The term Manor, already used in Saxon times, might include one or more Hamlets.
In the time of King Edward the Confessor, Edmer Atule, one of the Royal Thegns, held the Manor of Bledlow, and could sell it at will. William the Conqueror, however, Granted it to his half-brother, Robert, Count of Mortain, who held it in 1086. William the son of Count Robert joined the Rebellion of Robert of Bellesme against Henry I, and in consequence forfeited his lands in 1104. The Honour of Mortain was known in Buckinghamshire and the neighbouring Counties as the Honour of Berkhampstead, but it seems probable that Bledlow was separated from the Honour, since it was held, at least from the time of Henry II, from the King in Chief, and not from the various Grantees of Berkhampstead.
The privileges attaching to the Honour of Mortain however still continued in Bledlow. Henry II appears to have Granted the Manor to Hugh de Gurnay before 1177, but in 1198 Hugh made an exchange with the Monks of Bec Hellouin in Normandy, by which the Manor passed to that alien Abbey, and was held in Frankalmoign in Chief of the King.
The Priory of Ogbourne (Wilts) was an English Cell of the Abbey of Bec and the Prior seems to have answered for its English Lands, and at times was described as Lord of the Manor. During the French Wars of the 14th & 15th centuries the lands of the Alien Priories were Seized by the King, and Ogbourne was ultimately dissolved by Henry V. He Granted the Manor of Bledlow to his brother John, Duke of Bedford, who died in 1435, when it passed to Henry VI as his nephew and heir. In 1462 the King granted it to his new Foundation, the College of St Mary, Eton, the Provost and Fellows of which College is at the present day the Lords of the Manor.
In the 15th century the Hampdens, of Great Hampden, held Corhams Manor in Bledlow under the Provost and Fellows of Eton College. Thomas Hampden died Seised of the Manor in 1485. His grandson John Hampden settled it on his younger daughter and co-heiress Barbara, the wife of Sir George Paulet, who obtained various confirmations of the Grant from the members of the Hampden Family.
In 1585 Hampden Paulet sold this Manor to Roger Corham, and in 1624. it was held by William Corham and his wife Jane. They sold it in the same year to Alban Pigott and Ralph Pigott of Colwich, in the Parish of Waddesdon. Alban Pigott apparently left 3 daughters, but which of them inherited Corham’s Manor does not appear. Daniel Cox, Jr, held the Manor in 1703, but some years later he sold it to Richard Badcock. The last mention of the Badcocks is in 1823, when John Lovell Badcock, with Anne and Susannah, probably his sisters, made a Settlement of the Manor. The Family of Spiers also seems to have had some interest at this time in Corham’s Manor. William Spiers, Lessee of the Manor, subscribed to the Building Fund of the Chapel at Bledlow Ridge. In 1823 Thomas Spiers was a Party to the settlement made by the Badcocks. It seems probable, however, that he was only a Lessee under the Badcocks, though he may have owned other land in the Parish. About 1826 the Manor was sold, possibly by the Badcocks, to Captain Wood, who seems to have held it for more than 30 years. The present Owner of the Manor is Mr Robert White, of Chinnor, but the land is for the most part enfranchised.
Hugh de Gurnay appears to have kept certain Tenements in Bledlow after the exchange made with the Abbot of Bec, since Juliana, the heiress of the Gurnays, was summoned, when still a Minor, to give Warranty for certain lands in the Parish. She married William Bardolf, and in 1285–6 she and her husband attempted to recover the Manor from the Abbot of Bec. She claimed all the Manor with its Appurtenances except 5 Messuages, 1 Mill, and 2 Carucates of Land, which presumably she already held. Finally, the Abbot obtained a Quit-claim from Juliana & William Bardolf for 200 Marks Sterling. Her descendants held Rents in Bledlow without interruption till the beginning of the 15th century, when Sir Thomas Bardolf held the Tenements above alluded to. The lands retained by Hugh de Gurnay were the Fees of Odo of Bramoster and of John de Turri, who presumably were Military Tenants. In 1180, before the Grant to Bec, John de Turri paid 10 Marks for Confirmation of his Land in Bledlow. In 1228 Richard de Turri, together with the Prior of Ogbourne, brought an action with regard to Common Rights over their Lands in Bledlow.
The whole Manor of Bledlow, which was granted to the Count of Mortain by the Conqueror, does not seem to have been included in the Grant to Hugh de Gurnay. The Family of de Rual or Druel held certain land, afterwards known as Mesles or Druels, in Bledlow, of the Honour of Mortain in the 13th century. Simon de Rual paid Scutage for land in Bledlow in 1236. This Tenement seems to have been the Hamlet of Mosleye or Mesle, which John Druel held in 1284–6 and in 1302–3. His son John Druel made a settlement in 1333 of the Messuage and Rents in Bledlow, by which there were remainders to Giles son of John Druel, and his wife Amabel daughter of Thomas de Reynes and their Issue, and in default to William brother of Giles and his wife, another daughter of Thomas de Reynes. It is not clear whether Giles and William were the sons or brothers of John son of John Druel. In 1346 this John & Roger Puttenham held the fee formerly held by John Druel, but after this date, the name of Druel disappears. Like the Manor of Horsenden, this land has a complicated history during the Wars of the Roses. The Manor of Mesles or Druels, as it was called in the 15th century, appears to have come into the possession of Edmund Hampden and John Brekenoke. They demised it in 1458–9 to Sir John Fray and William Brown, who in turn Granted it to John Leynham or Plomer and his wife Margaret. Various releases and sales were afterwards made, and in 1528 the Manor had passed into the possession of Sir Edward Don. He left an only daughter and heiress who married Sir Thomas Jones, and his lands descended to his 2 granddaughters Frances and Anne. In the division of their shares of their Property, the Manor of Druels came to Frances, the wife of Ralph Lee. Together with their son and heir Edward Donne Lee, they settled the Manor on Thomas Lee, who died Seised in 1572. It then reverted to Edward Donne Lee, who sold it to William Quarendon. In 1583 Quarendon and his wife Margaret held the Manor. Afterwards, it was divided, presumably between 2 heiresses, since John Franklyn in 1640 died Seised of half the Manor or Farm of Mesles or Druels. The only trace of this Manor to be found in recent times was a Wood named Druels Wood, near Bledlow Ridge, which has now been grubbed up.
In the 14th century, the Family of Fresel held an Estate known as Frayselles in Bledlow. James Fresel in 1316–17 made a Settlement, by which he settled this on himself for life, with remainder to James his son and his Issue; in default with remainder to another son, Thomas. This James Fresel was a man of some importance in the County, being a Knight of the Shire in 1329. He also obtained an Indult from Pope John XXII, that his Confessor should give him plenary remission at the hour of death and by his Will left valuable Bequests to the Church of Bledlow. His father’s name was Robert, but he does not appear as Tenant of Land in Bledlow. In his Will dated 1341, James Fresel named only 2 sons, Edmund and James, but Thomas appears in the Settlement mentioned before, and was probably his father’s heir since he succeeded to the greater part of the Estates before 1343.
Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Fresel claimed various Tenements that her father had held in neighbouring Parishes in 1364 or 1365, and presumably was his heiress. Some years later Richard ap Yenan held lands and Tenements called ‘Freselles,’ in Bledlow, but it does not appear how he obtained them. In 1524 Walter Curzon died Seised of the Manor of Frayselles, which afterwards came into the possession of George, Earl of Huntingdon, who sold it to Sir Michael Dormer and John Goodwyn in 1537. The Dormers held the Manor till 1584–5, when a Sale took place of the site of the Manor of Frayselles, which came into the hands of Edward East. This Sale probably included the whole Manor, which was held from this time by the Lord of the Rectory Manor (qv) and was apparently United with it. In the 15th century, the Manor was held of the Rector of Bledlow, at that time the Dean and Chapter of the Free Chapel of St Stephen, Westminster. After the Dissolution, however, it was apparently separated from the Rectory, and held, in Queen Elizabeth’s Reign, of the Honour of Ewelme by Fealty and Rent.
There seems to have been a Rectory Manor of considerable size in Bledlow. There is no specific mention of it until after the Restoration, though the Fresels‘ Property was said to be held of the Rector in the 15th and 16th centuries. It evidently belonged 1st to the Abbey of Grestein, and subsequently to the Free Chapel of St Stephen, Westminster. After the Dissolution, the Rectory was Granted to Thomas East and Henry Hoblethorne, who, however, surrendered their Lease in 1552.
Manor House – is a typical brick‐built Chiltern Manor House with much work of the mid‐17thC and early 18thC, similar to others nearby such as Princes Risborough. The remaining early Farmstead Buildings are typical of the area, being Timber-framed and clad. The site has been connected with the Carrington Family for over 2 centuries including with the recently demised Lord Carrington, a renowned Diplomat and Politician who served in the Cabinet in the 1980s including as Foreign Secretary.
House. circa 1670 core built for Blancks Family; much-extended c.1702 as dated on Chimney; altered c.1800 for the Carringtons. Brick, once colour-washed, with moulded and gauged brick band course at 1st-Floor level, the NW Front with wooden modillion eaves cornice. Hipped old tile roofs, brick chimneys with finely moulded cornices and neckings. H-Plan. 2-Storeys, cellars and Attics. NE Front has flanking projections with traces of blocked openings, and 3 centre bays with large early 19thC Sashes, raised Attic Storey, Ground Floor Colonnade, and central Door. Traces of original 5-Bay Facade with red brick window Dressings. NW Front also remodelled early 19thC, with 5 bays of Sashes, 2 Flat Roofed Dormers with paired barred wooden Casements, and central glazed doorway with large fanlight. SE Front is also of 5-Bays with large sashes replacing cross casements, 3 Pedimented Dormers with paired barred wooden casements, and off-centre chimney. Irregular rear with lower Roof-line and chimney of 17thC part to the left of centre, and 2 projections, the Right partly rebuilt, the Left having 2 blocked oval windows with gauged surrounds.
Interior: splendid central Staircase of c.1720-30 with slender fluted Column and twisted Balusters, 3 to each tread, carved scrolls to string, and moulded handrail; another staircase with late 17thC twisted balusters in NW Wing; 18th-early 19th Panelling with raised and fielded Overmantels and overdoors; early 18thC Stone Fireplaces; one Fireplace of c.1670 with bolection moulding, pulvinated frieze and cornice.
During 1949 the Tenant Farmer, who had occupied the remainder of the House, died, enabling completion of the renovation of the House. Lord Carrington notes that in 1949 the kitchen garden was growing vegetables, the lawns were cut and the Yew and Beech hedges were planted on the North and North-east Boundaries as windbreaks which later formed the Gardens. From this point, Lord and Lady Carrington jointly developed the gardens and later The Lyde, a sunken Water Garden.
The Garden divides roughly into 3 contrasting areas: around the House in Formal compartments, the less formal Sculpture Garden, and the detached Lyde Water Garden, a feature of high-quality design and innovative planting very unusual particularly in the Chilterns. The modern Sculpture collection is of considerable interest in the Garden setting. The Contemporary Park with clumps of Trees forms the wider designed setting.
Edward VI then gave a Lease for 21 years to Thomas Forster, but in 1562 or 1563 Queen Elizabeth granted the Rectory to William Revett and Thomas Bright and their heirs to hold in Chief. The following year, however, they had Licence to alienate it to Edward East. He made a Settlement in 1609, by which it was held by him for his own life, then to the use of Cecilia his wife for her life, then to the use of the Executors of his Will for 1 year, and then to the use of Edward Fitz Herbert. Fitz Herbert predeceased Edward East and Brigit Fitz Herbert, probably his Widow. She seems to have married Sir Edmund Windsor and to have held the Rectory in 1630. William Fitz Herbert is mentioned at the same date, and he and his wife Anne held it afterwards. He was sequestered during the Civil War as a Recusant and compounded for Bledlow Parsonage for £200 in 1647. He seems, however, to have sold it to William Brereton and James Blanks. The former was one of the Trustees of Sir John Fitz Herbert, father of William Fitz Herbert. Great efforts seem to have been made by William Fitz Herbert to preserve his Lands by various Sales, but William Starbuck, Minister of Bledlow and his Parishioners made complaints against him for compounding for his Estates in the Parish at an undervaluation.
Their object seems to have been to obtain possession themselves, for they offered to pay £300 for the Rectory. After many inquiries, Brereton and Blanks succeeded in establishing their claim, and their Lease was judged good by Chief Justice St John at the Assizes. They were, therefore, discharged by the Committee for Compounding. John Blanks retained possession of the Rectory after the Restoration, when the Estate was called ‘the Manor of the Rectory of Bledlowe.‘ His granddaughter and heiress married Johnshall Crosse. She was succeeded by her son Henry, who married Elizabeth Jodrell, and their 4th son Thomas held the Manor in 1745. He died without children, his heir being his sister, the wife of William Hayton. Her daughter married Samuel Whitbread, who succeeded to the Estate on the death of his mother-in-law. Their son, another Samuel, sold the Manor in 1801 to Lord Carrington.
Robert Smith, 1st Lord Carrington (1752‐1838) as a Tory supporter and friend of William Wilberforce was rewarded, being created an Irish Baron in 1796 and an English Baron 1798. He purchased in 1794 Wendover Borough with 2 Seats in Parliament and in 1799 the Wycombe Abbey Estate, including the Mansion House for £28,234.00 which became his Main Residence. In 1801 Samuel Whitbread, Esq (of Southill Park, Bedfordshire) conveyed his Estate at Bledlow to the Right Hon Robert Lord Carrington who “modernised and considerably improved” it. By 1812 the H footprint House had extensive Farm Buildings to the South and South‐West and a rectangular Kitchen Garden in the North-East. The 1812 Inclosure Map lists 29 numbered Parcels including Land from Eton College, belonging to Lord Carrington. The property listed included “Mansion House Gardens and Orchard” with 3 entrances including the Farm Track from Perry Lane in the South‐East with an Avenue of Trees to the Farm Buildings. By 1825 the estate House was referred to as a “Lodge”. In 1826 a cottage was built by Manley Wood Esq, a Barrister of Law on the North boundary of The Lyde. In 1838 the Manor passed with other Estates to the Hon Robert John Smith the 2nd Baron Carrington and Lord Lieutenant. In 1839 the family Surname was changed to Carington (NB one r for the name and 2 r’s for the Title). However, with Wycombe Abbey as the Main Residence the Bledlow House and Lands between 1812‐1943 were occupied by a School and a succession of Tenant Farmers. An 1843 Map and Document gives details of Apportionment of Rent in lieu of Tithes and an 1851 Map shows the Woodland in the Parish and Ownership. The 1877 (OS 1st edition) shows the H footprint of “Bledlow House” with Farm Outbuildings to the South and South West similar to earlier in the Century. To the East, the Kitchen Garden was divided by a Path and flanked by Orchards. The Lyde had Springs, a steep Wooded Ravine, Pool and 2 Watermills on the Cuttle Brook, the North Mill and Bledlow Mill and an Entrance from Lyde Cottage. By 1900 little change had occurred. The main entrance was from Church End with a Farm Track, Pathway from Perry Lane.
In the 1950s the entrance from Perry Lane East of the Manor was enhanced with Wrought Iron Gates, brick Pillars and the Drive entrance to the Forecourt planted with Pleached Lime Trees. The Farmyard south‐east of the House was made into an Enclosed Garden bounded with a 15thC Tithe Barn on the South‐West side. In 1967 the Thatched Tithe barn burnt down revealing the Modern Farm Buildings.
The North‐east is the Entrance Front, with Garden Fronts to the North‐West and Couth‐East and a Service Wing to South‐west. The North‐East entrance overlooking the Courtyard has flanking projections with traces of blocked openings and a Tiled Roof with hips. The Canopy and Ground Floor Colonnade has a central Door flanked by 2 Sash windows with traces of the original 5‐Bay Facade with red brick window Dressings and the original Buff or Stone coloured wash. The North‐West front overlooking the mature Yew, Fish Ponds and Lawn was also remodelled in the early 19thC with 5-Bays of Sash windows and central glazed Doorway. The wooden modillion eaves Cornice, probably dates from the 1720s.
The South‐East Front overlooking the sunken Water Garden has 5-Bays with large Sashes. The South‐West Service Front and Yard is dated 1702 with 2 projections, the Right partly rebuilt. Single‐storey brick Outhouses and Storage project from the Kitchen Area. The Garden makes the most of the House’s qualities, particularly the Southeast and North‐West Facades.