The Manor of Stilton

Historical notes about the Manor of Stilton in Huntingdonshire, England, UK


In the time of Edward the Confessor, Tovi held about half of Stilton as 2 hides, and the other half was apparently in the hands of the king's sokemen of Norman Cross. Tovi's lands had been given to Uluuin, Bishop of Dorchester, before the Conquest, and by 1086 Eustace the Sheriff had apparently acquired the overlordship of the sokemen's land and held it as 2 hides and 1 virgate. His man John was his subtenant and had 6 oxen ploughing; and 2 sokemen and 2 villeins had one plough. It would seem, however, that 3 virgates were still held by the sokemen directly from the king.

Domesday Stilton - Land of the King

In STILTON the king's sokemen of Normancross [Hundred] have 3 vigates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 2 ploughs, and 5 oxen ploughing.

Domesday Stilton - Land of the Bishop of Lincoln

In STILTON Tovi had 2 hides to the geld. [There is] land for 2 ploughs and 7 oxen. [There is] now 1 plough in demesne; and 6 villans with 3 ploughs, and 16 acres of meadow and 5 acres of scrubland. TRE as now, worth 40s. John holds it of the bishop. This land was given to Bishop Wulfwine [sc. Wulfwic] TRE.

Domesday Stilton - Land of the Eustace the Sheriff

In STILTON 2 hides and 1 virgate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 3 plough and 1 ox. John, Eustace's man, has 6 oxen ploughing there, and 2 sokemen and 2 villans with 1 plough. There are 16 acres of meadow and 5 acres of scrubland. TRE as now, worth 40s.

(Note: Demesne - Land retained by the Lord of the Manor for his own use and TRE - Tempora Regis Eduardis - In the time of King Edward the Confessor.)

Eustace the Sheriff's holding is not called a manor in Domesday Book, but it seems, soon afterwards, to have been recognised as such. It was held by Eustace's successors, the Lovetots, whose barony, on the death of Nigel de Lovetot, in 1219, was divided between his three sisters or their heirs. These latter, about 1256, granted the overlordship of their Huntingdonshire lands and fees to Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, whose descendants held it until the execution and attainder of the Duke of Buckingham in 1521. At the death of Earl Richard in 1262, Stilton was said still to belong to the Barony of Lovetot, and an annual payment of 2s. a year was made to the Hundred Court of Norman Cross. In 1285, the amount due was said to have been 4s. 6d., but it had been withdrawn for twenty-four years. The Earls of Gloucester had set up instead a view of frankpledge or leet for their tenants in Sawtry, Winwick, Folksworth, Wood Walton and Stilton, which lands were later known as belonging to the Honour of Gloucester fee in Huntingdonshire. In 1409, the leet was let at farm to John Herlyngton and William Wakefeld for a rent of 50s. a year.

There were holdings belonging to the Barony of Lovetot and the Honour of Gloucester which were not attached to the subinfeudated manor of Stilton. In the inquisitions held on the deaths of the Earls of Gloucester and their successors, these holdings, held directly of the honour and apparently only owing suit to the leet and not to any manorial court, are not mentioned. In 1379, however, the Prior of Bushmead bought 2 messuages and 19 acres of land, etc., which were held immediately by military service of the Earl of Stafford, (and in 1506 other tenements held directly of the Duke of Buckingham were acquired by St. Michael's College, Cambridge. In 1558, when the fee and leet were in the hands of the queen, rents amounting to 2s. a year were payable to the fee from holdings in Stilton. In 1611 James I granted the leet and rents in Stilton to George and Thomas Whitmore, who in turn in 1612 sold them to Sir Robert Cotton, bt., and his son Thomas. They were afterwards called the manor of Stilton and passed with Hemington's Manor.

The Manor of Stilton

The manor of STILTON may be traced back to the holding assessed at 2 hides and 1 virgate of land held in 1086 by John, a man of Eustace the Sheriff. Whether he held it in fee or not is uncertain, but it appears to have been subinfeudated before 1100, as it does not seem to have formed part of the two fees which the Lovetots held in demesne. In 1166, in the charter of Nigel de Lovetot returning his knights' fees, it does not seem possible to identify Stilton. In 1219, the year of the death of the younger Nigel de Lovetot, Alice de Amundeville held half a knight's fee, less a twentieth part, of the barony of Lovetot. What relation she was to Elias de Amundeville, Nigel's nephew and co-heir, does not appear. Before 1236, she seems to have subinfeudated the manor to the Priory of Bushmead in Bedfordshire, with the consent of Elias de Amundeville. On her death, after 1242, the manor apparently escheated to the barony, but Nigel de Amundeville, Elias's brother and heir, and Roger de Lovetot, the grandson of Rose, the second sister of Nigel de Lovetot, granted their third shares of the manor to the priory to hold in fee by military service. By about 1279 the priory had increased its holding by purchasing land from other tenants of the manor, and a hundred years later it acquired more land in Stilton, some of it belonging to Hemington's Manor (q.v.) and some to the Bishop of Lincoln's fee. In 1535 the yearly value had increased to £20 17s. 8d. In the 13th century there were free tenants and cottars amongst the priory tenants, but in 1535 the cottars had disappeared and the lands of the manor were held by a few free tenants and leaseholders, and no manorial court appears to have been held by the priory. This fact probably led to the breaking up of the estate by grants by the Crown to various feoffees.

Two of the chief tenements can be traced for many years. The George, with meadow and pasture, was leased for 31 years in 1531 by the priory to Humphrey Bucke at an annual rent of £4 6s. 8d. In 1545, it was granted in fee to Sir Robert Tyrwhit and his wife Elizabeth, but he sold it the same year to Miles Forrest of Morborne; in 1549 Edward VI granted the rent of 8s. due to the Crown from the George to Sir Edward Warner, Silvester Leigh and Leonard Bate. The George was sold in 1571, by Robert Forrest to Robert Apreece of Washingley, (who died seised of it in 1621 and had settled it on his grandson Robert Apreece. The latter died seised of it in 1644, and in 1664 the family owned lands and tenements in Stilton, but the George itself is not specified.

Another tenement called the Tabard was held of the Priory of Bushmead at the time of the Dissolution by Robert Catlyn, paying £10 a year. In 1545, Henry VIII granted it to Roger and Robert Taverner. Before 1590, it had passed to John and Robert White, who sold it in that year to James Boulton. He settled it in 1597 on himself for life with remainder to William Walter and his wife Clemency. Walter granted the reversion in 1599 to Richard Symons, who died seised of it in 1606 and was succeeded by his son Richard. The latter sold it to William Downhall, who died seised in 1627 and was succeeded by his son William.

The Bell Inn was the property of Edward Tebald and Alice his wife, whose daughter, Margaret, with her husband, William Redehede, was suing her parents' feoffee for possession in 1500-15.

The Angel was owned by Robert Apreece, of Washingley, in 1620, when he settled it upon his grandson Robert, and he died seised of it in the next year. His grandson died similarly seised in 1644. The Angel is currently (2015) the Angel Indian Restaurant

Arms of the Bishop of Lincoln

The Armorial Bearings of the Bishopric of Lincoln.

The Armorial Bearings of the Bishopric of Lincoln.

Gules two leopards or and a chief azure with Our Lady and the Child or enthroned therein.


The manor in Stilton assessed at 2 hides, which had belonged to Tovi and was afterwards given to Uluuin, Bishop of Dorchester, was held in 1086 by the BISHOP OF LINCOLN, and John held it of the bishop. In the 13th century the bishop held it as a knight's fee and in 1279 it was held of him by various sub-tenants by military service. The bishop then had a view of frankpledge at Stilton; he claimed waif there and to be quit of murdrum and suit to the county and hundred courts.

The Bishop of Lincoln had a fishery, worth 4s. per annum. Another fishery of the same value was attached to the manor of Stilton, held by the Prior of Bushmead. The prior's mill was worth 20s. a year. In 1555, Robert Apreece died seised of a windmill in Stilton, and in 1621 another Robert Apreece died seised of it, together with a second and new windmill. In 1570 Robert and Henry Forrest held a mill in Stilton. A horsemill was acquired in 1590 by James Boulton, together with the Tabard.

In 1792 a market was held at Stilton every Wednesday. A fair was held on the Monday before Easter in the second half of the 17th century, but in 1792 the only fair appears to have been held on 16 February. No grant of either market or fair seems to exist and both had disappeared before 1885.

Victoria County History - Huntingdonshire Published in 1932