A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1978.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
West Wratting parish lies 10 miles south-east of Cambridge and 7 miles south-west of Newmarket. (fn. 1) Its 3,543 a. stretch for 6 miles southeastwards from the main London—Newmarket road to the Suffolk border. It is less than 2 miles across at its widest, and tapers to a point at the south-east end. (fn. 2) The modern boundaries resemble those of the 10th century, which on the north-west followed the highway, later the London–Newmarket road, and then ran east along a road whose course is followed by the track to Lark Hall. The boundary then ran east-south-east along the edge of woodland, and on reaching the West Wickham boundary turned west towards Yen Hall, and ran from there to the Balsham boundary, following the Fleam Dyke back to the highway. (fn. 3) There are two gaps in the dyke east of the road: Bedford Gap was cut in 1763 and Dungate is said to have been cut in the mid 19th century, although it has also been suggested that it dates from before the Conquest. The name Dungate or Denegate is recorded from the early 14th century. (fn. 4)
The land rises from c. 125 ft. near the main road to c. 350 ft. in the north-west half of the parish, and after falling slightly rises again to a plateau at c. 375 ft.; the village lies at the north-west edge of the plateau, with West Wratting Park to the south-east and beyond it Wratting Common and land that was part of an airfield. (fn. 5) Above the 300-ft. contour boulder clay overlies the chalk, and the higher ground was formerly wooded. (fn. 6) In 1975 there were c. 150 a. of woodland, mostly in the south-east end of the parish. The open fields, lying in the centre of the parish, were inclosed by an award of 1813. (fn. 7) A small brook crosses the parish in the south-east, flowing north into the river Stour. In the 17th century a watercourse ran between the heaths in the west. Another runs north from west of the village: there the lord had a fishery in the 14th century at Oxcroft farm. (fn. 8)
The parish was presumably settled from Great Wratting in Suffolk. The village is the only centre of settlement, but seems to have grown from three separate parts, spaced along the road to Withersfield (Suff.). Several houses stand at the junction of the Weston Colville, Six Mile Bottom, and Balsham roads, at the north-west end of the main street. There also stand the church, rectory and vicarage, and West Wratting Hall. A green or waste ground may once have lain between the houses on the main street and the parallel path south-west of the street. In the 19th century, however, West Wratting green lay at the south-eastern end of the village on either side of the main street near Wratting Park and Scarletts Farm, which stands on an ancient moated site. Some of the green has since been incorporated in the park, and houses standing to the south of the street have disappeared. (fn. 9) The third part of the village lies along Wratting Common. Some of the scattered houses there date from the 17th century, and it is also the site of Parys's manor-house. By the early 20th century the first two parts of the village were almost merged. Council houses were later built in a cul-de-sac near the centre of the main street and at the western edge of the village, along the Six Mile Bottom road.
At the extreme west corner of the parish stand Fleam Dyke cottages, connected with Dungate Farm. Valley Farm, near to them, was built on heathland as a racing stables, and a trial course was laid out there crossing the old Newmarket course whose seven-and eight-mile posts lay within the parish. Oxcroft was also used as a stud farm at one time. (fn. 10) The old Linton–Newmarket road crossed the parish in the west. Other modern roads in the parish probably follow their ancient courses. (fn. 11)
Thirty-three inhabitants were enumerated in West Wratting in 1086. Forty-nine people were taxed in 1327, and there were 180 adults in 1377. (fn. 12) In 1563 there were 47 households, and a century later 76 houses. (fn. 13) In 1728 the population was c. 250, and had risen to 541 by 1801. It rose steadily until 1831, and by 1841 had reached 912; it then fell, apparently through emigration, to 591 in 1881. A low point of 395 was reached in 1931 and numbers then rose slightly until 1951, but fell to 386 in 1971. (fn. 14)
During the 1381 revolt houses at West Wratting, including the rectory, were broken into, and the prior of Ely's court rolls burned. (fn. 15)
In 1632 three alehouses were licensed in West Wratting. (fn. 16) The Crown inn, recorded from 1788, was in 1975 called the Lamb; it lay at the west end of the village, opposite the lane to the church. (fn. 17) The Chestnut Tree, recorded in 1883, still stood in 1975 at the junction of the main street and the Bartlow road, opposite the park. (fn. 18)
Manors and Other Estates.
In 974 King Edgar gave 2½ mansae at West Wratting to his thegn Elfhelm, who c. 990 devised the estate, except for 2 hides held by Ethelric, to Ely abbey. West Wratting was included in King Edward's confirmation of the abbey's estates, and in the early 12th century remained with the prior after the establishment of the bishopric. (fn. 19) The manor of WEST WRATTING, later known as WEST WRATTING HALL, passed in 1541 to the dean and chapter of Ely. (fn. 20) During the Interregnum it was sold, as an estate of c. 600 a., to George Foxcroft of London. (fn. 21) It was afterwards restored to the dean and chapter who at inclosure in 1813 were allotted c. 244 a. for it. (fn. 22) In 1809 the lease of the manor and Hall farm belonged to Harry Frost who eventually bought the freehold of all the Ely property in the parish. On Harry's death in 1831 the Hall estate passed to the family of his brother Edward Frost (d. 1834), and was held by Edward's grandson E. P. Frost at his death in 1922. E. P. Frost was a pioneer of aeroplane building; in the late 19th century he built a steam flying machine, and in 1908 was president of the British Aeronautical Society. (fn. 23)
By the later 19th century members of the Frost family, all descendants of Edward Frost (d. 1834), held almost all the land in the parish. Their estates were sold in the 1920s, and much of the land, including West Wratting Hall, was bought by S. A. Taylor. It was sold on his death in 1938. By 1975 most of the parish, including the Hall estate, was held by the executors of R. E. N. d'Abo, who had bought it in the early 1950s. (fn. 24) The south range of the Hall is probably the greater part of an 18thcentury farm-house. Additions, with a new staircase and principal rooms, were made on the south in the early 19th century, and there were further additions, later removed, on that side in the late 19th century.
In 1086 William de Warenne held 3 yardlands which were associated with his lands in West Wickham. (fn. 25)
Hardwin de Scalers held 3 hides in 1086, previously held by 10 sokemen of the abbot of Ely, although he was also said to hold of the king. The manor, known as SCALERS, later corrupted to CHARLES, or FREVILLES, was later held in chief although in the 16th century the dean and chapter of Ely claimed rights of soil and waste there. (fn. 26) The manor descended in the Scalers family until c. 1231, when Lucy de Scalers married Baldwin de Freville, and then in the Freville family, with Caxton manor, passing from William Freville (fl. 1424) to his son William (d. 1481), and his son John. (fn. 27) In 1496 the prior of Ely claimed that John's grandfather William had enfeoffed the prior with a quarter of his manor of Wratting, which John was unjustly withholding. (fn. 28) In 1497 John and his son Robert granted the manor to Sir Gilbert Talbot. In 1524 it was held by Sir Thomas Golding, who in 1564 conveyed it to John Harrison. In 1568 Harrison conveyed it to Thomas and William Wyborowe, and in 1571 it was sold to Dr. Andrew Perne, dean of Ely. (fn. 29) Perne granted the manor, with c. 280 a. of land and extensive rights of common, to Peterhouse of which he was master. The master and fellows were lords there in 1591, (fn. 30) and still held the manor in 1813 when they were allotted c. 180 a. at inclosure. (fn. 31)
The lease of the manor was held in the early 18th century by Sir John Jacob, Bt., who built the house called West Wratting Park. His son was Hildebrand Jacob the poet (1693–1739). Sir John had sold the lease to Sir Robert Smith, Bt., by 1746, and Smith sold it to Jenison Shafto, who committed suicide in 1771, leaving the lease to his brother Robert. (fn. 32) In 1780 Robert and his son, also Robert, died and the lease was bought c. 1789 by Richard Taylor. (fn. 33) In 1807 it was held by Gen. Thomas Hall, and from c. 1813 by Sir Charles Watson (d. 1844), his son Charles (d. 1852), and grandson Charles (d. 1888). (fn. 34) The land was held in 1796 by Francis Russell, duke of Bedford, and its lease sold in 1798. From 1803 to c. 1837 it was held by Sir Hedworth Williamson, Bt. (fn. 35) It then passed to the Frost family, and in 1867 was held by Harry Frost's nephew W. T. Frost (d. 1870), whose estate went to his nephews E. P. and H. Frost. E. P. Frost (d. 1922) bought the freehold from Peterhouse c. 1909. (fn. 36) In 1935 the house and c. 120 a. were offered for sale by E. P. Frost's nephew and heir, E. G. G. Frost. (fn. 37) Since 1951 it has belonged to the d'Abo family. The house is a large red brick building with a central block which has fronts of five bays, and is presumably the part built by Sir John Jacob, and balancing wings which appear to have been added in the late 18th century. There are extensive outbuildings of the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1312 John of Brigham held ¼ knight's fee, called BRIGHAMS and later PARYS'S manor, of the Freville manor; the overlordship was still recorded in 1602. Brigham granted the estate to the bishop of Ely, who in turn gave it to Peterhouse without a mortmain licence so that it was taken into the king's hands on Brigham's death in 1358. (fn. 38) In that year the crown granted the land for life to John Goodrich, yeoman of the kitchen, and in 1361 the reversion to Robert Corby, another king's yeoman. Robert held the land in 1364, and was succeeded in 1365 by his son, also Robert, who in 1369 granted his lands in West Wratting and elsewhere to Robert Beverage, Thomas Sewale, and Sir Philip of Wratting. (fn. 39) In 1394 Robert Parys held a manor in West Wratting; in 1412 his granddaughter Catherine Parys held land there, and in 1449 Margery, the widow of Catherine's uncle and heir Henry Parys, held it for life. Parys's manor descended with the family's Linton and Duxford lands until 1541 when Philip Parys sold it to William Lawrence. (fn. 40) In 1561 Roland and Anne Master, who held Parys's for life with reversion to Ferdinand Parys, Philip's younger son, granted their interest to Henry Lawrence, and in 1571 released it to Ferdinand. (fn. 41) By 1587 Parys's belonged to Thomas Dalton of Hildersham, probably having passed to him with Little Abington rectory c. 1576. (fn. 42) Thomas died in 1602, having settled it on his son Michael (d. 1648), the author of The Countrey Justice. Michael had settled the reversion on his grandson, also Michael Dalton, and his wife Susan Tyrell, along with Little Abington rectory. Michael and Susan's son and grandson, both called Tyrell Dalton, inherited Parys's, the grandson holding it in 1714. (fn. 43) By the early 1720s it had been bought by the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy, who in 1807 held over 800 a. in the parish, and at inclosure in 1813 were allotted 644 a. (fn. 44) Their West Wratting lands were divided between Grange and Randswood farms by 1821, and offered for sale as such in 1914. They were presumably bought by S. A. Taylor. Grange farm, covering 583 a., was offered for sale again in 1938, and was occupied by another Mr. S. A. Taylor in 1975 when Randswood was owned by Mr. R. J. Harrison. (fn. 45) The manorhouse of Parys's was standing in 1811 and may be identified with Brook Farm House, on Wratting Common.
In 1086 Count Alan of Brittany held 1½ hide in Wratting which along with 40 a. in Balsham formed OXCROFT manor. It descended with the rest of his lands in the honor of Richmond, and was held of that honor in 1457. From the 15th century it was contended that Oxcroft was subordinate to Charles manor. (fn. 46) In 1086 Almar held the land of Count Alan. Between 1185 and 1190 a knight's fee in Oxcroft was held of Geoffrey Pecche, in 1235 of Hamon Pecche, and in 1271 of Hamon's son Gilbert, who in 1284 disinherited his issue by his first wife. (fn. 47) By 1355 that mesne lordship was held by the earl of Oxford, and descended with the earldom until 1632 when Robert, earl of Oxford, was seised of a knight's fee, then said to be in Balsham but usually in Balsham and Wratting. (fn. 48)
About 1185 Geoffrey Pecche's under-tenant for the fee was William, son of Aeliz, who still held it in Henry III's reign. (fn. 49) Stephen of Oxcroft forfeited the fee when he was hanged in 1234; it was granted first to William of Fordham and later to Philip Basset (fn. 50) (d. 1271). Philip's heir was his daughter Aline, wife of Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk, but in 1280 his widow Ela, dowager countess of Warwick, held Oxcroft. (fn. 51) Aline's first husband had been Hugh le Despenser, and c. 1302 Oxcroft was held by their son Hugh, later earl of Winchester. (fn. 52) He was executed in 1326, and in 1327 John Aspale, king's yeoman, was granted the Balsham part of his lands. (fn. 53) Aspale interpreted the grant as conveying the whole of Oxcroft and in 1329 complained that the Wratting lands were occupied by James de Audley whom the Crown had appointed keeper. By 1341 the dispute was settled in John's favour, and he held the Oxcroft lands in Balsham and Wratting for life, (fn. 54) with reversion to James Dawtrey, king's yeoman, who succeeded on John's death in 1355. (fn. 55) In 1363 the manor passed to James's son Lionel, who in 1371 granted it for life to John Sleaford (d. 1401), rector of Balsham. (fn. 56) In 1385 Thomas Fotheringhay was granted the reversion, and in 1428 Edward Fotheringhay held the fee. (fn. 57)
In 1454 the manor was said to be late of Richard Foster. He may have been followed by another Richard, for c. 1480 Isabel Foster, widow, obtained custody of the land of the late Richard Foster, Oxcroft manor, and of Richard's son and heir Lawrence. (fn. 58) In 1524 Heneage de la Tour was said to hold the manor, but it was held in 1550 by Lawrence Foster, and settled in 1555 on his wife Bridget for life, with reversion to William Lawrence, (fn. 59) under whose will it passed to his younger sons, Thomas and William. In 1576 they sold the manor to Michael Heneage. Michael held it in the 1590s and on his death in 1602 was followed by his son Thomas, who in 1641 was succeeded by his son, Sir Michael Heneage. (fn. 60) In 1760 Sir Michael's granddaughters and heirs, Elizabeth and Cecilia Heneage, sold Oxcroft to Jenison Shafto. At Shafto's death in 1771 the manor passed with his other lands to his brother Robert. (fn. 61) In 1773 Robert sold c. 90 a. of land and Oxcroft Hall to Richard, Lord Grosvenor, whose son Robert sold them to Lord Francis Godolphin Osborne in 1805. The remaining 350 a. were sold in parcels to Richard Taylor in 1789, to Francis Russell, duke of Bedford, in 1792, and to Sir Hedworth Williamson, Bt., in 1799. About 1816 William, Viscount Lowther, bought Osborne's share, and much of Sir Hedworth Williamson's. He sold Oxcroft in 1837 to William Purkis, who sold it in 1853 to his son-in-law Edward Frost (d. 1869). (fn. 62) The estate passed to Edward's son Harry Frost (d. 1898), and Harry's son, H. E. F. Frost, who in 1922 offered for sale Oxcroft House and c. 156 a. of land. It was presumably bought by G. R. C. Foster, whose executors offered it for sale in 1936. (fn. 63) Oxcroft Farm, east of the Balsham–Wratting road, with Oxcroft House opposite, stands on the site of the original manor.
In the earlier 19th century Dungate farm was detached from Oxcroft. It came to include in addition c. 100 a. of copyhold of West Wratting manor, and was sold in 1830 by Sir Hedworth Williamson's trustees to trustees for the Frere family, which in 1877 sold it to St. John's College, Cambridge. It then covered c. 530 a. It was sold in 1946 to H. E. Eastwood, who in 1952 sold c. 137 a. of the land to Jesus College. The farm-house stands in Balsham parish. (fn. 64)
In the early 13th century Philip Rixpand held ¼ knight's fee of Oxcroft. In 1315 Roger Rixpand held land in Wratting and John Rixpand when charged with theft in 1357 held ¼ fee which was restored to him in 1364. In 1410 John's daughter and heir Alice Maynard assigned his lands to John Moulton of West Wratting. (fn. 65) The land became known as the manor of SCARLETTS or MOULTONS, sometimes said to be held of Charles manor rather than Oxcroft because of the claim that Oxcroft was subordinate to Charles manor and because certain copyhold lands of Charles became associated with Scarletts. (fn. 66) In 1524 Scarletts was held by Sir Thomas Golding, and in 1546 by John Golding. (fn. 67) In 1568 it was conveyed with Charles manor by John Harrison to Thomas and William Wyborowe, and in 1574 Thomas sold the manor with over 300 a. of land to Dr. Andrew Perne. (fn. 68) In 1592 John Perne was succeeded in Scarletts manor and 80 a., all late John Rixpand's, by his son Andrew. By his will proved 1680 another Andrew Perne left the manor to his son John, who was succeeded in turn by his sons Chester (d. 1753) and John (d. 1770). The younger John's children, Andrew (d. 1771) and his three sisters, held land in West Wratting, but Scarletts went to John's brother Andrew (d. 1772). Andrew's son, also Andrew (d. 1807), left Scarletts to his wife for life and then to his son, John Chester Perne, (fn. 69) who held it at inclosure in 1813 and was allotted c. 176 a. (fn. 70) By 1851 the estate was held by Sir Charles Watson, and when sold by his son in 1863 it included what was later known as Lordship farm, presumably the portion held of Charles manor. (fn. 71) It apparently passed with Wratting Park to the Frost family, and in 1909 Scarletts farm, comprising 115 a., was among the lands of the late W. T. Frost (d. 1870) bought by his nephew E. P. Frost (d. 1922). It was offered for sale in 1922 and 1924 and bought by S. A. Taylor, being resold on his death in 1938. (fn. 72) In 1975 it was known as Scarletts Dairy and was part of the d'Abo estate. The modern Scarletts Farm is on a medieval moated site, which has been suggested, without evidence, as the site of Parys's manor-house. (fn. 73)
The reputed manor of HAMMONDS, recorded in the mid 16th century in association with Scarletts, was conveyed in 1576 by Thomas Wyborowe to Thomas Frenche, and in 1604 by Frenche to Michael Dalton. It was thenceforth associated with Parys's manor. In the 16th century it had c. 176 a. of arable and 250 a. of heath. The manor-house stood north of West Wratting green. A manor-house called Hammonds still stood near there in 1811. (fn. 74)
In the early 12th century Stephen and Gillian de Scalers gave c. 80 a. in West Wratting to St. Radegund's priory, Cambridge. By 1313 the priory held another 45 a. there, made up from smaller gifts. On its dissolution in 1496 the lands passed to Jesus College, Cambridge. (fn. 75) In the 17th century the estate, known as LE GREAT NUNS manor, included land in West Wickham and Weston Colville. At inclosure in 1813 the college was allotted 198 a. in the west part of the parish. (fn. 76) The original house, which in 1366 consisted of a hall and two chambers, had been near that of the Daltons in the village, but in the mid 18th century Jenison Shafto, the lessee, built a house and stables at the Valley for training racehorses, (fn. 77) which after inclosure became the farm-house for the college lands. In or after 1925 the buildings were replaced by a farm-house incorporating some old materials. (fn. 78)
West Wratting RECTORY was granted to the infirmary of Ely abbey in the earlier 12th century. (fn. 81) It passed in the 16th century to the dean and chapter of Ely, remaining with them until the 19th century though sold to John Skynne during the Interregnum. (fn. 82) In the 17th century the estate consisted of a house, the great tithes, c. 60 a. of arable, and liberty of fold and heathland for 200 sheep. At inclosure the dean and chapter were allotted 37½ a. for glebe and 642½ a. for tithes. (fn. 83) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners sold the allotment, known as Wadlow farm, to S. A. Taylor in 1919. (fn. 84)
Of the 10 hides in West Wratting in 1086 the abbot of Ely held 4½, Hardwin de Scalers 3¼, Count Alan 1½, and William de Warrenne ¾. Seven hides were in demesne: the abbot had 3 with 2 plough-teams and land for 2 more, Hardwin had 1½ hide with 2 teams, and Alan had ¾ hide with 2 teams. There were 8 servi in all. Fifteen villani and 8 bordars had 7 ploughteams between them. There was meadow for 1 team on the abbot's estate, 4½ a. elsewhere, and woodland for 42 pigs. Hardwin's and Count Alan's estates had risen in value since 1066, but the abbot's had fallen from £5 to £4. (fn. 85)
In the early 14th century the Frevilles received 5s. in commutation of works from their free tenants, and 190 works worth ½d. each between Lammas and Michaelmas from their customary tenants, some of whom were distinguished as villeins. The lord paid for additional work on the demesne and for the services of a smith, a carpenter, and a thatcher. In 1312 two ploughmen and a shepherd were also employed. (fn. 86) In 1318 the Ely manor had nine yardlanders. They owed three works each week, ploughing, threshing and manual services, carrying service with a cart and two horses, a day's reaping by three men, fed and paid by the lord, and boon ploughing. They owed leirwite, tallage, and heriot. A yardlander's wife could succeed to the holding, but owed a fine if she remarried, when she was entitled to grain, a dwelling, and a piece of curtilage as dower. The yardlander pastured his cattle with the lord's, and paid one hen and 20 eggs, but no rent. The 8 halflanders who held 9 a. each owed two works a week from Michaelmas to Lammas, and three during harvest. They performed the same customary services, and paid a hen and 10 eggs, and 1d. easement. The six cottagers held 3 a. or 4 a. each, and owed two works a week between Lammas and Michaelmas and one for the rest of the year. They performed carrying services on foot. Most of the thirteen rent-paying tenants held a messuage with a few roods of land. They owed reaping services and money rents, and some owed hens at Christmas. Only one owed suit of court. The 23 freeholdings varied from ¼ a. to 16 a. The freeholders paid rent in money and kind, and some owed suit of court. There seems to have been a tradition of partible inheritance. (fn. 87) In 1347 Frevilles manor was farmed by John of Brigham. (fn. 88)
At the end of the 15th century Parys's manor had 20 tenants, and in 1680 17 copyholders and 5 others. (fn. 89) In the 16th century Charles manor had 9 copyholders and 15 freeholders, and Scarletts manor also had 15 freeholders. (fn. 90)
From the Middle Ages the arable was divided between c. 12 fields of varying sizes made up of unequal furlongs. Common called the Great and Little Shrub lay along the modern Wratting Common, while at the western end of the parish were Oxcroft and the Lordship heaths, the Hall sheepwalk, and Nuns or Reach Valley. (fn. 91) Domesday recorded 767 sheep in Wratting, and the heaths continued to support large flocks. In 1316 149 fleeces were sold from the Frevilles' manor. In 1317 there were 138 sheep there, and 80 about 10 years later. In 1343 the abbot of Warden owed the service of providing a sheepfold for the Frevilles' and Ely manors. In 1347 of 55 stone of wool rendered in the wool levy from West Wratting, 8 stone came from John of Brigham and 8 from John Aspale. (fn. 92)
Frevilles manor in 1312 produced 44 qr. of wheat and relatively small quantities of barley, oats, rye, dredge, and pease. A three-course rotation was followed. In the mid 14th century the Ely manor had 79 a. sown with wheat, 42 a. with maslin, besides barley, dredge, oats, and pease. (fn. 93) It also had 26½ a. of inclosed woodland, divided into five parts so that c. 5 a. of underwood were sold each year. There were no oaks there. In 1307 55 willows were planted on Frevilles manor. In the 16th century Ely had 16 a. of woodland called Haslye wood, and Jesus College sold its wood in the parish for £29. (fn. 94)
By the end of the 17th century c. 200 a. in West Wratting had been converted from arable to heath. Shortly afterwards c. 20 a. of the Nuns Valley, previously all grassland, was converted to arable. Half a century later part of the Valley heath was enclosed to form paddocks. (fn. 95) In the early 19th century the dean and chapter still claimed sheep-walk for 720 sheep in the parish. (fn. 96) In 1801 there were just over 1,500 a. of arable: 492 a. of barley, 383 a. of wheat, 365 a. of oats, 128 a. each of peas and turnips, 11 a. of rye, and 9 a. of beans. The yield was not high. Later in the century a four-course rotation also included cinquefoil and other green crops, and later again mustard, cole-seed, and sainfoin. (fn. 97) By 1905 there were 2,860 a. of arable and 420 a. of grass. In 1924 the parish provided good sheep and barley land, and near the village land for wheat and beans. In 1935 77 a. of the West Wratting Park estate formed a dairy and rearing farm, and 6 a. a commercial nursery garden. In 1975 the nurseries remained and there were three dairy farms. (fn. 98) By the 18th century oak timber on the Ely estate was valued at over £50. (fn. 99) The Wadlow plantations existed by then, and Cole's wood, belonging to Jesus College, by 1802. By 1905 there were c. 90 a. of woodland. (fn. 100)
By the early 19th century c. 817 a. out of a total of c. 3,500 a. were inclosed. The inclosure award of 1813 (fn. 101) granted land to 44 allottees, in amounts varying from ½ a. to over 1,000 a. The dean and chapter of Ely were the largest landowners, with c. 1,030 a.; Jesus College received 198 a., Peterhouse 180 a., and the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy 644 a. The largest personal estate was 488 a. allotted to the trustees of Sir Hedworth Williamson; J. C. Perne received 175 a. and John Hall 102 a. The vicar was allotted 140 a. Most of the land was freehold, but 297 a. were copyhold of the Ely manor, and 40 a. copyhold of Charles manor. Because of the large holdings of corporate bodies much of the parish was farmed by leaseholders. Prominent among them was Harry Frost who was allotted only 7½ a. himself, but held over 1,000 a. from the dean and chapter. By the later 19th century members of the Frost family leased or owned most of the land in the parish.
Miscellaneous occupations outside agriculture have included a smith, a tailor, and an iron-worker. (fn. 102) In the early 19th century there were a horse-dealer and a manufacturer of drilling machines, and by the middle of the century a bricklayer, a painter and glazier, and a shoemaker. An agricultural engineer was recorded from 1900. (fn. 103)
There was a windmill on Frevilles manor in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the early 16th century Moignes mill was mentioned there, and in the 16th and 17th centuries there was also a mill on the Ely manor. (fn. 104) In the 18th century Leys mill was built on Parys's manor. It was presumably near the site of an earlier mill, and may be identified with that built in 1726, which still stood in 1975 near the boundary with Balsham and West Wickham. A smock-mill, with a low tower on a round, brick base, it was described in 1877 as a wind and steam, corn and flour mill. It ceased working in 1924. (fn. 105)
Courts were held for each of the three main manors in West Wratting. The court for Oxcroft, of which no rolls survive, was recorded in 1327. The manor was represented at the honor of Richmond's tourn at Newmarket, where its ale-taster was answerable. (fn. 106) In the late 16th century Peterhouse claimed that the tenants of Oxcroft owed service at the court of Charles manor, as did those of Scarletts. (fn. 107)
Fragments of court extracts for Charles manor survive for 1553 and 1591–3, court rolls from 1822 to 1887, and transcripts of lost rolls from 1273 until the mid 17th century. (fn. 108) Courts leet and baron, usually in a single session, seem to have been held no more than twice a year, even in the 13th century, and only once a year, or less, from the 16th century. By the 19th century they were held only once every two or three years. Until the 15th century the courts heard cases of robbery, assault, and bloodshed, besides dealing with the regulation of agriculture and tenurial matters. The lord had strays and the assize of ale. By 1822 the court was concerned solely with tenurial matters.
A court is recorded for the Ely manor in 1286. An extract survives from a court leet held there in 1475, and court books for 1554–7, 1589–1615, 1661–91, and 1737–1947. (fn. 109) As on his other manors the prior claimed view of frankpledge, the assize of bread and of ale, strays, and other rights. He also had a prison in West Wratting. (fn. 110) In the 17th century the lord of the manor had leet jurisdiction and the right to deodands and fugitives' and felons' goods. (fn. 111) In the 13th century at least five courts were held every year. In the 16th century they were held twice a year, and annually from the mid 18th century. There too cases of theft, bloodshed, and trespass were heard. On the election of each new prior or dean the homage owed him 29s. 1d. Besides tenurial business the court dealt with the regulation of agriculture, and in the 16th century occasionally gave permission for land to be inclosed. From the early 17th century the elections of one or two constables, a hayward or pinder, and an ale-taster were sporadically recorded. From the 18th century the business was purely tenurial. Enfranchisements of copyhold are recorded from the mid 19th century, increasing in the last years of the court up to 1947.
The dean and chapter of Ely claimed theirs as the paramount manor and at inclosure in 1813 they received the only allotment for right of soil. (fn. 112) From at least the 15th century there had been disputes between the Ely and Charles manors about the limits of their jurisdictions, and especially about rights over timber and waste. (fn. 113) In 1556 it was claimed that the lords of Parys's and Scarletts owed suit of court to Ely. (fn. 114) In the 18th century a number of land transfers were entered in the court rolls of both the Ely and Charles manors. (fn. 115)
From 1776 until 1834 West Wratting's expenditure on poor-relief was consistently one of the three highest in the county. The amounts varied between £506 in 1816 and over £1,000 in 1813, 1818, and 1832. In the last year relief cost c. £1 7s. 6d. per head. In the early 19th century between 32 and 55 were given regular outside relief, and 300 occasional relief. By 1831 there were usually 20 unemployed. A special allowance was made from the poor-rate for large families. Besides money, coal and clothing were given to the poor. (fn. 116) In 1835 West Wratting became part of the Linton poor-law union, and in 1934 of the South Cambridgeshire R.D., (fn. 117) being included in 1974 in South Cambridgeshire.
There was a church at West Wratting in the earlier 12th century when Bishop Niel granted it to the infirmary of Ely. (fn. 118) The rectory was appropriated and a vicarage had been ordained by 1217. The advowson of the vicarage, like the rectory, passed in the 16th century to the dean and chapter of Ely. In 1886 the vicarage was one of the livings assigned to be held by one of the minor canons of Ely. (fn. 119)
The vicarage was valued at 16 marks in 1217, rising to 20 marks in 1254 and 30 marks c. 1276. (fn. 120) In 1535 the benefice was valued at £7 17s. 2d. By 1650 it had risen to £30, and was made up to £100 during the Interregnum. (fn. 121) In the 1730s it was valued at £80, although the vicar insisted it was worth only £50. (fn. 122) The vicar received a payment out of the rectory (70s. in the early 16th century, £35 in the late 17th) and the small tithes for which 139 a. were allotted at inclosure in 1813. He was still entitled to the tithe of the windmill, which in 1846 was commuted for a rent-charge of 12s. 6d. (fn. 123) In 1851 the vicarage was valued at £215, and in 1886 at £250. (fn. 124)
The vicarage house, referred to in 1615 and 1662, had 6 hearths in 1672. (fn. 125) In 1783 it was a thatched house, little better than a cottage, but in reasonable repair. By 1851 a new house in the Gothic style had been built on the south-west side of the main street. (fn. 126) By 1975 that was a private house, and a new vicarage had been built opposite the church.
There were seven incumbents between 1344 and 1354. One, Peter Brown, was also chaplain of a chantry in London. (fn. 127) The vicar in 1561 also held Weston Colville, where he lived, but there was a curate at West Wratting. (fn. 128) In 1591 the vicar was denounced as unruly. (fn. 129) William Flack, vicar for over 40 years, was in 1650 said to be very insufficient for the cure. (fn. 130) His successor was not in orders when appointed in 1657, but in 1660 sought ordination and in 1661 was presented as if the living had been vacant for the last four years. (fn. 131) In 1807 the vicar, who had previously lived in his other parish in Lincolnshire, moved to West Wratting, which was by then usually held with another living. (fn. 132) In 1825 the vicar was non-resident, and his curate's health was unequal to all his duties. (fn. 133) In 1851 the vicar was living abroad, but again there was a resident curate. (fn. 134) Until 1973 the vicarage was often held with West Wickham, the incumbents living at West Wratting. (fn. 135)
There was a guild of St. Anne in the early 16th century. (fn. 136) Later in the century parents failed to send their children to be taught the catechism. (fn. 137) In 1587 two parishioners refused to attend church, and in 1595 another refused to send his daughter to communion or catechism. (fn. 138) In 1728 communion was held three times a year, with about 42 communicants. From 1807 there were two Sunday services with a sermon in the morning, and quarterly communions attended by about 30. Attendance at communion had risen to 75 by 1824. (fn. 139) In 1851 average attendance was 393 at the morning service and 626 in the afternoon. By 1897 only a third of the parishioners were church people; some attended church and chapel, but many went to neither. There was said to be religious apathy among rich and poor, although by then there were monthly communions, attended by c. 60 communicants. (fn. 140)
The church of ST. ANDREW, so called in 1556, (fn. 141) is built of rubble and has a chancel with north vestry, clerestoried nave with south porch, and west tower. Foundations said to have been discovered below the east end of the nave in the late 19th century (fn. 142) have been interpreted as the footings of a central tower; if there was such a tower it pre-dated the 13th-century chancel arch and east wall of the nave which are the oldest parts of the building. The west tower and the remainder of the nave are 14th-century, the clerestory presumably being of its later years. In the 15th century the chancel was rebuilt or remodelled and the south porch added. (fn. 143) The fabric seems to have been neglected in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 144)
In 1737 the interior was remodelled at the expense of Sir John Jacob, Bt., in the classical style with ceilings and walls marked out in plaster panels and some new sash windows. A large singers' gallery was built across the west end. Fittings of the period include a pulpit, with sounding board, and commandment tables. (fn. 145) Almost all of the 18thcentury work was removed at a restoration in 1896, mostly paid for by the Frost family, when the one surviving medieval window was reopened and the others were restored. The gallery was removed and a new ceiling built. (fn. 146) In 1922 a wrought iron screen was put into the chancel arch. (fn. 147) In the chancel are memorials to Frances (d. c. 1600), wife of Michael Dalton (d. 1648), and Andrew Perne (d. 1679). (fn. 148)
In the 16th century the church had a silver chalice and paten. In 1960 there were two cups dated 1846. (fn. 149) In the 16th century there were three bells, and in 1975 five, dated 1702, 1750, 1828, and two dated 1860. One of the last had originally been made by Thomas of Lenne in 1320, and was recast in 1860. (fn. 150) The registers start in 1579 and are virtually complete. The earliest contains a note that in 1579 the church was robbed and the previous register stolen. (fn. 151)
There were only three nonconformists in West Wratting in 1676, and few throughout the 18th century. (fn. 152) A Congregationalist meeting was founded in 1811, and in that year, 1814, and 1821 a house or cottage was licensed for worship. (fn. 153) A chapel was later said to have been built c. 1815. (fn. 154) In 1825 the congregation was served from Weston Colville, and came mostly from neighbouring parishes. (fn. 155) In 1851 the chapel was a station of the Cambridgeshire County Union and Home Missionary Society, attended by c. 30 at its one Sunday service. (fn. 156) By 1860 it was served from Balsham. (fn. 157) It was presumably the chapel named as Baptist in 1877. (fn. 158) In 1899, when the vicar reported that a third of the parish were dissenters, there were 20 Congregationalist church members. (fn. 159) The West Wratting and Balsham congregations were combined from 1905 to 1945. After that the numbers in West Wratting declined, falling to 7 in 1968 when the chapel was last listed. (fn. 160) The building, on the north side of the main street, was derelict in 1975.
There was a schoolmaster in 1581, but none in 1590. (fn. 161) In 1807 there was a small dayschool which in 1818 was attended by 20 children from West Wratting and 21 from other parishes. There was also another day-school, taking 24 children, 13 of whom paid. (fn. 162) By 1833 there were four day-schools, founded in 1825 (girls), 1828 (girls), 1830 (boys), and 1831 (mixed), with a combined attendance of 92. (fn. 163) By 1846 a Sunday school for 30 boys and 50 girls was held in the church and taught by a paid master, while a mistress taught 30 girls at the only day-school. (fn. 164) A new National day-school, with a schoolroom, a classroom, and a teacher's house, opened in 1861 and was attended by 60 children. (fn. 165)
In 1867 all girls of the village from 3 to 12 and all boys from 3 to 10 attended school. In addition there was a night school in the winter attended by 17 boys. For the children employed on Dungate farm, who did not necessarily go to school, the farmer had a schoolroom. (fn. 166) In the later 19th century attendance at the school fluctuated between 61 and 74, and then declined from 64 in 1914 to 28 in 1938. (fn. 167) The school was reorganized in 1926. (fn. 168) The seniors were transferred to Linton village college in 1937, and the juniors to Balsham when the West Wratting school was closed in 1971. (fn. 169) The building, on the corner of the lane leading to the church, was for sale in 1974. (fn. 170)
Charities for the Poor.
In the early 18th century it was recorded that Thomas Symonds had left 10s. a year or 1 a. of land for the poor of the parish, but by 1837 there was no trace of the gift. (fn. 171) A town house probably built on the waste and regarded as a charitable endowment was by 1837 divided into four dwellings, inhabited rent-free by aged paupers. It was sold in the 1850s by order of the Poor Law Board. (fn. 172) Michael Dalton in 1636 gave an inclosure called Hunts to buy coats for 10 children. The rent was so distributed in 1775, and in 1837 the income of £2 was given in clothing to poor children. The payment was made by the tenant of Hunts at the end of the 19th century and in 1968.
Andrew Perne gave 1 a. of land in the 16th century which provided 10s. a year for the poor. Edward Briggs, by will proved 1735, gave £1 a year for the poor. Both sums were charged on particular allotments under the inclosure award of 1813. Before 1775 an unknown donor gave 1 a. of land to provide 6s. 6d. a year to be distributed with Perne's charity. In 1830 £18 of arrears was received by Perne's charity, which spent £12 on coals for the poor, but no further payment had been made by 1863. Neither Briggs's nor the anonymous charity had been paid for many years in 1837, but in 1895 all three had been received over the preceding 30 years and distributed to the poor, usually in coals. In 1968 the three charities, amounting with Dalton's to £3 16s. a year, were distributed in the parish in various charitable ways. (fn. 173)