top of page

The Manors of Medieval Watford, Northamptonshire 

As far back as the Norman Conquest of 1066, Watford with three towns was exceptional.  Soon after, the king awarded Watford as a knight’s fee—a parcel of land sufficient to support a knight.  Two centuries on, the single holding was broken into separate manors for the deceased lord’s daughters.  Some 350 troublesome years and three families later, the manors of Watford were recombined by a wealthy London merchant.


Remarkably, the heirs of the Ardern family of Watford held the manors continuously for nearly 500 years from the twelfth century, claiming a unique place in English history.

Accurately presented and meticulously researched, The Watford Knight’s Fee explores the Watford manors, revealing surprising stories of their lands and those who occupied their medieval halls.  The first book of its kind to be published on the subject, The Watford Knight’s Fee is a must-read for any English or medieval history enthusiast.  The author adds colour to the story with original text and images of documents, reproductions of maps of the grounds, and ample charts of land holdings.

Arms and crest of de Clare.

Watford was first awarded by King William I to Richard de Clare after the Conquest. The manor descended through two more generations of de Clare.

Arms and crest of de Clare

Early in the 12th century, King Henry I next granted the manor and knight's fee of Watford to Agnes de Ardern and her son to hold of the de Clare barony.  The manor and knight's fee remained with her descendants for 500 years  -- unique in English history.

The parish of Watford, Northamptonshire with the towns of Watford, Silsworth, and Murcott.

Map of the parish of Watford
bottom of page