A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1978.
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The parish of Brinkley, which covers 1,303 a., lies 5 miles south-west of Newmarket and 10 miles east of Cambridge. (fn. 1) It is long and narrow, being 5 miles from north-west to south-east and less than a mile across at its widest point. Between 1816 and 1886 c. 33 a. to the south of the village, known as Carlton field and Spring Close, became part of Carlton parish. (fn. 2) In 1886 a detached part of Brinkley, called Norney, was also amalgamated with Carlton. (fn. 3) Much of Brinkley's north-east boundary is marked by a long break of trees which may follow the route of an ancient green way. South-east of the Dullingham road it follows a stream for some way before joining the road from Burrough Green to Great Bradley (Suff.), while the eastern end of the south-east boundary follows the river Stour from just above Sipsey Bridge. Another stream crosses the northwest end of the parish.
Like other parishes in the area Brinkley stretches from chalk heathland in the north-west to the originally wooded area of boulder clay in the east, above the 300-ft. contour. From the north-west the land rises quite steeply from c. 125 ft. to 300 ft., and then more gently to 375 ft. It falls slightly to 275 ft. in the south-east near the river. Brinkley wood, near the middle of the north-eastern edge of the parish, covers c. 20 a.
The village of Brinkley lies on high ground towards the south-east end of the parish, along what was in the 18th century the high road from Suffolk and Essex to Cambridge. (fn. 4) That road runs the length of the parish from Sipsey Bridge to Six Mile Bottom, crossed at the north-western edge of the village by the Linton-Newmarket road, and at Chalk Pit cross-roads 1½ mile north-west of the village by a minor road. Beyond the south-eastern edge of the village the high road is joined by the road from Carlton. The village was formerly grouped along a green which before inclosure in 1816 covered c. 25 a. The green comprised a large area on each side of the Newmarket road, a broad strip along either side of the main street up to the junction with the Carlton road, and a large triangular area at the junction. The older houses set back from the road originally stood along the edge of the green. The church, the old rectory, and Brinkley Hall lie in the angle between the main street and the Newmarket road. The Poplars or Brinkley House at the northwestern end of the main street, and the Grove and the school at the south-eastern end have long marked the extent of the village. In 1919 the parish council asked that at least six new houses might be built, and in 1937 a similar request was made. After the Second World War small housing estates were built on Beechcroft Road, opposite the Hall, and along Old School Lane. (fn. 5) Houses were later built by a private developer south-west of the village, on the Weston Colville road. A village hall was built in 1920 as a war memorial at the south-east end of the main street. (fn. 6) The Fulbourn Charity Farm on the south-west side of the main street was the only farm-house left in the village after inclosure. Lower, Chalk Pit, and Hill Farms lie north-west of the village, on the road running the length of the parish, the first two being there by 1824. (fn. 7) New Farm and Cockerton's Farm lie along the same road, to the south-east of the village.
In 1086 16 inhabitants were enumerated in Brinkley, (fn. 8) and 101 adults were taxed there in 1377. (fn. 9) In 1563 there were 29 households in the parish (fn. 10) and 37 houses in 1666. By 1674 the number had fallen to 34. (fn. 11) In 1728 although there were thought to be only 14 families there were c. 150 people. (fn. 12) In 1801 the population totalled 275. It rose gradually to 375 in 1851, and then fell over the next 100 years, to a low point of 169 in 1951. Numbers then rose to 204 in 1961 and 355 in 1971. (fn. 13)
The Red Lion, which stands at the north-western edge of the village, by the crossroads, occurs from 1709 onwards. (fn. 14) The Rose and Crown stood in 1885 at the south-east corner of the Green, on the Carlton road, and the old White Hart, offered for sale in 1944, near the centre of the village; both were private houses in 1975. (fn. 15)
Manors and Other Estates.
Brinkley appears to be represented in the Domesday survey by the 3 hides in Carlton held by Earl Harold in 1066 and by Countess Judith in 1086. Along with Whittlesford and Kirtling they formed the marriageportion of Judith's daughter Alice when she married Ralph de Tony. (fn. 16) Alice and Ralph's daughter Godehold married William de Mohun c. 1160, and her marriage-portion was the manor of BRINKLEY, called MOHUN'S in 1390, held of the de Tony barony of Kirtling. (fn. 17) In 1201 their younger son John gave 20 marks to have seisin of land in Brinkley which his brother William had given him. (fn. 18) In 1208 William's son Reynold de Mohun of Dunster (Som.) established his right to the mesne lordship of a fee in Brinkley as his grandmother's heir. John de Mohun was still in possession and Roger de Tony was the tenant in chief. (fn. 19) With the extinction of the male Tony line in 1309 the overlordship passed through Alice, sister of Robert de Tony, to the earls of Warwick, descendants of Alice's second marriage to Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (d. 1315). It afterwards passed, with the barony of Kirtling, to the Norths, of whom Brinkley was held in 1521, (fn. 20) and in 1816 Francis North, earl of Guilford, received 4½ a. at inclosure for his overlordship. (fn. 21) The mesne lordship descended with the barony of Dunster, (fn. 22) which in 1375 fell into abeyance between the three daughters of John de Mohun. In 1390 Philippa, the second daughter, and her second husband Sir John Golafre, occupied 14 a. in Brinkley. (fn. 23)
William de Mohun, presumably a descendant of John de Mohun, held 3 hides in Brinkley in the 1230s. He still held land in Brinkley in 1261, and by 1285 the fee was held by Andrew de Mohun. (fn. 24) In 1390 the manor was held in demesne by Sir John Engaine and other feoffees. (fn. 25) In 1403 two-thirds of the manor passed from Thomas Engaine to Richard and Thomas Stutville and others. (fn. 26) Richard was alive in 1434, (fn. 27) and another Richard Stutville was said c. 1504 to have been seised of the manor in which he enfeoffed Roger Hunt of Balsham. (fn. 28) Nevertheless William Stutville (d. 1534) was succeeded in the manor by his grandson Nicholas. (fn. 29) In 1602 Thomas Stutville died holding Brinkley manor and left as heir his grandson Roger, although in 1620 Roger's mother Jane and her second husband Gilbert Rolleston held the manor in dower. (fn. 30) Roger was said to be mad in 1638. (fn. 31) He was dead by 1658 when his wife Agnes and her second husband, Richard Rich, held the manor with reversion to her son, Roger Stutville (d. 1666). (fn. 32) Roger was succeeded by a third Roger Stutville who c. 1689 sold Brinkley manor to Richard Godfrey. (fn. 33) Godfrey died in 1699 leaving four daughters, from whom Brinkley seems to have passed by 1711 to John Godfrey, high sheriff of Cambridgeshire in 1746. (fn. 34) The manor was conveyed in 1753 to Richard Godfrey and in 1778 to Henry Godfrey. (fn. 35) It was advertised for sale, with 686 a. of land in 1796, and by 1801 was the property of William Frost, whose father had been a tenant of the Godfreys. (fn. 36)
At inclosure in 1816 over 700 a. were allotted to Frost. (fn. 37) He died in 1818 and the manor descended to his grandson, Robert William King (d. 1869) (fn. 38) and the latter's son of the same name (d. 1920). (fn. 39) The estate next descended to Dr. Colin King whose brother Capt. Donald King occupied Brinkley Hall. (fn. 40) After Colin King's death most of the land was detached from the Hall and after several changes of ownership the house and park (c. 15 a.) were sold in 1952 to Col. D. R. B. Kaye who still occupied them in 1975, (fn. 41) and farmed the central area of Brinkley along with land in other parishes. Brinkley Hall incorporates parts of a small house of the 17th or 18th century, to which a new front block of brick, 5 bays long, was added c. 1800. There have been subsequent minor additions and internal alterations.
In the early 1230s William le Breton (d. 1261) held land in Brinkley of William de Mohun. At his death 56 a. there passed to his son John. (fn. 42) In 1286 John of Brigham released to John le Breton his right in a messuage and 1 carucate in Brinkley. In 1306 John le Breton granted Edmund le Breton 240 a. in Brinkley and other parishes. (fn. 43) In 1353 Thomas Breton leased all his lands in those parishes to Sir Thomas Walkefare. No later reference to the land in Brinkley has been found. (fn. 44)
In 1597 Thomas Stutville the younger sold to Thomas Stewkley c. 60 a. in Brinkley. (fn. 45) Stewkley at his death in 1639 held a messuage in Brinkley called NAWNEY with his manor of Great Carlton. The land formed the detached part of the parish, called the hamlet of Norney, which was transferred to Carlton in 1886. (fn. 46)
In 1449 William Spencer, Roger Philpot, and William Thomas were licensed to grant to Bateman's chantry in Burrough Green 80½ a. and a liberty of fold in Brinkley. (fn. 47) In 1548 a messuage in Brinkley called COKYNS, late a possession of Bateman's chantry, was granted to Gilbert Claydon, who in 1553 was licensed to grant 124 a. in Brinkley to Thomas Humfrey. (fn. 48) The Brinkley land was apparently separated from the rest of the chantry estate; Humfrey still held it on his death in 1557. In the 1580s his son John sold Cokyns to Roger Gooddaye, but Gooddaye claimed to have been misled over the number of sheep for which there was liberty of fold, and when John Humfrey died in 1597 he was still said to hold Cokyns. (fn. 49) In 1620 his son, also John, and in 1658 John's daughters and their husbands were involved in disputes with the lord of the manor over the same question. (fn. 50) Cokyns is not recorded thereafter.
In the late 12th century Ralph de Tony gave 30 a. in Brinkley to Warden abbey (Beds.). In 1390 the abbot of Warden claimed that he had given in fee to William Bateman and Nicholas Westerdale all his lands in Brinkley and other parishes, and that they had given them to Robert Knatchbull and John Kent. (fn. 51)
A messuage and 15 a. in Brinkley which in 1384 had been acquired by Lewes priory was held in 1551 by the heirs of Sir Thomas Elyot as of the manors of Carlton and Willingham. (fn. 52) In the 1530s Gilbert Claydon held 4 a. of pasture in Brinkley of Markyate priory (Beds.) which had received them when one of the Stutville family became a nun there. (fn. 53)
William Farmer's charity at Fulbourn was founded in 1712 with money used to buy a house and 68 a. in Brinkley. In 1816 at inclosure the charity owned a house on the main street and was allotted 40 a. for its 59 a. in the open fields. (fn. 54)
At inclosure in 1816 St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, was allotted 25½ a. from the estate of the earl of Aylesford, in exchange for land in Burrough Green. The college sold 8 a. in 1847 and the remainder in 1881 to the trustees of the Six Mile Bottom estate. (fn. 55) In 1975 all the land in the northwest part of the parish, from Chalk Pit cross-roads to Six Mile Bottom, was part of that estate, belonging to Lady Delamere. (fn. 56)
In 1086 the demesne land amounted to half of the 3 hides presumed to have been in Brinkley, and had 2 plough-teams and 2 servi. There was meadow for 1 plough-team and woodland for 12 pigs. The 12 villani and 2 bordars shared 6 teams, the total number of teams matching the land available. In 1066 three sokemen holding 4½ a. and a man of Earl Alfgar holding 2 a. did watch and ward. (fn. 57)
By 1521 wheat, oats, barley, peas, and vetches were grown in Brinkley. (fn. 58) In that year William Stutville, son of the lord, left his wife and son 200 sheep each, and in the early 17th century the lord of the manor had sheep-walk for 480 sheep. (fn. 59) The Stutvilles were involved in frequent disputes with the tenants of Cokyns and of a piece of waste called Sprotts Hill, whose flock they succeeded in limiting to 180. They also claimed that although their tenants had a customary right to pasture cattle on Sprotts Hill any sheep were there by special permission. (fn. 60) In the late 18th century the manor had sheep-walk for 600 sheep. (fn. 61)
In the earlier 17th century land in Brinkley was divided between infields and outfields, and in 1816 the fields towards the north-west end of the parish were known as the outfields. Nearer to the village were Bramble, Mill, Kimmings, Stubble, and Little Low fields. In the south-east part of the parish lay pasture called the Lammas ground and the Shrub, and in the north-west tip was the heathland. (fn. 62) The inclosure award of 1816 dealt with c. 1,000 a. of open-field and common land and 372 a. of old inclosures. There were 19 allottees, but almost half the land in the parish, 718½ a., went to William Frost, lord of the manor. The rector received c. 235 a. for tithe and glebe, John Frost c. 53 a., and the Fulbourn charity c. 40 a. No other allotment was over 15 a. (fn. 63) During the 19th century the chief crops were wheat, beans, barley, and oats. (fn. 64) By 1905 c. 995 a. were devoted to arable, 168 a. to grass, and 50 a. to woodland. (fn. 65) After inclosure Lower, Chalk Pit, and Hill farms were all formed from William Frost's allotment. New farm was formed from the glebe, and in 1975 was called Glebe farm. (fn. 66)
John Frost, who in the early 19th century farmed over 100 a. in Brinkley, was a maltster. (fn. 67) There was a smith in the village in 1709, and two in the late 19th century. (fn. 68) From the mid 18th century the Hart family ran a bell-foundry in Brinkley, and in the mid 19th they became agricultural engineers. The firm closed in the 1950s on the death of the last member of the family. The workshops which stood near Charity Farm were demolished to make way for new houses. (fn. 69) There was a shop in Brinkley from the late 18th century, and throughout the 19th century the village served as a shopping centre for its neighbours. In the 1930s the Commercial Stores contained several departments, (fn. 70) but by 1975 it was a small village shop.
A windmill was recorded in Brinkley in 1600 (fn. 71) and a corn windmill was offered for sale in 1815. (fn. 72) In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the mill stood north-west of the village by the Six Mile Bottom road. It seems probable that an earlier mill stood on the other side of the road, in what was called Mill field. The mill had been demolished by 1975. (fn. 73)
In 1253 William de Mohun and his heirs were granted a weekly market on Wednesdays at Brinkley and a fair there for three days at Michaelmas. No later record of the fair has been found. In 1261 the market day was changed to Tuesday. (fn. 74) A road in Burrough Green in the 17th century was called Brinkley market way. The market had ceased by 1807, but an old inhabitant then remembered the tradition of a weekly market, and that a market-cross had been standing in his childhood. (fn. 75)
In 1543 Sir Edward North, lord of the honor of Kirtling, held a court leet and view of frankpledge in Brinkley. (fn. 76) By the early 17th century the Stutvilles received the profits of the court. Court minutes survive for 1673–80 and 1728. The court seems to have been held annually at those times. (fn. 77)
In the 18th century Brinkley showed opposition to direct highway rates, and continued to use indictments and conditional fines. (fn. 78) In 1776 £38 was spent on the poor. By 1803 expenditure had risen steeply to £152 but that was still the second lowest figure in the hundred. It continued to rise, reaching £360 in 1817, and later fell to £191 in 1834, being consistently the second or third lowest in the hundred. In 1803 19 adults and 7 children received regular relief, and 5s. was spent on materials for them to work on. By 1813 72 were being permanently relieved, but the figure fell to 57 and then 50 in the succeeding years. (fn. 79) From 1835 Brinkley was in the Newmarket poor-law union, and remained part of the Newmarket Rural District, (fn. 80) being included in 1974 in East Cambridgeshire.
A church was recorded at Brinkley in the late 12th century when it was among those granted by William de Mohun to the canons of Bruton (Som.). (fn. 81) In 1260, however, Roger de Tony was the patron, and although in 1305 the advowson was assigned as dower to Isabel wife of Hugh Bardolf (fn. 82) in 1315 it was held, along with the barony of Kirtling, by the earl of Warwick. It descended with Kirtling, and remained with the lords North until 1625. (fn. 83) The advowson was exercised during forfeitures and minorities by Sir John Bushy in 1399 and by the Crown in 1397, 1401, 1447, 1494, and 1505. (fn. 84) In 1626 Dudley North, Lord North, sold the advowson to Robert Sendall, the rector, and in 1672 Sendall's grandson, also Robert, sold it to Thomas Watson. In 1691 Watson, then bishop of St. David's, granted it to St. John's College, Cambridge, which still held it in 1975. (fn. 85)
The rectory was valued at 15 marks c. 1217, at 10 marks in 1254, and at 18 marks in 1291. In 1534 it was valued at £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 86) In 1638 the rector had a house, c. 12 a. of inclosed pasture, 20 a. of arable, and the great and small tithes of Brinkley, besides tithe corn from land in Carlton cum Willingham and Weston Colville that was held of Brinkley manor. (fn. 87) In 1783 the living was worth £120. (fn. 88) At inclosure in 1816 the rector was allotted 13½ a. for glebe and 201½ a. for tithe. (fn. 89) In the following year the gross income was £260, rising to £450 in 1858. (fn. 90) After the First World War Glebe or New farm was sold to a Mr. Sharpe. (fn. 91)
The parsonage house in 1783, consisting of an older part and a newer part built c. 1740, was too large and dilapidated to maintain, and it was recommended that at least part be pulled down. (fn. 92) The rectory was rebuilt c. 1825 on the site in Hall Lane where it had been in 1638. (fn. 93) In 1802 the glebe farm buildings, then near the rectory, were burned down, and later rebuilt in Common Road as New Farm. In 1937 the rectory was used as a boarding house. A new rectory house was built in High Street in 1957. (fn. 94)
A vicarage had been established by 1351 when the bishop granted it in commendam to the rector of Brinkley, and later record of it has not been found. (fn. 95) The parish often had non-resident rectors. In the mid 14th century William Cotesbrook was repeatedly licensed to be absent, as was Thomas Morton who in the early 15th century was also dispensed to hold two benefices. (fn. 96) In 1536 John Boner, the last prior of Anglesey, was presented to the living. (fn. 97) He employed curates in Brinkley, one of whom, Thomas Hupsely, was slow to abandon the old rites and in 1549 was ordered to minister reverently, not showing the bread to the people. (fn. 98) He was also to stop the parishioners' use of beads, and take down images. In 1552 a parishioner refused to give up a silver pyx. (fn. 99) The rector in 1561 was a royal chaplain and thus non-resident, but kept a curate. (fn. 100) In 1591 the curate was presented for serving two cures and preaching without a licence. (fn. 101) In 1650 Robert Sendall, rector since 1625, was called a good preaching minister. (fn. 102) Heigham Perne was rector for 50 years from c. 1663. (fn. 103) His successor, Christopher Anstey, was resident in 1728, but in 1756 also held a living in Hertfordshire and had been deaf for many years. (fn. 104) In the early 18th century Brinkley had two Sunday services and quarterly sacraments with c. 26 communicants. (fn. 105) In 1770 the rector held another living in Bedfordshire, and in 1775 lived in Lancashire but kept a curate at Brinkley who provided one Sunday service and three communions a year. (fn. 106) In 1807 there was again a curate and the rector lived at St. John's College, Cambridge. (fn. 107) The rector in 1817 held another living in Nottinghamshire, and by 1836 was also chaplain to Lord Scarsdale; he was non-resident in 1857. (fn. 108) In 1836 R. W. King of Brinkley Hall had complained that as there was still only one Sunday service his servants could not attend church. By 1851 there were two services: 65 people attended in the morning and 121 in the afternoon. (fn. 109) By 1897 a Bible class had been started and weekly communions introduced for c. 34 communicants. There had been a Sunday school from 1836. (fn. 110) By 1922 Brinkley was held with Burrough Green, and since the 1950s the rector has also held Carlton. In 1975 he lived at Brinkley. (fn. 111)
The district church of St. George at Six Mile Bottom, built in 1933 just within Brinkley parish, is annexed to the parish of Little Wilbraham whose rector serves it. (fn. 112)
The church of ST. MARY, so called by the 18th century, (fn. 113) is built mostly of field stones and clunch rubble with stone dressings, and has a chancel, aisled and clerestoried nave, west tower, and south porch. The much rebuilt chancel dates from the 13th century; the four-bay nave was rebuilt in the early 14th century, and the two-stage tower and the brick south porch were added in the 15th century. The pulpit and some pews survive from the 17th century; other pews are 18th-century. In 1644 William Dowsing removed two brass inscriptions and broke ten superstitious pictures. (fn. 114) In 1874–5 the church was extensively restored under the direction of Frederick Thomson. The chancel was largely rebuilt and the chancel arch enlarged; the clerestory was added to the nave, the roof renewed, the walls refaced outside and plastered inside, and the floor repaired. Green glass was put into most of the windows, but a little 14th-century stained glass survives in the chancel. (fn. 115) A chancel screen survived c. 1910 but has since disappeared. (fn. 116) There are 16th- and 17th-century monuments to members of the Stutville family. (fn. 117)
In the late 14th century the church had three silver chalices. (fn. 118) By the mid 16th century there were one silver chalice and paten, a copper and gilt cross, and a silver pyx. (fn. 119) The plate includes a cup and cover paten given in 1570, and a paten dated 1669 given in 1677. (fn. 120) In 1779 a faceless clock was put into the church tower. It survived in 1975 when it stood at the base of the tower. (fn. 121) There were six bells in 1975: (i) 1820, Dobson of Downham (Norf.); (ii) and (iii) 1609, John Draper; (iv) 1723, Thomas Newman; (v) 1671x1687, William Hull; (vi) 1727, Thomas Gardiner of Sudbury (Suff.). (fn. 122) The parish registers begin in 1685, but transcripts survive from 1599. (fn. 123)
In the 18th century the Baptist minister and hymn-writer Robert Robinson spent some time in the parish (fn. 124) but apparently exercised no influence there. In 1893 three Brinkley families regularly attended the Salvation Army meetings at Carlton. (fn. 125)
In 1722 Elizabeth March of Fulbourn left land for the teaching of poor children in Brinkley and four other parishes. A year later all five had established schools. (fn. 126) In 1728 Brinkley's share of the endowment was paid to the schoolmaster of Burrough Green who taught the older children, while a mistress taught the younger ones at Brinkley. By 1775 all the teaching appears to have been done in Brinkley. (fn. 127) In 1818 the master received £22 a year besides fees from the wealthier parents. (fn. 128) In 1833 the school was attended by 11 boys and 23 girls. (fn. 129)
In 1845 a schoolroom and teacher's house were built on a site in Stubble field, at the east end of the village, given by R. W. King. It was used by the dayand Sunday schools, which by 1846 were united to the National Society. (fn. 130) The annual income of £121 in 1871 consisted of £34 from the endowment, £6 from school pence, and the remainder from contributions; any deficit was supplied by a voluntary rate. There were 41 pupils. (fn. 131) Average attendance fell to 25 in 1881, rose to 52 in 1889, and dropped to 25 again in 1919. (fn. 132) In the 1930s the school was attended by seniors from Carlton and Westley, but in 1947 all the older children were transferred to Bottisham village college. In 1959, when there were only 18 pupils, the school was closed and the children were transferred to Burrough Green. The school building was demolished in 1963 to make way for new houses in Old School Lane. (fn. 133)
Brinkley's share of the March charity was from 1914 devoted to prizes, equipment, exhibitions, and apprenticeships. (fn. 134)
Charities for the Poor.
In 1837 the parish clerk of Brinkley held ¼ a. in Carlton for the poor of Brinkley, worth 5s. a year, which ceased to be recorded after 1864. (fn. 135)
In 1728 there was a stock of £40 for the benefit of the poor, and in 1775 there was also a legacy of £50, the interest to be distributed to the poor. (fn. 136) Dividends from both sums were distributed at Christmas, but by 1806 had not been claimed for some years. In 1806 the principal and dividends, totalling £61, were reinvested; the dividends were allowed to accumulate for 6 years, and then distributed, with preference given to large families. In 1837 the charities, called the Town Money, had a capital of £53. In 1975 the annual income was less than £2, (fn. 137) distributed amongst 3 or 4 old inhabitants.
By wills proved 1904 and 1924 Miss L. E. Maulkin and Miss M. E. Maulkin each left £50, the income to be given to the aged poor of Brinkley. In the 1960s the income thus distributed was c. £5 a year. (fn. 138)