Manorial Rights in St Neots

The effect of Manorial Rights on the people of St Neots in Huntingdonshire

The Lords of the Manors of St Neots

Knight on horseback

During the reign of Edward the Confessor Robert, son of Wimac, held the Manor of St Neots. After 1066 it became part of the lands held by Gilbert, an ancestor of the Clares. Gilbert's son Richard married Rothais, they held the manor in 1086, when they re-founded the religious order as a cell of the Abbey of Bec Harlouin, when it still had land for three ploughs in her demesne. With the agreement of her son she granted the whole of the manor lands to the priory in 1113. They held the Manorship until the Dissolution of Monasteries. Rothais descendants the Earls of Gloucester, and later Earls of Stafford retained no rights over the manor, but did retain the avowson of the priory.

Guard in armour

The manorial rights passed to the crown on the priory’s Dissolution until 1620, when James I granted it to Sir Richard Lucy, gaining all the rights previously held by the priory. Sir Richard then sold these to Sir Sidney Montague, whose descendants where the Earl of Sandwich, (of Kimbolton Castle and Hinchingbrooke House) who held it until 1902, when Lord Sandwich sold the title of Lord of Manor of St Neots to Mr George Fydell Rowley.

St Neots Priory also held title to the Manor of Monks Hardwick at its dissolution. Monks Hardwick is mentioned as a separate manor in the early 13th century, and in 1324 the priory had a grange there, holding the manor in demesne. After the dissolution the manor and site of the priory where granted in exchange in 1542 to Sir Richard Cromwell (Williams). His younger son Francis, and grandson Henry Cromwell succeeding him.

Henry sold off the reversion of the manor of Monks Hardwick and the site of the priory in 1600 to Sir Edmund Anderson Kt Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. It is believed Sir Edmund was responsible for building the house within a large moat on the Monks Hardwick land. Half timber, with plastered walls and a tiled roof. Now only one wing survives of what was believed to be a much larger structure. There have been modern additions to the late 16th early 17th century remains, but inside as recently as 1926 records show that original moulded ceiling beams, 2 stone fireplaces, along with various door surrounds still survived.


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