Bedford Road near the Cock about 1918 [Z50/136/4]
Wootton is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, as Otone, other variations over the years include Wutton (1197-1397), Wotton (1223), Wuttun (1317) and Woutton (1304). The name, a common one in England, means "wood farm"
Wootton is bordered by the following parishes: Marston Moretaine (south-west); Cranfield (west); Kempston Rural (north) and Stewartby (east). The village lies in the east of the parish which also contains the following ends and/or hamlets: Bott End (now the eastern part of the village); Mount Pleasant (immediately north-west of Bott End); Causeway End (around the northern part of Cause End Road); Tag's End (around the junction of Cause End Road and Bedford Road); Bourne End (in the west of the parish); Hall End (immediately west of the village); and Wootton Green (in the south and partially in the civil parish of Marston Moretaine). Former hamlets of Wootton Broadmead and Wootton Pillinge became part of the new parish of Stewartby in 1937. The soil in Wootton is a rich clay over a subsoil of gravel and marl. The parishes averages around the 150 feet above sea level.
St.Mary's church from the south December 2007
In 1086 Albert de Lorraine held 10 hides in Wootton without any tenant. The manor consisted of 20 villagers and 6 slaves with woodland for 400 pigs. In 1066 it had been owned by Aelmer, a thegn of Earl Tosti (brother of King Harold, who had been killed fighting against him, with King Harald of Norway, at Stamford Bridge in 1066). The land had then been worth £10/15/-. By the time de Lorraine acquired it the value had fallen to £8. This was common in Bedfordshire and historians consider that it was due to the depredations of William I's armies as they moved north to crush rebellion. By 1086 the value had risen a little to £10.
The Parish Cage before its demolition in 1972 [Z50/136/3]
The land held by Albert de Lorraine in 1086 subsequently became known as Wootton Manor. Later the de Beauchamp family held the manor as part of the Barony of Bedford and it remained in the family until the death of John de Beauchamp at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, when it was held by his sister-in-law Isabel until her death in 1295 when it was divided between John's three sisters Maud, Ela and Beatrice.
The third share of the youngest sister, Beatrice, continued to be known as Wootton Manor. It passed through the Latimer family, then the Nevill family of Raby [Leicestershire] until 1577 when it was inherited by Dorothy, second daughter of Sir John Nevill, Lord Latimer, and wife of Sir Thomas Cecil, Lord Burghley and chief councillor of Queen Elizabeth I. The manor then passed to Cecil's daughter Mary Denny, Countess of Norwich, then her daughter Honoria Hay, Countess Carlisle to Honoria's son James who, at some date between 1638 and 1666 sold it to Sir Humphrey Monoux. On the death of Philip Monoux in 1809 the manor was inherited by his second daughter Mary Buckworth and, on her death, by her son from her first marriage, Charles Payne. It continued in the Payne family into the 20th century (all manorial incidents, courts and tenure of land being abolished under the Law of Property Act 1922).
The third share of Wootton Manor which was acquired by Maud, the eldest sister of John de Beauchamp passed to her grandson John de Mowbray who sold it to Roger Marshall in 1320. In 1374 Maud Dale, née Marshall, inherited it and, after her death without issue, it passed to her cousin William Bosun. He left two daughters of which the elder, married to William Burgoyne, inherited the manor. The Burgoynes held Bosoms Manor well into the 15th century, last being mentioned in surviving records in 1464. By 1514 the manor was in the possession of Edward Langley, who sold it in that year to George Monoux, a London Alderman. The manor remained in the Monoux family until it disappeared from surviving records - being last mentioned in 1770 and not being named in the list of property divided between Sir Philip Monoux's four sisters in 1809.
Wootton House from the road in December 2007
Wootton Hoo Manor
The third share of Wootton Manor acquired by Ela, second sister of John de Beauchamp was itself divided into three and divided amongst her daughters Joan, Ida de Steingreve and Elizabeth. Ida's portion was later known as the Manor of Wootton Hoo and the overlordship passed to her daughter Mabel de Patishull, remaining in that family until 1360 when it passed to Robert de Tuddenham and remained with that family until at least 1471. The tenancy of the manor was bestowed on the Trailly family by Mabel de Patishull and on the death of Reginald de Trailly in 1401 passed to his cousin Margery, wife of Sir William Huggeford. From her it passed to her daughter Alice and to Alice's son William Lucy. The manor remained in the Lucy family until the early 18th century; in 1712 Richard Lucy's father-in-law Thomas Chapman conveyed the manor to Francis Duncombe. His son Thomas alienated the Manor to William Lowndes, who was Lord of the Manor in 1781 and that family was in possession of the manor into the 20th century.
The third share of Ela's daughter Elizabeth Hoobury passed to her sisters' descendents John Picot and John de Patishull at her death in 1314 and was absorbed in their respective estates. The third share of Ela's third daughter Joan Picot remained in that family until at least 1346 at which date the heirs of Adam Picot were recorded as holding Wootton. That is the last mention of this portion of the manor.
This manor was first recorded in 1474 when it owner, John Harvey, died. In 1617 Oliver Harvey alienated it to Sir Oliver Boteler and it remained in that family until sold to Vice-Admiral Sir Samuel Cornish in 1765. When the manor was last mentioned in 1813 it was held by the Cornish family.
This manor belonged to Newnham Priory in Bedford and included land at Church End, Bourne End and Campion's Hill. On the Dissolution of the Monasteries the manor was seized by the Crown and in 1542 was made part of Henry VIII's Honour of Ampthill. In 1612 James I granted the manor to John Eldred and William Whitmore but soon afterwards it was acquired by Richard Button who held it in 1623. He passed it to his daughter and she to her son Button Wingate who conveyed it in 1658 to Robert and Thomas Yarwey. They sold the manor to the Monoux family and the manor was last mentioned in 1729 as being in the possession of Humphrey Monoux; it seems reasonable to assume that this manor subsequently merged into Wootton Manor.
This manor originated in a lease of land by the Barony of Bedford to the St.Edward family in 1224. In 1305 Joan St.Edward married Thomas Studley and it remained in this family until 1389 when it was conveyed to Newnham Priory. Like Canons Manor it was seized by the Crown at the Dissolution of the Monasteries and annexed to the Honour of Ampthill. Richard Button also bought this manor and held it in 1637 after which time Studleys followed the same ownership as Canons.
Manor of Pilling Rowsberry
This manor, like the Manor of Pilling Shingay, was centred in Wootton Pillinge which, in 1937, became part of the civil parish of Stewartby. By that time the manors had ceased to exist and so it seems reasonable to record them under Wootton rather than Stewartby. The manor is first mentioned in 1248 as being in possession of Godfrey le Rous and it remained in this family until 1368 when Simon le Rous died and his widow Joan (an Oyledeboeuf of Colmworth) recovered the manor. There is no surviving record of the manor from that point until 1497 when William Church conveyed it to John Mordaunt. In 1588 Lewis Mordaunt alienated the manor to Thomas Terle. In 1605 Sir Francis Clerke acquired the manor and in 1627 he gave it to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, to help fund four fellowships and eight scholarships. The college continued to own the manor and significant land in the parish into the 20th century.
Clerke, however, retained the manor building, leasing it to the college for 99 years. The manor house was sold in 1663 to Sir William Thompson and by the 18th century it had passed to the Lomax family as a result of the Thompsons being unable to redeem a mortgage to the Lomaxes secured on the property. In 1734 the trustees of the late Caleb Lomax sold the property to Thomas Inwen and his daughter Sarah, Countess of Suffolk inherited them from him. Her heir Francis Mottey Austen sold the site of manor, which had, by then been demolished, in 1812 to one William Parsons.
Manor of Pilling Shingay
This manor was originally held by the Knights Hospitaller of St.John of Jerusalem, attached to their Preceptory at Shingay, near Royston in Cambridgeshire. The first known association of the knights with Wootton was in 1247 when a criminal sought sanctuary at their chapel. The Dissolution of the Monasteries closed the preceptory at Shingay and in 1540 both it and the manor at Wootton was given by the Crown to Sir Richard Longe. His granddaughter married William, Lord Russell and their son alienated the manor to Sir Francis Clerke, Lord of Pilling Rowsberry who, in 1627, bestowed both manors on Sidney Sussex College.
41-43 Hall End in 1979 [Z50/136/11]
Domesday Book lists 26 people living on the lands of Wootton Manor. This figure only accounts for the heads of household; to get a true idea of the figure one needs to multiply it by a factor of at least four, showing that the population of Wootton in 1086 was probably a little over a hundred, seemingly about average for a Bedfordshire village at the time.
Until the 1970s Wootton was a reasonably sized village without being large. Since 1971 it has grown to the size of a small town, comparable to Toddington, Potton or Shefford and in 2001 was 19th in terms of population out of a total of 124 civil parishes:
41-43 Hall End in December 2007