A brief history of the Manor of Putnoe spanning more than 1000 years is given below. The information contained herein is based on my research to date:

The Romans and Anglo Saxons (Before 1066)

It is known that the Romans occupied Bedfordshire during the 4th Century, and archaeological evidence has suggested a that a complicated network of Roman Roads totalling almost 200miles may have existed in the County. The line of Newnham Avenue is thought to follow an ancient boundary running northwards for almost 2 miles. It has also been suggested that Putnoe Street follows the line of a Roman Way.

 

During the Roman period Pewter vessels were produced as tableware. A Pewter plate and pottery was discovered during excavations for the housing development in Putnoe in the 1950s. Lead and Tin are used to produce Pewter. It is possible that Iron smelting also occurred at this time. The smelting process required a large amount of fuel, and it was generally found to be more viable to transport metal to the fuel supply. This fuel was provided by woodland across the uplands on boulder clay in Northern Bedfordshire such as that in Putnoe.

 

Nothing is known of the original Saxon settler, Putta, who gave his name to the spur, or heel, of land known as a 'hoh' on which his farm stood. This may have been on the same site as Putnoe Farm which is now occupied by Puttenhoe Nursing Home, next to Putnoe street.

 

Towards the end of the rule of the Anglo Saxons, during the reign of Edward III (the Confessor - 1042 to 1066), Putnoe Manor was owned by Anschil (or Ansketill or Anshil). Anschil was a wealthy royal thegn who controlled a substantial part of North Bedfordshire. His name indicates Scandinavian origin.

Domesday and the Normans (1066 to 1198)

Following the conquest of 1066 the Manor of Putnoe (know then as Putenehou or Puttenhoe) was taken from the Anglo Saxons by the Normans. Initially this was Ralph (or Ralf) Tallebosc (or Taillebois) who originated from Normandy in France.

 

In 1086, at the time of Domesday, the first Baron of Bedford - Hugh de Beauchamp (Hugo de Beauchamp) - had taken control of Puttenhoe. The Domesday book records that he held Goldington, as appurtenant to Puttenhoe, 3 hides and 1 virgate, of which 2 hides and 3 virgates had been held by his predecessor Ralph Tallebosc in exchange for Ware. Hugh de Beauchamp married Ralph Talleboscs daughter, Matilda in 1087.

 

The Domesday records show that the Manor of Putnoe had woodland for 100 swine. In Norman times it is known that pigs were turned loose in the oak woods to fend for themselves on acorns. Estimates vary from 1 to 3 and a half acres to support a single pigs livelihood. This would mean that the Woodland would have been between 100 and 350 acres. i.e. between four and fourteen times the size of the present day Putnoe Wood. Evidence of the reduction in the woodland is found later during the occupation by the Cistercian Monks and the siege of Bedford Castle by the Royal forces of Henry III in 1224 (see the Cistercian Monks).

 

In 1198 it is thought that the Manor of Putnoe was given by the de Beauchamp family to the Cistercian Monks of Warden Abbey. This gift was later confirmed by Richard I.

Cistercian Monks of Warden Abbey (1198 to 1539)

Sometime before 1198 Puttenhoe Manor was received by the Cistercian Monks of Warden Abbey as a gift, and this was confirmed by Richard I. At this time it is understood that Warden Abbey had 12 granges. A grange typically comprised of a Chapel and Refrectory with some lay brothers in charge of a monk. It is thought that insistence on seclusion by the Cistercian order may have resulted in the clearing of any existing dwellings near the grange at Putnoe.

 

In 1252 Warden Abbey received the grant of free warren in the woods belonging to the grange, and this charter was brought forward by the abbot in 1330 in proof of his right. In 1286 the monks were confirmed in their possession of the grange by Edward I, and their estate in Puttenhoe, comprising lands, rents, fallen woods, mill and court, was assessed at £9 6s. in 1291. During the siege of Bedford Castle in 1224 considerable damage was done to Puttenhoe Woods, and the abbey in compensation received a pension of 20 marks a year during the lifetime of Henry III. The grant was renewed in 1304 for another twenty years.

 

The Abbey held PUTTENHOE MANOR or GRANGE of the barony of Bedford until the Dissolution, surrendering it in 1537 to the king, by whom it was bestowed in 1539 on Oliver Leader at the yearly rent of £4 5s. 8d.

Almost 200 Years of the Gostwicks (1539 to 1731)

The Story of the Gostwicks and Putnoe begins in 1539. Sir John Gostwick Served as a commissioner for the dissolution of the convent at Elstow. He purchased Putnoe Manor from Oliver Leader for £760 in August 1539. Sir John and wife Joan built up a significant estate which included Willington, Cople, Putnoe, Ravensden, Renhold and Goldington. They continued to own Putnoe until 15th April 1545, when he died and his estate passed to his only son William Gostwick. However, William died suddenly later that year in December aged 21 years. Although married he had no children. He had outlived his father by only 8 months. The majority of his inheritance therefore passed to his uncle, and next of kin, William Gostwick.

 

William Gostwick (m. Anne Pyke of Renhold), brother of Sir John Gostwick, did nothing to enlarge the Gostwick inheritance, in fact it reduced slightly, but still contained Putnoe.
Before his death at the end of 1549, he entered into an agreement with Sir William Petre of Ingatstone whereby after his death his manors should be reserved for the use of Elizabeth Petre, Sir William Petres eldest daughter, who should marry John, Robert or any other surviving son of William Gostwick. Williams eldest son John Gostwick was a minor, aged only 10, when William Gostwick died. He lived under custody of Sir William Petre between the ages of 10 and 20 years. Sir William Petre managed the Gostwick inheritance until Johns coming of age in 1559.

John Gostwick married Elizabeth Petre. John was described as "a man of great simplicity" and of "little or no understanding". He mismanaged the estate, leasing Putnoe Manor to Robert Hatley for £30 rent (approximately one tenth of its real value). He sold the reversion of Putnoe Wood to Richard Ackworth. He later took legal action against the Ackworths to upset the sale of Putnoe Wood, alledging he had not known what he was doing. The court rejected his plea.

 

The estate passed to John Gostwicks son, Sir William Gostwick, 1st Baronet of Willington. William was held by his Gaurdian Arthur, Lord Gray until coming of age in 1586. He married Jane Owen and strenghtened the family line with 11 children (7 sons and 4 daughters). Under the terms of his marriage settlement, his widow was reserved the use of the Willington manor house after his death on 19 September 1615.

 

Williams eldest son1615 to 1630 Sir Edward Gostwick (m. Anne Wentworth), 2nd Baronet, eldest son of Sir William, returned to Willington in 1625 after his mother (Jane Owen) had re-married and moved to London.

 

From 1630 control passed to Sir Edward Gostwick (m. Mary Lytton - most observant daughter of Sir William Lytton of Knebworth), 3rd Baronet, deaf and dumb from birth, eldest son of Sir Edward. The Gostwick Estate was put under the control of five trustees due to Edwards disabilities and that he was only ?? years old when Sir Edward died:-

  • Thomas Bainbrigg,
  • William Ashwell, gentleman and merchant of London,
  • George Kenshawe of Tempsford,
  • William Farrer, of Bedford and the inner temple,
  • Francis Reade of Willington.

Sir Edwards deed provided that the manors of Willington, Cople, Putnoe, Ravensden and Goldington (plus other property in Renhold and Bedford), should be held on lease by the 5 persons at a peppercorn rent, in trust. Edwards younger brother, Thomas Gostwick, on coming of age was provided with an annuity of £100 charged on the manor of Putnoe.

 

From 1671 control of the estate passed to Sir William Gostwick (m. ??), 4th Baronet, second son of Sir Edward. He became heavily involved in Politics. His wealth was severely affected by seven elections as an MP for the Whigs. As a consequence he ended up owing £26,700 to the Duke of Marlborough. He outlived his son and heir John, who died in 1697. Sir William died at the age of 70 in 1720.

 

Sir William Gostwick, 5th Baronet, son of John Gostwick, grandson of Sir William inherited his grandfathers estate. Unfortunately for him he also had to shoulder the burden of his grandfathers debts. Too poor and proud to retrieve his fortunes he was commissioned as Cornet in Major-General Copes dragoons, now called 9th (Queens Royal) lancers. He sold Putnoe, along with Willington, Ravensden, Goldington and Cople to Sarah Duchess of Marlborough for £51,000 on 25th November 1731. All money was paid to his creditors.

Duchess of Marlborough (1731 to 1774)

Duchess of Marlborough formerly known as Sarah Churchill, 
by Michael Dahl circa 1695-1700. Oil painting on Canvas, oval, actual size is 29 1/2 in. x 24 3/4 in. (749 mm x 629 mm)

On display at Beningbrough Hall


Born Sarah Jennings on May 29, 1660, Sandridge, Hertfordshire, she was a childhood friend and of Princess Anne, and entered the household of Anne's father, the Duke of York (the future James II) in 1673. She married John Churchill secretly during the winter of 1677-78. Churchill's parents opposed an unremunerative match, however with the Duchess of Yorks assistance the couple were married.

 

Princess Anne came to depend on Sarah, and they addressed each other as Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman. On Anne's marriage (1683) she was appointed lady of the bedchamber and became a close confidante. In 1688 Sarah escorted Anne to meet the Prince of Orange persuading her to accept the statutory settlement of the succession.

 

Owing to the political disgrace of her husband in 1692 Queen Mary compelled Anne to dismiss Sarah from her services. However, after Mary's death in 1694 the Duchess returned to favour, and maintained a close relationship with Anne (who became Queen in 1702) until 1705.

 

Queen Anne had High Church sympathies, unlike Sarah who was a strong Whig. They began to quarrel over Whig cabinet appointments. Until then Sarah had held considerable influence at court, but gradually Tory Leader Robert Harley used Mrs. Abigail Masham (later Lady) to replace Sarah in Anne's affections by 1707. In 1710 the Whigs and Sarah lost power and was finally dismissed in 1711. The Marlboroughs settled at Frankfurt am Main in 1713. After the Hanoverian accession they returned to Blenheim. Her husband died in 1722. She supervised completion of the building of Blenheim Palace, quarreling bitterly with its architect, Sir John Vanbrugh, and with most of her relatives.

 

The Duchess of Marlborough purchased Putnoe, along with Willington, Ravensden, Goldington and Cople from Sir William Gostwick, 5th Baronet of Willington for £51,000 on 25th November 1731.

The Duchess died at Marlborough House in London in 1744. Her daughter Elizabeth Churchill married Scroop Egerton, duke of Bridgewater in 1703. Their only daughter, Anne married in 1725 Wriotesley Russell, who was briefly 3rd Duke of Bedford around 1711. His younger brother, John Russell, became 4th duke of Bedford, and his son Francis Russell 5th Duke of Bedford purchased Putnoe from the Duchess of Marlboroughs estate in 1774

The Duke of Bedford (1774 to 1883)

The Duke of Bedford for this period was in fact 5 people.

 

Francis Russell (1765 - 1802), 5th duke of Bedford from 1771, purchased Putnoe from the Duchess of Marlboroughs estate in 1774. He was an active Whig politician and one of the friends of the Prince of Wales (later George IV). The Duke of Bedford was apparently a notable stockbreeder.

 

His younger brother, John Russell (1766 - 1839) succeeded him in 1802, becoming 6th Duke of Bedford. He was know as a Whig radical, continuing in politics as his predecessors.

 

His eldest son, Francis Russell (1788 - 1861), acceded to 7th Duke of Bedford in 1839, followed in 1861 by his only son, William Russell (1809 - 1872) who became the 8th Duke of Bedford.

 

Whilst owning the Putnoe Estate, the Duke of Bedford leased it to various tenant farmers. The arrangements were generally administered by the Dukes estate manager based at Woburn. The Farmer was of high social status and would certainly have been considered locally as Gentry.

The 1841 census records that William Best occupied Putnoe Farm as the farmer, sharing the it with the Richardson family, who he employed as agricultural labourers. In 1843 lease of the farm was taken by Henry Dyott Boulton and his family. At this time the state of the land drainage was found to be in such a poor condition that a reduced rent was agreed. It was also evident that Putnoe Farm, then known as Putnoe (or Puttenhoe) House, was in need of significant remedial work. In the early years of his occupation it seems that Henry Boulton organised the straightening and improvement of the drainage stream along the northern edge of Putnoe Wood (See C18th Century Map for the original meandering stream line). He also rebuilt part of the main Farm building constructing a decent road to it. Boulton seems to have prospered on the land, employing 17 men and 5 boys on the land as well as housemaids, and a cook. A lodge was built (Putnoe Lodge) at the entrance to the Farm driveway, and was occupied by Boultons Farm bailiff and agricultural labourers.

 

Since William Russell (The 8th Duke) had no children, the 9th Duke of Bedford (from 1872) was his cousin Francis Charles Hastings Russell (1819 - 1891).

 

By 1877 John Horrell had taken over the lease of Putnoe Farm. In 1881 he employed 15 men and 7 boys on the estate, as well as various domestic staff including a Governess (Teacher), Cook, housemaid, and nursemaid. He continued to occupy the farm after its sale by the 9th Duke of Bedford to Charles Pope of Sandy, a Miller, for £25,131 in 1883.

The Popes & Hartops (1883 to 1953)

Towards the end of the 19th Century land was being sold by gentry to realise capital. Charles Pope of Sandy, a Miller, for £25,131 purchased Putnoe in 1883 from the 9th Duke of Bedford, Francis Charles Hastings Russell. It appears that the Farmer, John Horrell, remained as the tenant of Putnoe Farm until at least 1885. However, by 1890 the lease had been taken by Thomas Ernest Davies. By 1891 two cottages had been built close to the farm, on the other side of the road of what is now Putnoe Street. These were occupied by Farm labourers and their families. Thomas Davies seems to have been an active member of the community and was the Goldington Parish Council Clerk around 1898. However by 1901 he had vacated Putnoe Farm, and a farm labourer was acting a housekeeper.

 

In 1903 Charles George Hartop occupied the farm. The estate at this time was still owned by the Pope family. In 1908 the Hartop brothers, William and Arthur had taken tenancy of the farm.

Charles Pope had died in 1888 and the Putnoe estate passed to is daughter Ellen Pope, and sons Charles and Francis Pope. They continued to own the estate until early 1910, when it was sold in lots.

 

The Hartop family appear to have been the principle purchasers of Putnoe land, although small areas such as that west of Putnoe Wood were sold to others. However, by 1946 the Hartops had acquired all of the original Putnoe estate, as well as Elms Farm in Goldington.

 

Following World War 2 there appeared to be a decline in the prosperity of Farming across North Bedford. The farm land was described in 1952 by Max Lock as: "... a somewhat featureless expanse of arable and grazing land, extending as far north as the Borough boundary; it is rectangular in shape, a mile long from east to west and a quarter of a mile wide, with a handful of trees towards its southern boundary. There are gently undulating slopes and a long, shallow valley extending across the south. On the crown of the site in the north-west corner the landscape is relieved by the well-wooded garden and entrance drives of Putnoe Farm. Apart from three long, straight hedges that traverse the site from north to south and three small ponds, there are no other features of interest."

 

Major developments for the future were being considered in the Borough of Bedford, and by 1953 the Hartops had agreed the sale of the first part of Putnoe to the Bedford Corperation to allow a housing development to start

The Housing Boom and Bedford Corporation (1950 to 1973)

1953

Early construction of road infra-struture in Putnoe in 1953. The roads under construction are the western end of Queens Drive,

The Graylings, Arrows Leys and Putnoe Heights.

2017

The same area in 2017 with Queens Drive in the foreground. Putnoe Wood iis in the top left corner of this image.

Following the second world war momentum grew in Bedford to plan the re-development of the town from its current size of 58,000 to 75,000. This required the provision of a substantial area of land for housing development.

 

At the time the County Council, who were the planning authority, attempted to pursued the Borough Council to consider development on areas of clay sub-soil around Bedford, and in particular across Putnoe, Goldington and Brickhill. There initially appeared to be great resistance to this. Traditionally buildings in Bedford had founded on areas of River Terrace gravels, and it was thought in 1949 that the cost of the foundations excavated into the Boulder Clay/Blue Oxford Clay would add approximately £70 to the cost of constructing a house. Since no viable alternative could be found by the Borough they eventually acccepted the County's proposals for development of the Putnoe area.

 

The decision to develop the Putnoe area was taken in 1950, but concern was expressed by councillors about developing the site in an 'unplanned' way. "We are not going to have this great lump put on one side of our town if it is going to mean bad planning".

 

Max Lock, a town planning consultant, was appointed early in 1950 by the County Council, to prepare detailed proposals for the future development of Bedford. He published his report to the Council in 1951 and as a book "Bedford by the River" in April 1952. Lock made recommendations on the development of 'Neighbourhood 4', a site of approximately 250 acres stretching from Goldington Green on the east to Putnoe Lane in the West.

 

By the end of 1952 tenders for the roads, drainage and water main infra-structure had been received to link Goldington to Putnoe Lane, and construction commenced in 1953. One Hundred and Sixteen Acres owned by the Hartop family were purchased (along with other land in Goldington) by the Bedford Corporation by April 1953. Ninety Four plots along Putnoe Lane were immediately sold by the Corporation to private purchasers and local builders. Towards the end of 1953 a further 136 plots on the estate were offered for sale to local builders. Bedford Corporation at the time appeared to have a policy of encouraging local rather than national builders to develop the site, and seemed to maintain this policy until 1968.

 

The first phase of construction of the Putnoe estate occured between 1953 and 1957.

Modern Putnoe - 1973 to Present

Putnoes housing development since the early 1970's has principally been at the northern end, filling the gaps between Brecon Way and Putnoe Street up to Wentworth Drive. Below is an aerial view of Putnoe with the original Putnoe Manor boundary.

 

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