or Lower Manor, after the Middle Ages.
In the sixteenth century the capital messuage or farmhouse with the demesne lands and stock were let on a sixty years’ lease to John Woodliff of Harwell, possibly a descendant of William Woodliff, born a bondman of the manor and manumitted by Bishop Henry Beaufort in 1421.
Edward Wiseman of Spursells Court purchased the manor in 1647 from the trustees for the sale of bishops’ lands, but it was recovered by the Bishop after the Restoration. Early in the nineteenth century the lessees were the Hopkins family of Tidmarsh Manor. Robert Hopkins purchased the bishops’ rights; he died childless in 1838 and was succeeded by his brother John Hopkins. Upon his death in 1877 the manor descended to his son Robert John Hopkins, from whom it was purchased in 1890 by Messrs Paine and Brettell of Chertsey. Many farmers worked there in the nineteenth century, including Hopkins, Betteredge and Robey.
In 1906, Benjamin Lay, twelfth child of John Lay of Prince’s Manor, purchased the tenancy for Bishop’s Manor for the sum of £2,200; the farmhouse and land remained a tenancy until 1919, when it was purchased by Joseph Lay, Ben’s youngest brother; Benjamin sadly died young; he had made quite a name for himself locally as an exceptionally good horseman; he won cups and trophies at race-meetings and point-to-point gatherings.
Ben Lay’s general factotum was Harry Buckle, who lived in Harwell’s northernmost cottage. Many of his offspring still live in the village, and his daughters, Mrs C. Froud and Mrs F. Moody are two of our oldest residents. The groom was Harry Besin, uncle to the Bowness brothers; Felix Bowness has become well known in the Hi-di-hi television series; he no longer lives in Harwell, but was born and attended school here between the two great wars.