Monday, March 1, 2010

In a Manor of speaking

Over the next week or two I am going to look into the history of the Manor of Wolverton. Tomorrow I'm off to Aylesbury to look at some transcripts of manorial documents and next week I'll probably go to the Bodleian Library in Oxford to inspect the real thing.
I don't think I quite realized just how important this manor was. Certainly the wealth it generated was significant. From 1713, when Dr John Radcliffe purchased the Manor, it was producing an annual income of £2,376 - apparently sufficient to support the Radcliffe Infirmary, the Radcliffe Library and the two Radcliffe Observatories - all significant Oxford institutions - for the next 200 years.
The Manor, at least from the time of the Norman Conquest, and probably before, was defined by Watling Street to the west, the River Ouse to the north and Bradwell Brook to the east and south - about 2500 acres in total of very good farmland.
Prior to 1066 it was shared between three Saxon thegns, but they were dispossessed and the entire manor was given to Maigno le Breton, together withn some other estates. He established himself and his family here and first under the name de Wolverton and later under the name Longueville, the family held it until 1713 when it was sold to Dr Radcliffe. He died shortly after and since then it has been administered by Trustees.
From the coming of the railway in 1838, parcels of land were gradually sold off, but the Trustees still retained the largest part of the land and an interest in the administration of it. In 1970, this came to an end with the arrival of Milton Keynes Development Corporation. The Radcliffe Trust now retains only Wolverton Mill.

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