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Ditton Park, Buckinghamshire (Now Berkshire), England

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Ditton Park, Buckinghamshire (Now Berkshire), England

The detached part of Stoke Poges parish forms the manor of DITTON. Assessed at 5 hides, it was held in 1086 by William son of Ansculf, and the overlordship followed the same descent as that of Stoke Poges Manor (q.v.) until 1472, when it became parcel of the honour of Windsor.

In 1086 Ditton was held by Walter,) who also held Stoke Poges (q.v.), and followed the descent of the latter manor till 1472, except that it was held in dower by Margery widow of Sir William de Moleyns from 1381 to 1399 and by Margery de Moleyns from 1424 to 1438 In 1472 Ditton was excepted with Datchet from the restoration to Sir Oliver Maningham and his wife Eleanor, and was quitclaimed by them to Edward IV. It remained with the Crown until 1631, when it was granted to William Collins and Edward Fenn, with the exception of Ditton Park. The manor eventually passed, being apparently purchased either by Ralph Duke of Montagu or his son John, to the Montagu family, owners of Ditton Park (q.v.). In 1760 George Earl of Cardigan owned one moiety, and in 1768 Edward Lord Beaulieu the other, in respect of their wives Mary and Isabella, daughters and co-heirs of John Duke of Montagu. In 1810 Ditton Manor belonged to Henry Duke of Buccleugh and his wife Elizabeth, only daughter of George Earl of Cardigan, who had owned a moiety since her father's death in 1790. Elizabeth died in 1827 and was succeeded by her second son Lord Montagu of Boughton, who died without issue in 1845. On the death of his widow in 1859 the Ditton estate devolved on his nephew Walter Francis fifth Duke of Buccleugh, who died in 1884. His widow Charlotte Duchess of Buccleugh owned it until her death in 1895, when it passed to her second son Henry Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. He was succeeded in 1905 by his son John Walter Edward.


A moiety of Ditton Manor appears to have been subinfeudated for a time by a marriage between the Dittons and the Stokes. Richard de Ditton died about 1205, leaving a widow Cecilia de Stoke and two sons Robert and Gilbert de Ditton, the former of whom subinfeudated half the vill of Ditton to the latter, with the exception of the capital messuage and the alder grove near the fish-pond. The moieties seem to have become united by 1338. Ditton Park dates from 1335, when John de Moleyns obtained a licence to make a park of 38 acres of land and wood in Ditton and Datchet, which he held in severalty. It was enlarged in 1338 by 8 acres of land in the manor of Langley Marish, by the payment of 4s. yearly during Queen Philippa's life and the service of a rose at Midsummer after her death. It furnished alders used in building Eton College. Norden's Survey in 1608 states that the park contained at that time 'about 220 deer, 50 of antler and about 20 bucks, 195 acres of good ground but little timber in a circuit of 2¼ miles.' The office of keeper was an appointment for life. It was one of the emoluments granted to Anne Boleyn as Marchioness of Pembroke in 1532, and in 1614 it was worth £150 yearly. In 1615 it was granted to Sir Ralph Winwood, secretary of state, and his son Richard for their lives,and in 1617 in tailmale. In 1630 Ditton Park, containing 218 acres, was granted to Sir Ralph's widow Elizabeth Lady Winwood at fee farm. She died in 1659 and was succeeded by their son Richard, who died in 1688. On the death of his widow in 1693 the Winwood estates passed (in accordance with a settlement made by Sir Ralph Winwood) to his nephew Ralph Earl of Montagu, son of Edward Lord Montagu of Boughton and his wife Anne Winwood. He was created Duke of Montagu in 1705 and died in 1709. His son and successor John Duke of Montagu died without male issue in 1749, and his wife Mary, youngest daughter and co-heir of John Duke of Marlborough, in 1751. Ditton Park passed to their daughter Isabella dowager Duchess of Manchester, who died in 1786. On the death of her second husband, Sir Edward Hussey-Montagu, created in 1762 Lord Beaulieu of Beaulieu, this estate came in 1802 to her niece Elizabeth Duchess of Buccleugh, already owner of a moiety of Ditton Manor (q.v.), from which it has not again been severed. . //

The grants of liberties to John de Moleyns for Stoke Poges also covered Ditton. In 1331 he had licence to fortify the manor-house and to hold it quit of livery of the marshals and other officials. In 1548 the free tenants of Ditton Manor paid at any decease a relief of a year's rent and suit of court, and the customary tenants their best beast as heriot and a fine at the lord's will.In 1611 it was decreed that certain copyhold tenants on every alienation should still pay to the lord of the manor 5s. for every messuage and 2s. for every acre of land.

In 1325 Gille de Poges married John de Molyns, and they inherited Ditton Park in 1331. In the same year de Molyns, who was the Supervisor of the Queens Castle’s and Marshall of the King’s Falcons as well as being the Kings Treasurer, was granted a licence by Edward III to fortify ‘his mansun at Ditton’. The estate passed down through the family to John’s great-great granddaughter, Alianore, who inherited the estate at the age of 3 years. Alianore was betrothed to Sir Robert Hungerford who was granted control in 1441. Sir Robert supported the Lancastrians during the War of the Roses and was beheaded in 1464 in the Tower of London. In 1472 the Manors of Ditton, Datchet and Riding Court became crown land under Edward IV.

From 1472 Ditton was owned by the crown and most probably sublet. There is evidence that Henry VIII spent money on Ditton Park and his eldest child, Mary (later Mary I), spent much time at the Manor. In 1532 keepership of the park was granted to Anne Boleyn as part of her endowment to Henry VIII though there is no evidence of her having lived at the Manor. In 1615 the Keepership of Ditton Park estate and the Manor of Datchet was granted to Sir Ralph Winwood who was Secretary of State to King James I. During this time the house was renovated and a more extensive moat was built. Sir Ralph died in 1617 and the estate passed to his son Richard. Richard Winwood was a Parliamentarian during the English Civil War. He was a moderate in this cause but had associations with Cromwell. Despite this difficult period, during the reign of Charles II, in 1680 Richard was re-elected to Parliament having successfully ingratiated himself with the new monarch. After Richard Winwood’s death in 1688 the estate passed to Ralph Montagu. Ralph’s mother was Sir Ralph Winwood’s daughter who had married Edward Montagu, 2nd Lord Montagu of Boughton. Ralph had a colourful life and married well – twice! His son, John, 2nd Duke of Montagu inherited the estate with his wife, daughter of the great Duke of Marlborough, in 1709. John held various high profile roles under the command of King George I and was well-known as a generous and eccentric man. He left no male heir so his estates were divided between his two daughters, Mary and Isabella. Lady Mary Montagu inherited Ditton in 1749. In 1730 she had married George Brudenell, the 4th Earl of Cardigan. George was created 3rd Duke of Montagu in 1766 to Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu Served as British Ambassador to Louis XIV at the Court of Versailles from 1669 to 1678 prevent the title lapsing. He was tutor to George III’s children and frequently inhabited Ditton Manor to be conveniently near Windsor Castle. The Dukedom of Montagu became extinct upon his death in 1790, as his only male heir had died in 1770. The estate passed to his daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to Henry Scott, the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch (the great-great grandson of the famous Duke of Monmouth). In April 1812 there was a fire at Ditton Manor. George III apparently crossed the river from Windsor especially to watch the blaze! Many possessions were saved and no lives were lost but the House was devastated. The House was rebuilt by 1817 for the Dowager (Henry had died only months before the fire), Lady Elizabeth, to the designs of the architect, William Atkinson. Atkinson’s design for the new house was heavily influenced by the former building, and he included many features found on the original.

The Dukedom of Montagu became extinct upon George’s death in 1790, as his only male heir had died in 1770.The estate passed to his daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to Henry Scott, the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch (the great-great grandson of the famous Duke of Monmouth). Some time after this the Dowager gave the use of the house to her second son, Henry James, Lord Montagu of Boughton. Henry did not have children himself so the house reverted to the Buccleuch line, to his nephew, Walter Francis Montagu Douglas Scott, the 5th Duke of Buccleuch. Walter gave Ditton Park to his son as a wedding present in 1867. The estate stayed with the Montagu family until 1917 when it was compulsorily purchased by the Admiralty under the Defence of the Realm Act during the Great War.The Ditton Park island (Manor House and Moat) cost the Admiralty £20,000 in 1917. Two years later the remainder of the park was bought for a further £24,000. The Admiralty then built their Compass Observatory within the grounds where 470 people were employed at the manor. Their main tasks were to design and provide navigation equipment (other than radio equipment) for the Royal Navy. In February 1935 a draft memo entitled “Detection and Location of Aircraft by Radio Methods” was presented by Robert Watson-Watt. The theory leading directly to Radar had been born!


Computer Associates purchased the Estate in 1997 specifically for CA's Europe, Middle East and Africa Headquarters. That building occupies the west side of Ditton Park, whilst Ditton Manor remains at the centre of a 200 acre estate with a traditional English landscape, and with views across the moated island to parkland, woodland and lakes.