A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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The parish of Wimpole lies about 8 miles southwest of Cambridge, east of Ermine Street, the former Great North Road, and contains 2,468 a. (fn. 1) Wimpole Hall, the finest country house in Cambridgeshire, stands in the east part of the parish, and its park lies over the ancient site of the village. An irregular ridge, over 200 ft. high, of chalk covered with boulder clay bounds the parish on the north, with a spur running south-east towards the parish centre. A stream flows down the intervening valley, south-east across the parish. The low-lying land in the south and south-east parts of the parish is mainly on boulder clay over gault and suffers from poor drainage. The parish is comparatively well wooded because of extensive decorative planting.
Wimpole is rectangular in shape and includes the areas of two vills that have disappeared, Wratworth, which probably lay in the east part of the parish, and Whitwell, which probably lay in the south-east corner. Both had ceased to exist as separate entities some time before the end of the 13th century. The southern and western boundaries of Wimpole in part follow Roman roads, the Cambridge road on the south and Ermine Street on the west. The northern boundary mostly follows an old ridge-way, the Mare Way, with small northern projections into Kingston and Great Eversden parishes. The eastern boundary follows field boundaries.
In 1638 the eastern boundary ran further west in several places, notably around the probable site of the former village of Wratworth. (fn. 2) Wimpole and Wratworth were assessed as separate vills in 1086 but by 1279, and probably earlier, Wratworth had been absorbed into Wimpole and Orwell. A manor known as Wratworth, with land in Wimpole and Great Eversden, survived into the 17th century, (fn. 3) when three enclosures, near Cobbs wood in the eastern part of the parish, were known as Ratford, Francis, and Walters. (fn. 4) The last two names are those of families which held Wratworth manor before the Cobb family. It is likely that Orwell and Wimpole divided the common land of Wratworth, for in 1515 the two parishes shared the grazing on Wrotford Green. (fn. 5) The division caused a further complication: the tithes on the land in Wimpole, formerly of the Walter family, were payable to Orwell in 1638. (fn. 6) Whitwell similarly was separately assessed in 1086 and had disappeared as a vill by 1279. References to Whitwell street in Wimpole were common in the late 15th century, and an area known as Whitwell was recorded in the early 16th century. (fn. 7)
There was a Roman settlement in Wimpole on the site of the south-west lodge near Arrington Bridge. (fn. 8) Later settlement in the parish was scattered. In 1638 two north-south roads crossed the parish from the Mare Way to the Cambridge road, then called Cowstread way. (fn. 9) The eastern road has survived as the principal road through the middle of the parish, although that on the west, Wimpole way, was probably more important. The roads were both crossed in the north by a road which left the Mare Way near Ross's Farm and ran in a semi-circle to rejoin the Mare Way east of the parish boundary, and in the south by a road from Arrington. Part of the southern road has survived as a private road and public footway. Several lesser roads linked the four already mentioned, and the remains of some have survived as rutted hollow-ways.
Settlement in the 17th century was scattered along the roads across the middle part of the parish, and centred on the junction of Wimpole way with the Arrington road. The manor-house, church, rectory, and several other buildings lay north-west of the cross-roads, and houses straggled west along the Arrington road at Benhall End, and south along Wimpole way at Thresham End, which had existed in the 15th century. (fn. 10)
Further settlement followed a minor road northeast of the manor-house, and north of that road lay Avenel's land, possibly the site of Avenel's manorhouse. A group of houses stood at what was later called Brick End, where a terrace of five twostoreyed brick houses stands, surviving from a row of four pairs built in the 18th century, with a linking 19th-century house. (fn. 11) It is probable that just north of Brick End there was a moat which may have been the site of Banks manor-house. South of Brick End was a group of houses on the site of Park Farm. The road from there to Cobb's wood survives as a track. Beyond Cobb's wood was a group of cottages on the site of Little End Cottages.
The creation in the 17th century of several new farms, which generally remained eight in number, (fn. 12) resulted in the concentration of the declining population on the farmsteads, away from the centre of the parish. The enlargement of the park south, west, and north of the Hall in the late 17th and early 18th centuries (fn. 13) probably continued the process. Of the earlier settlement, Brick End, Little End, Cobb's Wood Farm, and the home farm have survived. By 1852 and perhaps by 1837 the other hamlets had disappeared and all but two of the roads across the parish had gone out of use. (fn. 14) The houses along the Cambridge road which constitute New Wimpole were built in the 1840s and 1850s, and the depopulated centre (fn. 15) of the parish was known as Old Wimpole by 1872. (fn. 16) The Mare Way was in use as a road in the 1890s. (fn. 17) The ArringtonCambridge road was turnpiked in 1797. (fn. 18) In 1837 a toll-gate was moved from its site near the south avenue from the Hall to a position further east. (fn. 19) The road was disturnpiked in 1870. (fn. 20)
In 1086 twelve people were enumerated in Wimpole, 34 in Wratworth, and 11 in Whitwell. (fn. 21) By 1327 when 64 people were assessed for tax, (fn. 22) Wimpole, Wratworth, and Whitwell were apparently united, and in 1377 were jointly assessed with 173 people. (fn. 23) In 1563 there were 36 families living in Wimpole, (fn. 24) and c. 1800 it was said that the residence of the Yorke family at the Hall for part of the year was contributing to an increase in population. By 1801 there were 56 families, a total of 202 people, and by 1831 the population had more than doubled to 583. Thereafter the population declined to 419 in 1871 and by 1891 it had fallen to 290. (fn. 25) At the turn of the century Cornishmen were hired for work on the Wimpole estate. (fn. 26) The population nevertheless continued to decline; by 1921 it totalled 244, and in 1961 it was 155. (fn. 27)
After the Chicheley family acquired Wimpole in the 16th century, (fn. 28) the history of the parish became largely that of the Hall, park, and estate. Thomas Chicheley's new house of brick was probably begun c. 1640 (fn. 29) south of the old manor-house which may still have been standing. A third storey (fn. 30) and two detached single-storey ranges, the west range or orangery having a block connecting it to the house, were added between 1660 and 1710. The library wing on the north front and the chapel, designed by James Gibbs, were added in 1719 and 1721. Between 1742 and 1747 major work was carried out when Henry Flitcroft refronted the main block and reroofed it, added a three-sided, two-storeyed oriel to the north front, and readjusted internal groundfloor partitions to form the gallery and saloon. He added a range north of the chapel to complete the east side block, with an elevation corresponding to that of the library on the west. About 1778 an apsidal eating room was added to the east block of the north front and c. 1790 John Soane was responsible for extensive remodelling of the interior. About 1842 H. E. Kendall, the elder, transformed the east range and north-east wing with additional offices in the Italianate style, and enlarged the entrance hall and rebuilt the stables. The additions made by Kendall have been removed.
Wimpole Hall formerly housed the Harleian library and manuscript collection, accumulated by Robert and Edward Harley, earls of Oxford, of which the bibliographer Humphrey Wanley (d. 1726) was keeper. At that period the Hall became a resort for scholars, antiquaries, and authors, including the earls' friend, the poet Matthew Prior, who died there in 1721. (fn. 31)
A park was recorded at Wimpole as early as 1302, (fn. 32) and in 1638 two enclosures, north-west of the manor-house, were known as High and Low Park. (fn. 33) In 1684 the park contained 210 a. (fn. 34) and at some time before 1720 two fishponds and probably the Decoy pond in Arrington were created in the stream northwest of the house. About 1720 Charles Bridgeman undertook the landscaping of the park, and the south, and possibly the west and east, avenues were planted as vistas. The south avenue is 2½ miles long and towards its southern end, in Whaddon parish, the Octagon, a pool c. 500 ft. across, was made c. 1721. In the mid 18th century the park was enlarged to include Johnson's Hill and the stream in the north part of the parish, and in 1752–4 the formal gardens north and west of the house were destroyed, and a paysage of c. 45 a. was laid out within a ha-ha. Capability Brown worked at Wimpole from 1767 to 1772. His activities were concentrated in the north part of the estate and he destroyed almost the entire north avenue, which may have existed since before 1720. (fn. 35) The park was enlarged north of Johnson's Hill, which he surrounded with belts of trees; the fishponds were serpentized and Johnson's Pond was created north of the stream; and a Gothic tower, designed earlier by Sanderson Miller, was built on Johnson's Hill. About the same time a Palladian building designed by James Stuart, which has since disappeared, was built west of the house. Humphrey Repton c. 1809 laid out belts of trees and drives which included a long eastern approach through Cobb's wood, and possibly a northern drive into Great Eversden wood. He also laid out formal gardens north of the house. The south and west lodges are of the first half of the 19th century and about 1851 ornate entrance gates were put up at Arrington.
There was a beer-house in the parish in 1804, to which Lady Hardwicke objected, but no public house has survived in Wimpole. (fn. 36) A reading room was recorded in 1937 in the school grounds where a parish hall was later built. (fn. 37)
Manors and Other Estates.
In 1066 Eddeva the fair held 2 hides and 2½ virgates in Wimpole which later became known as BASSINGBOURN manor. Count Alan was lord in 1086 (fn. 38) and the overlordship descended with the honor of Richmond. By 1194 Thomas of Bassingbourn was holding land in Wimpole, (fn. 39) and the manor descended through his family. Alan, son of Alexander of Bassingbourn, was holding the manor before 1223 (fn. 40) and c. 1235. (fn. 41) His son Baldwin (fn. 42) had inherited it by 1264 (fn. 43) and died in 1275, leaving his son Warin, a minor, as his heir. (fn. 44) Warin survived to hold the manor until his death in 1323 (fn. 45) and the manor descended to his son Warin (d. 1348), whose son Warin, the younger, (fn. 46) sold the manor to John of Aylton before 1375 when Aylton sold it to Sir Robert Swillington. (fn. 47) In 1377 Swillington sold the manor to Sir Simon Burgh (fn. 48) who enfeoffed Sir William Staundon, lord mayor of London, and John Duffield with the manor in 1393. (fn. 49) Staundon died owning it in 1410, leaving a daughter Elizabeth (d. after 1426). (fn. 50) His widow Agnes (d. 1461), (fn. 51) who had soon married Sir William Porter (d. 1436), (fn. 52) released her life-interest in Wimpole in 1428 to Henry Chicheley, archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1443), (fn. 53) who in 1436 settled the estate on his greatnephew Henry, son of John, son of William Chicheley. (fn. 54) Henry died in 1490, and his eldest son Henry (fn. 55) in 1518, when the manor passed to his brother William. William's son Thomas (fn. 56) was in possession in 1522. (fn. 57) Thomas Chicheley died in 1558, his son Clement (fn. 58) c. 1576, and Clement's son Thomas in 1592. Thomas's son Sir Thomas Chicheley died in 1616, leaving a son also called Thomas, (fn. 59) who came of age in 1635. (fn. 60) He became a prominent royalist and courtier, and was knighted. (fn. 61) Sir Thomas sold Wimpole and Arrington in 1686 to Sir John Cutler, Bt., a very rich London merchant, who died in 1693. (fn. 62) Cutler devised his Cambridgeshire estate to his daughter Elizabeth, who died without issue in 1697, leaving the estate to her husband Charles Bodville Robartes, earl of Radnor (d. 1723). (fn. 63) He sold it after 1707 to John Holles, duke of Newcastle (d. 1711), whose daughter Henrietta Cavendish Holles, who married in 1713 Edward Harley, earl of Oxford (d. 1741), inherited Wimpole and Arrington. (fn. 64) To pay the earl's debts the estate was sold in 1739 to Philip Yorke, earl of Hardwicke (d. 1764), (fn. 65) and it remained with his family (fn. 66) until Thomas Charles AgarRobartes, later Viscount Clifden, acquired it from Albert Edward Yorke, earl of Hardwicke, by foreclosure of a mortgage in 1891. (fn. 67) Lord Clifden died in 1930 (fn. 68) and the estate was sold to Capt. George Bambridge, whose widow Elsie, daughter of the writer Rudyard Kipling, was living at the Hall in 1971.
In 1066 Earl Gurth had 1 hide and 1½ virgate in Wimpole which was held by Eudes the sewer in 1086. (fn. 69) Eudes died in 1120 and his land escheated to the king. At the accession of Henry II it was granted to William FitzGerald (d. c. 1159), from whom the overlordship descended to his brother Henry (d. 1174–5), and successively to Henry's sons Warin (d. 1216) and Henry (d. c. 1231), who married Ermintrude Talbot. Their son Warin died c. 1257 and Warin's daughter Alice, wife of Robert de Lisle (d. before 1284), (fn. 70) inherited. The overlordship descended with the de Lisle honor and was surrendered to the Crown in 1368 by the last male heir, Robert de Lisle, who probably died without issue in 1399. (fn. 71) The Andevilles held a mesne lordship: in 1086 Humphrey (probably de Andeville) was holding the manor, (fn. 72) and Richard de Andeville, who was holding land in Cambridgeshire c. 1236, (fn. 73) held land in Wimpole in 1242–3. (fn. 74) By 1279 the heirs of Alexander de Andeville were mesne lords in Wimpole. (fn. 75)
About 1235 Henry of Childerley was holding the manor of Richard de Andeville, (fn. 76) and his son Henry was holding it in 1279. (fn. 77) The younger Henry may have given the manor to Geoffrey of Pickford (d. 1299), (fn. 78) but it is likely that Geoffrey was one of the three heirs of Alexander de Andeville. (fn. 79) Geoffrey's son John was holding the manor in 1302–3 and in 1316, (fn. 80) and in 1320 was in debt to Ralph of Windsor, (fn. 81) who was disseised of the manor by Nicholas Segrave. (fn. 82) At his death in 1322 Segrave was said to hold the manor of William Berford, one of the heirs of Alexander de Andeville, (fn. 83) but in 1325 Ralph of Windsor was awarded seisin of the manor against Segrave's daughter Maud, wife of Edmund de Bohun. (fn. 84) Ralph of Windsor was holding the manor with others in 1346. (fn. 85) By 1368 it had passed to Sir Hugh Clitheroe, (fn. 86) whose daughter Mary married Sir Nicholas Gascoyne, (fn. 87) who was lord of the manor by 1396, (fn. 88) and still held it in 1428. (fn. 89)
Henry of Childerley granted land in Wimpole to John Avenel in 1283–4 (fn. 90) and in 1382 John's greatgrandson John Avenel (d. 1383), was holding the estate of Robert de Lisle. (fn. 91) It may have been absorbed into the Avenels' other Wimpole property or have reverted to the main Andeville holding.
In 1479 John Dale died seised of a manor in Wimpole which became known as CLAYDONS, and which may have been the former Andeville manor. His son and heir William Dale, then a minor, (fn. 92) died in 1537 and was succeeded by his three daughters, of whom Elizabeth Lynne inherited Wimpole. (fn. 93) Her daughter Margaret's second husband, Paul Gresham, (fn. 94) was dealing with the manor in 1563, (fn. 95) and after his death Margaret married Robert Radcliffe. She died in 1594 and her heir was Elizabeth, her daughter by Paul Gresham, the wife of Sir John Wingfield. (fn. 96) Elizabeth died in 1604 and her husband retained a life-interest in the manor. (fn. 97) Thomas Chicheley leased the manor from Sir John Wingfield and his son John in 1615. (fn. 98) The younger John died in 1633 and his son and heir Richard (fn. 99) sold the manor in 1651 to Chicheley's son Thomas, (fn. 100) from whom it descended with the Wimpole Hall estate.
Two sokemen of King Edward were holding in 1066 ½ hide in Wratworth which had passed to Guy de Reimbercourt by 1086. (fn. 101) The overlordship descended through his family to the Foliot, Ledef, and Latimer families. (fn. 102) A sokeman held ⅓ virgate in Orwell in 1066 which also passed to Guy de Reimbercourt, and was held of him in 1086 by one Ralph, probably Ralph de Banks who was holding the Wimpole manor as Reimbercourt's tenant in the same year. (fn. 103) In 1166 William Francis was holding a fee of the honor of Ledet and Wardon. (fn. 104) About 1170 Richard Francis was holding a wood in Wimpole; (fn. 105) the fee had descended by 1223 to Alan Francis, (fn. 106) and by c. 1235 to William Francis, (fn. 107) who was still in possession in 1242. (fn. 108) It is probable that the estate had been divided, for in 1279 Richard Francis held two manors of the honor of Wardon. (fn. 109) That which was later known as COBBS was held by John Francis in 1302–3 (fn. 110) and 1335 (fn. 111) and had descended to his son Richard by 1338. (fn. 112) Richard was still alive in 1346. (fn. 113) By 1374 his daughter Eleanor, widow of John Northwich, had inherited. (fn. 114) She had married her second husband Geoffrey Cobb by 1376. (fn. 115) In 1381 Cobb was charged with taking part in the Peasants' Revolt, but was subsequently pardoned. (fn. 116) He was still in possession c. 1400 (fn. 117) and was succeeded by his son John, who in 1401 sold the manor to Sir William Staundon. (fn. 118) It subsequently descended with Staundon's other Wimpole property. (fn. 119)
The second manor which Richard Francis was holding in 1279 was that which retained the name WRATWORTH. (fn. 120) It probably descended with Cobbs manor until after Eleanor Northwich inherited; by 1392 Wratworth had passed to John Walter. (fn. 121) He died before 1471 when his son Gilbert and grandson Henry were involved in a dispute with their illegitimate cousin John. (fn. 122) The manor remained in the family and had descended to Henry Walter by 1499 when he held it with Croydon manor. (fn. 123) John Walter was holding the manor in 1566 when he leased it to Clement Chicheley, (fn. 124) and in 1574 Henry Walter acquired it from John. (fn. 125) John and Henry conveyed the manor to John's son William Walter in 1580, (fn. 126) and in 1593 William and Henry Walter sold the manor known as Wratworth Croydon, alias Francis, alias Tallboys, to Anthony Cage of Caxton, (fn. 127) who died in 1603 leaving his son John as heir. (fn. 128) Adlard Cage was holding the manor in 1686 when he sold it to Sir John Cutler, (fn. 129) and thereafter Wratworth descended with Wimpole Hall. (fn. 130)
In 1066 a sokeman held 3 virgates in Wratworth which had passed to Picot the sheriff by 1086. (fn. 131) Picot's land had been granted by c. 1110 to Pain Peverel, and the Wimpole fee descended to Pain's nieces or daughters, Alice wife of Hamon Pecche (d. between 1178 and 1185) and Maud wife of Hugh of Dover (d. 1171–2). (fn. 132) The overlordship descended through the Pecche family to which Maud of Dover's rights as eldest coheir passed after her death in 1185. (fn. 133) From c. 1279 until c. 1346 the Mortimer family of Kingston, perhaps as successors to the main line of the Banks family, were mesne lords of the Pecche manor in Wimpole. In 1279 Baldwin St. George held ¼ fee in Wimpole under William Mortimer. (fn. 134)
In 1086 Ralph de Banks was Picot's tenant in Wratworth. (fn. 135) After the acquisition of the barony of Bourn by Pain Peverel the fee was divided and the Pecche portion descended separately as BANKS or BAUNCS manor. Eustace de Banks, who held a fee of Hamon Pecche in 1166, (fn. 136) was succeeded by c. 1175 by his son William, whose brothers Roger and Robert also held land in Wimpole. (fn. 137) William, who was still living in 1205, (fn. 138) was perhaps succeeded by Robert de Banks, whose widow Sibyl was suing for her dower in Wimpole in 1223. (fn. 139) Geoffrey de Banks held a manor in Wimpole c. 1235, (fn. 140) and was still in possession in 1242–3. (fn. 141) In 1279 William de Banks, perhaps of a cadet line, held it of William Mortimer. (fn. 142) It had passed by 1297 to his son Robert de Banks (fn. 143) who was holding the manor in 1302 but was dead by 1316. By 1346 it had come to John Holwell, (fn. 144) and was probably acquired with the Holwells' Bedfordshire land in the 1340s by the Avenels, with part of whose estate it had passed to Nicholas Kimbell by 1412. (fn. 145) In 1416 John Kimbell sold Banks manor to John Meppershall and others. (fn. 146) In 1428 John Butler, husband of Meppershall's daughter Joan, was sole owner, (fn. 147) and the manor descended to their son John who died in 1482, (fn. 148) whereupon his daughter Joan, wife of John Stanford, inherited it. She died in 1489, leaving it to her husband for life and then to Thomas, her son by her first husband, John Leventhorpe the younger. (fn. 149) Thomas succeeded after the death of John Stanford in 1493 (fn. 150) and died in 1506, leaving the manor to his wife Agnes for life, and then to their son John, a minor. (fn. 151) The manor probably passed with Leventhorpes manor in Toft (fn. 152) to Sir John Hinde, Justice of the Common Pleas, who granted Banks manor in 1548 to Thomas Chicheley as a settlement on the marriage of his daughter Mary to Clement Chicheley. (fn. 153) Thereafter the manor descended with the Chicheley estate in Wimpole.
Maud of Dover's portion of the Peverel fee descended as BEACH or AVENEL'S manor. Alan the sewer was under-tenant of the manor, which passed to his son Gilbert of Beach and to Gilbert's son Alan, who was holding it in 1166. (fn. 154) In 1203 Alan's son Robert was under age and Alan's brother Gilbert was disputing the inheritance with Geoffrey, son of Aubrey and William Calvus (or Cauf), and second cousin to Robert. (fn. 155) In 1228 (fn. 156) and c. 1235 Robert was holding the manor, (fn. 157) and by 1243 his sister Ellen had inherited it. (fn. 158) In 1243 she exchanged her manor in Wimpole for the land in Landbeach which had descended to Robert's other heir, his nephew Robert Avenel. (fn. 159) John Avenel was holding the manor of the heirs of Godin of Beach by 1279, (fn. 160) and John Lyndhurst and his wife Agnes held it in 1302–3. (fn. 161) Agnes Avenel, possibly widow of Lyndhurst and previously of John Avenel, was holding the manor in 1316. (fn. 162) By 1346 it had passed to William le Moyne, who may have held a lifeinterest. (fn. 163) Robert Avenel probably held the manor at his death in 1387, and after subsequent disputes over his inheritance it was settled on Sir Peter Courtenay (fn. 164) who sold it to Sir Simon Burgh c. 1389, (fn. 165) whereafter it descended with Burgh's other lands in Wimpole. (fn. 166)
What was called Wimpole manor-house was still standing in 1538 north of the site of Wimpole Hall. It was a gabled, two-storeyed structure, which stood within a rectangular moat. A double gatehouse spanned the moat on the east side and led to a lane which survived in 1971. (fn. 167)
In 1086 Whitwell was divided between Count Alan, of whom Fulk held ½ hide, Earl Roger, Hardwin de Scalers, of whom Robert the bald (calvus) held 2 hides, and Picot the sheriff, of whom Ralph de Banks held 1 hide. The disappearance of the vill of Whitwell was probably the result of the absorption of the four fees into Arrington and Wimpole, where the Whitwell landowners held other estates. Robert the bald, tenant under Hardwin de Scalers in 1086, (fn. 168) was probably ancestor of the brothers Eustace and William Calvus (or Cauf), who were dealing with land which lay between Wimpole and Armingford (probably the site of Arrington Bridge) in the 1170s. (fn. 169) In the early 13th century William's son Geoffrey Calvus and Robert Calvus were sued over land in Wimpole. (fn. 170)
In 1066 Wimpole contained 12 hides divided equally between the vills of Wimpole, Wratworth, and Whitwell. Wimpole was divided into two estates, and Wratworth and Whitwell were occupied by 26 sokemen, and all together were said to be worth £27 7s. Wimpole, valued at £13, was almost equal in value to Wratworth, valued at 145s., and Whitwell, valued at 142s., combined. In 1086 their total value had dropped to £20 8s.: Wimpole's value was £12, Wratworth's 96s., and Whitwell's 72s. In 1086 the larger estate in Wimpole vill, that of Count Alan, contained 2 hides and 2½ virgates of which 2 hides were in demesne. There was land for 1½ plough on the demesne but only one was there. The second estate, that of Eudes the sewer, contained 1 hide and 1½ virgate in 1086 of which land for 1½ plough was in demesne. There were 2 servi. The two estates supported 3 villani, 1 bordar, and 6 cottars, who had land for 1½ plough. There was meadow for 1½ team. (fn. 171)
In 1066 twelve sokemen held the land in Wratworth vill and owed one watch and two carrying services. In 1086 the largest estate was the 2 hides and 2½ virgates held by Earl Roger, who had 1 hide and 2/3 virgate in demesne. The five estates together supported 3 villani, 12 cottars, and 17 bordars; there were 2 servi. There was arable land for 7½ ploughs, which included 2 ploughs belonging to the villani, and meadow for at least 4½ teams. (fn. 172)
In 1066 14 sokemen held the land in Whitwell vill and owed three watch and four carrying services. In 1086 Hardwin de Scalers held 2 hides, half of the land of the vill; Earl Roger and Count Alan each held c. ½ hide. Together the estates supported 9 cottars, 1 bordar, and 1 villanus, who shared land for 2½ ploughs. There was arable land for a further 5 ploughs, one of which was on Picot's demesne, and meadow for 4½ teams. (fn. 173)
By 1279 Wratworth and Whitwell had been absorbed for the most part into Wimpole which then contained six main manors. Three contained over 200 a. and the Bassingbourn estate c. 360 a. The Avenel and St. George estates both owed ward to Cambridge castle and Bassingbourn manor owed ward to Richmond castle. Bassingbourn, St. George, and Francis manors paid scutage, and Banks manor owed a suit to the shire and hundred courts. The land was fairly equally divided between on the one hand free tenants, whose holdings totalled c. 600 a., and on the other the villeins and cottars, whose holdings totalled c. 500 a. There were c. 75 free tenements, mostly small and including only one of over 50 a. One estate of 40 a. in Bassingbourn manor was responsible for the manor's scutage and castle ward. There were c. 37 villeins, who had regular holdings of 10 a. in all the manors except Bassingbourn, where there was one holding of 40 a., 6 of 20 a., and 9 of 10 a. Eight of the Avenel villeins held at will and of the 20 cottars in the parish 5 in Bassingbourn manor also held at will. Tenures were complex and some men had several holdings in different manors, combining them to form considerable estates. Thus John of Wratworth held 69 a. as a free tenant of six different lords. (fn. 174)
A common known as Collinsgreen in 1508 (fn. 175) may have been the same as or part of Wrotford Green, which lay in the same part of the parish, and was shared with Orwell in 1515. (fn. 176) Fresham or Thresham Green, recorded in 1530, (fn. 177) may have been a second common near the hamlet of that name and was perhaps the common belonging to the vill of Wimpole. No later reference to a common has been found and Thomas Chicheley (d. 1616) gave £20 a year as compensation for cottagers' common rights. (fn. 178) In 1831 it was recorded that Wimpole had no common. (fn. 179)
Wratworth was said to contain 160 a. of arable and meadow in Eversden and Wimpole in the 16th century. (fn. 180) The estate consisted only of quitrents in the late 17th century. (fn. 181) No later survey has been found. After the Chicheleys had acquired almost all the land in Wimpole parish, it was run as a single estate. Open fields called Northfield and Southfield existed in the 13th century and Northfield in 1518, (fn. 182) and although some inclosure had been carried out by the end of the 15th century (fn. 183) the open fields survived in part into the 17th century. By 1638 a small park had been created and nearly one quarter of the parish had been inclosed. Inclosure was concentrated around what appears to have been the site of Wratworth in the north-east part of the parish and around the manor-house. About 100 a. known as Rhee Pasture was inclosed in the south part of the parish and was probably partly waterlogged. A home farm was retained and the rest of the parish leased; one tenant, Daniel Finch, held c. 250 a. in 1638. (fn. 184) During the late 17th century the Chicheley family consolidated its estate by a number of exchanges of land in Orwell for land in Wimpole. (fn. 185) It is likely that several farmsteads were established away from the centre of the parish at that time, and in 1686 there were seven farms, including the home farm of 100 a. Inclosure had probably been completed by then, (fn. 186) and although the park had been enlarged it was leased for agricultural purposes. (fn. 187) The estate's income from rents accounted for over one-fifth of its total income in 1684, when annual rents totalled £1,298. (fn. 188) In 1790 the income from 18 tenants was £1,230. (fn. 189) When the tithes were commuted in 1837 there were over 1,073 a. in hand and the remaining land was divided between 10 farms of 100–200 a. (fn. 190)
The pattern of tenant farming continued and in 1873 six poor farmers were receiving poor relief. (fn. 191) In 1891 there were nine farms in Wimpole, including Coomb Grove farm in the north-west corner of the parish, most of the land of which lay in Arrington. The Wimpole estate included five farms in Arrington, Kingston Pastures farm in Kingston, and New farm and Ross's farm in Eversden. The estate contained 11,111 a. in 1891, and until it was divided and some outlying property sold in 1891, 1920, and 1933–7 the estate dominated that part of West Cambridgeshire. Coomb Grove, Valley, River Cam, and Hoback farms in Wimpole contracted in 1920 when their land laying in Arrington was auctioned. (fn. 192) In 1971 the estate comprised 2,325 a., divided, apart from the Manor farm and parkland of 817 a. kept in hand, into seven farms, mostly between 200 a. and 300 a. They were mainly devoted to growing cereals, and occasionally to rearing beef-cattle and pigs. (fn. 193)
In the 18th century there were equal quantities of pasture and arable land farmed by rotation of two crops and a fallow. The heavy gault sub-soil caused drainage problems and resulted in poor quality pasture. The pasture, which included the park of c. 400 a., was grazed by sheep, cattle, and deer; the deer were decimated by an unspecified disease in the 1790s and the sheep suffered badly from rot caused by the poor drainage. (fn. 194) Philip Yorke, earl of Hardwicke (d. 1834), was interested in new ideas in farming and he was responsible for the construction of extensive underground tiling drains and open ditches in the 1790s. (fn. 195) He also tried to diversify the traditional crops of wheat, barley, beans, and peas, by introducing carrots, parsnips, lettuce, and radishes, followed by a sowing of wheat. (fn. 196) In 1801 wheat, barley, and oats accounted for most of the arable acreage, (fn. 197) although the earlier experiment had been partly successful and a variety of crops was still rotated. (fn. 198) In 1837 there were 1,358 a. of arable land, 857 a. of pasture and meadow, and 155 a. of woodland. (fn. 199) The relatively large acreage of woodland was partly the result of decorative planting in the park. (fn. 200) Several woods existed in the 16th century. (fn. 201) In the 18th century, as planting progressed, the woodland became a commercial proposition. (fn. 202) There were two blacksmiths recorded in Wimpole in 1846. (fn. 203) By 1852 a brick-works had been established in New Wimpole, (fn. 204) and it belonged to the lord of the manor in 1895. (fn. 205)
A windmill was recorded in Avenel's manor in 1331 and 1359, (fn. 206) and another in Bassingbourn manor in 1347. (fn. 207) No further record has been found except that a post mill was standing in Mill field, north-west of the manor-house, in 1638. (fn. 208) In 1804 a threshing mill was built at Thornberry Hill Farm to the design of Mr. Hume of Midlothian, on Meikle's principle. The stream was diverted to power the mill, which was later converted to corngrinding. (fn. 209) It was still in use in 1911 but had been idle for several years in 1923. (fn. 210) The framed and boarded mill building, but not the machinery, survived in 1971.
No court rolls for Wimpole have been found. In 1279 the lord of Bassingbourn manor claimed view of frankpledge through the liberty of Brittany in Wimpole, and had withdrawn suit from the sheriff's tourn. Part of Avenel's manor had also been drawn into the liberty of Brittany by its bailiff since c. 1250. Francis and Banks manors each paid 12d. for the view in 1279. (fn. 211)
There were two churchwardens in 1561. (fn. 212) In 1776 poor-relief in Wimpole amounted to £41 5s. The cost of poor-relief rose to £210 5s. in 1803, paid to a total of 48 people, (fn. 213) and in 1831 when no unemployed were recorded it totalled £348. (fn. 214) The parish became part of the Caxton and Arrington poor law union in 1835, (fn. 215) and in 1934 was transferred from the Caxton and Arrington R.D. to the South Cambridgeshire R.D. (fn. 216)
Picot the sheriff granted two-thirds of the tithes of his demesne in Wimpole before 1092 to the canons of St. Giles, Cambridge, later Barnwell Priory. (fn. 217) Count Alan granted tithes from his land in Wimpole together with Swavesey church to the abbey of St. Sergius and St. Bacchus in Angers (Maine-et-Loire). (fn. 218) Both tithe-portions were later represented by fixed money payments, 10s. to Barnwell and 20s. to Swavesey Priory, a cell of the abbey, (fn. 219) and may have been paid until their dissolution. (fn. 220) The church was not appropriated and the rector received all the rest of the tithes.
The advowson of the rectory was probably held by Robert de Lisle before 1201 (fn. 221) and had no connexion with the fee which the Lisle family later held in Wimpole. It remained with the Lisle family in spite of a succession of counter-claims in the early 13th century (fn. 222) and was held of the honor of Brittany. (fn. 223) In 1358 John de Lisle granted the advowson for a turn to John Malweyn (fn. 224) who may have held it previously. (fn. 225) The Crown presented in 1361 when Malweyn's heirs were royal wards. (fn. 226) In 1379 Robert de Lisle granted the advowson to Sir Richard Scrope (d. 1403), (fn. 227) who presented in 1400. (fn. 228) The advowson passed subsequently to Henry, Lord Scrope of Bolton (d. 1459), (fn. 229) John, Lord Scrope (d. 1498), (fn. 230) and Henry, Lord Scrope (d. 1533), who by 1514 had granted a turn to John Pulleyn. (fn. 231) Henry, Lord Scrope (d. 1592), sold the advowson to Clement Chicheley in 1563. (fn. 232) In 1625 the king presented for a turn. Sir Thomas Chicheley presented again in 1641. (fn. 233) The patronage descended with the Wimpole Hall estate, turns being granted by the patron in 1695 to Richard Fournes and in 1713 to Thomas Price. (fn. 234) It was transferred to the Ely Diocesan Patronage Board in 1945. (fn. 235)
The rectory was taxed at 18 marks c. 1217, at 24 marks in 1254, and at 34 marks in 1291. (fn. 236) In 1279 the church was said to own 10 a., and its tenants c. 26 a., some paying rent to the altar. (fn. 237) In 1535 the living was said to be worth £18 (fn. 238) and in 1615 was said to have no glebe. All the tithes belonged to the rector in 1638 except those on land formerly held by the Walters, the former Wratworth, which were paid to Orwell. (fn. 239) In 1641 the rector voluntarily gave up the tithes to the patron, Sir Thomas Chicheley, and accepted £120 yearly instead, as the money was worth more than the tithes. (fn. 240) The arrangement continued until 1783 and probably for longer. (fn. 241) In 1800 the rectory was valued at £160 (fn. 242) and in 1837 all the tithes were commuted for a rent-charge of £567 10s. (fn. 243)
The rectory, a framed building with ashlar casing, stands east of Wimpole Hall. It was probably built in the 16th century and in 1615 had a garden and barn. (fn. 244) A north-west extension in red brick was added in the 18th century. (fn. 245) By 1971 the house no longer served the living and had been converted into two dwellings.
In 1458 Agnes, widow of Sir William Porter, founded a chantry of one chaplain in Wimpole church for a daily mass for her former husband Sir William Staundon. Agnes had the patronage of the chantry until her death when it passed to the city of London. (fn. 246) The chantry was licensed to acquire lands, and was valued at 8 marks in 1463 (fn. 247) and at 46s. in 1535. (fn. 248) In 1536 there were said to be 57 a. of land and a house and barn in Whaddon belonging to the chantry; (fn. 249) by 1554 the chantry lands had been granted to Sir Robert Chester. (fn. 250) In 1587 it was said that the land had been absorbed into the Chicheley estate and the buildings had been demolished. (fn. 251) A guild of St. Mary was recorded in 1497 and 1498, when its property was managed by wardens. (fn. 252)
One of the earliest recorded rectors of Wimpole, the royal clerk Walter Langton, was a pluralist, holding in 1291 at least six other benefices. (fn. 253) The rectory changed hands frequently until the 16th century, which was marked by a succession of long tenures. William Fincham was rector 1503–35, (fn. 254) Anthony Middleton 1538–51, and Thomas Parkinson 1551–79 or later. (fn. 255) Joseph Loveland, rector in 1641, was ejected in 1644 on charges of royalism, non-residence, and card-playing. He was restored in 1660 and retained the living until 1695. (fn. 256) Although Edward Marshall, rector in 1604, was not licensed to preach, (fn. 257) the rectory was generally held by qualified clerics, usually Cambridge graduates. (fn. 258) A curate was appointed fairly regularly after 1561 (fn. 259) and was usually resident after 1570. (fn. 260) About 1728 the curate resided alternately with the rector and was paid a salary of £40 a year. (fn. 261) After 1807 the rector was usually resident. (fn. 262) In 1970 the rectory of Wimpole was officially held in plurality with Orwell and Arrington rectories, (fn. 263) an arrangement which previously existed informally.
About 1728 two Sunday services and four annual communion services were held, and there were 20 communicants. (fn. 264) In 1825 there were only three annual communion services and a side chapel and chapel of ease in Wimpole Hall were scarcely used. (fn. 265) In 1851 the average congregation varied from 160 in the morning to 230 in the afternoon. (fn. 266) Com- munion was being held monthly in 1873, and in 1897 all the 284 seats were filled. (fn. 267)
The church of ST. ANDREW (fn. 268) is built of red brick, freestone, and clunch ashlar, and has a galleried nave, chancel, and north chapel. The chapel is all that remains of a larger church that had a chancel and aisled nave and was destroyed in 1748 to allow the erection of a new building, completed in 1749 to the design of Henry Flitcroft. The north chapel was restored in 1732 and of the three windows in its north wall, one has 3 cinquefoiled lights possibly of the 14th century. (fn. 269) The west wall of the chapel was rebuilt to harmonize with the nave and chancel, which have a symmetrical elevation of stone in two stages. The west door is pedimented and is flanked by blind window recesses. The west wall has a pediment enclosing a bull's eye and surmounted by a wooden cupola for the bell. The east wall has a similar pediment and below it a Venetian window with a pedimented overpiece. The roof of the chapel is of the 17th century and is divided into three bays by moulded tie-beams, and the timbers are decorated with pendants. In the middle north window of the chapel there is a quantity of reset 14th-century glass, mainly shields and the figure of a pilgrim, and in the third north window are 14th- or early-15th-century fragments. In the north, south, and west windows of the gallery are shields of arms of the Yorke and connected families. The church was restored c. 1887. (fn. 270)
The north chapel contains the altar-tomb of Sir Thomas Chicheley (d. 1616) and his wife Dorothy, and several monuments and wall-tablets to members of the Yorke family, some carved by Peter Scheemakers, John Flaxman, Thomas Banks, and the elder and younger Richard Westmacott. Other Yorke tablets are in the chancel. In addition, set on the south wall of the chapel, are brasses from the medieval church, including one of Thomas Worsley, dated 1502, with the figure of a priest surmounted by the Virgin and Child, and one to Edward Marshall, vicar (d. 1625). The plate includes a cup, paten, almsdish, and two flagons of c. 1655, presented by Sir Thomas Chicheley in 1679, another 17th-century cup, and a paten of 1703 obtained c. 1860 by exchange with the parish of Ripley. (fn. 271) In 1552 the church had three great bells, but in 1971 only one, of 1653, perhaps by Miles Gray. (fn. 272) The parish registers begin in 1599.
Richard Conder, a farmer in the parish, was the pastor of a dissenting church at neighbouring Croydon in 1718, and he continued as pastor until his death. (fn. 273) Three Presbyterians were recorded in 1728, (fn. 274) and in 1807 some Presbyterians and Anabaptists. (fn. 275) Houses were registered for protestant dissenting worship in 1812 (fn. 276) and 1819, (fn. 277) but there was apparently no meeting in 1851. In 1873 five farmers who were said to be dissenters sometimes went to church. (fn. 278) All the inhabitants were described as church people in 1897. (fn. 279)
A schoolmaster was recorded between 1589 and 1611. (fn. 280) There was a Sunday school in 1788, (fn. 281) and in 1807 a school for poor children founded and supported by Elizabeth, countess of Hardwicke, was said to be well managed and well attended. (fn. 282) There were 74 pupils in 1818, (fn. 283) and 66 in 1825, including 15 from Arrington. (fn. 284) The school was wholly supported by Philip, earl of Hardwicke, in 1833, when attendance had risen to 80. A Sunday school was started in the same year supported partly by the earl and partly by the rector. It was attended by about 70 boys, and had a lending library. An evening school was held in the winter. (fn. 285) In 1847 the combined day and Sunday school, supported by subscription, and intended for Wimpole and Arrington, had 67 day and 94 Sunday pupils. There was one schoolroom and a teacher's house. (fn. 286)
A new school was built in 1853, (fn. 287) apparently at New Wimpole, (fn. 288) to replace the earlier one. From 1871 it was described as Church of England. (fn. 289) In 1873 21 children attended an evening school held during the winter, and 25 boys who had left the day-school attended the Sunday school. (fn. 290) The Yorkes maintained the day-school until 1875, (fn. 291) and from then onwards an annual government grant was received. (fn. 292) A new school building with accommodation for 75 was completed at New Wimpole in 1876. (fn. 293)
In 1906 the school building was owned by Viscount Clifden, from whom it was leased for 5s. a year. (fn. 294) Average attendance was 80 in 1877, (fn. 295) 52 in 1906, (fn. 296) and 35 in 1938, when there were mixed and infants' classes. (fn. 297) The school building was closed in 1946, and demolished in 1948. From 1946 to 1949 the school was held in the village hall, and from 1949 in a school in Wimpole Park which was closed in 1958, the children being transferred to Arrington school. After the latter was closed in 1962 they went to Orwell Petersfield Church of England school. (fn. 298)
Charities for the Poor.
It was apparently Thomas Chicheley (d. 1616) who gave £20 a year as compensation for cottagers' common rights. (fn. 299) The money was distributed to the poor in 1686, (fn. 300) and in 1739 the Wimpole estate was subject to a payment of £20 to the poor. (fn. 301) Until 1834 the money was received by the overseers and carried into the poorrates, but by 1837, when it was known as Chicheley's Compensation Money, it was distributed by the rector in coal to the aged poor. It was later paid to the Wimpole coal club. In 1964 the Charity Commissioners advised that the charity should not be confined to members of the coal club, through which it was still administered in 1970. (fn. 302)
Wimpole had the right to elect one poor man to the alms-houses in St. Clement's parish, Oxford, in accordance with the will of Edmund Boulter, proved in 1736. (fn. 303) The benefit of the charity was lost to Wimpole from 1787 to 1808, but in 1837 deserving widowers past work were chosen as almsmen. Under a Charity Commission Scheme of 1884 the trustees were empowered to close the alms-houses, and pay between 8s. and 10s. a week to six pensioners, including one from Wimpole. Pensioners were to be poor men who had resided for at least three years in the parish whence they were chosen. The alms-houses were demolished in 1885, (fn. 304) and the qualification for pensioners was altered by a Charity Commission Scheme in 1930.
William Beho (d. 1757) by his will left £30 to buy bread for fatherless children and widows. The income was applied in accordance with the donor's will in 1775, and the legacy had been invested in stock by 1788. (fn. 305) In 1837 the dividends were not known to have been distributed by the late rector. In 1952 the charity had c. £36 stock, and the gross income of 17s. 8d. was distributed in bread to poor widows. Distribution of bread continued in 1970. (fn. 306)