The House has existed at Grafton Regis from at least 1205, when the earliest records show its building by Hugh De Wivill. There may, of course, have been an earlier house on this site. It has seen Kings and Queens, a siege, court cases, love affairs, weddings, divorces, and events which have changed the course of English history for ever. At the same time, it was essentially a family home, and you can read the everyday details of its management on these pages. It has been known as "The Great House" and Grafton Manor. Also been described as follows in the Calendar of State Papers 1635/36. The honor of Grafton has been mortgaged by his Majesty to Sir Francis Crane for £7,600. "It is the bravest and best seat in the kingdom, a seat for a prince and not a subject."

Owners & Occupants of the Manor / Great House from 1154 - 1985

Henry II
Abbey of Fatouville-Grestain, 11th century Benedictine monastery

In the reign of Henry II [1133-1189] William de Wivill had lands in Grafton, for which he rendered 25s yearly to the abbot of Grestein.

William de Wivill permitted his son Hugh on his marriage to build a house, and gave him an assart of 3 or 4 acres.
Hugh de Wivill died in that house. His son Robert de Wivill held a capital messuage, and four acres of assart, which Hugh his father held in Grafton.

Thomas Wideville, became lord of Grafton, where his ancestors had been seated as tenants nearly three centuries. When he died is not known, but his will is dated 12th Oct 1434.

Richard Wideville 1st Lord Rivers

Sir Richard Wideville married Jaquetta duches of Bedford in 1436.

In late July, 1469, following a Lancastrian uprising in the North, the Battle of Edgecot in Warwickshire was fought, resulting in a Lancastrian victory. Immediately victory was declared, Earl Rivers and his son John were arrested, probably at their home in Grafton, and taken to Northampton, where they were beheaded without trial.


Elizabeth, the daughter of Richard and Jaquetta married Sir John Grey of Groby about 1454. He was later killed during the Wars of the Roses on 17 February 1461 (aged about 29).

Edward IV
Elizabeth Woodville

Elizabeth later married Edward IV in Grafton on May 1st 1464, and was crowned queen in May 1465.
Richard Wideville became the Earl Rivers, Lord of Grafton & de la Mote. He was also made constable of England for life.

Anthony Woodville, Baron Scales & 2nd Earl Rivers died 25 June 1483.


Richard Woodville, 3rd. Earl Rivers he died unmarried 6 March 1491.

Oct. 19th. Richard III halted at Grafton Manor on his way to the Midlands.


Thomas Grey, 1st. Marquess of Dorset. elder son of Sir John Grey and his wife Elizabeth Woodville.

Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset

The Manor was leased on October 11th to Thomas Hinderman 'a grazier late in the holding Henry Smyth Rent' for £60p.a. Lord John  Williams of Thame was paid £60 a year for numerous offices, including steward, bailiff and keeper of Grafton Manor.

Thomas Grey 2nd Marquess of Dorset.

Thomas was an active courtier and took part with great distinction in many court
tournaments, on one occasion in March 1524 nearly killing the king.

Henry VIII swaped lands in Leicestershire with Thomas Grey for Grafton House and land in Northamptonshire.

For reparacions of the Manor of Grafton 16th Feb 17 Henry VIII 1525/1526. To Sir Thomas More, knight, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Our manor of Grafton is in great ruine and decay which manor standethe for our pleasure; shall be repaired and amended.

The king's giest from Winchester to Ampthill
Tuesday 21 August. from Winchester to Thruxton, near Lisle's place six miles.
Saturday 25th thence to Ramsey 12 miles,
Friday 31st August thence to Compton 8 miles,
Saturday 1st September thence to Langley,
Tuesday 11 September. thence to Bycester 13 miles, Wednesday 12th Sept. thence to Buckingham 10 miles, Thursday 13th Sept. thence to Ampthill and there and at Grafton during the king's pleasure.

Catherine of Aragon
married Henry VIII 11 June 1509

Henry VIII acquired the Manors of Grafton & Hartwell from Thomas 2nd Marquess of Dorset in exchange for the manors of Loughborough and Shepshed (Leics.)

In 1528 Henry VIII left London to avoid the plague. He moved north to the healthier air Ampthill, where he began to complain of pains in the head, causing a momentary panic. He was still feeling poorly when he moved to Grafton, but here his pains disappeared. What began as a flight from the plague had now turned into a progress.

21st July. Hennege to Wolsey. I have this day put the king in remembraunce of the letter of his own hand, which he said he would write and present. Tomorrow he intends to go to Grafton to stay the Thursday and return on the Friday. I will get him to write without fail when I can. I beseech you continue gracious to my poor brother the archdeaon of Oxford for whom I thank you. At Ampthill 21 July

Hennege to Wolsey. 22d July. This day I received your letter with one to the chapter of Lincoln in favour of my brother, the archdeacon of Oxford for the deanery of Lincoln, which without your aid had not taken effect. As the plague is at Grafton, the king will not go there [George Heneage, archdeacon of Oxford 1522-1529, dean of Lincoln 1528-1538]

11th September. For a cart to carry the hounds from Grafton to Amptill after 15 miles 2s.-6d.

27th November. John Williams lease of all rents and services of free tenants and natives, demesne lands etc belonging to the lordship of Grafton, Northants which is to come in the king's gift by an exchange made between the king and Thomas Marquis of Dorset, with reservations for the term of 21 years at an annual rent of £21

10th September Grafton. Henry VIII

Sunday 12th Sept. The king's offering on Our Lady Day, at Grafton,

Grant 3rd November to William Dawe yeoman of the Guard. To have the fee of the crown at 6d a day, vice Walter David. Given at Grafton, 22nd Sept.

September. Thomas Bisley York Herald sent to attend Cardinal Compegius from London to Grafton and so to Dover, from thence to London again in post and immediately with the said Cardinal to Calais where he by the command of Mr Deputy thence was attended 19 days £18.

Anne Boleyn finally married
Henry VIII on 25 January 1533
Cardinal Wolsey

Most famously, the last meeting of Henry VIII, his chief minister and Chancellor Thomas Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio took place at Grafton Manor on 19 and 20 September 1529. This occasion gives a vivid insight into the passion and fury which lay behind Henry's decisive break with Rome and the dangerous uncertainty surrounding this momentous event. The King had become infatuated with Anne Boleyn and was determined to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to provide him with the male heir he longed for. In order to obtain the divorce Henry needed the permission of Pope Clement VII, who was in the control of Catherine's uncle Emperor Charles V. Cardinal Wolsey had been instructed by the King to deal with the matter. In a last desperate attempt to persuade the Pope, Wolsey invited the papal envoy, Cardinal Campeggio, to come to England to discuss matters. When the negotiations proved inconclusive, Wolsey determined on a last interview with the King at Grafton.

Cardinal Campeggio

The final encounter took place at the Manor on the feast of the Virgin and has been vividly recorded by Wolsey's attendant and biographer George Cavendish.

6th September To Vaughan grome of the Chambre for charges of the Ambassador of Hungarye at Stony Stratford when they came to the Kings Grace at Grafton 16s 8d.

31st July. A monk that brought a letter in a purse to the Kings Grace to Grafton 20s


29th July. To Humphrey Raynez removing with the cart with hounds from Amptill to Grafton 2s.-6d.

31st July. To a monk who brought the king a letter in a purse to Grafton 20s.

2nd August. Grant to William Oxbridge, one of the pages of the king's chamber, given at Grafton.

At Grafton 2nd August. To William Walwayn and Robert Hennege to be auditors of possessions late of Edward Duke of Buckingham.

4th August. To lord Ferrers' servant for bringing an angle rod to the king at Grafton 15s.

5th August. Warrant to Cromwell as master of the Jewels to pay John Ellys and Hugh Norres £33-6s-8d for expenses about the king's iron mines at Llantrissant, given at Grafton

6th August. To Brian Tuke treasurer of the chamber, warrant for payment of £20 to Stephen Vaughan as fee for office of the writing of the king's books. At Grafton.


19th. September. John Husee to Lord Lisle. ' Arrived at Langley on Sunday last…..I think Mr Secretary will meet the king at Grafton

20th. September. John Husee to lord Lisle. When Mr Secretary goes to the king at Grafton I will attend on him

23rd September. John Husee the younger to lord Lisle. Received of Mr Vice-treasurer a letter which I delivered to Mr Secretary who is Master of the Rolls. He said after he had perused Mr Whethill's and your affairs he would learn the king's pleasure commending me to be at Grafton in the court on Thursday next

24th October. Cecily Hall widow to Cromwell. Has received his letters dated at Grafton 29th September.

1st October. Henry VIII to city of Waterford. Has sent an army in Ireland to subdue his enemies. Given at Grafton.


At a Privy Council meeting Sir John Williams was recorded as 'master of the king's jewels’. Offices of chief steward & bailiff of the manors of Grafton & Hartwell [which offices Sir John Russel lately held].

Royal Stony Stratford by F. Markham A sidelight on Henry VIII's extreme sensitiveness to public opinion is shown in the administration of justice within Stony Stratford, for he was not only the a liberal dispenser of favours to those who pleased him, he was also the source of merciless law against those who questioned royal authority. Thus George Taylor, who is reported to have said that, 'The king is but a knave and liveth in advowtry and is a heretic and liveth not after the laws of God,' and further 'I set nought by the king's crown and if it had been here I would have played football with it', came under royal displeasure. Taylor denied having said these things, that in fact had he uttered them it had been done in drunkenness. But neither Cromwell nor the king could be sure that such sentiments were not common among the people of north Buckinghamshire, and on February 27, 1535, we find Sir Frazer Bryan writing to Cromwell that Taylor may be tried by the king’s command and hanged drawn and quartered and his quarters set up in Buckingham, Aylesbury, Wycombe and Stony Stratford. This is an illuminating commentary on the sixteenth century administration of justice, the defendant being prejudged guilty before his trial “pour encourager les autres;” In the last sentence of Bryan’s letter the real reason for Taylor’s conviction was made plain: “This case”, he wrote “will be a very great example and the safeguarding of many.”

Floor tile from Grafton House

Floor tile from Grafton House
Roof tiles from Grafton House


Longleat,  MS. misc. xxx  ff. 9-12v    Payments by James Nedam.  Payments as well for all manner of empceons necessaries and cariage as well as to wages of artyfycers and labourers.  Sunday 3rd   September- Sunday 1 October,  28 Henry VIII  1536.

Jane Seymour married Henry VIII on 30 May 1536

“makyng and heggyng off iij places in the back court, as one for to be the boylyng place and one fore the lyvere place and thother for a rostyng place as also to lyke makyng off a new hegge frame frome the kynges comon powndd unto the pastures by the quenes command”.

30th Aug. 1536 John Husee to lord Lisle. Desires that his suit may have an end at Grafton. Has been a long suitor and at great charges. Has still some hope since the king has shown him favour, to be dispatched before Cromwell leaves Grafton.

6th Sept. 1536 John Husee to lord Lisle. Will go to the court at Grafton for Mr Treasurer's anwer tomorrow. The king will stay there 8 days.

6th Sept. 1536 John Husee to lady Lisle. Will do her best about Knebworth. Will ride to the court at Grafton tomorrow about it.

7th Sept. 1536 Pardon to William Jonson, at Grafton.

Letter 10th Sept. 1536 at Grafton. Antoine de Castelnau, bishop of Tarbes

25th Sept. 1536 Henry VIII to Mary of Hungary, at Grafton


17th July 1537 Sir Francis Bryan to Cromwell. 'I cannot see in what way the king can come to Grafton. I hear they die at Reading and am sure they do at Thame and also within a mile of Mr Williams house at Buckingham. The king might come from Esthampstead to Bishops Owburne, thence to Berkhampstead 12 miles, thence to Eston, my lady Brays 7 miles, for neither my lord nor my lady is at home. Then to Waddon 7 miles and thence to Grafton 7 miles. They die at Tosseter very sore'.

The kynges mannor of Grafton:  from Sondaye 22nd  July unto Sondaye 19th August 29 Hen. VIII 1537. Buyldyng and reparacons done ayengst his Gracis comyng thither.

“drawyng of bordes redy for both sydes of the bowlynge alley to beare theither bank wyse aslope for the bowles to playe upon, furthermore not only makyng of seates within the said bowlynge aley for the kynges grace to rest on,”

3rd Aug. 1537 Robert Pakenham to Sir Thomas Dingley. The king goes from Windsor to Ampthill and Grafton Wednesday 8th August

7 Aug. 1537 John Husee to lord Lisle. My lord privy seal says your suit shall be rid before the king go from Grafton.

The king's jests made 22nd July 1537. Thursday St Anne's day 26th July from Esthamstede to Sonnynghall and the king, the Queen and the household to Windsor 7 days, 4 miles. Wednesday 8th Aug. the king apart to Mysildyn (Missenden) and there that night 1 day, 12 miles. Thursday 9th Aug. thence to Dunstable and there Friday 2 days, 13 miles. Sat. 11th Aug. to Ampthill 8 miles and there 6 days, Friday 17th Aug. to Grafton, 15 miles and there 10 days.

9th Aug. 1537 Sir William Parre to Cromwell. As the king is coming to Grafton he would rather have gone there.

21st Aug, 1537 John Husee to lord Lisle. Could not speak with my lord Admiral till the king came to Grafton.

13th Aug. 1537 Cromwell to Mayor and Corporation of Cambridge. At Grafton

25th Oct. 1537 John Wellysburn to Cromwell. Reminds him of what he moved to him the day that the king left Grafton for Ampthill.

The Scottish Ambassador received at The Manor.


1st Sept. 1539 Marillac to Francis I. Having followed the king in his progress as far as this place, Grafton, 50 miles from London, has learnt that an excellent painter [Hans Holbein] whom the king sent to Germany to bring the portrait of the Duke of Cleeves sister. At Grafton 1 Sept.

Anne of Cleves married Henry VII on 6 January 1540 .
The marriage was declared never consummated and, as a result, she was not crowned.

7th Sept. 1539 Petition from Thomas Pylson to restore his fellowship at the King's Hall Cambridge. He repaired to the king at Grafton where he complained that fellowship withdrawn

17th Aug.-14 Sept. 1539 Mr Keys requests allowance of £8 for riding to the king at Grafton for money and waiting there 24 days

31st Aug. 1539 King's Sunday offering at Grafton, offering Sunday 7th Sept. 6s.-8d

2nd Sept. 1539 Royal pardon given at Grafton

9th Sept. 1539 Royal grant-temporalities restored to bishop of Bangor, at Grafton.

2nd Oct. 1539 Royal grant of office of clerk of the signet, given at Grafton.

7th Oct. 1539 Royal grant to John Evan, one of king's falconers, at Grafton

Katherine Howard married Henry VIII on 28 July 1540
She was beheaded 13 February 1542

Henry VIII and his new bride Katherine (Howard) on a honeymoon progress, Katherine arriving at Grafton on August 29th and staying until September 7th.
In a Privy Council Meeting Sir John Williams was recorded as master of the king's jewels.

In 1540 Henry VIII’s progress was not to be just a hunting progress, by a display of calculated magnificence and majesty designed to overawe and impress disaffected subjects; and in case that were not enough, Henry was taking with him such a strong military presence that his train seemed ‘more like a military camp’ than a court. The progress started in June, when the King led his vast company northward towards Hatfield, Dunstable, Ampthill and Grafton, hunting and hawking on the way. Progress was slow and initially hampered by stormy weather: the roads became impassable, the baggage carts got stuck in the mud, and the Queen was unwell for a time. It took a number of weeks to reach Grafton. Not since the Field of Cloth of Gold, twenty-one years earlier, had a King amassed such a retinue. There, were five thousand horses, a thousand soldiers, most members of the court and two hundred tents and pavilions in which to accommodate those for whom there was no room in the houses where the King was to stay. The Queen - his 15 year old fifth wife, Katherine Howard - and Lady Mary were of the company, as were several ambassadors.

The French ambasador, Charles Marillac, who was a spectator, recorded Henry's infatuation: "The King is so amorous of her that he cannot treat her well enough, and caresses her more than he did the others. The new Queen is a lady of moderate beauty but superlative grace. In stature she is small and slender. Her countenance is very delightful, of which the King is so greatly enamoured, and he knows not how to make sufficient demonstrations of his affection for her".

They arrived on 29th August and stayed until 7th September and the King signalled his happiness by ordering a gold medal to be struck with Tudor roses and lovers entwined. He would have been horrified had he known what the Queen had got up to during the progress. During the King’s illness in the spring, Katherine had rashly begun a secret flirtation with Thomas Culpepper, which soon developed into something more serious. At every stop made by the court on progress, they contrived to meet, after Katherine had made a point of ‘seeking for the back doors and back stairs herself’. However like her predecessor Anne Boleyn, Katherine was executed when the King discovered that she had been unfaithful to him.

22nd Aug. 1540 William Pitt vicar of Banbury, to appear before the council at Grafton29th instant.

30th Aug. 1540 Privy Council at Grafton. Placards under the Stamp to Gurley and Preston to take up swans, partridges, capons etc for the king during his abode at Grafton and Ampthill.

King Henry VIII who in 1541 (33 Hen. 8) erected the manor of Grafton into an HONOR by act of parliament.'Shall from henceforth be perpetually called the HONOR OF GRAFTON, and the same which has been heretofore taken for the manor of Grafton shall from the first day of May next coming, be adjudged the chief, principal, and capital park and place of the whole honor of Grafton. [Perhaps the date, May 1st being chosen, to commemorate the wedding day of his grandparents 67 years earlier.]

7th Sept. 1541 King at Grafton

Building work: “also the makyng of a jaykes house adionyng to the kynges bed chamber”

To William Penderyd of Grafton for a great bool for a close stole 6d. 

To Whales wife of Grafton for 9 pownde of candells of her had and spent with the carpenters and masons 12d.

Katherine Parr
married Henry VIII on 12 July 1543
Lady Mary

In July, Henry left with his bride (Queen Katherine Parr) and his eldest daughter (Lady Mary) on a long hunting progress that would take them via Oatlands to the south and west of England. After a short stay at Wulfhall, the court moved north to Woodstock, Langley and Grafton, then via Dunstable and Ashridge.

9th Sept. 1543 King to earl of Angus and others, from Grafton.

Royal grants given at Grafton 9th Sept. 1543, 12th Sept., 13th Oct. & 20th Oct.

11th Sept. 1543 Suffolk to Council, has received letters dated 9th at Grafton.


On the 10 September it was recorded that Sir John Williams was to be chief steward of the honor of Grafton

Henry VIII died 28 January, Palace of Whitehall, London.


1547 - 6 July 1553

Edward VI. A warrant undirected to deliver to Lawrence Bradshawe surveyor of the works iiij lib' (£400) to be by him bestowed about the reparations of the king's house at Grafton. 


£300 paid to Lawrence Bradshawe about the king's buildings,  warrant issued 18th Dec. 


Payment on behalf of Edward VI £447-14s-11d. and a half.
Edward VI died 6 July 1553, Palace of Placentia, Grenwich.


Queen Mary
Reigned 1553 - Died 17 November 1558, City of Westminster

Calendar of State Papers,  Mary 15 lb. of lead delivered to the serjeant plumber for repair of Windsor Castle, out of the Queen's store in the honor of Grafton Regis.


Queen Elizabeth I
Reigned 1558 - 24th March 1603

The year of  Elizabeth I succession, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester held the tenancy. He told her, of the places she would be staying on her progress, none would be “more pleasant and healthful” than Grafton


Elizabeth I visited


Elizabeth I visited with a large household including clerks, cooks, bakers, ushers, grooms, maids, & pages & a baggage train of 200 – 300 carts.


The Queen held a series of Council meetings in Grafton manor, described as the queen’s “stately honor house”.


William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley

Robert Cecil Earl of Salisbury, father had been tenant

Queen Elizabeth died 24 March 1603, Richmond.


Ludovic Stewart 2nd. Duke of Lennox was made steward of the honor of Grafton.


James I reigned 24 March 1603 - 27 March 1625

James I stayed at the Manor, Grafton Regis in 1608, 1610, 1612, 1614 and again in August 1616, indulging his consuming passion for hunting deer, which was noted by the Venetian ambassador: 'he seems to have forgotten he is King except in his kingly pursuit of Stags to which he is foolishly devoted'. James, however emulated his predecessors in mixing business with pleasure. In August 1612 he was corresponding from Grafton with Sir Thomas Edmondes in Frances.

The honor had previously been granted to Prince Henry, James I's eldest son, who died in 1612.

The Progresses and Public Processions of James I (London 1828)

Vol. 2 p. 203
Early in August 1608 the king knighted several men at Grafton.
On 4th August the king visited Alderton

Ibid. p. 207
19th Aug. 1608 The king knighted at Grafton: - Sir Seymour Knightley, Sir Edward Griffin and Sir Lewis Watson all of Northamptonshire.

Ph35288 Northampton Deposition 1634 (f15 & f1 to 5)

f. 5 Question 19: Item was not King James of famous memory in the time of his Progress feasted upon the foresaid Tarris or long Walke; was it not of a large and spacious buildinge;


James I stayed at the Manor


James I stayed at the Manor

James I stayed at the Manor


The Progresses and Public Processions of James I (London 1828)
vol. 3 p. 186
17 Aug. 1616 the king was at Dingley, 18th Aug. at Holdenby. Having spent 3 days at Grafton the king's arrival at Woodstock was appointed for 22nd August where he met the Queen.


18th August 1619  Mr Robards letter to Mr Thorpe surveyor to the Prince's highness as to repairs at Grafton, Northampton. 
After my harty commendacons:  Wheras I am given  to understand that the new buildings at Grafton stand uncovered by meanes wherof the roomes (that are of themselves yet reasonably well) growe to extreme decaye and may this Wynter be in danger to fall.

Left with widdow Freebody to tye up the windows and for other necessaryes 12s.
Ann Freebody died in 1636.


King James died 27 March 1625, De Vere Theobalds Estate, Goffs Oak.

1625 - executed 30th January 1649

In the early part of the reign of King Charles I. Grafton House was occupied by the family of Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, as a convenient resting-place on their journeys from the north to London.

George Clifford 3rd Earl of Cumberland
died 30 October 1605
Francis Clifford, 4th Earl of Cumberland

The historian of Craven, referring to the household accounts of Earl Francis, observes the “baked meats were more in use two centuries ago than now; and when a part of the Clifford family resided at Grafton, in Northamptonshire, not only pasties of red deer venison were sent thither by express from Skipton, but carcasses of stags, two, four, or more at once, were baked whole, and dispatched to the same place. Amongst the items of expense are ‘for three bushels of wheat to bake two stags 15/-, charges for currant and lemons which were put in the ‘stag pies’; and to William Townley for 6lbs. and 1oz. of pepper, for baking a stag sent to Grafton.”


Suggested agreement with Sir Francis Crane for the sale of lands at Grafton, Northants, assured to him as a security for £7,500 advanced to the king, with proposals for the establishment of the manufacture of tapestry within the manor house of Grafton and the bringing up within the same of a constant succession of two boys as apprentices to be instructed in that art. 


The honor of Grafton has been mortgaged by his Majesty to Sir Francis Crane for £7,600.  “It is the bravest and best seat in the kingdom, a seat for a prince and not a subject.”

1635.  Inquiry about value of the materials of the buildings of Grafton house pulled down and of woods destroyed by Sir Francis Crane.

Other materials proved of great quantity but not valued: -  A faire tower being 70 feet high and the walls 6 feet thicke


25 July Dame Mary Crane, widow of Sir Francis Crane. Surrender of lease of 15 March 3 Charles I of the manor house of Grafton made to Sir Francis Crane, for 31 years at 10s.


Siege at Grafton 1643

Part of a canon ball fired at the time of the siege in Grafton

The house was held by the Royalists during the siege. On Friday 22nd. Dec. the house was attacked by the Parliamentarians. The Royalists held out until Sir John Digby surrendered perhaps believing there would be substantial losses on the Royalist side if he held out. On Christmas Day after the Parliamentary troops had “found great and rich plunder” that they set fire to the house. All that remained was “a brewhouse, kitchen and buttery with two chambers above”.

Charles I died 30th January 1649 aged 48

Charles II
29 May 1660 - 6 February 1685


This is the only part that was left of the Tudor stables after the seige
"Stable Yard " c.1873 by Ella Sams

All that Capital Messuage or Mansion House with the appurtenances situate lying & being in Grafton commonly called Grafton House being the principal estate of the Honor consisting only of that part which formally was the stable and brew house with a kitchen and buttery and two chambers above stairs and lofts over them with a stable consisting two bays and four other out houses with two courts and a large orchard.


Grafton House rebuilt

LR 2/ 222 ff. 1-17 Grafton survey, taken by me John Weykeys 14th Jan. 1660/1

All that capital messuage or mansion house consisting of one hall, parlor, kitchen and larder with 6 chambers over them. Also certain other necessary little rooms about the said house being built out of the materials of the ruines of the old house and was formerly the principall seat of the said honor with one brewhouse and stable, 2 bays of building with chambers over them, one dovehouse, two courts, one foldyard, one orchard well planted, the town street south and the churchyard east, containing two acres.

The close called The gallery and bowleing green thereunto adjoining containing 3 acres 2 roods.

Pasture ground, various pieces 589 acres -1rood.

Sir John Harrington about the year 1656 did destroy in the above mentioned grounds so much oak and ash that were valued to be to the king's Majesty's damage £95,

LR 2/ 222 ff. 135-151

Survey by John Weykes 14th January 1660/1 ff. 135-151

Grafton All that capital messuage or mansion house consisting of one hall, parlor, kitchen and larder with six chambers over them, also certain other necessaryLR 2/ 222 ff. 1-17 Grafton survey, taken by me John Weykeys 14th Jan. 1660/1

All that capital messuage or mansion house consisting of one hall, parlor, kitchen and larder with 6 chambers over them. Also certain other necessary little rooms about the said house being built out of the materials of the ruines of the old house and was formerly the principall seat of the said honor with one brewhouse and stable, 2 bays of building with chambers over them, one dovehouse, two courts, one foldyard, one orchard well planted, the town street south and the churchyard east, containing two acres.

The close called The gallery and bowleing green thereunto adjoining containing 3 acres 2 roods.

Pasture ground, various pieces 589 acres -1rood.

Sir John Harrington about the year 1656 did destroy in the above mentioned grounds so much oak and ash that were valued to be to the king's Majesty's damage £95,

Note: LR 13/26/30 c. 1660 (ND) Rental of Grafton Honor .
Leaseholders rents of Grafton Marthan Wilson the mannor house 10s,.


William Townhall rent £42 term 2 years


Grant to Richard Webb of office of housekeeper & sweeper at Grafton


Grant to Thomas Webb of office of housekeeper & sweeper of Grafton House


Catherine of Braganza wife of Charles II

The honor of Grafton was given to the wife of Charles II, Queen Catherine


A grant was made to Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington. The grant was made with remainder to Charles II’s son Henry FitzRoy by his mistress Barbara Villiers “in consideration of natural love and affection to his natural son”


John Howlet Hearth Tax 7 hearths


1st Duke of Grafton 1675 - 1690
Died 9 October 1690, Cork, Republic of Ireland

Henry FitzRoy was born in 1663 the natural son of Charles II and Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine and later Duchess of Cleveland, one of the great beauties of the Restoration era.

Charles II arranged a preliminary marriage in 1672 when Henry was a boy of nine, to a five year old heiress, Isabella, the daughter of the eminent statesman Henry Benet, Earl of Arlington, who owned Euston Park in Suffolk. The confirmatory marriage took place in 1679 when Henry was sixteen and Isabella twelve. The lands in Grafton had been given to Charles's Queen, Catherine of Braganza, in 1665, as she had not produced any heirs by 1673, a reversionary grant was made 'in consideration of natural love and affection to his natural son'. Henry, who was created Duke of Grafton in 1675. The Duke was appointed Colonel of the First Foot Guards, Vice-Admiral of England and Knight of the Garter. In 1683 he suppressed the Corsairs in Tunis. In 1690 the 27 year old Duke took command of the ship that had been named after him accompanying the Earl of Marlborough to Ireland. He was shot down whilst leading his troop ashore at the siege of Cork. He died eleven days later from his wounds. On his death he was succeeded by his only son


2nd Duke of Grafton 1690 - 1757
Died 6 May 1757

Charles FitzRoy, 2nd Duke, who was also Earl of Arlington and Viscount Thetford, and like his father, he too was a Knight of the Garter, Viceroy of Ireland, Lord Chamberlain for thirty three years, Ranger of Whittlebury Forest and Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk. He also adroitly balanced two mistresses simultaneously -- one the wife of the Earl of Burlington and the other Princess Amelia, the daughter of George II.

It is from the period of the 2nd Duke that the start of the extraordinarily complete records of the Grafton estate, under his enlightened ownership, provide an excellent example of the way in which the wealth and power of the great Whig magnates, who ruled England throughout the century, was based on the careful management of their landed estates.

At the beginning of the century Grafton Manor, known as the Great House, was inhabited by the widow of the 1st Duke of Grafton and her second husband Sir Thomas Hanmer. The 2nd Duke chose to make Wakefield Lodge (a few miles away to the south-west), which he had acquired as hereditary ranger of Whittlewood Forest, his Northamptonshire seat. The Duke commissioned William Kent to build a magnificent classical house and lay out a park with an ornamental lake.

This was the base from which the estate would continue to be administered until the sales of 1919-20. On the death of the Duchess Isabella and Hanmer in the early 1720s, the Duke decided to introduce a new system. In 1724 he appointed a body of commissioners to advise him on running the estate.

An up-to-date survey of the whole estate was commissioned from Collier and William Baker. This was remarkably detailed, accompanied by maps, and encompasses all the Duke's Northamptonshire estate.

Grafton Estate Catalogue


April 20th. Grafton House and pasture are let to Mr. James Horton, and Mr. George Stokes for £608 per ann out of which is paid to the Queen Dowager £86. 5. 10.

Thomas Hanmer’s lease came to an end George Stokes continued to hold until Lady Day 1738.


George Stokes value £578 10s. 0d


George Stokes  rent £590


April 27th. Received then of Mrs. Agnes Herbert five pounds fifteen shillings by ye hand of Jn. Waterman in full for a years rent of Grafton House due Lady Day last past. Signed George Stokes


April 24 Mrs. Herbert again paid £5 15s 0d for Grafton House.


George Stokes held the lease until his death in 1738

1743 - 1747

William Bradford - yearly rent £234. 5d. 0d


Robert Milligan rent ½ year £120 
“Likewise I will stand to no repairs of the Houses, for the House is cracked through in three places and the roof propped up in two places, and very likely to fall in without a new roof, The jackdaws have spoiled the thatch”

3rd Duke of Grafton 1745 - 1811
Died 14th March 1811

The 3rd Duke was six years old when his father, the Duke's third son, Lord Augustus FitzRoy died prematurely. His uncle, George, the Earl of Euston and heir to the ducal title, also died young at the age of 32, leaving Augustus Henry heir to the title. His grandfather raised and educated him and his brother the future Baron Southampton.

1757 - 1783
John Warr House stable, cowhouse yard orchard lower yard 3.3.12 Rent House £5. Rent stable yard £2


John Warr buried June 17th.

1784 - 1793

William Warr rent £128 10s. 0d

Grafton Manor 1789
by Thomas Trotter

In the 18th century it had degenerated into a farm house, and was "occupied," says Bridges in 1790, "by the tenant of the Manor farm.


Thomas Warr late William rent £139 10s. 0d. Thomas son of William Warr was admitted tenant at Lady Day 1793 to hold the farm on the same terms, as his father.


Thomas Warr rent £300

Grafton House, view from the north side, a hundred years ago [1807?].
Taken from a book written by Rev. A. Goldberg - published in 1907

4th Duke of Grafton 1811 - 1844
Died 28th September 1844

George Henry the 4th Duke was famous for dressing with a tall hat, brightly coloured frock coat and tightly strapped trousers and always carrying a tightly rolled umbrella under his arm. He was known for his dry wit and sense of humour. He was a Knight of the Garter, and an M.P. for 29 years, managing to escape the political intrigue that had dogged his father's political career. Other posts he held were Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk and Ranger of St. James Park and Hyde Park.

1821 - 1826

Thomas Warr yearly rent £605 8s. 0d

1830 -1833

George Seabrook rent £289 11s 3d

In 1833 it was partially modernized and fitted up for residence of the late Lieut.-Colonel George FitzRoy (second son of Lord Charles FitzRoy), who lived there till his death in 1883.

5th Duke of Grafton 1844 - 1863
Died 26th March 1863

Henry, 5th Duke, was an army officer and politician. When in residence at Wakefield Lodge, he kept entirely to one room, which he insisted on cleaning himself. Fanatical in matters of religion, he practically devoted his whole life to church-going, and that he might walk in the shade all the way from Euston to Barnham, he planted an avenue of oak trees. To him such accessories of civilization as public-houses and inns were an utter abomination.

There are numerous references in the Estate records and the Estate Charity Book on his generosity to local communities. He was a strong supporter of the building of local schools and chapels, and the restoration of parish churches. He often funded a major part of the associated costs - sometimes all of it.

6th Duke of Grafton 1863 - 1882
Died 21 May 1882

His tenants honoured, rather than feared him. A newly-appointed land steward, finding that some of the Duke's farms were too low-rented, raised the amounts. One much-respected farmer, on being told that he would have to pay an additional 5s. per acre for the land he worked near Salcey Forest, replied, "I don't care what you put me up, I shall not pay it, and you may tell his Grace that I, and my ancestors, have been tenants for more than a century and always paid the same and shall not change; but you may take a bullock or a sheep, but I will not pay any more." He was as good as his word; consequently the rent remained the same.

The Duke, like his father, was a soldier and a politician. In 1860 he obtained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the Northamptonshire Rifle Volunteers, a rank which he was to hold until his death.

7th Duke of Grafton 1882 - 1918
Died 4th December 1918

Augustus Charles Lennox, Knight of the Garter. Entered the army in 1837, by joining the 60th Rifles. Two years later found him in the Coldstream Guards of which, after a distinguished military career in which he took part in the Crimean Campaign and was severely wounded at Inkerman, the bullet, which entered his jaw and passed out at the back of his neck, missing his spine by a fraction of an inch. He became a General in 1881. The Duke seemed to bear a charmed life, recovering from critical illnesses which would have carried off one of less sturdy constitution.
The Duke's eldest son Lord Euston died in 1912, but not until December 4th 1918, when he had attained the age of 97. He was succeeded by his second son.

Grafton Regis Manor House, sketch and final drawing by George Clarke Oct 13 1852

5th October 1873
"Manor Lawn" 23rd September 1873
Paintings by Ella Sams

Grafton House, 30 years ago [1870s!] view from the north
Taken from a book written by Rev. A. Goldberg - published in 1907

1833 -1883

Captain George FitzRoy rent £110 10s. 0

Mr. FitzRoy agreed to pay £10 per. annum for a cottage pulled down in front of his house.

Northampton Mercury 06 April 1839

To the Freeholders of the County of Northampton,
The Office of VERDERER for the FOREST OF  WHITTLEBURY, this county, having become vacant by the lamented death of Major Mansel., I beg to announce myself as a CANDIDATE for the OFFICE, and to solicit the favour of your Votes and Interest to succeed him in that Appointment.

I have the honour to remain, Gentlemen, Your most obedient Servant, GEORGE FITZROY. Grafton Regis, 5th April, 1839

Northampton Mercury 25 May 1839

On Thursday morning last, the Hon. George Fitzroy as, without opposition, elected one of the Verderers of the Forest of Whittlebury, in the room of the late Major Mansel, of Cosgrove. The election took place at the George Hotel, this town, the presence of about twenty of the freeholders of the county. Mr. Fitzroy was put in nomination by Sir VV. Wake, and seconded E. Bouverie, Esq., and the High Sheriff having demanded whether any other candidate was present, and receiving answer, the Hon. Gentleman was declared duly elected.


Lieutenant-Colonel George FitzRoy died at Grafton Regis January 4th, buried Jan. 9th. 1883

1883 - 1898

Major-General George Robert FitzRoy

Norfolk Chronicle 15 October 1898 Major-General George Robert FitzRoy died suddenly at his residence, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, on Saturday. He was the eldest son of the late Lieut-Col. George FitzRoy, and was born on 4th October 1831 at Wicken.
St Jame's Gazette 13 December 1898: The will of the late Major-General George Robert FitzRoy has been proved at £10,396.


General FitzRoy was succeeded at Grafton Manor, as the house was now known, by Henry John Conant, who took a 21-year lease of the farm in 1899 and was immediately involved in a lengthy dispute with the Grafton estate concerning repairs needed to both the house and buildings, which was not settled until 1902. Conant stayed only until 1911 (by which date he was sub-letting the Manor to a Mrs. Ridley),

Grafton House, south side view at the present time. [1907]
Taken from a book written by Rev. A. Goldberg - published in 1907

Grafton Manor in the 20th century

These gates have been removed since this image was taken of the Manor

1905 -1908

H.J. Connant rent £400

1908 -1910

H.J. Connant under let the house to Mrs. Ridley. School Log Book “Dec. 7th. The Misses Ridley visited this afternoon & remained during last lesson.”

1911 - 1940

A 4-year lease of the house and the same acreage as Conant had farmed was granted to Major (later Lieut.-Col.) Ralph Henry Fenwick Lombe, who had previously lived at Edwinstowe Hall (Notts.). Lombe died in 1930 but his widow stayed on at the Manor until the beginning of the Second World War.
Ralph Lombe & Mrs. Aurea Lombe was very active in village affairs.

1913 - 1929

Ralph Lombe rent £450

8th Duke of Grafton 1918 - 1930
Died 10th January 1930

Alfred William Maitland FitzRoy. The sporting traditions of the family were revived, his Grace one of the best horsemen in England and a first class shot besides, being devoted to hunting and fishing.
He held the title for 12 years, when on his death on January 10th 1930 was succeeded by his grandson.


Electoral Roll: Ralph Lombe, Charles Alexander, Annie Blunt, Winifred Blunt, Alice Humphries, Alice Richardson, William Spencer

9th Duke of Grafton 1930 - 1936
Died 4th August 1936

The 9th Duke was John Charles William FitzRoy, the sixteen year old grandson of his predecessor. A mechanical enthusiast, he devoted much of his leisure to trying out the latest developments in motoring and flying. Soon after coming into the dukedom, he was injured while testing a new motor-cycle at Euston Hall. A member of the Cambridge Gliding Club, he qualified as a glider pilot, and in the year of his death had been among the new drivers at Brooklands. He filled the stables at Euston with all manner of machinery, and the stately avenues which once echoed to the galloping feet of thoroughbred horses carrying his ancestors, resounded, during his short tenure of the dukedom, to the less pleasant chug-chug of motor-cycles exuding oily smoke.

Like his father, Lord Ipswich, killed in a flying accident in 1918 while serving in the Royal Air Force, he was destined to have a tragic end. Two days after reaching his twenty-second birthday - August 3rd 1936 -he met with disaster while competing in the Limerick International Grand Prix. He lost control of his car during the first lap at an S bend and the vehicle skidded, mounted a path, crashed into a wall, and burst into flames. Three spectators sitting on the wall were also burned. The Duke was flung out, with his clothing on fire he received severe burns on the head, body and legs. He died within a few hours of entering Limerick Hospital.

10th Duke of Grafton 1936 - 1970
Died 11th November 1970

Charles Alfred Euston FitzRoy, who in 1936 succeeded his cousin as tenth holder of the title, was the son of the rev. Lord Charles Edward FitzRoy, from 1883 until his death in 1911 at the early age of 53, Rector of Euston and sometimes Chaplain both to Queen Victoria and Edward VII. As his mother [the Hon. Ismay Mary FitzRoy] was the eldest daughter of the 3rd Baron Southampton, his Grace can claim to be doubly born a FitzRoy. In him the two main family strains met and were united. The possibility of his succession could not have been foreseen. The dukedom being vacated three times in eighteen years, the 7th Duke outliving his eldest son, and the 8th Duke his son and heir, Viscount Ipswich.

1930 - 1937

Aurea Lombe died 1939

Northampton Mercury 26 Jan 1940



MRS. AUREA OTWAY LOMBE, of the Manor House, Grafton Regis, who died on August 26 last, widow of Lieut.-Colonel Ralph Lombe and formerly widow of James Fane Alexander left estate of the gross value of £29,363 14s. 4d., with net, personalty £28,957 14s. 2d. (estate duty £3.552 16s. 10d.). Probate has been granted to her sons, Captain Paul Robert Mayne Alexander, of Brant, Broughton. Lines, Rear Admiral Charles Otway Alexander. R.N., of Barham Manor, Suffolk, and Captain William James Alexander, of Raithley Hall, Spilsby. Lines.
She left £2,000 her son Charles Otway Alexander, £50 each to her daughters-in-law, Antonia Maria and Mary Jenetta Alexander, £25 each to her grandchildren.
£100 to Alice Humphreys, if still in her service.
£25 to her gardener. Thomas Jones, similarly,
£60 to her housemaid Alice Richardson and, if still in her service, a further £30;
£30 each to her maid Fanny Berry and her cook, Ellen Edwards, if still in her service:
The funds of her second marriage settlement as to £450 to Thomas Henry Waldore Lumley, £3,000 to follow her residuary estate, and the remainder to be transferred to Thomas Lumley, Ltd., if Thomas Henry Waldore Lumley still holds at least 90 per cent, of the ordinary shares in that Company, otherwise to be transferred to him, and the residue, and also the funds of her first marriage settlement as to one-third each to her sons Charles and William, and one-third upon trust for her son Paul.

Northampton Mercury 12 July 1940

By direction of the Exors. of Mrs. A. M. Lombe, deceased.
Oriental. Wilton and Axminster Carpets and Rugs. Linen and Blankets, Small Collection of Native Swords, Spears, etc. Decorative China, Old Pewter, Several Volumes of Books. Stabling and Garden Equipments. 24in. Dennis Motor Mower.

On THURSDAY and FRIDAY, JULY 25 and 26. 1940, at 11.30 a.m. each day. On View Wednesday, July 24, from .1.0 to 4.30. Catalogues from Auctioneers; JACKSON STOPS & STAFF

1940 - 1951

1940: Lord Hillingdon moves to Grafton Manor which is still owned by the Duke of Grafton at this time.

Northampton Mercury 03 May 1940


Northampton Mercury 03 May 1940

WAKEFIELD LODGE ESTATE SOLD MESSRS. Jackson, Stops and Staff, acting on behalf of Lord Hillingdon, have recently sold the Wakefleld Lodge estate, near Stony Stratford, formerly the seat of the Dukes of Grafton.
The estate extends to some 1,911 acres and includes the early 18th century house, the park, 700 acres of woodland, several farms, and 12 cottages.
Wakefield Lodge is one of the principal county seats, and is seated in Whittlewood Forest, overlooking The Lawn and a fine stretch of ornamental water.
The principal part of the house is of stone designed by W. Kent and built by Charles, second Duke of Grafton, in the early part of the 18th century. The old kennels of the Grafton Hounds still stand on the estate.

Ladies Penelope and Ursula Hillingdon

Northampton Mercury 27 July 1951


LORD and Lady Hillingdon, who for the past 10 years have been living at Grafton Regis Manor, are leaving Northamptonshire to live in Sussex.
Both Lord and Lady Hillingdon have played a prominent part in the life of the county over the past 30 years.
Lord Hillingdon, formerly the Hon. Arthur Robert Mills, was the third son of the previous Lord Hillingdon, and succeeded to the title on the death of his father in 1919.
During the first world war, he served with the West Kent Yeomanry in Gallipoli and was invalided home in 1916. From 1915-18 he was M.P. for the Uxbridge Division.
After their marriage in 1916, Lord and Lady Hillingdon lived at the Red House, Brackley, later moving to Wakefield Lawn, Potterspury, and during the war to Grafton Regis.
Both have always been intensely interested in the Grafton Hunt, and Lord Hillingdon was master from 1920-28 and from 1931-35, from then until 1938, he shared the office. Again in 1946 he became joint master.
A partner in the banking firm of Glyn, Mills and Co., Lord Hillingdon became a county alderman in 1931 and was chairman of the South Northamptonshire Conservative and Unionist Association. During the last war, Lord Hillingdon served in the R.N.V.R. and was wounded in Norway. Lady Hillingdon has been no less active than her husband in public life.

Northampton Mercury 24 August 1951

By order of the Rt. Hon. Lord Hillingdon.
GRAFTON REGIS. Stony Stratford 6 miles.
Northampton 9 miles.
(Northampton-Stony Stratford bus route).


Louis period Screens and Tables. Fine Parqueterie Commodes, Escritoire, Sheraton Card and Pembroke Tables, Georgian Mahogany Bookcases, Pedestal Writing Tables, Mahogany Dwarf Bookcases, Teakwood coffer, Upright Pianoforte (Broadwood). Dining Tables. Settees. Chairs, Sporting Requisites and Miscellaneous Items.
Old Copper, China, Glass, Microscopes. Oil Paintings, Coloured Prints. etc. Curtains, Carpets, Linoleums
BEDROOM APPOINTMENTS; Georgian and other Chests of Drawers Sheraton design Wardrobes, Dressing Tables, Corner Cupboards, Mirrors, Electric Lamps. Striplights, etc


OUTSIDE EFFECTS: Garden Frames Seats, Marble Statuary, Summerhouse, two-wheel Float, Tools Tennis Court Posts, Fowlhouse Stabling Sundries, etc.
To Sold by Auction on THURSDAY. SEPTEMBER 13. 1951. at 11 o’clock.
View Catalogue (price 6d.).
Wednesday, September 12, from 11 a.m. 4 pm.

Northampton Mercury 21 September 1951


Acting on behalf of Lord Hillingdon, who has left the district, Messrs. Jackson-Stops and Staff of Bridge-street, Northampton, sold part of the contents of The Manor House, Grafton Regis, comprising some 400 lots.
A very large company attended the sale, including furniture and book buyers from all parts of the country, and some of the chief prices were as follows:
Pair French walnut ormolu mounted and gilt enriched dumb waiters £600; Louis XV. marqueterie petit commode £150; Louis XV. kingwood and rosewood escritoire £65: Sheraton mahogany Pembroke table £3O; fine Louis XVI. parqueterie commode £100; gentlemans Georgian mahogany wardrobe £32 10s.; mahogany Sheraton design wardrobe £39; Louis XV. design ebonised centre table £35; landscape in oils £32; pair oil paintings flowers and urn” £110; large folio volume containing mounted engravings £135; tracts on Swift £40; pair statuary marble figures £58.
Mr. F. W. Hurry was the auctioneer.

Northampton Mercury 12 December 1952


A MEMORIAL service for Lord Hillingdon, formerly Grafton Regis, Wakefield Lawn, Potterspury, and the Red House, Brackley, one-time county alderman and Master of the Grafton Hunt, who died in London last Friday, aged 61, was held St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, yesterday.


Northampton Mercury 06 June 1952

Grafton Regis has its share of ancient buildings preserved for posterity under Section 30 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947. (Structural alterations are prohibited without official approval). The Manor House and lodge of Grafton Estate – now a boys’ school.

Northampton Mercury 27 June 1952

Photographs Revived Memories

The photographs we published a fortnight ago of Grafton Regis Manor, greatly interested Mrs. J, L. Marchant, of The Paddocks, Grafton Regis. Her father, who died in January at the age of 90, remembered the front part of the Manor being built for a Colonel Fitzroy. This work was carried out in her father’s childhood, and the back part the Manor is much older. Mrs. Marchant’s home, also included in the list of historic buildings preserved for posterity. There is no record its real name; it was former tenant who named it “The Paddocks.” [John Wotherspoon 1928-1931]



Northampton Mercury 11th September 1953


Vacancies for Day and Boarding Pupils in boys’ private school; small classes, all exams.: graduate staff. Write Headmaster. The Manor School, Grafton Regis, Northants.

Headmaster: John Malcolm Mews Frohawk was a student of King’s College, London 1929-30 Faculty of Theology.

The school relocated from London to Grafton Regis in the early 1950s. Mr. Frohawk seemed to be of an eccentric personality, the pupils were often seen in the grounds of the school tending to the vegetable garden and looking after the chickens which Mr. Frohawk transported to London in his Rolls Royce to offer them for sale.
On one occasion Mr. Forhawk had the piano removed from the house and placed on the lawn. The pupils stood round the piano singing and when they finished he poured fuel on the piano and set light to it.

Northampton Mercury 24 October 1952

HARVEST SERVICES AT GRAFTON REGIS Harvest thanksgiving was observed at Grafton Regis Parish Church with special services on Sunday.
The Rev. R. Randell was the celebrant at the Holy Communion service in the morning. Festal Evensong was conducted Mr J. Frohawk, the headmaster of The Manor School. The preacher was the Rev. Randell, vicar of Wolverton. The choir came from the school and were robed in scarlet cassocks and ruffles. The church organist was assisted at the organ by Mr. J Morgan, of Neasden. The collections amounted to £10 6s.
The service was fully choral and the procession headed by Crucifer, thurifer and taperers preceded Fr. Randell, the headmaster, a master from the school, robed in magnificent copes.
Before the service a full peal bells had been rung.
The produce has been sent to a home for the aged at Northampton.

Mr. Ron Martin rented the house from the Grafton Estate.

Martin Family
Back row L-R: Ron, Wendy, Anne
Front row L-R: Jennifer, Richard, Caroline, Nick, Christopher
Note: Benedict the youngest son had not been born when the photograph was taken.

Manor House 1963
by Ursula Holmes
The Manor House and Church of St. Mary Grafton Regis 1965
by Ursula Holmes

The Lost Speaker's Bed at Grafton Manor

Benedict Martin was born in this bed

The restored Speaker's Bed

£20,000 lost bed found at wool mill

The Speaker’s State bed, which disappeared mysteriously from the Palace of Westminster around 1905, has been “discovered” at a woollen mill near Llandysul, Dyfed.
For the last 20 years, Mr and Mrs. Ron Martin who make Welsh flannel and tapestries at Maesllyn Mill, have been unaware they were sleeping on a fortune.
Mrs. Wendy Martin said yesterday they bought the bed for under £100 at an auction sale in Northampton. Now, as a national treasure, it is reckoned to be worth around £20,000.
“We used until nearly three years ago when we came to live at Maesllyn,” she said. “Since then it has been stored in the mill with the rest of our furniture.
Mrs. Martin said they had no idea of the importance of the bed until they read an article about the search for the missing Speaker’s State bed.
“Ours answered the description and we contacted the Victoria and Albert Museum about it,” she said. “In the last few days one of their experts has verified the authenticity of the bed.”
The canopy bed, made of ornately carved walnut and decorated in gold leaf, was designed in 1859 by Pugin. He designed the Palace of Westminster which had been damaged by fire, and the furniture to be used in the building.
The bed was specifically for the monarch to sleep in on the night before the Coronation and was the only State bed made in the 19th century.
But it is unlikely that any of the monarchs crowned since 1859 slept in it. Edward VII who succeeded to the throne in 1901, was ill at the time of the Coronation and the bed was not used. By the time of the accession of George V in 1910 the bed had disappeared.
Mrs. Martin said, “I don’t know what will happen to it in the future. For the present it is staying where it is.


In 1966 the house and 6 acres of grounds were sold by the Grafton Estate to Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Cockeram, who restored the property as a family home.

Modernising a Manor

Mr. Cockeram bought the historic Manor House at Grafton in September last year.
Now, as you approach the Manor House along a sweeping gravel drive, the impressive 26-room building stands surrounded by well-kept lawns and gardens.

Mr. Cockeram believes that two of the old walls from the original Manor House we included in his home. Incorporated in one of the walls now in the dining room is a piscina, and, should this be its original position, this room could well be part of the royal chapel.

At weekends during the winter Mr. and Mrs. Cockeram and their two children — Andrew aged 10 and Jeremy aged five – “camped" in their new home putting in the ground work on the Manor House before they moved in in April.

One of the major works was the installation of ducted air central heating and the channels which had to be dug out under the floors provided the stones for a large fish pond in front of the house. A lot of the rubble has also been utilised to make a magnificent rockery outside the kitchen window which is large enough to allow daylight to penetrate all the corners of the 14 ft. by 20 ft. contemporary kitchen. Because the interior walls were In such a terrible state the Cockerams have papered the downstairs ones with wood in-grained paper, and painted most of them in white. Upstairs the walls are also painted, in pastel hues.
Although they have carried out some quite major restorations Mr and Mrs. Cockeram have been careful to preserve the house's charming and historic features, including a fine oak staircase leading from the large enhance hall and two of the three open fireplaces. One fireplace was in such a poor condition that they found it impossible to return it to its natural state, and so decided to camouflage it with paint and a false centre.

John and "Goldie" Cockeram with their sons Andrew and Jeremy.

11th Duke of Grafton, KG DL
Hugh Denis Charles FitzRoy
1970 - 2011
Died 7th April 2011

The 11th Duke of Grafton was born in South Africa in April 1919. His father was at that time Captain Charles FitzRoy and was serving as ADC to the Governor General of South Africa and his Grandfather was the Reverend Lord Charles FitzRoy, 3rd son of the 7th Duke. The present Duke’s mother was Lady Doreen Buxton and they had married in South Africa in 1918.

As a boy, the Duke lived 7 miles from Euston at Coney Weston in Suffolk. He was educated at Eton College and at Magdalene College, Cambridge. During the war he served with the Grenadier Guards and was ADC to the Viceroy of India 1943-1946. In 1930 the 8th Duke, Alfred, died and was succeeded by his Grandson, John, who became the 9th Duke. Sadly he was killed in a motor racing accident in 1936 and the title passed to his cousin Charles, who became the 10th Duke, and his son, Hugh became The Earl of Euston. In 1946 he married Fortune Smith and they have two sons and three daughters

The 11th Duke of Grafton, and his family, moved to Euston Hall in 1970; over the last 30 years the Duke has redesigned and restored the gardens, renovated many of the historic houses and buildings on the Euston Estate, replanted woodlands and modernised the farms.

In Suffolk, both the Duke and Duchess have made a considerable contribution to the life of the county. The Duke has worked nationally for over 50 years with organisations related to conservation and preservation of buildings and the countryside and has been honoured in many different ways.


The house was sold to R. G. Marriott. On 9th August 1976 permission was granted for change of use from residential to part restaurant.
The Grafton Royal Restaurant failed after a few years and was sold.

The poem was written in 1977 by
Mrs. Melsom who lived at the Chantry for 23 years.

This corner of Old England stood,
And could at once create a mood.
This house and all within its range
Seemed to reject the march of change.
The spreading yews and walls around
Contained a patch of special ground.
In many a sad vicissitude
This house has harboured quietude.

This house resembles an old face
That never can be out of place.
Its height and shape and all its length
Impart a feeling of great strength.
Upstanding by its ancient wall
I've seen the tallest men look small.

It's dignified in stance and mien;—
Nothing to hide, all may be seen.
When people come to gape and stare
They stand subdued, astonished, where
Through fading doorway, stone and arch
They see the men of history march.
This house is very much alive.
But much I fear, should men contrive
In reckless hands its blood to shed,
`Twill be a theme of history dead.
—And soon 'twill stand beleaguered, bare,
Where people come to stand and stare.

Wherein doth satisfaction lie,
If all we do is bid and buy?
—Old homes, like folk, can know no peace
When love and veneration cease.

Arial view of the Manor 1985


Richard Anson who owned  Anson Plastics Ltd. at Kiln Farm, Milton Keynes purchased the Manor.
In 1985 Richard Anson put the Manor up for sale.

Grafton Manor 1985







THE MANOR HOUSE: An impressive Grade Listed 2 storey building with 5 Principal
Reception Rooms, Spacious Domestic Offices, Library, 6 Principal and S further Bedrooms.

THE CHANTRY (LEY): Also Grade II listed, an attractive stone built detached residence
with 2 Reception Rooms and 3 Bedrooms, Outbuildings and Private Garden.

SUNSHINE COTTAGE: A delightful stone and brick property with Living Room and 3 Bedrooms.

Together with


Standing in about

6 ACRES OF LANDSCAPED PARKLAND GROUNDS including Paddock, Orchard and formal gardens.


The Daily Mirror 31.10 1985
A private nursing home for 17 patients opens next week in Grafton Regis Manor near Towcester.
The head injury rehabilitation unit will be run by London-based AMI hospitals Ltd.
Following an inspection, Northampton Health Authority officials have declared themselves satisfied with the proposed standards of care,
the home is to be given temporary registration until December when a further inspection will take place.

Views of the House from 1789 - 1985
Grafton Manor 1789
by Thomas Trotter
Grafton House, view from the north side, a hundred years ago [1807?].
Taken from a book written by Rev. A. Goldberg - published in 1907

Grafton House, 30 years ago [1870s!] view from the north
Taken from a book written by Rev. A. Goldberg - published in 1907
"Manor Lawn" 23rd September 1873

Grafton House in the 20th century

5th October 1873
Manor House, south side view at the present time. [1907]
Taken from a book written by Rev. A. Goldberg - published in 1907

Manor House 20th century
Manor House 1963 by Ursula Holmes

Grafton Manor 1985
The Manor and Church of St. Mary, Grafton Regis by Ursula Holmes
Christmas Card sent to the Martin family late 1960s from Sue & Clifford Holmes