The Early History of Topcliffe Mill and Manor

Early History

The land that Topcliffe Mill now stands on was owned, in the 11th century, by Earl Roger.  By 1086, he had granted his land in Meldreth and Melbourn to the abbey of St. Evroul.  Additional land was given to the abbey in the early 12th century by William Mansell.  St. Evroul’s land was administered through its cell, Ware Priory.  By the late 13th century, the lands had been divided into two manors, later to become known as Sheene and Topcliffe.

In 1331 John of Brompton was recorded as lord of the manor.  He died in 1340, holding over 200 acres, and was succeeded by his son George (a minor).  George held it until his death in 1361 when it passed to his sister, Alice.

Why “Topcliffe”?

In 1363, John de Topcliffe, the youngest son of Thomas de Topcliffe, of Yorkshire, arrived at the manor.  He married Alice and they held the manor together until 1379 when it was sold or mortgaged to William de Notton and others.

The Manor House

A manor house is recorded from the 1290s.  It was located in the moated area, close to the mill.  At this time, the manor had over 100 sheep and employed a shepherd.  Approximately 30 cattle were kept on Topcliffes demesne and butter and cheese were sold.  Surplus apples and cherries were also sold.

In 1380 there was a thatched house and a gatehouse there.  In 1404, the house was under repair.  It included a chamber, hall, kitchen and bakehouse.

St. Thomas ’s Hospital St Thomas ’s Hospital in London acquired the manor in 1553 and held it until 1948, when the mill and land were sold to Miss M A Bowen.

Comments about this page

  • In case you you are wondering what happened to the Topcliffe Lord of the Manor title, I purchased it several years ago from St Thomas’s Hospital. 

    I live in London now, but was born and brought up in Cambridgeshire. 

    By Ian Hart (13/04/2014)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.