The Way We Were: The lasting legacy of a ropemaker’s son

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Born in 1632, 
William Pritchard was the son of a Southwark ropemaker.

Yet not only did he become a merchant taylor by profession, he went on to be Mayor of London.

Knighted in 1672, six years later his accumulated wealth allowed him to purchase the estate of Great Linford for £19,500.

And - being a man with 
extensive building interests - he soon demolished the existing manor house.

On the site opposite he built a new residence, and more than three centuries later this now remains as the central block of the present building.

When Sir William died his body was conveyed “in great state” from his London 
residence to Great Linford, and was laid to rest in the great vault.

He bequeathed the manor to his wife Sarah, and when she died it passed to his 
nephews.

The Uthwatts then continued to occupy the manor house until the coming of the New City.

Picturesque almshouses overlooking the ancient village pond were also built at Sir 
William’s direction.

The work was partially 
undertaken by one of the 
manor tenants, and when 
finished the building comprised seven tenements under one roof.

The central, taller tenement was used as a schoolroom, but by the 1870s the number of pupils had declined to 20. As a result the charity Commission closed the school in 1886.

As for the almshouses, as late as the 1960s these accommodated six elderly ladies. But with the advent of the New City they were compulsorily purchased by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation in 1975.

After the spending a considerable sum the almshouses were converted into “artists’ retreats” for six craftspersons.