Emma outlived both Ethelred and her second husband Canute and, eventually, her son Edward the Confessor succeeded to the throne. Emma remained in Winchester for many years, and gathered enormous wealth. When she died, she willed the Manor of God Begot to “Christ, St. Peter and St Swithun, tax free and toll free for ever” and so it passed to the Prior and monks of St Swithun.
A Court Roll of the time records the following: “ Yf eny man or woman for eny felony clayme the liberte of Godbeat and enter it in eny house or place of ye same may bide and dwell safe from eny officer. And no mynyster of ye Kynge neither of none other lords shall do eny execucion withyn ye bounds of ye seid Manor but only ye mynystours of ye seid Prior and Convent of St. Swithun”.
A manor court was held by the steward of the priory, in the same way as he held courts on other manors belonging to St. Swithun’s.
It’s rights and privileges continued until the Dissolution of the Monasteries when the agents of Henry VIII took over the Manor of God Begot and all its possessions. A few weeks later Henry had second thoughts, and handed the lot back.
The Manor was in use long before the birth of Queen Emma, probably as a trading centre. It is believed that the name Goudbeyete, Godbiete, or God Begot, means “the goods getter.”
The present building has had a turbulent history and had varied uses, most lately as a prestige retail outlet.