The Priory originally called the Manor House


The historical meaning of “Manor” is a landed estate. The Manor of Cosgrove therefore means the whole estate that covered the Cosgrove area, including the village. Manors were given, granted, sold, leased and annexed to and from sovereigns, lords, other estates and private owners from medieval times.

Francis, Lord Dacre, sold the manor (i.e. the estate) in 1653 to Gervase Andrews of London, who almost at once sold the manor house and farm only to Christopher Rigby of London and the manor estate itself in 1654 to William, 2nd Lord Maynard.

The house (still called The Manor House) and farm continued to be owned by the Rigby family for three generations, although the house itself was rebuilt at some point before 1719. In 1750 the original Christopher Rigby’s grandson, also Christopher Rigby, managed to buy the rest of the estate.

 In 1764 Rigby sold the whole of his Cosgrove estate, including the Manor House to John Biggin of London. In 1788 John died, leaving his Cosgrove property to his second son George, his heir by survivorship, whose story you can read in Cosgrove Characters.

In 1803, George died childless and the Cosgrove estate passed to his nephew, George Mansel, whose father had married George Biggin’s sister, Mary Anne. The Mansel family also owned Cosgrove Hall and eventually the Manor House became the secondary house of the family and began to be leased to wealthy tenants.

Two sisters, Mary and Anne Lowndes, who had connections with a priory in another part of England leased the house and renamed it The Priory, having discovered that the Cosgrove estate had once been in the control of the Knights Hospitallers. They came from the Whaddon Hall, Winslow area. Mary has a memorial in the church, where she was buried in the Nave following her death on 3rd June 1812. As yet we do not know where Anne was buried, having died in 1817.

The sisters also had a niece, also called Anne Lowndes, who occupied the Priory and who died on 28th December 1852 and a great niece, Maria Selby Lowndes who died on 19th January 1856. Both these ladies are buried in the Nave of Cosgrove Church, marked by wall memorials.

Some texts imply that two of these wall memorials refer to a pair of sisters, but subsequent research into their friend Ann Gavey's letters has proved otherwise.

Northampton Mercury March 8th 1817

COSGROVE PRIORY near STONY STRATFORD, Buckinghamshire

Household Furniture, Library of Books, Linen, Chariot, Dairy Effects &c, &c.

To be SOLD by AUCTION

By JOHN DAY & SON

On Wednesday the 19th of March 1817, and two following Days, on the Premises of the late Mrs ANN LOWNDES at COSGROVE PRIORY aforesaid:

The Furniture comprises full-size four post Bedsteads, with mahogany feet Pillars and dimity, cotton and other Furnitures; fine large goose down and other feather Beds, Mattresses and cotton Counterpanes, Quilts and Blankets, mahogany, oak and other dressing Drawers, night Tables, basin Stands, floor and bedside Carpets, large pier, chimney and swing Glasses, two capital mahogany Wardrobes, with Furniture, Bedding &c. complete; several valuable India and other Cabinets; capital India six-leaf folding Screen, excellent month Clock in inlaid case, and two valuable eight day repeating table Clocks, Set of mahogany dining Tables, with circular Ends; Pembroke, card and other Tables; parlour and chamber Chairs, three Sofas, with Covers; a capital chamber Horse, for Invalids, in mahogany Frame, in complete Repair; medicine Chest, liquor Ditto, Harpsichord, dumb Waiter, large Quantity of Glass and Earthenware, upwards of 10 Pair of Sheets, pillow Cases, table Cloths, Napkins &c.; Sharp’s patent stove Grate, with other Grates, Fenders and fire Irons; kitchen Furniture, as Grate, with Boiler, smoke Jack, patent Oven, and kitchen Furniture in general; 100 gallon brewing Copper, washing Ditto, double Cooler, mash Vat and Tubs, beer Pipes, hogshead and half hogshead beer Casks &c, &c.

Also a Library, consisting of upwards of 600 Volumes of Books, the greatest Part in excellent Preservation, amongst which are Chaucer’s Works, with the Siege of Thebes, Life of Chaucer, and Table explaining old and obscure Words, Folin 1617; Brown Willis’s Antiquities of Buckingham, Hundred and Deanry; Banks’s Geography, Pope’s Odyssey and Iliad, Dryden’s Virgil, Life and Reign of Henry the Eighth by Lord Herbert; Travels into Divers Parts of Africa and Asia; Chamber’s Cyclopaedia, Life of Prince James, Dodderidge’s Family Expositor, Baskett’s Bible; History of Russia, to the Death of the Empress Catherine, with a Number of other scarce and valuable Books, Paintings, Prints &c, &c.

Likewise a neat Chariot with Harness, one coach Horse, five useful dairy Cows, Part of a Rick of Hay, stout six-inch Cart, horse Harness, Quantity of Manure, cucumber Frames and Lights, iron garden Roll, stone Ditto, temporary summer House, a very great Number of garden Pots and Evergreens, garden Tools in general, upwards of 20 Dozen of Glass Bottles, and numerous other Articles, which will be expressed in Catalogues, to be had five Days before Sale, at the Inns in the Neighbourhood, and of the Auctioneers, in Stony Stratford.

N.B.: The Chariot, Cows, Hay, garden Articles, dairy and brewing Vessels, Casks &c. will be sold the first Day; the Books, Linen, Glass and part of the Furniture on the second Day; and the remainder of the Furniture on the Friday.

Catalogues of the Books to be had separately from those of the Furniture &c.


The Priory next saw a great change of tenant in General Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch - a national hero second only to Wellington. When peace was signed in 1814, he retired into private life at the age of 67. He was, however, still very active and, being fond of hunting in England, took a house in nearby Salcey Forest. He then rented The Priory for ten years, entertaining many distinguished guests. He departed from The Priory when he had to give up hunting at the age of 77, around 1824, not through any bodily weakness but on account of cataracts on both eyes.
Read Lord Lynedoch's story in Cosgrove Characters
No sooner had Lord Lynedoch left The Priory than another distinguished man arrived: Admiral Sir Robert Moorsom, who had been with Nelson at Trafalgar. He had been living at Little Linford Hall, and came to Cosgrove to be near his only daughter, Maria Margaret, the wife of the Rector, the Revd. Henry Longueville Mansell.

Lady Moorsom died at Linford before the move and was brought to Cosgrove for burial. Sir Robert died in 1835. Mrs Mansell placed so many Moorsom memorials in the local church that a guide book once said that Cosgrove was for a long time the home of the well known Moorsom family, and subsequently of the celebrated Mansells. The truth is that the Mansells had been local residents for over 300 years while Sir Robert Moorsom was there for only eight.
Read Sir Robert Moorsom's story in Cosgrove Characters


1848 Agreement with Miss Lowndes to let the Priory, furnished, for £150 per annum

By 1886 John Christopher Mansel and his wife were living across the road from the Hall in a smaller house called the "Cottage" where Mrs Mansel had extensive "Pleasure Gardens". The letters below show that at this time they were preparing to sell the Priory to Mr Thorold.

Cosgrove Hall

Stony Stratford

24 May

Dear Mr Markham

I shall be very glad to see you and hope that you will at any rate dine and sleep here and stay as long as you can. I am thoroughly ashamed of our Lord Lieutenant. I think he quite deserved the rebuke he is said to have received a few days ago, which you no doubt have heard of.

Very truly

K M Mansel


Cosgrove

Nov 11th 1886

Dear Mr Markham

In your letter received this mor’g you say : “that I assume you know that Mr Mills is quite willing to covey the Priory property without incurring any part of the purchase money.” The letter I received from Mr Thorold in July last gave me to understand quite the contrary and I am in utter ignorance of anything that has taken place since; I saw both Mr Thorold and Mr Fisher last week but they did not either of them enter into the business with me.

I consider it very desirable that the Mill should be sold with the Priory. In fact I should think no-one would buy the Priory without the Mill.

Before this matter is settled I must see you, either here or Northampton.

Yours very truly

J C Mansel

H P Markham Esq


3 Grosvenor Gardens

27th Nov 1886

Cosgrove Priory

Dear Sir

I have yours of Saturday. If Mrs Mansel approves I shall be quite ready to carry out your suggestions about disposal of purchase money from Mr Atkinson.

Shall I find your disengaged at 12.45 pm on Tuesday or Wednesday next if I come to talk the thing over with you. I want to get away again by the 1.40 pm train from Northampton so as to have the afternoon at Cosgrove before returning to London.

Yours very truly

A Grant Thorold

H P Markham Esquire

Northampton


Market Harborough

March 25 1887

Dear Sir

Cosgrove

The following are an indication of the occupation of Mr Mansel which I consider to be included in Mr Grant Thorold’s offer.

                                                             

A  
R
P
110 Captain’s Close
0
3
32
136 House, Garden, Yard and Pleasure Gardens
0
3
15
112 Cottage, Garden, Farm yard and Buildings
 0
37
2   0   4

I will see you tomorrow as letter

Yours faithfully

H W R Fisher

H P Markham


Diocesan Registry Peterborough

8th June 1887

Dear Sir

Cosgrove Estate

Mr H P Gates has placed in my hands your letter to him of the 6th inst & draft contract to peruse.

I presume the property  mentioned is not entailed but that Mr Grant Thorold has the whole fee simple therein subject to the mortgage.

Is not the [said] Contract in its present form void for want of certainty, it being one for the purchase of the legal estate in land at some future indefinite period and the purchase money being payable at an indefinite time.

In the draft it is stated that “in as much as difficulties might occur in obtaining a Conveyance”.

Have Mr Mills Trustees been communicated with at all in reference to them releasing the legal Estate or have they objected to do so until the mortgage or the whole estate is paid off or what are the difficulties apprehended?

The quantity of the land is not stated. From what date is it proposed that the purchaser should take possession under the Contract? And will the amount of interest be equivalent to the present rent payable?

Yours truly

H W Gates

H P Markham Esq


Market Harborough

June 27th 1887

Dear Sir

Cosgrove

I understand the arrangements to be per

A  
R
P
110 Captain’s Close
0
3
32
136 House, Garden, Yard and Pleasure Gardens
0
3
15
112 Cottage, Garden, Farm yard and Buildings
0
0
37
138 pr of Orchard 0 1 2

Price £1000

Interest at same rate as paid to J C Mansel Esq

I conclude that Mr M declines to pay more on account of 138 and..

Yours faithfully

H W R Fisher

H P Markham

Northampton



This window depicts the Atkinson family
Left to right: St Leger, Mary, York.

The Atkinson children are featured in the stained glass windows on the Priory staircase and in Cosgrove Church. One of them, St Ledger, joined the army and was killed in action on 13th May 1915, a Captain of the 1st Royal Dragoons. The Atkinsons were highly regarded in Cosgrove and some “living memories” are to be found in the stories of Dennis Tompkins and his sister Cynthia Smith.

At some point the Atkinson family renovated the Priory in the Tudor Style, taking out Georgian windows and replacing them with stone mullions.

Cosgrove Priory passed from J. J. Atkinson to his son Philip Atkinson, who died in 1972, leaving the Priory to Sir Hereward Wake Bt. of Courteenhall, although Atkinson's widow Grace continued to live at the house until her death. Sir Hereward sold the estate in 1979 to David Moore, who renovated the mansion before selling the main house in 1981 and moving to a new home he had created in the former stables.



In 1982, The Cambridge Diet purchased it as its UK headquarters. Because of a long, drawn out legal case over UK marketing rights, however, the building remained unused for five years before The Cambridge Diet lost the action and vacated the premises in 1987.

Pericom purchased the main building in 1987 as their UK headquarters and has subsequently purchased the remains of the complex and reintegrated it. The company began restoring The Priory to its former grandeur, making both internal and external improvements to complement the style of the building and enhance its flexibility as the administrative centre of the Group's international activities. In 2013 the house was again on the market and sold once again as a family home."

A BBC Northampton live broadcast 24th May 1993
John Stack


The Buildings

The Priory, which is not listed, is built of ironstone and limestone with a clay tiled roof. The house has beautiful reception rooms with a magnificent entrance hall, divided from the dining room by a Tudor rood screen, a large south west facing drawing room, sitting room and billiards room. There is a large kitchen and breakfast room also on the ground floor. 
The upper floors may originally have had seven to eight large bedrooms, several with period fireplaces remaining. The original school room on the second floor has decoupage wall decorations which may have been made by the children and their governesses.

To the north of the main house are The Stables, built of stone with brick detailing, which in the 1980s was converted to a separate detached house. Close by is The Old Dairy, which has in the past been used as a cottage. 

Adjoining The Stables is a large single garage. A boiler room is attached to the north side of The Priory. Adjacent is a store room. To the north of the The Stables is a former agricultural building, once used as stables with a loft over it. Further to the east is another timber framed stable building. 


Believed to be John Jepson Atkinson riding on a pennyfarthing he had built

A109
Sam
Bob
Nigger
Sally
Pip
1st CAVALRY BRIGADE
BY
BY
BY
BY
BY
1914-1919
Balscadden
Balscadden
White Magic
St. Eloi
Sprig of Orange
GRAFTON
18th APRIL 1922
11th APRIL 1923
23rd APRIL 1924
14th MAY 1925
3rd MAY 1926
1919-1921
The horse on the left is Cosgrove's own Warhorse, held by Mr Lavington, pictured outside Cosgrove Mill. This horse was called Grafton and saw military service all through the First World War. His number A109 was stamped on his hoof, and he served in the 1st Cavalry Brigade. Our assumption is that he was the mount of Philip York Atkinson. After 1919 they both returned to Cosgrove. The caption indicates that Grafton lived a further two years, during which, possibly, the photograph was taken.

Occupants of the Priory
Ref: Date Occupant
Northampton Mercury newspaper 1817 Sale of contents Mrs. Ann Lownes - Died March 1st 1817 aged 81 years
Northampton Mercury newspaper
1828 Lord Lynedoch - August 1828 - To be Let late residence of the Right Hon. Lord Lynedoch
Sir Robert Moorsom died in 1835
Census 1841 Claria Yardley
Kelly's Directory 1847 John Christopher Mansell , esq.
Mansel documents 1848 Agreement June 24th with Miss Lowndes for letting the Priory at £150 per annum, furnished
Whellan History of Northamptonshire 1849 Lownds Miss Maria S. Priory formerly the Manor
Census 1851 Maria Lowndes
Kelly's Directory 1854 Miss Selby Lowndes died in January 1856
Mansel documents 1856 Lease - Francis Thursby of Claredon Square, Leamington Warwick. £160 per year for 25 years
Census 1861 Francis Thursby
Letter Mansel Collection 1865 C. G. Boulton Nov 19th - rent £3.3.0
Kelly’s Directory 1869 Charles G. Boulton esq. (1866 birth of a daughter July 31).
Northampton Mercury newspaper 1870 C. G. Boulton - Leaving August 1870
Census 1871 No occupant
Whellan & Co 1874 Thomas Booth esq.
Post Office Directory 1877 Col. Frederick Walter Carden
Census 1881 Algernon St Maur
Estate papers 1881 John Jepson Atkinson - Agreement 8th October 1881
Abstract of Title 1920 1887 John Jepson Atkinson purchased the Priory & Mill (see below)
Kelly's Directory 1890 John Jepson Atkinson
Census 1891 John Jepson Atkinson
Kelly’s Directory 1894 John Jepson Atkinson
Kelly's Directory 1898 John Jepson Atkinson
Census 1901 Isabella Atkinson
Kelly's Directory 1903 John Jepson Atkinson
Kelly's Directory 1906 John Jepson Atkinson
Kelly's Directory 1910 John Jepson Atkinson
Census 1911 John Jepson Atkinson
Kelly’s Directory 1914 John Jepson Atkinson
Kelly’s Directory 1920 John Jepson Atkinson
Kelly’s Directory 1924 John Jepson Atkinson
Kelly's Directory 1928 Mrs. Isabella Atkinson
Kelly’s Directory 1931 Capt. P. Y. Atkinson
Kelly's Directory 1936 Mrs. Isabella Atkinson
Kelly's Directory 1940 Capt. P. Y. Atkinson

22nd August 1887 BY INDENTURE of this date made between the said A. W. T. G. Thorold of the 1st part and the said C. W. Holbeck R. H. Murray J. B. A. Acland of the 2nd part the said J. C. Mansel of the 3rd part Jno. Wm. Smith of the 4th part Jno. Jepson Atkinson of the 5th part & Henry Jas. Wilkinson and Francis Wm. Bailey of the sixth part in conson of the sum of £4,150 to the sd J. C. & A. W. T. G. Thorold paid by the said J. J. Atkinson the said C. W. Holbeck R. H. Murray J. B. A. Acland J. G. Hoare and J. C. Mansel as Mtgees & the said A. W. T. G. Thorold as Beneficial Owner conveyed & confirmed in the 1st Schedule thrto & delineated in the plan thron & Nod. 90, 91, 92, 93, & 94, Together with a right of access to and from a well or spring in field No. 3 on the said plan

To HOLD the same unto the said J. J. Atkinson & his heirs freed from the said Mortgage debt of £4,800 secured by Indre of the 14th April 1849 & the said Mortgage debt of £9,000 secured by the hereinbefore absted Mem. of the 8th Octr. 1881 and all intt for the same

TO THE USE & subject to the powers of the Will of the late Jas. Atkinson decd. DECLARATION that the ad J. J. Atkinson his heirs or assns should have the option (subject as thrin contd) on giving notice in writing to the said A. W. T. G. Thorold his heirs and assns or to his or their solrs at any time within 10 years from the date throf to purchase the hereits comp in the 2nd Schedule thrto & Nod. 35, 36, & 37 on the said plan for £2,000 upon the terms in the said Indre mentd.

The First Schedule before referred to
No. on Plan
Description
Quantitiy
a.
r.
p.
90
The Capital messe or Mansion House called The Priory with the Coachouse stables & other outbuildings garden & pleasure grounds thrto belonging or occupied therewith
4
0
20
91
The Lawn 14 1 15
92
The Home Close
4
0
38
93
The Little Meadow
3
6
94
Rickyard and Spinney
1
39
A
23
3
38

The Second Schedule before reffered to
35
Sancey Leys
10
2
22
36
Sancey Leys
10
0
20
37
The Slipe
1
1
3
A
22
0
5

22nd August 1887 BY INDENTURE of this date made between A. W. T. G. Thorold of the 1st part and the said C. W. Holbeck R. H. Murray J. B. A. Acland of the 2nd part the said J. C. Mansel of the 3rd part & the said J. J. Atkinson of the 4th part in conson of the sum of £1,390 to the said A. W. T. G. Thorold paid by the said J. J. Atkinson the said C. W. Holbeck R. H. Murray J. B. A. Acland & H. G. Hoare & J. C. Mansel as Mtgees & the said A. W. T. G. Thorold as beneficial owner conveyed to the said J. J. Atkinson all the hereits described in the 1st Schedule thrto & delineated in the plan thron & Nod. 85, 86, 87, & 88

TO HOLD the same unto & to the use of J. J. Atkinson freed from the Mtge debts thron

The First Schedule before referred to
No. on Plan
Description
Quantity
a.
r.
p.
85
The Mill Top Meadow containing
4
1
30
86
The Mill Holme
4
3
2
87
The Bottom Meadow
1
2
11
88
The Homestead including the messuage or dwellinghouse & water mill commonly called Cosgrove Mill with the buildings & appurtenances thereto belonging and all Landlord's fixtures therein
2
3
A
11
1
3