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To the manor born...




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This month, the council granted outline planning permission to build over 200 houses on former marshland in Long Sutton, opposite what is now a concrete works.

Until the 1940s, the site of the concrete factory was occupied by a two- storey house, a replacement for a building once owned by Edward III’s fourth son, John of Gaunt, who became Lord of the Manor of Sutton Holland on the death of his wife’s father Henry Duke of Lancaster in 1364, also acquiring his title.

The Manor House sat in 6-8 acres of land bounded by Seagate to the east and Hall Drove (no longer in existence) to the south. Although Seagate is now some five miles from The Wash, it was at that time adjacent to tidal marsh.

As Lord of the Manor of Sutton Holland, it is not known whether John and his wife Blanche ever lived in or even came to the village, though there is a local tale that John had a liaison with a local lady and may even have entered into a morganatic marriage (a sort of prenuptial agreement where someone of high rank marries someone of lower rank and neither the low rank spouse or any children inherit any title or assets).

He is however credited with making significant improvements to the Parish Church of St Mary, being largely responsible for its construction and a stained glass window looking out over what would have been the grounds of his manor house is named after him. The estate was probably wealthy with sheep farming providing a steady income.

The landscape was very different at that time. Seagate was aptly named, being a road giving access to the sea. There was a tide mill near the Manor House operated by the movement of tidal waters, sluices and a fishery, known as the Falls which extended close to the heart of what is now the town centre.

Long Sutton was effectively a seaside village and sheep and cattle would have been fattened on the rich salt marshes that extended to what is now Sutton Bridge.

Flooding was common then with the sea walls breached bringing great loss of life. The manor changed hands frequently, in 1468 for example, passing to Elizabeth Woodville, who had married Edward lV four years earlier.

In 1814, the rebuilt Manor House on Seagate, recorded as part of the possessions of one William Hutchinson was sold by auction at the Bull Hotel (then the Black Bull). Although by then there had been much reclamation of land, the sales particulars noted that masts of ships could be seen from the bedroom windows of the two storey house.

The building was eventually demolished and the site sold for industry.

The grounds are now a modern housing estate and farmland. More housing it appears will now be built on the former marshland the other side of Seagate that perhaps John of Gaunt, his wife Blanch and perhaps his brother in law Geoffrey Chaucer looked over from his manor house.

The first half of the 15th century according to local histories appears to have been particularly stormy.

The manor changed hands frequently, in 1468 for example, passing to Elizabeth Woodville, who had married Edward lV four years earlier.

In 1814, the rebuilt Manor House on Seagate, recorded as part of the possessions of one William Hutchinson was sold by auction at the Bull Hotel (then the Black Bull). Although by then there had been much reclamation of land, the sales particulars noted that masts of ships could be seen from the bedroom windows of the two storey house.

The building was eventually demolished and the site sold for industry. The grounds are now a modern housing estate and farmland. More housing it appears will now be built on the former marshland the other side of Seagate that perhaps John of Gaunt, his wife Blanch and perhaps his brother in law Geoffrey Chaucer looked over from his manor house.



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