The Building, its Owners and Tenants

My thanks to Mr Tom Grimes the present owner of Thurlby Manor for the following information

This is a note on the history of the building now known as Thurlby Manor.  There are several gaps in the history, and some can now only be filled in by conjecture.  Further work may well enable us to fill in some of the gaps.

The Name

The building was originally known as “The Hall”.  This name was used in 1730 when the building and farm was let to Mr Fielding, and again on the earliest Ordinance survey maps (c1830).  In 1872 the Rev. E Trollope surveyed the Car Dyke, and referred to it as “passing Thurlby Hall”, but he may have been referring to the old ordnance survey map.  It is most likely that the name was changed to “The Manor” when the Victorian building works were done.  There is no evidence that the house was ever associated with the mediaeval Manor of Thurlby.  Indeed, the land on which it is built was referred to as part of the “Old Enclosures” during the eighteenth century, before the Manor lands were enclosed.


It is not clear when the “Old Enclosures” came into existence.  It is possible that they were newly drained fenland, but when and how is not known.  It would not be unreasonable to assume that these enclosures were associated with the Manor itself (ie, the agricultural lands owned by the Lord of the Manor).  Hence, we can postulate that they were owned originally by the Lord of the Manor.

The oldest record of The Manor of Thurlby show it as being given to Peterborough Abbey by “Aelfsy child son of Outi” before 1066.  It remained in the Abbey’s ownership until the reformation, and then passed to the Bishops of Peterborough.

In 1576 the Manor passed to Lord Burghley.  Thereafter it probably passed to his son, the first Earl of Exeter, and to his son, William, and then to William’s daughter, Ann

Ann’s  husband, Henry Gray, was created first Earl of Stamford in 1628.  He was succeeded by his grandson, Thomas Gray, and on his death the earldom passed to another grandson, Henry Gray.  The Manor, however, seems to have passed to this Henry’s sister, Diana, whose husband Robert was created first Earl of Ailsbury in 1664, who held the manor in 1678. It also passed through the ownership of the Earl of Elgin and his wife, who was also Dowager Countess of Oxford (1650). 

It appears that the Manor of Thurlby  passed out of the ownership of the Earls of Ailsbury in the late seventeenth century, probably when Thomas was Earl. How this happened, and who became Lord of the Manor immediately thereafter is not clear, but by the early Eighteenth century, Alderman Denshire of Stamford had the title.

Alderman George Denshire was a lawyer, and a prosperous one.  The Manor court records are extant for several years in the early eighteenth century, and show him as Lord.  He died in 1743, and the title to the Manor seems to have been sold in 1751 to Sir Gilbert Heathcote, in whose family it remained until 1939 and probably until the present day, although it is not common now to publish this information.  By a complicated succession, the Heathcote family became ennobled Earls of Ancaster (1892).

However Alderman Denshire obtained the Manor of Thurlby. It is clear that he also came to own Thurlby Hall as well.  We can only surmise that the Manor and the “Old Enclosure” lands were sold to Sir Gilbert Heathcote as a package in 1751.  The Hall and farm was definitely owned by the Heathcote family by 1810 when the land in Thurlby  was enclosed.


Before 1730 the names of the tenants is unknown.  There are three families who might have occupied the manor.  The first was a family called Plungar.  They originated in Witham on the Hill, and seem to have moved to Thurlby in the middle of the seventeenth century.  They are candidates for tenants of the Manor House because the Manor records show some lands being taken over by Mr Fielding (who was tenant of the Hall) from Plungar in the 1720’s.  The family seems to have died out at about that time.

The next candidates for tenants of the manor house is a family called Harby.  They also lived in Thurlby from the mid-1600’s to the 1720’s. 

However, the best candidates for tenants of the Manor House are the Trollope family.  This family appears in Bourne in the mid-sixteenth century, but seem to have been associated with Thurlby until the early eighteenth century.  The Trollopes were co-tenants of the Grange in 1613, when it was a farm without a house.  Where else but the Manor House would he have lived? 

John Fielding

On 16th February 1730 William Phillips wrote to “Mr Denshire at his Chambers in Clements Inn” to let him know that the Thurlby estate had been let[1].  “To Mr Fielding I have let the Hall and Homesteads….” And “Mr Fielding intends to live at the Hall himself at Lady Day once he has let his own farme.”  Several of the invoices which refer to the building works about this time refer to Mr Fielding.  The descriptions of the fields which were let to Mr Fielding at this time are the same as those associated with the Manor House in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  This makes it quite clear that he was the tenant from 1730 or thereabouts.  It is not clear how long  he lived at the Manor.  A Copyhold rental of 1749 shows a John Fielding as a tenant.

Mawby, Johnson and Harrison 1892-1825

A document of 1792 mentions the tenant of the Hall as John Mawby.  Rental statements exist in the Ancaster archives which show the tenants of the Hall in the nineteenth century.  The earliest of these is not dated, but internal evidence suggests that it was prepared around 1814.  All the evidence suggests that the manor was rented by one or more generations of the Mawby family, and that they were in residence in 1792 and probably until 1817.  In 1819 tax was paid on The Hall by Ambrose Johnson.   In 1824 and 1825, the tenant was John Harrison.  Nothing is known about either of them.

Bettinson 1828 – 1907

John Bettinson arrived in the Thurlby in 1828.  Presumably when he became tenant of The Hall

After the death of his father, the farm passed to Richard Bettinson (1827-1907). 

Richard’s son Thomas Bettinson inherited the tenancy of the farm in 1907, but he himself only lived until December the same year.  He never married, and his sisters soon moved away.

Ward 1909 – 1975

The farm and House (now definitely called “The Manor”) were sold by Lord Ancaster to Jonathan Ward in 1909.  His family kept it until it was sold by two of his grandsons in 1975.

Herman 1975 – 1979

In 1975 the farm and house were sold separately, the house being purchased by a Mr Herman.  He lived there until 1979.

Hensman and the School 1979 – 1985

In 1979, the House was bought by a group of people and converted into a boarding school for boys referred by local authorities, with Roger Hensman as proprietor and headmaster.  The school was successful at what it aimed to do, but changes in educational philosophy made LEAs less keen to send boys away to such schools, and it was forced to close.

Storey 1985 – 1990

The House was now purchased by a Mr J Storey, who established a small electronics factory in some old portakabin classrooms, and lived in the house.

Grimes 1990 – present

The house was bought in 1990 by Mr T Grimes.

[1] Lincoln Archives, Ancaster deposit, 1anc3/24/8/32

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