From: ‘Parishes: Sharnbrook’, A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3 (1912), pp. 88-94. URL:

Seernebroc, Sernebroc (xi cent.); Sarnebroc (xiicent.). (fn. 1)

Sharnbrook is a parish 9 miles north-west from Bedford. It covers an area of 2,467 acres, of which853 acres are arable land and 1,305¾ acres permanent grass. (fn. 2) The parish is watered by the River Ouse, which forms the southern boundary. The slope of the ground is from north to south, the highest point above ordnance datum is 303 ft. In the north, the lowest 143 ft. in the south. The soil is clay, the subsoil clay and gravel, the principal crops being wheat, barley, oats, peas, beans and turnips.

Sharnbrook village is in the west of the parish.The church of St. Peter is situated on the west ofthe road as it approaches the village. The oldvicarage, which was pulled down about 1910, stoodabout 180 yds. from the present new house. It wasbuilt of stone with a thatched roof, and was aninteresting specimen of a priest’s house of the 16thcentury.

The Tofte, a small but substantially built stone mansion, occupies a pleasant position about half a mile northward of the church. In the gable on the south front is an inscription ‘Except the Lord build the house their labour is but lost that build it.1613.’ It has been much modernized and a new wing erected in recent years. Whilst taking down the walls during the alterations various pieces of old masonry were discovered. Forty feet to the north of the old house some old buttressed foundations were found. In 1907 human remains were found in the grounds about 3 ft. below the surface. It marks the site of a manor formerly belonging to Newnham Priory, and is at present the property ofand occupied by Mr. A. R. Alston. East of the church is Sharnbrook House, in the occupation of Mr. E. Arkwright, Master of the Oakley Hunt. It is a Georgian house of red brick, with stone quoins and a rich wood cornice, and was formerly known as Towns End House.

Sharnbrook Grange, a 17th-century house, stands in park-like grounds of 25 acres. It is a rectangular brick building with a tile roof. Through the cellar is a constant flow of water, but whence it comes is not known. In the garden are some fine cedars and two stone basins dated 1658 and 1745 respectively.

The Midland Railway, which has a station at the east end of the village, has a bridge of ten arches across the Ouse.

Colworth, which is described as a hamlet of Sharnbrook in 1278–9, now consists principally of the Colworth House estate. This house, which was built in the 18th century by Mark Antonie, stands in a well-wooded park of 176 acres. Lysons describes it as one of the most elegant mansions in the county. (fn. 3) It is at present the residence of Mr. Albert Edward Bowen. Sharnbrook is well wooded, containing in all 269¼ acres. (fn. 4) Among the woods may be named Halsey Wood, with the largest area, Francroft Wood, Round Wood, Woodend Plant and the Swell, the last-named being in the Colworth park.

There is a small industry in hand-made lace, dating from the 16th century, still carried on in the parish.

Two mills still exist in Sharnbrook, one a disused windmill, in the south, the second a steam corn-mill on the site of a former water-mill in the south-west near the approach to the village.

There are two Baptist chapels in Sharnbrook.

The following place-names have been found in documents connected with this parish:—Carswellfielde, Sondewood, Temple Leys, Temple Corner(xvi cent.), Castle Close, Coffle End, Clipsey Spinney, Eyles Plantation, Naboth’s Vineyard, UttersfieldPlantation (xx cent.).


At the Survey of 1086 eight proprietors of land are named as holding in Sharnbrook. First amongst these Domesday tenants may be mentioned Albert of Lorraine, whose lands subsequently became known as LORINGS or PIPINGS MANOR

Newnham Priory owned TOFTS or THE TOFTEMANOR in Sharnbrook from the 13th century. Its origin is to be sought to a great extent in the land which Count Eustace held at Domesday, further supplemented by grants from the Beauchamp fee. Robert son of Rozelin, who was Count Eustace’s tenant in 1086, was succeeded by the Trikets, of whom four generations are mentioned in Newnham Cartulary as benefactors of the priory in the 12thand 13th centuries—William son of Simon Triket, Baldwin son of William and Simon son of Baldwin. (fn. 35

A third manor in Sharnbrook, that of TEMPLEHILLS, was owned from the 12th century by the Knights Templars. The Bishop of Coutances held in all 4½ hides in Sharnbrook in 1086. This land, in which he had been preceded by Borred, was held of him by various tenants. Turgis an Englishman held half a hide, Humphrey held half a hide, whilst seven sokemen together held 3 hides. This land was granted by Alice de Clermont to the Knights Templars, and became known as Temple Hills Manor. In1199 they received a charter granting them assart of200 acres of land in Sharnbrook, and a charter of free warren was given them in 1253. In 1276the master claimed view of frankpledge twice yearly and 2 hides of land in Sharnbrook. By virtue of the statute by which the Knights Templars’ lands were transferred to the Knights Hospitallers, the prior of the latter order claimed Temple Hills Manor in1331. At this time it was leased to Sir John de Wolaston and Margaret his wife for the term of their lives.

At the Dissolution Temple Hills Manor was granted in 1543 for fifty years to Robert Tyrwhitt, who in 1544 obtained a grant in fee. In the following years Robert Tyrwhitt alienated the manor to George Boteler, and it thus became united to Lorings Manor.

A fourth estate in Sharnbrook, known in the16th century as LANGTONS MANOR, was held of the barony of Bedford. It may therefore have originated in the 1½ virgates of land which Osbern de Broilg held of Hugh de Beauchamp in 1086. But it is impossible to state this definitely, for as will be seen from the number of tenants (the Druels, Parentines and Patishalls) who owed allegiance to this honour, the overlordship must have been considerably extended between the Survey and the early 13th century. It seems unlikely that Langtons was ever a manor in the technical sense, for, as mentioned above, it is not so called until very late.

A small estate in Sharnbrook, later called PARENTINES MANOR, was also attached to the barony of Bedford, whose overlordship is acknowledged in 1278,1302, 1346 and 1428. (fn. 77) The first mention that has been found of the Parentine family in Sharnbrook is amongst the benefactions to Newnham Priory, where Robert de Parentine’s name occurs as having bestowed 13 selions of land in Haselhoo in this parish

A sixth estate in Sharnbrook, known at the present day as OUSE MANOR, had its origin in the various grants made by the Child family to Newnham Priory about the 13th century.

Robert son of William le Child gave the priory the waters of the Ouse inclosed from Sitegate to Besebrigg.


The church of ST. PETER consists of a chancel 32 ft. by 18 ft., north chapel of the same size, nave 46 ft. by19 ft., north and south aisles 9 ft. 3 in. wide, west tower 17 ft. 5 in. by 12 ft. 4 in., and north and south porches.


The nave arcades show that in the 13th century the nave was 10 ft. shorter than at present, with north and south aisles; the chancel was about the same size as now. In the 14th century a large north-east chapel was added to the chancel, and a west tower built 10 ft. from the west end of the existing nave, or perhaps begun to the west of an existing tower. When the tower was completed the north and south walls of the nave were lengthened westwards to join it. A widening of the north aisle seems to have been intended, judging by the arch at the west of the north-east chapel; but, as so often happens in work of this date, the intention was abandoned, probably on account of the Black Death. In the 15th century the north aisle was extended westward to the tower, and perhaps rebuilt; and the south aisle was treated in the same way, another arch being added to the nave arcades on each side; the 14th-century window at the south-west of the south aisle must have been then moved to its present place.

Sharnbrook House………………

Colworth House……………….

Census data shows the population……………

The village developed as a commercial centre in the 19th Century. The railway came to Sharnbrook in 1857 and in 1871; there were millers, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, tailors, drapers, bakers and corn merchants in the village. A village school was founded in 1836, now John Gibbard Lower School, and a Divisional Police Station and Petty Court House in 1872, now residential flats. The railway station closed in 1960 due to lack of demand.