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Cople is recorded as a ten hide| village in the Domesday Book, held of the King by Hugh de Beauchamp except one virgate, which Hugh held of Countess Judith.  Cople was unusual in having a high number of tenants - eight in all - who held the land from Hugh: Robert, who held four hides as one manor; Reginald, with one hide and one virgate|; Gunfrid, with one hide and half a virgate; Norman and Branting, each holding a hide; another Robert, with three virgates and Roger the priest and Liboret held half a hide and half a virgate.  At the time of the Survey, Hugh had no undertenant for the land of Countess Judith.  Before the Conquest, three virgates of what became Norman’s land was held by Askell as part of his manor of Willington (the other virgate was owned by Alstan).  Also (according to his men) Ralph Tallboys, the post-Conquest sheriff of the county, exchanged Ware [Hertfordshire] for nine hides of Cople.

In the whole of the 10 hides there was woodland enough to support 100 pigs, and meadow enough for 24 oxen. 

 Brasses of Sir John launceleyn and wife Margaret in Cople Church
Brasses of Sir John Launceleyn and wife Margaret in Cople Church [X67/934/40]

Woodend or Launcelayns Manor

This manor is the later name for the four hide manor held by Robert, tenant of Hugh de Beauchamp, in 1086. The overlordship of this manor became vested in the Dukes of Norfolk and the tenancy passed to the Rufus family.  In 1201 Godfrey Rufus owned one and a half hides in Cople.  Robert son of John was the apparent successor of Godfrey by 1293; he was followed by Simon Rufus in 1300 and William Rufus, who died in 1310, leaving a nine-year-old son called Simon.  In 1347 Laura, daughter of Simon Rufus, married John Oyldeboeuf, and thereafter there is no further mention of the Rufus name.

The manor next appears in the possession of a family called Launcelyn, who had land in the adjacent parish of Northill.  John de Launcelyn, Justice of the Peace for the county in 1423, is the first family member to be found to have a connection with Cople.  He died in 1435 and there is a memorial to him in Cople Church| [see above].  His daughter and heir Anne, nurse to Henry VIII, married Sir Walter Luke, Justice of the King’s Bench.  He held the Manor of Woodend until his death in 1544 when it passed to his son Nicholas Luke, Baron of the Exchequer.  His son Sir John Luke inherited the manor and died in 1566 and the manor passed through at least four more generations of the Luke family: Sir Nicholas Luke, who died in 1613; Sir Oliver Luke, MP for the county until his death in about 1648; Sir Samuel Luke who died in 1670; and his son, another Oliver.  This last sold the manor in 1686 to Sir William Gostwick and it follows the same descent as his manor of Willington until 1902, when the Duke of Bedford sold his property in this parish.  It was immediately bought up from the purchasers (Messrs. Keeble), Colonel Shuttleworth acquiring the largest portion of about 1,200 acres.

 A row of Duke of Bedford cottages of 1856 along Grange Lane February 2008
A row of Duke of Bedford cottages of 1856 along Grange Lane February 2008

Cople Manor

This manor was owned by Chicksands Priory.  Its origin was a grant by Adeliza, wife of Walter Wigan, mentioned in the Beauchamp foundation charter, and grew through several other grants made during the 13th and 14th centuries.  In 1291 its value was £10 8s 8d.  At the Dissolution it was granted to Sir John Gostwick in 1539. The manor was in the ownership of the Gostwick family for 202 years before William Gostwick, (heir to his grandfather who was Sheriff of Bedfordshire 1679- 80 and MP for the County 1698 – 1713) sold it in 1732 to Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. The executors of John, 4th Duke of Bedford purchased the manor, and a large part of the village with it, from the Duke of Marlborough in 1779 and the manor remained with the Dukes of Bedford until 1902 when it was sold to George & James Keeble of Peterborough and subsequently subdivided.

Rowlands Manor

This manor appears in the parish in the 16th century, held of Sir Thomas Snagge as part of the Barony of Bedford.  Its origin is not known but the Rodland or Rowland family are associated with Cople from about the 13th Century.  The first mention of the manor was when John Spencer made a settlement of it in 1531.  It passed to his son Thomas, who died in 1547, then to his son Robert, then to Nicholas, who died in 1625.  His son, also called Nicholas Spencer, married Mary, daughter of Sir Edward Gostwick of Willington.  Their son William was living and in possession of Rowlands in 1691. The Spencers’ Cople estates were bought by Francis Brace for the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, and the manor still was known as Rowlands when part of the Duke of Bedford’s estate at the start of the 19th century.

Hotofts Manor

This manor was first mentioned in 1548, held by Sir Thomas Spencer. It follows the same descent as Rowlands Manor, also remaining a distinct manor into the 19th century.

Maryons or Malens Manor

This manor originated in the land called Horwodys which Thomas Maryon held in Cople in the mid 1400s.  His widow Isabel enfeoffed William Bole and George Gostwick on condition they return the manor to her and her heirs.  When they later refused to do so she took action in Chancery against them between 1463 and 1470.  Godfrey Hatley owned the property (amongst others in the parish) when he died in 1545, and his son and heir William was then only six years old.  According to the Inquisition Post Mortem, Matthew Stepynge had owned Maryons before Godfrey.  No later trace of the property is found.

Wiggons Manor

This manor originates in a messuage and 46 acres of land held in 1310 of Walter Wigan by William Rufus.  (The Wigans had long been established in Cople, since at least the 12th century, and Walter still had substantial amounts of property in the parish in c. 1314.)  It is first called Wiggons Manor in 1506 and follows the same descent as Woodend.