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The Second Manor of Steppingley

Woburn Abbey
The arms of Woburn Abbey

A second Manor of Steppingley was claimed after the Dissolution of Woburn Abbey in 1538. In the 14th century this estate was held from Lord Mowbray by Emery de Saint Amand, the Knights Templar being, in turn, tenants of the Saint Amands. When the Templars in England were suppressed by King Edward II (1307-1327) their lands and holdings were transferred to their brother crusading knights the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem.

The Hospitallers in England were dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) and this second Steppingley manor was then granted to Sir Richard Longe. Longe’s son Henry devised the manorto his wife and daughter Elizabeth on his death in 1573. Elizabeth married Sir William Russell and, on her death, it reverted to her mother, who settled it on a son by a third marriage to Charles Morrison. This was disputed by Elizabeth’s son Francis, 4th Earl of Bedford and in 1649 the manor wase held by his son John.

The manor remained in the Russell family for some time, though in a collateral branch to the Dukes of Bedford, owners being: Edward Russell, son of John; William Russell, son of Edward; Edward Russell, brother of William and later created Earl of Orford in 1697. On Edward’s death in 1727 the manor descended to his niece Anne, wife of Sir Thomas Tipping. She was succeeded by her eldest daughter, Letitia, wife of Samuel, 1st Baron Sandys. On the death of Samuel’s son in 1797 the manor was settled in his wife for the remainder of her life, then on the second son of the Marquess of Downshire.

The arms of the Dukes of Bedford

In 1839 the manor was purchased by the Duke of Bedford who continued to hold it into the 20th century. In the 1920s a succession of Law of Property Acts effectively abolished manors in all but name.