John Milton's House in Horton ( 400th Anniversary of his birth)

John Milton 1608-1674

Between 1636 and 1638 John Milton lived with his family in Horton in a house reputedly on the same site as today's Berkyn Manor Horton on  J. Rayner and Sons farm.  This web page is a history of Berkyn (Berkin) Manor and its occupants including John Milton in so far as it is known. Further more we hope to gather as much information as possible about John Milton's stay in Horton during which he completed some of his most important work. Readers of this page are therefore encouraged to correct or add to any information presented here by clicking here.


Milton/Horton Links


  • Milton lived as a child from about the ages of 1-3 in Bells Lane Horton and the house still stands. (Simon Lane)

New Book on Milton mentioning Horton

Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer and Patriot

Owners/Occupants of Berkyn Manor (incomplete)

  • 1458 John Berkyn dies
  • 1560 Thomas Bulstrode left a (Berkyn) Manor to 2nd son Thomas
  • 1636 John Milton lived with his parents John & Sara (Jeffrey) & brother Christopher house rented from  the Earl of BridgeWater Sir John Egerton
  • 1637 Milton's Mother Sara wife of John is buried in St Michaels Church Horton
  • 1638 Milton's Parents are now dead 
  • 1840 Thomas Woodward Resident of Berkyn Manor before the Cooke Family dies in his 90's
  • 1848 Edward Tyrrell buys Berkyn Manor from the trustees of Mr. John Cooke
  • 1881 Edward Tyrrell dies his son Avery (Widower) inherits
  • 1881 Date on rear of Berkyn Manor
  • 1884 Dairy at Berkyn Manor built marked in bricks AV1884 Avery Tyrrell
  • 1909 Last Tyrrell Dies (Avery Tyrrell) in Berkyn Manor Left £73,331
  • 1945 Rayners buy Berkyn Manor from A.J.Shore London Butchers or Greengrocers
  • 1987 Ernest Rayner dies age 96 last resident of Berkyn Manor


I find mention made of one John Berkyn, who deceased 36
Hen. VI. 1458, in a deed in which the Rev. Dr. William
Westbury, Provost of Eton College, who died 1477, is cited
10th April, 37 Henry VI. He was the fourth Provost of Eton
College, which was dedicated "to the blessed Marie of
Etone beside Wyndesore." This Provost was of celebrity in
his day, and his merit was strenuously and successfully
to oppose the union of Eton College with Windsor College,
proposed by King Edward IV. Harl. MS. 5564.  John Berkyn
held and had the fishery in the Thames with a Weir,
called Horne de Were in Edeston, being the house, lands
and fishery belonging to the Provost of Eton. The deed is
in the public Record Depository, and the reference is to
be found in Martin's Index to deeds of grant. In another
grant of 1494, this same weir and fishery was granted to
Eton a deed 1 Henry VII. (which the Bailiffs of Cookham
and Bray, previously granted to Charles Rippon), is cited.
It may not be remote from verisimilitude, for we have no
express testimony, that this manor was either so called
from John Berkyn himself, or that he was of Horton, and
took for patronymic the place of his nativity, suffice to
add, that this is indubitably the site of a manor, and it
was given by the will of Thomas Bulstrode, proved 24th
November, 1560, to his second son, Thomas, from whom it
came to his elder brother, Edward, as appears in its proper
place see Pedigree of Bulstrode, p. 217. The name has
been revived by the present owner of a handsome edifice,
built on the identical area where our great epic Poet
lived and sung. [PRESUMABLY = MILTON] Traditions exist,
which are referred to our own times, although curiosity
has not been until lately so ardent about the spot, and
point to the ground where Berkyn House now stands as the
veritable endroit, where until recently flourished an
apple tree, and where yet exists in all its solidity of
architecture a red-bricked pigeon house, recognised and
respected as the identical one extant in the Bard's time,
a Columbarium adequate for the family, and such as were
appendant to country residences.  The modern residence,
approached from the road through very handsome iron gates,
to which a lodge is attached of a corresponding character,
is of deep red brick, Elizabethan style, with stone inser-
tions, comprising all the indispensables of modern comfort,
and constructed with a becoming and judicious taste by
Edward Tyrrell, Esq. the City Remembrancer, an office of
trust and honour, also held by his late father, Timothy
Tyrrell, Esq.  This ground, and the house then upon it,
were acquired from the trustees of Mr. John Cooke in
1848, and the improvements effected since the purchase
justifies the village in its praise on account of the
exchange. The park, though small, is reduced to order;
the streams humectate without o'er flowing the land, and
the picturesque stamp of the spot enlivens the spirit and
charms the eye. The gardens have produced all requisites
in a very brief space, like the fabulous ones of old,
c: which one day bloomed and fruitful were the next."
This Locale is then traditionally the hallowed spot, and
the old house now demolished is adjudged to have been
the same which the Poet's father rented of the Earl of
Bridgewater, Sir John Egerton, who with his elder brother,
Sir Thomas Egerton, " par nobile fratrum," served under the
Earl of Essex at the siege of Cadiz in 1597, and were both
knighted for their valour. Sir John was advanced to the
dignity of Earl of Bridgewater in 1617, and died in 1649,
being ancestor of an illustrious race, since exalted to
the rank of Duke of Bridgewater. Sir John was son of the
celebrated Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Seals and
Baron Ellesmere in 1602, who died in 1616 ; a person, says
Dugdale, of quick apprehension, profound judgment, and of
a most venerable gravity, having been seldom seen to smile,
unlike the gay Lord Keeper Hatton, who led the brawls when
Cc seals and maces danced before him." Sir Christopher
Hatton had a property at Padbury, near Colnbrook, with the
estate of Perry Oaks in 1587. How this Horton property came
to Sir John Egerton I do not find, as there are neither
fines nor recoveries to indicate where he obtained it,
whether by purchase, gift, or inheritance. Estates were
occasionally conveyed not by bargain and sale, but by
deeds of feoffment, which it was not necessary to enrol.
After the plague in London, when whole families withdrew
to the provinces, this was the selected spot for nearly
six years of the useful life of the English Homer
[MILTON AGAIN, PRESUMABLY] -a place immortalised by
his sejour here; yet is it to be lamented that he does
not specifically mention Horton in his correspondence,
unless by his suburban retreat this locality be implied.
A few touching remarks had still more embalmed the house,
grounds and village, and have shrouded it in an undecaying
renown, imparting a ray of glory to a site beloved of
all who honour Milton's memory this side idolatry. As
Mr. Tyrrell* is the fortunate possessor of the venerated
spot, I shall annex a short pedigree of his family, which
came from the county of Berks. The name is one also well
known in this shire as an offshoot from the great house
of Tyrel of Essex.
It would be interesting to record the names of the several
proprietors of the Miltonian residence.  Prior to the
family of Cooke, one Mr. Thomas Woodward dwelt here, and
he died in 1840, almost a nonagenarian, and was father
of the wife of the present Mr. William Thomas Buckland,
of Wraysbury, and of the wife of Mr. Richardson, of
Colnbrook. Mr. John Cooke left a son, John Parsons Cooke,
the same who was poisoned by William Palmer, in 1855 ;
and Mr. Tyrrell bought the property of the trustees
of Cooke and Stevens : Mr. Cooke's mother had married a
Mr. Stevens, of London.

Time Line (Berkyn Manor,Milton Rayners)

  • 1458 John Berkyn died (Ref Ann Rayner)
    1522 William Reynar of Horton cum Colebroke Valor Bonam £6.0.0 Certificates of Musters for Bucks (Earliest mention of a Rayner but no proof he is an Ancestor)
    1560 Nov 24th Will of Thomas Bulstrode left a (Berkyn) Manor to 2nd son Thomas
    1588 Joan Still told by her Father John Anthony Rayner III that Rayners had bought Colnbrook Farm during the reign of Elizabeth I and that they had previously owned a farm down the lane.("Down the lane" when used by anyone from Colnbrook meant Mill Lane, it was the only turning that way for miles as the north of the Bath Road was bog, even then it ended in a few yards. It was down there that the Gurneys had the mill which burnt down. HJW )
    1623 Aug 04 Francis Clarke marries Alice Rayner in Horton   Parish Records (Relation?)
    1626 34 people die of plague in Horton
    1635 It is ordered that there be a gate between RAYNERSBERRY MOORE and HORTON MORE (sic) Manor Roll D/DASM/42/13
  • 1636 May 12th Milton Senior tells Scriveners that he is retiring to the country (Corn's A Companion to Milton)
    1636-1638 John Milton lived with his father John & brother Christopher in Horton (future Berkyn Manor) house rented from Earl of BridgeWater , Sir John Egerton (ref Anne Rayner)
    1637 Apr 03 Milton's Mother Sara wife of John is buried in St Michaels (dies of the plague?)
  • 1637 Apr 01 Milton Senior recorded by Court of Requests as living in Horton
    1640? Milton family home broken up after his 2 year trip to Continent, but Milton returned to Horton several times after trip (where he met Gallileo). Family moves to Reading
    1647 John Milton's father dies
    1665 John Milton moves to Chalfont St Giles (Only surviving domicile)
    1695 Easter Session Thomas Raynor  (sic)of Horton sworn Chief Constable (Bucks Sessions Records)
    1697 Mary Wild born future Wife of Joseph Rayner
    1712-1782 Henry Rayner age 70 buried Horton Church
    1773 --- -- Painting of Place House Horton (Adjacent St Michaels Church) F.Brerewood Pinxit 1773
    1774 Jan 14 Thomas Rayner of Horton marries  Sarah Talbot X  in Horton witnesses Willm Wild,Jos Foster : Parish Records Horton
    1782 b1712 Henry Rayner age 70 buried Horton Church
    1792 Apr 23 Edward Tyrrell born in London
    1798 Milton's House demolished (Chilterns & Thames Valley Winbolt and Ward 1932
    1807 Jul 01 Thomas Rayner mentioned in Horton Land Inclosure Document (Berks Record Office)
    1810 Timothy Tyrrell born 5Feb1755 Baptised St Mary Reading father of Edward Tyrrell (Berkyn Manor) (Remembrancer of the City of London) is Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders
    1823 Oct 02 Edward Tyrrell marries Frances Lingham at Kew
    1840 Mr. Thomas Woodward Resident of Berkyn Manor before the Cooke Family dies in his 90's
    1840 Edward Tyrrell (b 23 Apr 1792) (soon to buy Berkyn Manor) (Remembrancer of the City of London) Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders
    1840 Jul 14 Avery Tyrrell baptised
    1848 Tyrrell buys Berkyn Manor from the trustees of Mr. John Cooke
    1848 Edward & Frances Tyrrell move to Berkyn Manor from Tunbridge Wells
    1848 Edward Tyrrell born 1791/2 from 1851 Census (age 59 in census), Esq., purchases & rebuilds Berkyn Manor from the Cook family, Frances (nee Lingham) Tyrrell age 49 in 1851 census (12 servants) Avery is 7 in 1848
    1854 Edward Tyrrell Churchwarden St Michaels
    1863 Jan 14 Manor Farm 212 acres Horton Bucklands Auction of Mr Joseph Reffell Household Furniture (Joseph Reffell died  13th September, 1848, aged 59) his wife Elizabeth  died 30 Sep 1862 in Manor Farm
    1863 Feb 06 Manor Farm Horton Bucklands Auction of retiring farmer Mr Joseph Reffell Farm Goods A Mr Rayner bought 5 lots for £7.4.0
    1870 Captain Avery Tyrrell (Masters of the Worshipful Company of Upholders)
    1872 Nov 21 Avery Tyrrell married Annetta Chartry de la Fosse Toker
    1879 Jan 17 Annetta Chatry de la Fosse, first wife of Avery Tyrrell dies age 38 (cross in St Michaels)
    1880 St Michaels church organ of 1880 cost £305. The pointed tops to the pipes and the stencilled decoration are unusual; they were made at the insistance of Avery Tyrrel of Berkyn Manor who defrayed the cost
    1881 05 Jun Edward Tyrrell dies his son Avery (Widower) inherits
    1881 Date on rear of Berkyn Manor
    1884 Dairy at Berkyn Manor built marked in bricks AV1884 Avery Tyrrell
    1885 Jul 14 Avery Tyrrell marries Sarah Edith Davids at Paddington
    1886  Stables at Berkyn Manor built Avery Tyrrell (boar's head with peacock feathers coat of arms)
    1891 Feb 04 Ernest Rayner born (BMD)(Slough Observer 08 Feb 1963) 7th child
    1909 Apr 28 Last Tyrrell Dies (Avery Tyrrell) in Berkyn Manor Left £73,331.3s.2d
    1927 Manor Farm bought br Rayners for £20,000
    1932-33 Thomas Henry Rayner President of Horton Football Club. R Wiggins captain.
    1940 12 May Sunday Richard Rayner Dies 2 days short of 88th birthday buried with wife St Michaels Horton
    1944 Sarah Edith Tyrrell widow of Avery Tyrrell dies Virginia Waters
    1945 Apr -- Rayners buy Berkyn Manor from A.J.Shore (Kosher Butchers?)
    1987 Nov 11 Ernest Rayner Died age 96 last resident of Berkyn Manor

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