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 Bourn lies 7 miles west of Cambridge, and covers 3,955 a., stretching between the road from Cambridge to St. Neots on the north and Ermine Street on the south-west. Its irregular eastern and western boundaries are mostly determined by those of open field furlongs, although to the south-east the boundary with Kingston runs for some way along an ancient track called Porter's way. In 1949 59 a. at the north-east corner of Bourn by the St. Neots road were transferred to the adjacent parish of Caldecote, (fn. 1) which was probably once itself a hamlet of Bourn. (fn. 2) The parish is divided by the Bourn brook, from which it takes its name, which flows through it from north-west to south-east. On either side the land rises gently to over 200 ft. The high flat ground north of the village was from 1942 used for an airfield during the Second World War. (fn. 3) Along depressions in the downs run water-courses falling into the main brook. The soils are mostly heavy clays, overlying boulder clay on the higher ground and gault in the valley, with some gravel by the stream. The parish was predominantly arable. Until its inclosure between 1809 and 1820 it was cultivated in three open fields. (fn. 4)
The clay uplands were probably once well wooded, and wood for building and fencing was recorded in 1086. (fn. 5) Bourn wood, by Ermine Street, belonged to Barnwell Priory's estate, (fn. 6) and passed with it to Christ's College, which, being the impropriator of the church, probably used the profits from the wood for repairing the chancel. A survey of 1796 found 195 trees there, which had been included in a lease of 1788 to St. John's College. Christ's then brought back its rights over them. (fn. 7) At inclosure the wood passed by exchange to Earl de la Warr, (fn. 8) who had plantations covering 105 a. in the grounds of Bourn Hall by 1871. (fn. 9) In 1842 the parish contained altogether 150 a. of woodland. (fn. 10)
Bourn was the most populous parish in the hundred in the Middle Ages, and remained so until overtaken by Gamlingay in the 17th century. In 1086 76 peasants and servi were enumerated. (fn. 11) In 1327 there were 75 taxpayers, (fn. 12) and in 1377 299 people were assessed for poll tax. (fn. 13) In 1525 90 people paid the subsidy. (fn. 14) There were 72 families in 1563. (fn. 15) Under Charles II between 79 and 109 dwellings were assessed for hearth tax. (fn. 16) In 1728 the population was said to be 400. (fn. 17) By 1801 it had reached 554, and then increased steadily to 752 in 1821, and 945 in 1851, and, after a temporary fall, to 973 in 1871. Subsequently it fell as steadily to 709 in 1901 and 587 in 1931. (fn. 18) After the Second World War an influx of squatters into the huts on the disused airfield raised the population temporarily to 1,053 in 1951, but it had fallen again to 832 by 1961. Some of the squatters had by 1956 been rehoused on a new council estate north and west of the church. (fn. 19)
Settlement was by the 19th century concentrated on the area of rising ground south of the brook, along the high street, close to the church and Bourn Hall, but the inhabited area had probably once been more extensive. North and south of the brook run two streets, parallel to it and joined at their ends, leading to a group of houses at the western end of the village called Caxton End. Between the streets and the brook, and also surrounding them, lie many ancient closes. Almost at right angles two other parallel streets lead northwards, forming an area north of the brook called Crow End. They also enclose and are surrounded by ancient closes. By the time of parliamentary inclosure most of the closes along those streets were empty of habitation, except for the village farmsteads and scattered dwellings by the street south of the brook. (fn. 20) Some farm-houses date from the 17th century, such as Brook Farm, Crow End Farm dated 1656, and Upper Farm dated 1664. Timber-framed and thatched cottages of the 17th and 18th centuries are scattered around the village. Soon after 1600 some houses, such as Poplar House and Heading's Farm, had been built along the winding road, called Stone Road, that leads from the south-east end of the village to meet Ermine Street. (fn. 21) After inclosure some detached farms were built in the northern part of the parish, but several of them were demolished when the airfield was made there, and in the 1950s most of the parish except for Monk Field farm, an anciently inclosed area in the north, was being farmed from the village. A detached group of houses built in the 20th century south-east of the village was called New Zealand.
The village lies between two main roads, of which Ermine Street, based on a Roman route, was the more important. In the 13th century two merchants travelling along it from Stamford were murdered under the edge of Barnwell Priory's wood. The priory's chronicler considered that the incident had roused Edward I to order the clearing from roadsides of wood and bushes by the Statute of Winchester in 1285. (fn. 22) Ermine Street was turnpiked under an Act of 1663; (fn. 23) a toll-gate stood in Bourn, close to the later railway station. (fn. 24) According to local tradition the road was infested in the 18th century with highwaymen, who would bring their booty along Riddy Lane, which runs north-east from it to the village. To the north Bourn was linked to the St. Neots road, turnpiked under an Act of 1771–2, (fn. 25) by Broadway, which continues the line of one of the northern streets. Bourn was connected with the neighbouring villages by various field-ways, but principally by a route that came from Caldecote up Gill's Hill to the south-east end of the village, and went on, west of Caxton End, to Caxton by two roads, continuing the village streets north and south of the brook; the road south of the brook was disused during the 19th century. The railway from Bedford to Cambridge, opened in 1862 (fn. 26) and closed in 1965, ran across the south part of the parish, just within which stood Old North Road station. (fn. 27)
In 1842 the parish contained five inns, the Greyhound, the Stow Fox, by Ermine Street, the Golden Lion, the King William, and the Cock and Bottle. (fn. 28) The last two were not mentioned in 1851, when there were three beer retailers. (fn. 29) The Fox and the Golden Lion, with the Duke of Wellington, established c. 1900, (fn. 30) remained in 1961. In the 19th century Bourn was noted as good hunting land. The meets of the hunts, signalled by the church bells, would take place at one of the inns. (fn. 31) Shooting was advertised on the estates of Lord Hardwicke and of Earl de la Warr. (fn. 32) In the early 18th century there was in Bourn a mineral spring, called Jacob's Well, said in 1750 to have been formerly much frequented, but then quite forsaken. (fn. 33) Another spring with medicinal properties was discovered in 1845. (fn. 34)
Manors and Other Estates.
Of the 20 hides at which Bourn was assessed before the Conquest, (fn. 35) Ramsey Abbey owned, as a berewick of its estate in Longstowe, 1 hide, (fn. 36) which had been given to it by Ethelgiva (d. 985), wife of Ethelwin, ealdorman of East Anglia. (fn. 37) Almar, a king's thegn, held 6 hides, and he or another king's thegn a further 3 hides, while the two priests holding the hide attached to the church were men of that thegn. The remainder of the vill was occupied by 20 sokemen, mostly commended to King Edward. In 1086 Ramsey Abbey retained its hide, and Almar still held the 4¼ hides of Count Alan, successor of Eddeva the Fair whose man Almar had been. Most of the vill had come to Picot the sheriff, who had obtained 13 hides for two manors, and held 1¾ hides, formerly Almar's, of Peter de Valognes, sheriff of Essex. (fn. 38)
By 1086 two knights were settled on the Ramsey Abbey land, (fn. 39) which subsequently remained attached to the abbey's estate in Longstowe, being held in 1279 of William of Stowe, the abbey's tenant there. (fn. 40) Under him it was much subdivided, there being five stages of under-tenants, mostly small freeholders with a few acres each. The largest holding was 60 a. owned by Gilbert Mile. (fn. 41) In 1604–5 land once part of the Ramsey manor in Longstowe, then held by John Cage of Caxton under Sir Oliver Cromwell, was said to lie in Bourn. (fn. 42)
The overlordship of the land held by Almar under Count Alan descended with the honor of Richmond. In the 12th century a knight's fee, probably in Bourn, was held by Simon de la Tour of that honor. (fn. 43) Simon de la Tour (fl. 1198–1207) (fn. 44) held a fee of it there in 1212, (fn. 45) and was succeeded by c. 1235 by Alan de la Tour. (fn. 46) By 1279 the manor had come to William Sudbury, of Sudbury (Beds.), who then held 240 a. in demesne at Bourn of that honor, and also part of the Verley fee there. (fn. 47) By 1302 his estate, later called SUDBURYS, had passed to Margery Sudbury, (fn. 48) his widow, who died in 1314 and was succeeded by their son John Sudbury. (fn. 49) John was returned as lord of a manor at Bourn in 1316, (fn. 50) and granted it for life to Sir John de la Haye, of Hemel Hempstead (Herts.), in 1323– 4. (fn. 51) He died in 1332. His son, Sir William Sudbury, (fn. 52) enfeoffed John Thomas, vicar of Waterbeach, and William Bryan, clerk, with his Bourn estate in 1337, (fn. 53) and died in 1348 leaving as heir a son William, aged 3. (fn. 54) In 1346 Sir William atte Pole was returned as lord of the manor, (fn. 55) but in 1376 it was conveyed with the Sudburys' Bedfordshire lands by Thomas Ridgewick and his wife Mary to Sir John Ragon, (fn. 56) who died in 1377 and was succeeded by his son Reynold. (fn. 57) Reynold Ragon owned land in Bourn worth 20 marks a year in 1412, (fn. 58) and may have survived until 1428, (fn. 59) when, however, Bourn was occupied by his son John. (fn. 60) John's daughter Agnes married Thomas Wild, and their daughter Elizabeth had by 1470 married Henry Dive. (fn. 61) Henry's son, Sir John Dive, held the Bourn estate in 1512, and was succeeded by his son William (d. c. 1538). William's widow Anne (fn. 62) and her second husband Robert Atterbury then held the manor, called RAGONS or DIVES, for Anne's life. (fn. 63) Her son Lewis Dive sold it in 1554 to John Haggar. (fn. 64) Haggar subsequently purchased much other land in Bourn: 260 a. in 1556 from Sir Robert Charter and William Turpin, (fn. 65) 300 a. there and elsewhere in 1559 from George Crede who had acquired them in 1547 from Augustine Stonard, (fn. 66) and c. 100 a. in 1580 from Richard Tryte. (fn. 67) Before his death in 1589 Haggar had also acquired c. 160 a. called Monk Fields, once owned by St. Neots Priory, and the manors of Riggesby, Burwash, and St. George in Bourn, (fn. 68) once part of Picot's estate, whose history is treated below.
The estate thus formed, the largest in the parish, descended to his son John (d. 1617). (fn. 69) The younger John's son and heir Robert died in 1652 and was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 70) who was lord of the manor until after 1693, and may have died in 1706. Robert Haggar was lord in 1699 and 1705, and probably died in 1710. (fn. 71) Admiral John Haggar married the heiress of the Hewetts of Waresley (Hunts.), and removed thither in the early 18th century. (fn. 72) In 1721 the court was held in the name of William Quarles D.D. (d. 1727). (fn. 73) The estate was purchased in 1733 by Baltzar Lyell (d. 1740), an East India merchant, whose widow held it until her death c. 1752, and was succeeded by Lyell's nephew Henry Lyell. On Henry's death in 1803 it was inherited by his daughter Catherine's son George, Earl de la Warr, (fn. 74) in whose family it remained until its sale in 1883 and after to John James Briscoe and others. (fn. 75) Briscoe, who had bought Bourn Hall with the bulk of the estate, was made a baronet in 1910 and died in 1919. (fn. 76) After his death his property was broken up and sold in 1920, the hall with 23 a. of parkland being bought by Capt. W. H. Ockleston with the nominal lordship of the manors. (fn. 77) In 1923 the lordship and hall were sold to Maj. J. M. Griffin, whose wife was a daughter of Earl de la Warr. He died in 1957, (fn. 78) and in 1958 the hall and a park of 16 a. were bought by Mr. Peter King. (fn. 79)
Bourn Hall, the seat of the Haggars and their successors, stands upon the site of Picot the sheriff's castle. The castle comprised two enclosures, one circular c. 450 ft. in circumference, the other, probably the outer bailey, crescent-shaped and lying against it on the north-east, and now largely obliterated. Of the circular enclosure there remain a wide bank and ditch, the ditch on the south-east side being still filled with water. (fn. 80) The hall is a large house of red brick, approximately square in plan, with the principal front to the north-east. The north-west range, which has been altered on several occasions, may incorporate parts of a timberframed house of the 16th century. Early in the 17th century John Haggar (d. 1617) added the main hall range and that to the south-east to enclose three sides of an open court. The north-west range was then used for service rooms, and a gabled red-brick stable building was erected close to that side of the house. The house was restored and enlarged c. 1818 by J. A. Repton for Earl de la Warr. Repton cased the north-west wing in brick, added polygonal bay-windows at each end of the wings, and built between them a staircase hall, in which was placed a 17th-century staircase removed from Haslingfield Hall, then partly demolished. The old hall was redecorated in Tudor style, as were the other main rooms which, however, contain some 17th-century panelling, including woodwork from Haslingfield Hall, such as a fireplace in the drawing room dated 1555. The remaining area between the wings was filled in the late 19th century, perhaps with Norman Shaw as architect. (fn. 81) Both house and stables were restored in the 1960s.
In 1086 over two-thirds of Bourn was held by Picot, sheriff of Cambridge, (fn. 82) who died after c. 1092. (fn. 83) His son Robert had his lands confiscated for conspiring against Henry I, who had granted them by c. 1110 to Pain Peverel. (fn. 84) Pain died after 1130 (fn. 85) and was succeeded by William Peverel of Dover, probably his nephew, (fn. 86) who went on the Second Crusade in 1147 to expiate his misdeeds during the anarchy under Stephen, and was killed. (fn. 87) His honor was then divided among his four sisters and coheirs, Maud wife of Hugh of Dover (d. 1172), (fn. 88) Alice married by 1135 to Hamon Pecche (d. between 1178 and 1185), (fn. 89) Asceline wife of Geoffrey de Waterville (d. 1162), (fn. 90) and Rose who probably married Rollo de Harcourt. (fn. 91) Bourn castle as the caput of the barony probably went to Maud as the eldest sister, but all four seem to have had shares in the manor. Maud died without issue in 1185, when her portion should have been divided among her sisters and their heirs. Claims were made to it by Alice Pecche and her eldest son Geoffrey and by Rose's daughter Aubrey, who had married William Trussebut (fn. 92) (d. c. 1175). (fn. 93) The share of the third sister, Asceline, had apparently come by 1185, by what means is unknown, to Leonia, widow of Robert de Stuteville, who paid scutage on it from 1195 to 1202 and died c. 1215. (fn. 94) It probably returned subsequently to Asceline's descendants, for in 1254–5 Ralph de Camoys, husband of her great-great-granddaughter Asceline, released claims for the service of 1 knight's fee in Bourn to Gilbert Pecche, heir of Alice. (fn. 95) Aubrey's sons by William Trussebut died without issue, Geoffrey by 1190 and Robert in 1193, as did two of her daughters who were coheirs to them, Hilary in 1241 and Agatha in 1247. (fn. 96) The overlordship of that third of the barony of Bourn therefore passed to the descendants of Aubrey's third daughter Rose, who had married Everard de Ros of Helmsley (Yorks. N.R.) (d. 1183). Her son Robert died in 1226 and his son William in 1264. William's son Robert (d. 1285) (fn. 97) was said to be overlord of a third of the barony and manor in 1279, (fn. 98) but his descendants, the lords Ros of Hamelake, are not known to have had any interest in it subsequently.
The castle and principal part of the manor came through Alice Pecche, as William Peverel's next eldest sister, to her sons by Hamon, Geoffrey (d.s.p. 1188) and Gilbert (d. 1212). (fn. 99) Gilbert recovered another part of Maud of Dover's share, which had been acquired by Hugh son of Henry de Longchamp. When Hugh's property was confiscated by the king, after the French conquest of Normandy, his former land in Bourn was also seized, and Gilbert had to pay 100 marks to regain possession. (fn. 100) Gilbert's son Hamon died on crusade in 1241. His son Gilbert (fn. 101) surrendered his barony to Edward I in 1284, in exchange for a yearly income equal to its value. (fn. 102) In 1293 the king assigned the overlordship of a knight's fee in Bourn to Gilbert's widow Joan as part of her dower. (fn. 103) The Pecche overlordship was thereafter merged in the Crown, of which the tenants of the various estates in Bourn that had been created by subinfeudation consequently held directly. From 1492 to 1617, however, one of them, Riggesby manor, was said to be held of the honor of Richmond, also in the hands of the Crown, (fn. 104) perhaps by confusion with Sudburys manor.
An estate in Bourn, subsequently called ANSTEY manor, probably arose from the gift of land there by Hamon Pecche (d. 1241) upon the marriage of his sister to Nicholas, lord of Anstey (Herts.), (fn. 105) who in 1223 called Hamon to warrant land in Bourn, (fn. 106) and died by 1225. (fn. 107) Nicholas's daughter Denise married Warin de Munchensy (fn. 108) (d. 1255), (fn. 109) with whom she acquired in 1237–8 1½ virgate in Bourn from William Haretail, (fn. 110) which was perhaps the 45 a. which Denise held in demesne in 1279. Tenants held over 300 a. of her, including part of the Verley fee. (fn. 111) She survived her son William de Munchensy (d. 1287), (fn. 112) and on her death in 1304 was succeeded by his daughter Denise, wife of Hugh de Vere. (fn. 113) The younger Denise died in 1313, whereupon the overlordship of the Bourn property, with the rest of her father's lands, passed to Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, (fn. 114) as son of William's half-sister Joan. Aymer died in 1324, and his widow Mary in 1377, (fn. 115) whereupon those lands escheated to the Crown, which granted them the same year to Edmund, earl of Cambridge, (fn. 116) later duke of York (d. 1402). The lordship and 40s. of rent from Bourn remained with his descendants, the dukes of York, until merged with the Crown upon Edward IV's accession in 1461. (fn. 117)
The manor in Bourn later called BURWASH may have derived from land which Alice de Chalers held of Denise de Munchensy in 1279. (fn. 118) In 1305–6 an estate including £8 of rent there was settled by John Bacon, clerk, upon Thomas and Denise Bacon and her heirs, with remainder in tail to John's brother Sir Edmund Bacon. (fn. 119) Denise died without issue in 1349, and Emery Wellington and William Clopton took the profits, perhaps as feoffees, from then (fn. 120) until 1362, when the estate was returned to Edmund Bacon's heirs. They were his daughter Margery, wife of William de Moleyns (d. 1381), and John Burghersh, son of John Burghersh and Maud (both d. 1349), daughter of William Kerdeston (d. 1361) by Bacon's daughter Margaret. In the subsequent partition, made in 1366, the Bourn property, c. 120 a. said to be held of the countess of Pembroke, was assigned to Sir John Burghersh, (fn. 121) who died in 1391, leaving as coheirs two daughters, Margaret wife of Sir John Grenville (d. 1412), and Maud (fn. 122) who later married Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer. (fn. 123) In 1417–18 Margaret and her second husband John Arundell released their moiety of Bourn to Chaucer and his wife. (fn. 124) Thomas Chaucer died in 1434 and Maud in 1437, whereupon their manor was inherited by their daughter Alice, wife of William de la Pole, (fn. 125) earl and later duke of Suffolk (d. 1450), and remained with his descendants until the attainder of Edmund, earl of Suffolk, in 1504. (fn. 126) In 1508 Henry VII granted his land at Bourn to Sir John Cutt, undertreasurer of the Exchequer. (fn. 127) Cutt probably alienated it before his death in 1521. (fn. 128) Burwash manor had passed to Sir John Hinde of Madingley before Hinde's death in 1550 (fn. 129) when it was said to be held of John Haggar. Hinde's son Sir Francis had probably alienated it to Haggar before his death in 1597, (fn. 130) and it was thus merged in the Haggar estate of which the descent is related above. In 1614–15 it was said to have been once held of Riggesby manor, but 'now of the king, as of the honor of Richmond'. (fn. 131)
In 1086 two knights occupied 2 hides on Picot's manor. (fn. 132) About 1235 Robert Mile held ½ knight's fee in Bourn of Hamon Pecche, rendering ½ mark in two out of three years for castle guard, and paying pontage. (fn. 133) His estate may have been held at one time by the Beach family of Landbeach, for in the 12th century Alan of Beach granted land in Bourn to St. Neots Priory, (fn. 134) and in 1279 Robert Mile was said to hold c. 110 a. altogether of the heirs of Walter Chamberlain of Landbeach, (fn. 135) who may have succeeded to the fee there held by the Beaches of the Pecches. (fn. 136) Robert Mile still occupied the Bourn land in 1302, (fn. 137) but in 1318 his son Simon was on trial for robbery, (fn. 138) and by 1346 the ½ fee was divided among Hugh Haukyn, Simon Chivyn, chaplain, and his brother Robert, and others. (fn. 139) Part of the land was probably included in the endowment of Bourn chantry founded between 1349 and 1357, (fn. 140) for in 1428 William, priest of the chantry, was assessed on the whole ½ fee. (fn. 141) In 1481 the chantry paid pontage on 2½ hides. (fn. 142) After its suppression its lands were sold in 1549 to Richard Ward and William Planer, (fn. 143) and 80 a. of them were held in socage, paying the ½ mark for castle guard, by John Haggar at his death in 1589. (fn. 144)
In 1279 Bartholomew Hauteyn held c. 270 a. on the Pecche fee in Bourn of his brother, Sir Hamon Hauteyn of Oxnead (Norf.), for £10 a year during Hamon's life. (fn. 145) Hamon later granted land in Bourn to his daughter Alice, from which, after his death in 1289, his son and heir William attempted to oust her. (fn. 146) The property has not been traced later. Baldwin St. George also held 100 a. under the Pecches, (fn. 147) which may have descended with the St. George manor in Kingston. (fn. 148) Sir William St. George (d. 1472) included land in Bourn in a feoffment, (fn. 149) and in 1552 Francis St. George conveyed a manor at Bourn with land in Bourn and Wimpole to Thomas Docwra. (fn. 150) John Haggar (d. 1617) was said to have held land formerly of Baldwin St. George. (fn. 151)
The estate called RIGGESBY manor may have derived from the fee, including 240 a. in demesne, which was held in 1279 of Robert de Ros by Saher de Freville (fl. 1260–80) by the curtesy. (fn. 152) In 1283–4 an estate of similar size was conveyed by Henry Lacy of Duxford, who owned a few acres at Bourn in 1279, and his wife Alice to Thomas Riggesby, (fn. 153) who still owned it in 1301. (fn. 154) By 1310 he had been succeeded by Ralph Riggesby, who also claimed another fragment of the Trussebut fee. (fn. 155) About 1200 Hilary, one of Aubrey Trussebut's daughters and coheirs, had granted to Robert Trussebut, probably a collateral kinsman of her father, 1 plough-land in Bourn. John de Stuteville, a grandson of Leonia, sued Robert for it in 1232, but finally released it to him. Ralph Riggesby alleged in 1310 that Robert had been succeeded by his daughter Hilary, and she by her son John and grandson Thomas, who granted certain property to Riggesby for life. (fn. 156) Ralph was returned as lord of a manor at Bourn in 1316 and paid tax there in 1327. (fn. 157) It is uncertain how long his family held the manor. A Thomas Riggesby who was said to be of Longstowe was involved in conveying land at Bourn in 1390–1. (fn. 158) Between 1417 and 1437 the manor was probably owned by Warin Ingrith. (fn. 159) By the end of the 15th century it had come to a family called Ellis, probably long established in Bourn. Nicholas Ellis died seised of it in 1492, when his heir was his brother John. Since John was a lunatic his lands came into the king's custody. (fn. 160) John died probably in 1500, leaving as heir a son John, a minor, so that as the manor was then said to be held of the honor of Richmond, the countess of Richmond took its issues. (fn. 161) A Richard Ellis dwelt at Bourn in the mid 16th century, (fn. 162) but Riggesby manor had been acquired by John Haggar before his death in 1589, and was subsequently merged in his family's estate. The manor was then called alternatively CASTLE manor, and so probably included the site of Picot's castle. (fn. 163)
The land held of Peter de Valognes by Picot the sheriff in 1086 (fn. 164) later became the Verley fee. The overlordship descended in the male line of Peter's family until 1184. Gunnora, heir to its lands, married Robert FitzWalter, lord of Dunmow (Essex). (fn. 165) About 1236 and 1242 the Verley fee in Bourn, comprising 1¾ hide, as in 1086, was said to be held of the barony of Robert FitzWalter. (fn. 166) Christine, his daughter by Gunnora, died without issue in 1232, and there is no evidence that the remote heirs who then succeeded to the Valognes lands (fn. 167) had any interest in Bourn. In 1279 part of the Verley fee was said to be held of the heirs of Bernard de Red. (fn. 168)
William de Verley held the fee in the 12th century and was succeeded by his son Ralph (fn. 169) (fl. 1194– 1219), (fn. 170) whose widow Mabel was claiming dower in Bourn from Nicholas of Anstey in 1223. (fn. 171) The estate was held for ½ knight's fee by John de Verley c. 1235, but by 1242 scutage was being paid on it by a group of tenants. (fn. 172) By 1279 it was much fragmented, parts being owned by several religious houses, and also by William Sudbury and Denise de Munchensy, and presumably descending later with their other lands. (fn. 173) In 1302–3 those assessed on the fee were Margery Sudbury, Simon Ellis, Geoffrey Gilbert, Robert White, and Barnwell and St. Neots priories. By 1346 the tenants included the priories, William atte Pole succeeding Margery, Simon and John Ellis, chaplains, and Ralph atte Hall succeeding Geoffrey Gilbert. In 1428 the prior of Barnwell alone was assessed on the ½ fee. (fn. 174)75
Barnwell had the largest estate of those created by the large alienations from the Peverel manor. The priory's original endowment from Pain Peverel included 1 hide of his demesne at Bourn, ½ hide owned by a priest, and 1½ virgate. William Peverel gave ½ hide, Hamon Pecche 76 a., and Gilbert Pecche 15 a. c. 1275. The estate, of c. 400 a., was reckoned as a manor in 1279 and 1316, (fn. 175) and remained with the priory until its dissolution. In 1552 it was given by the Crown to Christ's College, Cambridge, in place of a £20 annuity long in arrears. (fn. 176) The college retained the manor, the second largest estate in the parish, until 1920, when it was sold to Lawsell Long of Balsham. (fn. 177)
Manor Farm, formerly the farm-house of the college estate, retains, within its modern brick casing, the structure of a timber-framed aisled hall of the late 13th century, probably that of Barnwell's manor-house rebuilt after it had been burnt in 1266 by Montfortian rebels raiding from the Isle of Ely. Much of the roof-timbers survives. (fn. 178)
The bulk of the estate of St. Neots Priory in Bourn, later called MONK FIELDS, also came from the Peverel fee. William Peverel (d. 1148) gave the priory 100 a., or 1 hide, at Bourn, (fn. 179) William de Verley 22 a., his son Ralph 11 a. of their fee, and Alan of Beach ½ virgate. (fn. 180) The priory's temporalities in Bourn were worth £5 3s. in 1291, (fn. 181) but yielded only £1 1s. 4d. rent in 1535. (fn. 182) In 1553 the Crown sold 40 a. of the dissolved priory's lands in Bourn to Thomas Reeve and George Colton, (fn. 183) but by 1589 the bulk of it, 160 a., had been acquired by John Haggar. (fn. 184)
The Benedictine nunnery of Wilton (Wilts.) was granted 1 hide at Bourn by Pain Peverel. (fn. 185) In 1196 the abbess granted it to Geoffrey of Wenhaston and his wife Avice for a release of the manor of Alvediston (Wilts.), to hold for 5s. rent a year. (fn. 186) The abbey still owned the rent in 1291, (fn. 187) but it had been lost before the Dissolution. In 1279 most of the hide was held by Henry Chiney. (fn. 188)
The Knights Hospitallers of Shingay held 20 a. at Bourn in free alms of the honor of Richmond in 1282, and part of the Verley fee was held of them in 1279. (fn. 189) After the Hospital's suppression in 1540 its property was granted to Sir Richard Long, from whom the right to certain rents from Bourn descended to the dukes of Bedford. (fn. 190) Other land from the Richmond fee, c. 10 a., was granted to the Cistercian abbey of Sawtry (Hunts.) by Simon de la Tour and confirmed by William Sudbury. (fn. 191) The abbey retained it until its dissolution, after which the land was granted in 1537 to Richard Williams alias Cromwell. (fn. 192)
St. John's Hospital, Cambridge, owned 9 a. of Robert Mile's fee in 1279, and received more land in Bourn c. 1380, all of which passed to St. John's College, which owned 11 a. in Bourn in 1842. (fn. 193) The sisters of Longstowe chapel also owned 9½ a. in free alms in 1279. (fn. 194)
The earl of Hardwicke's estate at Bourn, acquired after 1800, derived from a holding, bought from Thomas Cook by Clement Reynolds, who devised it in 1681 to his grandson Joseph. Joseph sold it by 1701 to Thomas Hitchin, who was succeeded by his brother Edward (d. 1729) whose son and heir John (d. 1753) left an only daughter, Martha, wife of John Tate. In 1797 Tate sold the property to Thomas Tanson, from whom it was bought in 1808 by the earl of Hardwicke, (fn. 195) who desired an allotment of land adjoining his wood in Kingston to protect it from depredations after Bourn was inclosed. The estate then included, besides 14½ a. in closes sold in 1810, 118 a. of arable (fn. 196) for which 137 a. beside Kingston wood were allotted at inclosure in 1820. (fn. 197) The land remained with the Wimpole Hall estate until sold in 1920. (fn. 198)
Of the twenty sokemen who had owned land at Bourn in 1066, only seven remained in 1086, on Picot the sheriff's estate. The other peasants then at Bourn were 17 villani and 44 bordars and cottars. The vill comprised 25½ plough-lands, of which 6 were held by Picot in demesne, while the other landowners occupied 4½ altogether. The village had suffered severely during the Conquest. The villani possessed only 7 of the 15 plough-teams that could have been used on their lands, and even on the demesnes 4½ teams were lacking. The total value of the estates had fallen from £32 to £21, all except the smallest showing a decline since 1066. It was worst on Picot's, which had declined from £21 in 1066 to £18 by the time he appropriated it, and yielded only £13 in 1086. (fn. 199)
In 1279 many of the peasants had freedom of tenure. Of some 3,100 a. then recorded at Bourn only c. 460 a. were occupied by customary tenants. Thirty-eight villeins, of whom 20 were half-yardlanders, held between 10 a. and 30 a., and there were 25 cottars. About 1,300 a. belonged to peasant freeholders, mostly paying rent. Some held largish properties of a single lord. Thus Henry Chiney and his family held 76 a. in free socage of the abbess of Wilton, Gilbert Mile 35 a. on the Ramsey fee, and Robert Mile 30 a. under the Pecches. Most free tenants, however, had small estates combined from plots of a few acres held of different persons, sometimes under two or three mesne tenants holding one from another under the lord of a manor. One man held 30 a. on the Verley fee by suit to shire and hundred, another 16 a. of Gilbert Pecche for bearing his shield to the county boundary when he went to war. Several free tenements of 15 a., each paying 4s. or 8s. rent, seem to have been enfranchised customary land.
Most of the freehold estates had probably emerged in the disintegration, through partition, subinfeudation, and gifts to religious houses, of Picot's great manor, the demesne of which had in 1086 been reckoned as 5 hides, a quarter of the vill, and may have amounted to c. 1,077 a. The demesne of the third assigned at the partition of 1185 to Rose de Harcourt was still intact in 1279 in the hands of Saher de Freville, and comprised c. 240 a., but the Pecches' share had been fragmented. Baldwin St. George held 145 a. of the Pecches in demesne, Bartholomew Hauteyn 112 a., Denise de Munchensy 45 a., and Philip Trillowe 43 a. for life. The 88 a. held at fee-farm of Alice de Chalers, mostly in 13-a. holdings at rents of 15s. 7d., may also represent former demesne. On the Richmond fee William Sudbury had c. 240 a. in demesne. The combined demesne arable of those landowners and of Barnwell and St. Neots priories may have amounted to c. 1,450 a.
Not all of them commanded the services of any substantial amount of villein labour. Sudbury's six customary tenants, who had only 15 a. between them, held in lots of 1 a. to 4 a., owed only 12 works a year for 4 a., 6 for 2 a. On the Pecche fee, St. George, Alice de Chalers, and Robert Mile had no villeins. Denise de Munchensy and St. Neots Priory had 3 half-yardlanders each, Hauteyn 4 villeins with 10 a. each. Each villein owed gersums, heriots, and merchet, and had to serve as reeve if ordered, but their other services, being valued at 7s. 9d., 8s., or 10s. 3d. each, and not detailed, were probably normally commuted. On the Wilton Abbey estate, where no demesne was in hand, 4 villeins paid 10s. each. On Freville's third of the Peverel manor, however, villein services were still in force, showing perhaps what had been formerly exacted on the whole manor. Nine half-yardlands owed three works each week from 29 June to Lammas and four thence to Michaelmas during the harvest, when they must each reap 1½ a. and carry the corn to the lord's barn. Between Michaelmas and 29 June, however, their services had been commuted for 4s. 6d. The village smith also held a croft of Freville by making him two ploughshares a year. (fn. 200)
Barnwell Priory's villeins, being tenants of a monastery, were most heavily burdened. The two holding full yardlands performed three works a week, besides ploughing ½ a. every Friday from Michaelmas to Christmas, and the same week-work from Candlemas to Easter and from Hockday to 29 June. Between Christmas and Candlemas and between Easter and Hockday they owed four works a week, and from 29 June to Michaelmas five for reaping the harvest, besides producing two or three workers at three harvest-boons. Half-yardlanders did one work a week less in each season, and rendered two harvest-boons. Works that could be required included hoeing the whole day, digging ½ a. of old ditching, and carrying for the prior to Cambridge or Barnwell at his will. Those with lesser holdings, 5 a. or 10 a., did one to three week-works throughout the year. The priory's cottars, however, were mostly rent-payers. The demesne was then profitable. In 1266 corn from three plough-lands and from the great tithes filled the prior's barn at Bourn. (fn. 201) Cultivation subsequently receded: in 1341 300 a. of the vill were said to be lying waste. (fn. 202) Barnwell was leasing both the manor and the rectory, however, by c. 1500 when the farmer John Dane paid £39 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 203)
After it had passed to Christ's College, the former priory estate was probably always leased. In 1575 the college leased it to Robert Colet for 58 years for £28 a year. (fn. 204) Rhoda, wife first of Thomas Bainbridge and then of Edward Bunchley, vicar of Bourn, was lessee in 1664. She devised the lease to Thomas Nightingale, who was mortgagee of the tolls on the Old North Road. (fn. 205) During the 18th century the manor and rectory were leased for 21-year terms. For most of the century the lessee was St. John's College, which in 1792 sub-leased them, then comprising 218 a., to Edward Lilley. Both leases were surrendered in 1800, whereupon Christ's College leased the estate in 1801 to Edward and Joshua Lilley. (fn. 206)
The greater part of the parish, however, was occupied by the estate consolidated during the 16th century by John Haggar and his descendants out of Riggesby, Sudbury, Burwash, and Anstey manors, and the St. Neots estate of Monk Fields, which remained intact until the 19th century. (fn. 207) The farms were presumably occupied in successive generations by families of yeoman farmers. In 1525 there were nine men at Bourn with goods worth over £10, and 14 others taxed on their goods, compared with 66, probably labourers, taxed only on their wages. (fn. 208) The Haggers, to be distinguished from the family owning the manor, and the Chapmans were tenants of Barnwell Priory c. 1540, (fn. 209) and frequently provided parish officers from the 17th to the 19th century. (fn. 210) A Chapman was a substantial landowner in 1792, (fn. 211) and Elizabeth and Jane Chapman owned c. 283 a. at inclosure. (fn. 212) In 1871 the Bourn Hall estate included Chapman's farm, and the Haggers occupied three farms, covering 405 a. (fn. 213) The Chapmans survived at Bourn until 1892, (fn. 214) the Haggers into the 1960s. Thomas Cropwell (fl. 1527), also a tenant of Barnwell, (fn. 215) had a namesake able to provide £25 in 1588 for the levy against the Armada. (fn. 216) John Cook, a churchwarden in 1615 and 1638, (fn. 217) furnished in 1645 the third largest contribution to the Scottish loan, after Robert Haggar and Richard Knight. (fn. 218) Prominent in the 19th century were the Lilleys, dwelling at Bourn since 1662, (fn. 219) and the Holbens; Montfort Holben was tenant of the rectory farm c. 1842. (fn. 220)
The parish was probably cultivated on a triennial rotation, and by the 18th century was divided into six fields, some themselves subdivided. (fn. 221) On the high ground to the north lay, on the east side, High field, mentioned in 1699 (fn. 222) and perhaps identical with the high land mentioned c. 1540. (fn. 223) West of it, towards Caxton, was an area called the great common. (fn. 224) Further south, Broad field was recorded in the 17th century (fn. 225) and lay just north of the village, on both sides of Broadway. East of the village Mill field, called in 1820 Caldecote Mill field, was named after a windmill. Low field lay in 1820 north-west of the village, and between it and the Caxton boundary was Caxton Mill field, surrounding Bourn mill. South of it, across the brook, was West or West Dene field, probably called Dene field in the 17th century, (fn. 226) when the name may have covered the whole area west of the village. In 1792 a field south of the village, called Wood field, adjoined Bourn wood. In the south-east quarter of the parish then lay Meadow field, named after the village meadow by the brook, which was in 1820 divided into Church End field, east of the village, North Road field further south by that road, and Edgehill field along the boundary with Kingston. At inclosure in 1820 there were 3,160 a. of open-field arable and 850 a. of old inclosures. (fn. 227) Apart from the village closes, the land between Riddy Lane and Stow Road was mostly inclosed, and belonged by 1820 to the lord of the manor, and in the north-west corner of the parish an area of c. 156 a. had long been inclosed to form Monk Fields, (fn. 228) the former St. Neots Priory estate. The modern Monk Field Farm, however, stands a little way south of that inclosure.
Bourn has been mainly devoted to arable farming, wheat, barley, and oats being the principal crops in the 17th century. Sheep were also kept. (fn. 229) Their numbers may have increased during the 16th and 17th centuries. In the early 17th century John Haggar was said to be one of the largest woolowners in Cambridgeshire, (fn. 230) and prosecuted some of his tenants for setting up independent folds for their sheep in Dene field. (fn. 231) About 1800 there were almost 1,800 sheep in Bourn. (fn. 232) Regulations of 1693 allowed each tenant to keep 2 cows, a breeder, and 10 sheep for every 20 a. that he owned. Young cattle were to be kept in the common herd, unless within a private close. No beast might be put into the common fields until the wheat and barley harvest was ended, but cattle could be put on the oat stubble 14 days after harvest and sheep 8 days later. Beasts were not allowed into the reed pasture until 8 days after harvest, nor sheep into the meadows until Michaelmas. A Whitsun common, for feeding the cattle after Whit Monday, also existed. (fn. 233)
The parish was inclosed under an Act of 1809, (fn. 234) the award being made in 1820. (fn. 235) The largest allotment, c. 1,584 a., went to Earl de la Warr, who owned also Monk Fields and c. 422 a. in the inclosures round the village, and emerged, with c. 2,163 a., as owner of over half the parish. Christ's College owned c. 198 a., and Lord Hardwicke received 137 a. adjoining his land in Kingston. Large allotments were also made to John Butler, who received 263 a. and had also c. 54 a. of closes, and to Elizabeth and Jane Chapman, who had 283 a. Two other landowners owned c. 100 a. each. Five others, owning between 50 a. and 100 a., shared 307 a., and six local men, with from 10 a. to 25 a., another 86 a. Allotments to various Cambridge colleges, local charities, and neighbouring incumbents came to 133 a., and 25 others had c. 80 a. between them. Some 43 a. was allotted for common rights. About 373 a. of copyhold land then remained, 149 a. being held of Earl de la Warr's various manors and c. 223 a. under Christ's College. (fn. 236)
In 1831 Bourn contained 119 labourers, with 12 farmers employing labour, and 12 others not employing labour. (fn. 237) In 1834 there was work only for 100 of the 130 farm-labourers, the rest being on poor relief. The usual weekly wage was 10s., but at least half the men were on piece-work. They could earn, including piece-work in harvest, £20 a year, which might be supplemented by their wives and children weeding and haymaking in summer. Most labourers lived in rate- and tithe-free cottages, rented at 35s. to 50s. a year, which might have a rood of ground attached. (fn. 238)
In 1842 the Bourn Hall estate consisted of 2,700 a., of which 310 a. were directly occupied by the lord of the manor and most of the rest let to his tenant farmers. Three of them occupied farms of over 200 a., eight had between 100 a. and 200 a., and three had holdings of between 13 a. and 85 a. There were also 37 tenants occupying cottages and holdings of less than an acre. (fn. 239) There were 20 farmers in the parish in 1851, (fn. 240) 13 in 1879. (fn. 241) The Bourn Hall estate in 1871 comprised 2,690 a., divided into 14 farms, and 70 cottages. (fn. 242) In the 1880s over half was separated from the rest, c. 850 a. in the north-west part of the parish, including Monk Fields, being sold to Thomas Dence in 1888 and c. 650 a. in the north-east to Robert Sayle, (fn. 243) and the part sold in 1920 included only 1,063 a. and 40 cottages. Following the sale of the Christ's College estate in 1920 (fn. 244) most of the land in Bourn was owned by the farmers. In 1937 there were 17 farmers, eight of whom owned over 150 a., besides three poultry farmers. (fn. 245) The main crops in the 1960s were wheat, barley, and oats, with some clover and cabbages.
Bourn, being a largish village, provided occupations other than farming. A mercer was there in the 17th century, (fn. 246) and a butcher and tanner in 1711. (fn. 247) In 1831 37 people were engaged in retail trading. (fn. 248) Most of them were presumably concerned with products necessary to an agricultural community. In 1851 there were 2 blacksmiths, 2 millers, a butcher, a tailor, a shoemaker, a cooper, a plumber, a builder, and 2 shopkeepers. (fn. 249) In 1875 there were 2 bakers, 2 grocers and drapers, 2 corn-dealers, 2 wheelwrights, a carpenter, a carrier, and a harnessmaker, and by 1892 a thatcher also. There was a coal merchant in 1916, when a cycle agent had replaced the harness-maker. In 1937 the village had a newsagent and an engineer. (fn. 250) A miller and a blacksmith remained until about that time. Until after the Second World War Bourn had virtually no manufacturing industry, although a weaver was mentioned in 1711, (fn. 251) and some of the poor were set to spinning in the 18th century. (fn. 252) After the war, however, some of the people living on the new council estate were employed by Fisons Pest Control, a branch of the fertiliser firm, and by Marshall's garages. (fn. 253)
In 1279 Saher de Freville and William Sudbury both owned windmills. (fn. 254) Bourn windmill, situated on the western edge of the parish near Caxton, probably dates from the early 17th century and is perhaps the oldest preserved windmill in Cambridgeshire. The windmill was bought by Thomas Cook of Longstowe from John Cook of Bourn in 1636 and sold to William Smith of Caxton in 1653. (fn. 255) In 1716 the windmill was conveyed by Thomas Taylor of Swavesey to Thomas Parnely of Bourn. (fn. 256) In 1741 it was blown down, killing a man and a boy, (fn. 257) but it was repaired in 1874 and was in constant use until c. 1925, changing hands many times during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1931 it was conveyed by J. W. Pentelow to the Cambridge Preservation Society. (fn. 258) It is a post-mill, black with white sails, with a fan-tail which has replaced the old tailbeam. (fn. 259) From at least the 18th century there were two mills in Bourn. The second stood east of Bourn village. (fn. 260) Its site was marked by Mill Barn, burnt down in the 20th century. (fn. 261) In 1871 a windmill stood north of the village near Broadway. (fn. 262) Two windmillers were in business at Bourn until the 1920s, and one was still working in 1937. (fn. 263)
Several lords of manors in Bourn held courts there. There may have been an honorial court at Bourn castle, as the caput of the Pecche barony. Gilbert Pecche was entitled in 1279 to view of frankpledge, with the assize of bread and ale, and to gallows and tumbrel. (fn. 264) Saher de Freville also had view of frankpledge and the assize of ale in the 1270s on the third part of the manor that he held of Robert de Ros. (fn. 265) View of frankpledge probably belonged to the Richmond fee, later Sudbury manor, c. 1235, (fn. 266) and William Sudbury enjoyed it in 1279, when he and his tenants owed suit to the court of the honor of Richmond held at Babraham. (fn. 267) The prior of St. Neots claimed in 1299 view of frankpledge by prescription, infangthief, and other antiquated rights of jurisdiction under Henry II's grant to the abbey of Bec, and also felons' chattels and the amercements of his men by a charter of Henry III. (fn. 268) In 1274 he had been making his tenants at Bourn attend a court at Swavesey. (fn. 269) A court was held for Anstey manor in 1426. (fn. 270) It is uncertain how early Barnwell Priory established a court at Bourn. In the mid 13th century the prior's tenants used to attend Gilbert Pecche's court once a year for the view of frankpledge, but their amercements went to the prior under an agreement with Pecche. (fn. 271) In 1388 the prior applied for a grant of view of frankpledge, but was refused because the king would lose a mark from the county farm. (fn. 272) The priory, however, had a court by c. 1500, (fn. 273) and its successor, Christ's College, claimed that it had court rolls, since lost, proving that it had always possessed a leet. (fn. 274) The college was still including the right to hold a court in a lease of the manor in 1664. (fn. 275) The remaining courts had probably been consolidated into one after the Haggars had united the manors possessing them. In 1693 agricultural regulations were issued by a court baron with view of frankpledge of Bourn Anstey manor held for John Haggar, owner of the united manors of Riggesby, Sudbury, Burwash, and Anstey. (fn. 276) Mrs. Lyell still claimed to have courts baron and leet in 1749. (fn. 277)
Bourn had one constable in 1285 (fn. 278) and two in 1377. (fn. 279) In 1693 the court baron elected four field reeves to enforce its regulations on the commons. (fn. 280) The parish records include churchwardens' accounts for the period 1653 to 1814, and an early-19thcentury overseers' account book. During the 17th century there were usually two churchwardens, but subsequently until the early 19th century only one, chosen by the vicar, although there were two in 1779. There were normally two overseers. The three surveyors of the highways chosen in 1764 were substantial property-owners, including Henry Lyell, lord of the manor. One constable was then elected, but more usually there were two. (fn. 281) There was no select vestry in the early 19th century, (fn. 282) but when money was needed, the overseers called a vestry and fixed a rate with those ratepayers interested.
Bourn had by 1703 a small, thatched alms-house, run by the overseers, which had usually fewer than 10 inmates. In 1728 £40 was spent on maintaining old people and apprenticing poor children. (fn. 283) The overseers also paid 2 guineas a year to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, to provide treatment for the poor. The overseers' expenditure varied in the late 17th century between £55 in 1660 and £7 in 1677, and in the early 18th century between £26 in 1712 and £90 in 1730 and 1741. It began to rise after 1765, reaching £176 in 1775, £188 c. 1785, (fn. 284) and a peak of £895 in 1800, when 42 people were relieved. In the early 19th century it ranged between £358 and £653. By 1803 the alms-house had been converted into a workhouse, which had 16 inmates, whose support cost £102, but who earned £42 by their work. (fn. 285) It was at first administered by the overseers, but by 1820 had a salaried master, receiving 2 guineas a quarter. In 1834 it contained only 3 men and 2 women, all middle-aged or elderly. In one week in 1834 33 people received outside relief. The overseers paid men for working on the roads and scouring Bourn brook, or set the unemployed, whose numbers might rise to 20, to digging stones, perhaps in the parish gravel-pits. The roundsman system was used for a time, and 14 men and 4 boys were employed under it in 1821, but it had apparently been dropped by 1834, when Bourn's paupers earned £15 7s. 6d. outside the parish. The rates then stood at 4s.6d. in the pound. (fn. 286) In 1835 Bourn was included in the Caxton and Arrington poor law union, (fn. 287) and in 1934 was transferred from the Caxton and Arrington R.D. to the Chesterton R.D. (fn. 288)
Before the Conquest two priests held a hide at Bourn, which they could not separate from the church and which by 1086 had been incorporated, probably with the church, in Picot's manor. (fn. 289) Before 1092 Picot, when he founded the house of Austin canons at St. Giles, Cambridge, which was later transferred to Barnwell, endowed it in free alms with several churches, including that at Bourn, together with the chapel in his castle and the chapel of Caldecote. (fn. 290) Caldecote subsequently became an independent parish. (fn. 291) Remigius, bishop of Lincoln, had confirmed the church of Bourn to the canons in proprios usus before 1092, (fn. 292) but it was probably not immediately appropriated, for Frebert the priest still held ½ hide under Henry I, which Pain Peverel granted to the canons. (fn. 293) Pain also gave them 45 a. to support a chaplain celebrating mass thrice a week in 'St. Helen's chapel', probably the parish church. (fn. 294) A vicarage had been established by the 1270s. (fn. 295) The rectory and the advowson of the vicarage remained with Barnwell Priory until its dissolution. In 1552 the Crown granted them to Christ's College, (fn. 296) which held the rectorial estate until 1920, (fn. 297) and was still patron of the living in 1965. (fn. 298) In the 18th century the advowson was leased with the college's Bourn estate to St. John's College, which therefore presented the vicars, (fn. 299) who were, however, always graduates of Christ's College.
The church of Bourn was taxed at 20 marks in 1217 and 28 marks in 1256, and the rectory at 42 marks in 1291. (fn. 300) The glebe and great tithes went to the appropriator. The small tithes belonged to the vicar, except for those on hay, lambs, and foals, which were reserved to the impropriator. In 1536 the vicar had by custom been receiving a composition varying from 10s. to 2 marks from the farmer of the rectory, perhaps for the small tithes of the rectorial estate. (fn. 301) The vicarage was worth £5 in 1291, (fn. 302) £9 15s. 9d. in 1535, (fn. 303) and £13 6s. 8d. in 1650. (fn. 304) In 1662 the small tithes and offerings yielded £20. (fn. 305) It was then considered a poor living, and in 1669 Christ's College asked the bishop to authorize the union of Bourn with Toft, for Edward Bunchley, the 'deserving and indigent' vicar of Bourn, could not make £30 a year, even with his tithes. (fn. 306) The vicar's income was £32 3s. 4d. in 1728, (fn. 307) £70 in 1786, (fn. 308) and £167 c. 1830. (fn. 309) The vicarage received two grants from Queen Anne's Bounty, one of £200 in 1777–8 to match £200 given by Christ's College, (fn. 310) the other of £250 in 1819. (fn. 311) The tithes were commuted for a rent-charge in 1842, when £625 was allotted for the rectorial and £200 for the vicarial tithes. (fn. 312) The vicarage was worth £161 in 1858, (fn. 313) and £160 in 1896. (fn. 314)
The original lands of the church were absorbed in Barnwell Priory's manor, which passed to Christ's College; the college was said in 1842 to own 218 a., called rectorial glebe. (fn. 315) The vicar had little land. In 1279 Roger the vicar held 2 a. on the Pecche fee, (fn. 316) and his successor c. 1300 held a close of Barnwell Priory. (fn. 317) In the 17th century the vicar owned 1 a. east of the church, with a house and barn there, (fn. 318) probably represented by the ½ a. behind his house which he owned in 1809. (fn. 319) Upon inclosure in 1820 he received for his rights of common a close of 2 a. north of the church, which he retained until at least 1940. (fn. 320) R. D. Blackledge, vicar 1936–45, sold a reading room belonging to the vicarage. (fn. 321)
In 1604–5 Christ's College gave £1 to repair the vicarage house. (fn. 322) The vicar's dwelling-house was recorded in 1615 and 1662, (fn. 323) but Bishop Green found none there. (fn. 324) One existed in the late 18th century, though it required frequent repairs, as in 1779. Soon afterwards the vicar, Edmund Trant, became non-resident until the house should be restored. (fn. 325) In 1809 it was thought unfit for a vicar with a family, and the curate lived there. (fn. 326) In 1819 the profits of the vicarage were mortgaged to pay for enlarging it, (fn. 327) and in 1853 a new vicarage was built. (fn. 328) A century later the house was too large and dilapidated, and from 1953 the vicar lived in a smaller house in the village. (fn. 329)
Three chaplains paid tax at Bourn in 1327, (fn. 330) and in 1379 there were two clerks besides the vicar and a chantry chaplain. (fn. 331) The chantry of Bourn was established under a licence of 1349 for John Massingham, then vicar, to give a messuage and 16 a. and for Roger Serjeant, chaplain, to give 8 messuages and 42 a. to maintain a chaplain saying mass daily in Bourn church. (fn. 332) Massingham obtained a further licence in 1352 to grant the chantry a messuage and 50 a., perhaps the same land. (fn. 333) In 1408 40 a. in Bourn, perhaps given c. 1380, were granted to a royal official as forfeit because they had been granted to the chantry without licence. (fn. 334) Since Massingham was regarded as its founder, its patronage was vested in the vicars of Bourn. (fn. 335) In 1535 it was worth £4 2s. 4d. (fn. 336) Upon its dissolution in 1549 its land, some 43 a., was sold to Richard Ward and William Planer. (fn. 337) Bourn had two guilds in 1520, dedicated to the Trinity and to St. Catherine. (fn. 338) Several bequests, of money, malt, or land, to support sepulchre lights, were recorded in the 16th century. (fn. 339)
With very few exceptions the vicars of Bourn from the mid 16th century were graduates, and many of them fellows, of Christ's College. They were therefore sometimes non-resident and some were also pluralists, generally holding neighbouring benefices. As early as the 1540s Christopher Willey, lately a fellow of Christ's, held Bourn with the rectory of Harlton. (fn. 340) Edward Forster, vicar from 1639, was acceptable to the puritans, and retained the cure until c. 1656, although considered to be a weak preacher. (fn. 341) Edward Bunchley, vicar 1661– 1705, was vicar of Caxton from 1666 and of Caldecote from 1670, and his son Richard (d. 1754) had become vicar of Bourn by 1728 and of Caxton by 1738. (fn. 342) Six out of seven vicars between 1756 and 1795 were or had been fellows of Christ's. Richard Haighton, vicar 1777–82, was also rector of Longstowe, and Edmund Trant, vicar 1786–95, also held Toft with Caldecote from 1785 to 1807. (fn. 343) Some 18th-century vicars were eminent at Cambridge, being lecturers in Greek or Hebrew, and drawing the vicarial income, while not residing, to augment their academic stipends. Among them was Anthony Shepherd, vicar 1758–63, who had interests in natural philosophy. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, professor of astronomy 1760–96, and master of mechanics to George III, but Fanny Burney found him 'dulness itself'. (fn. 344) John Barker, vicar 1763–72, became master of Christ's and vicechancellor in 1780. (fn. 345)
Charles Holworthy, vicar 1795–1853, did not reside and employed a curate who lived in the vicarage and performed all the vicar's duties. In 1825 there were seldom more than 35 communicants. The curate preached regularly every Sunday, in the mornings and evenings alternately, and also catechized the youth of the village, of whom 30 or 40 usually attended. (fn. 346) F. H. Maberly, curate from c. 1807 to 1834, was a fanatical enemy of popery, and also vehemently opposed the new Poor Laws in the 1830s. (fn. 347) Two 19th-century vicars, J. D. Rideout, 1853–78, and Henry Stephenson, 1887–92, continued the tradition of academic incumbents. (fn. 348) From 1907 Bourn was held in plurality with Kingston, the vicar usually residing at Bourn. (fn. 349)
The parish church of ST. MARY AND ST. HELEN was probably called St. Helen's originally, (fn. 350) but the name St. Mary had been included by 1348; (fn. 351) St. Mary, the patron saint of the chantry, superseded St. Helen as patron saint of the parish church after the 15th century, but the village feast was still held on St. Helen's day in the early 20th century. (fn. 352) The joint dedication was revived in the 1930s. (fn. 353) The church consists of a chancel, aisled and clerestoried nave with north and south chapels and a south porch, and a west tower with aisles. It is built of field stones with ashlar dressings. (fn. 354) The plan of the chancel and the nave and aisles survives from a period of rebuilding beginning in the late 12th century. The scale was generous and the church was probably then the largest in the hundred. The north aisle was not completed until the early 13th century and not long afterwards a massive west tower with aisles, continuing those of the nave, was added. During the 14th century the north and east walls of the chancel were largely rebuilt, apparently on the old foundations, the lateral wall of the north aisle was heightened, and both aisles received a number of new windows. Additions to the plan at about that time were the north chapel and the south porch, while the south chapel was probably built somewhat later but still before the end of the century. More windows were inserted in the 15th century and both chancel and nave roofs and the rood screen and some of the seating are of the same period.
There is a monument to Erasmus Ferrar (d. 1609), brother of Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding (Hunts.), in the chancel, and during the 17th and 18th centuries the south chapel, which had probably been built for a chantry, was used as a mortuary chapel by the Haggar family. In 1644 William Dowsing took down various images and two crosses. (fn. 355) The church, and especially the chancel, was in bad repair in 1664, when Edward Nightingale as lessee of the rectory was responsible for the chancel. (fn. 356) It had recently been repaired in 1779. The church was restored between 1875 and 1878, when the floor was lowered, the chancel arch widened, the tower arch unblocked, and a musicians' gallery removed. (fn. 357) The tower was repaired in 1912. (fn. 358)
Bourn had 4 bells in 1552, (fn. 359) and there were 5 in the mid 18th century. Six bells were recast in 1806–7 by Robert Taylor of St. Neots, at Earl de la Warr's expense. According to local tradition they were confused with bells being simultaneously recast for Haslingfield. (fn. 360) In 1924 the Bourn bells were repaired, and two new ones by Taylor of Loughborough added. (fn. 361)
In 1638 there was no communion rail, and apparently no communion vessels in the church. (fn. 362) The church plate consists of a chalice and cover dated 1569, a spoon probably of the same date, a salver given by Francis Haggar in 1694, and a cup, paten, and flagon of 1834. (fn. 363) The registers begin in 1564, and are virtually complete.
Town lands belonging to the parish were recorded in 1662 and 1667, (fn. 364) and were probably identical with the estate called Bourn charity, vested in the vicar and churchwardens, for which 35a. in High field were allotted in 1820. They also included 6 a. of closes. (fn. 365) In 1839 they were yielding a rent of £35 which was applied in place of a church rate. (fn. 366) In 1920 they were sold for £1,291, most of which was invested and brought in £50 in 1951. Under Sir J. J. Briscoe's will, proved in 1920, £50 was invested for the maintenance of the south chapel of Bourn church and the founder's grave therein. By the will of Mr. Francis, proved in 1960, £300 was to be invested for insuring the Francis window in the church, and other charitable purposes for the benefit of the parish. (fn. 367)
There were 4 protestant dissenters in Bourn in 1676. (fn. 368) In 1706 a barn was licensed for worship by dissenters, probably Independents. (fn. 369) A quarter of the population was believed to be dissenters in 1728, many being 'Anabaptists' and some Quakers, and there was a small meeting-house. (fn. 370) The vicar denied in 1807 and 1809 that there were any dissenters, (fn. 371) but in 1821 a barn owned by Montfort Holben, tenant of the rectory farm, was licensed as a meeting-house for protestant dissenters, who also enjoyed the support of other farmers in the village. (fn. 372) In 1825 the vicar thought that there were a very few Independents and Baptists among the labouring classes, and some of them also went to church. (fn. 373) The Wesleyan Methodists first held meetings in a cottage called Camping Close, still standing in 1939. (fn. 374) A brick building north of the church was licensed for them as a chapel in 1838 and registered in 1854. (fn. 375) It had an average attendence of 80 in 1851. (fn. 376) The chapel was enlarged in 1880, and demolished in 1939, when a new chapel was built, adjoining a Sunday school opened in 1903. (fn. 377)
In 1728 charitable contributions paid for teaching 30 Bourn children. (fn. 378) There was no school in 1789 or 1807 but by 1809 there was a day-school (fn. 379) supported by voluntary subscriptions and attended by 60 children in 1809 and 100 in 1825. (fn. 380) In 1819 it was reported that the poor desired the means of education, and that there was 'a school or two' kept by poor women and attended by 40 or 50 children. (fn. 381) In the same year a school was opened and endowed by Countess de la Warr with £20 a year for instructing 20 girls, (fn. 382) who were taught by a mistress to read but not to write. It was held in an old house that survived in 1965 north-west of the church. A day-school for boys was housed in the church tower and the aisles north and south of it, which were divided from the rest of the church by a lath and plaster partition. (fn. 383) Earl de la Warr paid £20 and Christ's College £10 annually towards the salary and a house for the master, who was paid £50 in 1851 when there were 60 boys. (fn. 384) In 1866 a mixed elementary school, supported mainly by Earl de la Warr and Christ's College, was built to accommodate 144 children on a freehold site just north of the church. It was a Church of England school, the teachers and managers being obliged by a conscience clause to belong to the established church. (fn. 385) In 1869 81 children attended, paying 2d., 3d., or 6d. a week according to their parents' social position. The teacher's and his assistant's salaries were supplied by voluntary contributions, school pence, and the vicar. (fn. 386) In 1871 £143 was granted for building improvements, (fn. 387) and thereafter the school received small parliamentary grants. The attendance rose to 130 in 1892, and was 133 in 1911. (fn. 388)
In 1871, besides the main school, there were three schools with accommodation for 47 children. (fn. 389) In 1910 an elementary school was built for 80 children near Childerley Gate on the road from Cambridge to St. Neots. About 25 children, who had been travelling to Bourn school in a school conveyance, were transferred to it from the old school. (fn. 390) The numbers at Childerley Gate had risen to 59 in 1938, when those at Bourn had dropped to 36. (fn. 391) Childerley Gate school, however, was demolished in 1942 when Bourn airfield was constructed and children were accommodated in village halls until temporary premises were erected by the St. Neots road. (fn. 392)
After the war the squatters living in the disused R.A.F. huts on the airfield (fn. 393) created a need for more facilities than those provided by the 19th-century village school. At first some of the teaching was undertaken in huts, but in 1958 a new Church of England primary school was opened adjoining the new council estate near the church. In 1961 negotiations were being pursued to turn the old school into a village hall. From 1963 children in the north part of the parish went to a school in Highfields, Caldecote. (fn. 394) For a time the older children were taught in the R.A.F. huts but later went to Comberton village college. (fn. 395)
Charities for the Poor.
An unknown donor gave for the poor a rent-charge of 3s. on Roses close in Monk Fields. It is first found recorded in 1728, and a benefactors' table of 1736 said that it had been received for c. 100 years. The money, with that from the charities mentioned below, was in 1839 given to the poor in coal and cash at Christmas. Thomas Dence, who bought Monk Fields in 1888, refused to pay the rent-charge, on the grounds that Roses close was unidentifiable, and, after much correspondence, the charity was allowed to lapse.
Mary Carrington left £20 for the poor in 1735 which was used to buy a cottage and 1 a., whose rent the vicar and churchwardens in 1839 distributed to the poor at Christmas in coal and small sums of money. In 1920 the cottage and land, then yielding £5 a year, were sold for £125, which was invested, and the proceeds were administered and distributed with Cropley's charity. That consists of a rentcharge of 10s. left for the poor by William Cropley in 1721. The income of both charities in 1952 was £12 7s. which was then given in doles of 5s. to 27 people in April and June. (fn. 396)