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Ravensden Manor

This page was compiled by Trevor Stewart

Barony of Bedford coat of arms

The coat of arms of the Barony of Bedford

There is no reference to Ravensden in the Domesday Survey, but as the whole parish was afterwards held from the barony of Bedford it was presumably included in 1086 in the fief of Hugh de Beauchamp, whose grandson William held lands here when he died in 1262. These lands held by the barony of Bedford appear to have been divided into at least seven separate estates, most of which were at some point known as Ravensden Manor. Four of these estates evolved into Ronhale Manor (also known as Ravensden Grange), Morinsbury Manor, Tilwick Manor and Traillys Manor; the remaining three only ever appear to have been known by the Ravensden name.

The first of these was an estate held by Newnham Priory, which appears to have originated in land given by Nicholas de Ravensden, clerk, to the prior. The gift was made up of six selions abutting on Wood Croft, a croft called Stocking, a close called Inwode, and three acres of land below Benham.  The estate was increased by many other grants of land, from donors including the Engayne, Thuand, le Broc, Sauvage, Buels and Rous families.  Rose mother of Simon de Beauchamp, the founder of Newnham Priory, confirmed these gifts; the names of the benefactors and details of their donations are all listed in the great charter of William son of Simon, probably dating about the middle of the thirteenth century.  The priory's possessions in Ravensden are mentioned always in connexion with 'Ronhale' and 'Salpho,' (modern Renhold) and were assessed with them in 1535 at £12 2s. 5d

After the dissolution of Newnham Priory this property escheated to the Crown, and was granted under the name of Ravensden Manor, together with the advowson, to John and Joan Gostwick in 1540.  In 1543 the Gostwicks obtained Goldington Manor, and the two manors followed the same descent for the next 230 years; both were acquired by the Duke of Bedford in 1774. The Duke shortly afterwards alienated Ravensden Manor to the Rev. Robert Hart Butcher, whose daughter Frances Elizabeth Butcher was in possession in 1811. After this date the manorial rights appear to have fallen into abeyance, as there is no further mention of this manor. The property may, however, have passed to Francis Wythes of Ravensden House, mentioned as a landowner in 1854 and 1877, and his descendant, Mr. Francis Aspinall Wythes Wythes of Ravensden House.

The second estate which also became known as Ravensden Manor, was held during the thirteenth century by the Engaynes, jointly with the Sauvage family, from the honour of Bedford.  After the honour was divided the this property was part of the portion which passed to the Mowbray and Bray families. This overlordship was last mentioned in 1535.  The first of the Engaynes known to be connected with Ravensden was Clarice and her two sons Nicholas and Simon, who was granted  2½ virgates and 12 acres of land in 1214 by Simon de Buels.  Other members of the Engayne family who held this property were Eudo and William his son, with whom John le Sauvage was associated.  Their names constantly occur as benefactors in the Newnham Priory cartulary.  


The Crevequer family coat of arms

By 1302 the estate had come into the hands of Nicholas Godfrey and the heirs of Nicholas Engayne, and in 1346 was in the possession of John Crevequer of Creaker's Manor, Great Barford and John Malyns.  John Crevequer died in 1370, leaving a nephew and heir Stephen, aged six,  during whose minority the Crevequer interest in this property, estimated at one messuage (a house with outbuildings) and 180 acres, worth 4 marks, was granted to Roger Ball, chaplain, and Maud Perdington.  On Stephen's death, a few months later, his younger brother John inherited his right and came of age in 1385.  

In 1428 the property was held by Stephen Crevequer and John Malyns,  but by 1511 their interest in the estate, now called a manor, had been transferred (along with Creaker’s Manor in Great Barford) to William FitzJeffrey. The Fitz Jeffreys sold most of their Bedfordshire property towards the end of the sixteenth century, but retained Ravensden, which was held by George Fitz Jeffrey in 1651. By 1685 it was the property of Christopher Cratford, Oliver Davies, Daniel Foucault and Alexander Randall and Anne his wife, who in that year conveyed it to Anthony Best.  No further mention of this manor has been found.

A third set of lands held of the barony of Bedford in Ravensden, also later known as Ravensden Manor, comprised three messuages, 100 acres of land, 10 acres of meadow and 7 acres of wood, which were settled in 1512 by Robert Bulkeley on his son Robert, presumably on his marriage. Robert, the father, died in 1514, and the estate passed to his son Robert, who in 1522 acquired lands called Tilwick in Ravensden, on a lease of eighty years, from the Abbot of Warden.  In 1581 William Bulkeley died seised of this third ‘Ravensden Manor’, and left it by will to his son John, who two years later joined with Ann his wife to alienate the estate to Nicholas Luke.  No further mention has been found of this manor.