabere joined together to convey the manor to John Purny of Upper Dean for £4,053/15/- [SJ2047-2048]. The manor comprised a mansion in Lower Dean and 308 acres in Lower Dean, Upper Dean and Tilbrook.

In 1713 Elizabeth, widow of John Purny and their son Thomas conveyed the manor to Robert Lamb of Great Addington [Northamptonshire] for £2,977 [SJ2056-2057]. In 1781 Samuel Ward Lambe of Stanwick [Northamptonshire] conveyed the manor to Henry Beauchamp, Lord Saint John for £5,750 [SJ2078-2079] and the Saint John family continued to hold it into the 20th century. A succession of Law of Property Acts in the 1920s extinguished all manorial incidents, courts and copyhold tenure of land. This effectively abolished manors in all but name.