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History of Woodland Manor

In 1812 the present hotel site came up at auction as part of a 23 acre lot containing a cottage and carpenters lodge. The sales description predicted that it had "the capability of being made into a highly ornamental and picturesque residence".

Attracted by the lands "extensive views and rich quality", as well as parish rates averaging 6d, John Thomas Dawson purchased the land and built the original mansion four years later.

After his death in 1850 the house passed to his eldest son the Reverend John Dawson and it was the clergyman's own demise twenty years later which led to a macabre attempt to settle a dispute over inheritance.

Reporting on the grisly occurrence, the local newspaper revealed "The carpenter who had screwed down the lid averred that previous to this being done the nurse who had attended the deceased in his last illness placed under his body a bundle of documents tied with red tape". 

It took all night to lift the gravestone while constables stood by to keep back sensation seekers. At last the coffin was broached to reveal the documents - love letters which had passed between the Reverend and his first wife and placed there at his dying request.

Subsequently the property passed into the hands of the local Justice of the Peace, William Long Fitzpatrick, who may have been related to the Novel Irish Family that inherited Ampthill Park in 1736 and provided three Members of Parliament for Bedfordshire over the ensuing 80 years.

It was William who commissioned the Manor we see today, built by the local architects Usher and Anthony. The date of the building-1901-and the Fitzpatrick family crest are displayed over the main entrance.

After World War II the Manor was used as a guest house and as a hospital for the Ministry of Supply. Later it was used as a research established for a time before becoming a hotel in 1973.

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