The village of “Riptune” was recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086. The word “Riptune” is derived from early Saxon meaning “wood”, “woodland” or “adjacent to woodland”. “Riptune” came within the ownership of Ramsey Abbey which was founded in 969 A.D. and at the time of the Domesday held nearly three quarters of the land in Huntingdonshire. It also recorded the existence of a church and priest though the present building dates from the 12th & 13th centuries. Ripton and Wennington (or Winnington as it was then known) were originally granted to the monastery by Earl Alfwold, brother of Aylwin, the founder of Ramsey Abbey, and they were confirmed in the possessions of the Abbey in King Edgar’s Charter of 974 A.D.
In the 12th century Abbots Ripton became known as Magna Ripton and Riptona Abbatis. Whilst following the dissolution of the monasteries it was known as St. John’s Ripton after the family who became Lords of the Manor. Abbots Ripton was held by the Abbot of Ramsey at the time of the Domesday Book and on the site of the building now known as Abbots Ripton Hall, was a monastery where monks established substantial arable and stock farms and fisheries. However at the Dissolution the timber was of considerable value and reserved to the Crown. Many of the original fields that are farmed today by The Abbots Ripton Estate are identifiable from a 1623 vellum map found under the organ in the church and many use the same names.
Seven generations and 285 years of history
The eldest son of William Fellowes of Lincoln's Inn London and of Eggesford Devon acquired the site of the former Abbey at Ramsey. Coulson represented Huntingdonshire in the House of Commons between 1741 and 1761.
William Fellowes inherited the estate
William was the Member of Parliament for Sudbury and Andover and was also the High Sheriff for Huntingdonshire in 1779.
William Henry Fellowes inherited the estate
William Henry represented the Borough of Huntingdon in the House of Commons between 1796 and 1806 also the county of Huntingdonshire between 1807 and 1830. He commissioned John Soane to alter and enlarge the family house and its entrance at Ramsey. His widow Emma lived for a further 25 years after his death in 1837 and she endowed the building of the church at Ramsey St. Marys in 1858.
Edward Fellowes inherited the estate
In the same year Edward was returned as the Member of Parliament for Huntingdonshire serving until 1880. Edward further extended the family house in Ramsey, employing the services of Edward Blore,between 1838 and 1841. He helped to finance the building of the churches at Ramsey Forty Foot and at Ponders Bridge and the parsonage and school at Ponders Bridge. Edward was also involved in the restoration of the parish church at Ramsey. Edward was created the 1st Baron De Ramsey in 1887 a title he enjoyed for only one month until his death at the age of 79. The clock tower on the Great Whyte in Ramsey was erected in 1888 as a memorial.
William Henry Fellowes became the 2nd Lord De Ramsey
William Henry served in the Life Guards until his marriage to Lady Rosamund Spencer Churchill. He was the Member of Parliament for Huntingdonshire between 1880 and 1885 and for North Huntingdonshire between 1885 and 1887. He served as vice chairman of the Huntingdonshire County Council and he sold land to the County Council for the smallholder scheme. He was also chairman of the Middle Level Commissioners and of the County Conservative Association. In 1914 William Henry was in Germany with his son consulting an eye specialist. He was interned for 15 months and his son was held for the duration of the war. William Henry eventually lost his sight. William Henry provided The Reading and Billiard Rooms for the town of Ramsey in 1892 and The Games Room in 1908. He was also responsible for the addition of the Vestry to the parish church in 1910. The 2nd Lord De Ramsey died in 1925 five years after the death of his wife. Captain Coulson Churchill Fellowes, the heir to the title died on active service in 1915.
Ailwyn Edward Fellowes (son of Captain Coulson Churchill Fellowes) became the 3rd Lord De Ramsey
Ailwyn Edward inherited the title at the age of fifteen. At the time of his coming of age in 1931 the trustees of the estate decided to vacate the Abbey residence in Ramsey and made Abbots Ripton Hall the family seat. In 1937 Diana Broughton, the daughter of Captain Coulson Fellowes, leased the Abbey to the Governors of the Ramsey Grammar School for 99 years. Diana died in the same year and in her memory Major Henry Rogers Broughton gifted the Abbey Gate House to the National Trust in 1952. The 3rd Lord De Ramsey served in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry. He was captured in Singapore in 1941 and imprisoned for 3 years. His service to agriculture was acknowledged by the award of K.B.E and in 1974 he was also the recipient of the Gold Medal of the Royal Agricultural Society.
John Ailwyn Fellowes becomes the 4th and current Lord De Ramsey
He lives with his family at Abbots Ripton Hall. He has maintained the Fellowes interest in the countryside, serving on local and national bodies associated with agriculture, drainage, plant science and the Environment. He was the first Chairman of the Environment Agency of England and Wales. He was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science by Cranfield University, and is currently the President of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.
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