The Manor of Upton

(A resumé of the first section of Juliet Gardiner’s A Random History of Upton, Part 3)

A manor was an estate, held by the Lord of the Manor, originally in the gift of the king. Many Norman lords held several, scattered about the country. There was not necessarily a manor house, but usually there would be a manor farm, as was the case in Upton.

The first landowner that we know of in Upton was Britric, in the reign of Edward the Confessor. He was followed, after the Conquest, by Turstin, the son of Rolf.

In 1086 the manor passed from Turstin to Winebald of Balllun, who, in 1096 granted a moity, probably about half, to the priory of Bermondsey. The manor remained in the hands of the priory until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, after which it passed to the Crown.

In 1600, Queen Elizabeth granted the manor to Michael and Edward Stanhope, and in the time of James 1 it passed to Robert and Frances Boswell. Then, from 1636-7 it was held by Sir Thomas Vachell of Coley, followed by his cousin Thomas Vachell. Next, in 1693, Tanfield Vachell and his mother sold it to Charles Ambrose, and his son, Charles of Wantage.

It is clear that, up to this point, not one of these landlords actually lived in Upton, and it is quite likely that some of them never even visited it. In 1719 Charles Ambrose sold the estate to James Miles of London, and some time later, by at least 1755, the land was in the hands of Henry Tompkins. The Inclosure Award document for Upton, which was dated 1759, shows Henry Tompkins as a large landowner in the parish… (to be continued)