History of the Manor

The Manor of Lyddington cum Caldecott, which included Stoke Dry, Snelston, and Caldecott, was held by the bishops of Lincoln in 1086 and was then in the Witchley Wapentake of Northamptonshire.  Thorpe by Water was incorporated later.  By the middle of the twelfth century, the bishops had established a residence for themselves at Lyddington.  With excellent hunting available nearby in Rockingham Forest, fertile soil and rich pasture, it soon became a favourite place for the bishops and their friends to stay, especially at Christmas.  Over the next three centuries they cultivated the land, enlarged their nearby park in which they built fishponds, extended the buildings and created a place fit for Henry VIII and Katherine Howard to visit in 1541.
In 1547, succumbing to pressures on the Church at the Reformation, Bishop Henry Holbeach handed the Manor to the crown, together with almost half the estates of the diocese of Lincoln.  The following year, it was given to Gregory Cromwell and his wife Elizabeth for their joint lives. When Gregory died in 1551, it was granted to William Cecil, though he did not actually receive it until Elizabeth died in 1568.  From then until the end of the manorial system in 1925, the Manor remained in the hands of the Cecil family of Burghley House, Stamford.
William Cecil became the first Lord Burley in 1571.  His eldest son Thomas was made the first Earl of Exeter in 1605 and Henry Cecil, the tenth Earl, was made Marquess of Exeter in 1801.  The collection of manuscripts at Burghley House is known as the Exeter Archive.