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The Manor of Marston

In 1086 Nigel d’Aubigny (or de Albini) was the tenant-in-chief of Manor of Marston, holding it directly from the King as part of his barony of Cainhoe. The overlordship of Marston followed the same descent as the rest of the barony.  

In 1086 Erfast held 8 hides and 1 virgate in Marston from Nigel d’Aubigny; what happened to the tenancy after that is unknown as the next known reference to a tenant of the d’Aubignys at Marston does not appear until 200 years later, when in 1282-3 Robert of Wootton held land in Marston together with his wife Constance. It appears that Constance held the property either in her own right as an heiress, or as dower after Robert of Wootton died. Soon after this date she appears to have been widowed and re-married to her second husband, John de Morteyn, as in 1284 Constance de Morteyn held one and a half knights’ fees in Marston. From this point the manor of Marston passed into the hands of the Morteyn family, from whom the parish acquired the second part of its name. In 1308 the manor was held by John de Morteyn and in 1328 it was held by another John, probably his son. By 1350 John’s son, Edmund de Morteyn was lord of Marston; he was followed on his death in 1366 by another Sir John de Morteyn. At this date the manor was worth £20 a year. Sir John died in 1380-1, leaving the profits of the manor to his wife Elizabeth.  

John and Elizabeth de Morteyn had no direct heirs, and before his death Sir John entered into an arrangement with Sir Thomas Reynes by which Elizabeth would hold his property for life, after which it would revert to Richard Reynes (presumably Thomas’s son) and his heirs. Richard Reynes died in 1420 and Elizabeth de Morteyn lived until 1428, so on her death the property passed to Richard's son, another Thomas Reynes. Marston Manor passed through three more generations of the Reynes family and by the 16th century was held by Elizabeth Reynes and her husband Richard Decons (or Dickons). Their son and grandson, both named Thomas held it until 1560, when it passed to Thomas Decons’ co-heir, another Elizabeth. She married Thomas Snagge in 1562 and the manor passed to his family.  Thomas Snagge was the most prominent member of the family, serving as Member of Parliament for Bedfordshire, attorney general of Ireland, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Queen’s Sergeant to Queen Elizabeth before his death in 1593. He was buried in the church at Marston Moretaine.  

The Snagge family continued to hold the manor until the late 1730s when they sold it to Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. They continued to be important locally, often serving as Sheriffs of Bedfordshire, though none reached the heights of their Elizabethan ancestor. The Duchess of Marlborough left the property to her grandson, the Honorable John Spencer, later Earl Spencer. In 1811 the manor passed from the Spencers to the Alington family, and was bought from Julius Alington of Little Barford by the Duke of Bedford in 1873. 

The original location of the manor house was probably at a moated site to the south-west of the church. This moat can still be seen on 19th century maps, and was only filled in 1899, when a note in the vicar’s commonplace book refers to horses and carts lent to help fill the old moat [reference P41/0/3]. A new moated site was built in the 14th century to the north-west of Woburn Road. The house which stands within the moat dates from the 15th century and is now known as Moreteyne Manor. In 1712 the Snagge family built a new residence at Marston Park, on the south-west border of the parish. This mansion, which probably had associated parkland, was later sold to the Duchess of Marlborough with the estate. In 1850 a directory refers to Marston Park as a farmhouse; it was demolished c.1879. The original manor house was refurbished at around this time by the Duke of Bedford and renamed Moat Farm. In 1985 it became a restaurant and wedding venue under the name Moreteyne Manor.  

No manorial documents survive for Marston Manor, with the exception of a notice of court for 1811 [P41/28/1].