The first mention of Tofte Manor lies in the Doomsday book in 1086. The land was originally gifted by the Crown to Sir William Tofte, a Knights Templar, in the 12th Century. The village of Sharnbrook was known as a Templar settlement and relics of this still appear in the names of the Streets such as ‘Templars Way’. Through the centuries, Tofte Manor passed into the hands of the Newham Priory and afterwards to the families of Boteler, Cornish and Gambier families who built a succession of houses on the original site. In 1876 it was purchased by Charles Magniac then owner of the neighbouring Colworth House estate.
The oldest part of the house as it stands today, goes back to the 17th century. A plaque dated 1613 sits above the central doorway ‘Except the Lord build the house, their labour is lost that build it’.
This inscription was copied onto the London house of the famous artist James McNeill Whistler who frequently visited the Manor as a guest and friend of the incumbent Lewis Jarvis whom he had met at the Slade College.
Whistler painted a portrait of Ada Jarvis which is now in the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts. The beautiful interior painting he did on the drawing room ceiling as a precursor to his famous Peacock Room which was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 2004.
The Alston family were responsible for the design of the present day house which later became the home of the Wells family of Charles Wells Brewery. It passed to Christopher and Suzy Castleman in l995, who renovated the property and gardens to its present glory. The Stables Courtyard has also been beautifully restored and converted into stylish accommodation and work space with attention to every detail in terms of design, comfort and practicality.