A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.
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The small parish of Tadlow, (fn. 1) 20 km. south-west of Cambridge, covered 1,743 a. until 1957, when 55 a. lying in Hatley park were transferred to Hatley parish, and thereafter 683 ha. (1,687 a.). (fn. 2) It is roughly triangular. The river Cam or Rhee, flowing north-eastwards, bounds it on the south-east. The other boundaries, that to the west adjoining Bedfordshire, mostly follow old field divisions: one nearly straight northern section of the west boundary perhaps represents a track through ancient woodland. The soil lies upon gault, overlaid in the north with boulder clay. The higher land there falls south-westwards from 70 to 45 metres, divided by the valleys of two streamlets which unite to run into Bedfordshire. Further south a nearly flat area declines very gradually south-eastwards to 30 metres by the river. Little woodland was recorded in 1086, but one manor included a 40-a. wood in 1279. (fn. 3) That wood was completely felled soon after 1510, when it was said to have contained 100 each of oaks, elms, and ash-trees, and 200 wych elms. (fn. 4) By 1574 that manor again had 45 a. of woodland, (fn. 5) perhaps lying in the far north by Hatley Park, where 4 a. called Pincote wood survived in 1750. (fn. 6)
The vill was possibly named from the burial mound of an Anglo-saxon chieftain who established it. (fn. 7) From a peak around 1300, the population fell after 1400 to a low but stable level at which it remained until the mid 19th century. In 1086 there had been 28 peasants. (fn. 8) By 1279 numbers had risen sharply: there were then c. 60 landholders, (fn. 9) and, although only 25 people were taxed in 1327, (fn. 10) c. 50 inhabitants owned wool in 1347. (fn. 11) In 1377 130 adults paid the poll tax, (fn. 12) but in 1524 only 26 people the lay subsidy, of whom 3 to 10 were possibly living-in labourers, (fn. 13) for there were only 15 households recorded in 1563. (fn. 14) Numbers probably stood at over 100 c. 1620, and there were c. 60 adults in 1660 and 1676. (fn. 15) In the 1660s there were 27 or 28 houses, (fn. 16) but from the 1670s to the 1760s the population probably fluctuated between 60 and 80, (fn. 17) and there were only 18 families comprising c. 80 persons in 1728. (fn. 18) By 1801 the population had reached 101, and rose rapidly to c. 150 by 1811, c. 190 by 1851, and a peak of 232 in 1871. Thereafter it fell as steadily to under 200 by 1891 and 142 in 1921. From the 1930s to the 1960s it was c. 100, (fn. 19) but was rising again in the 1970s, following new building.
The medieval village probably lay along a doglegged street, running south-south-east from the church, beside which there are remains of ancient ditched crofts. (fn. 20) The dependent hamlet of Pincote, (fn. 21) occasionally recorded from 1176 (fn. 22) and also linked with Cockayne Hatley (Beds.), (fn. 23) probably stood in the north-west corner of the parish by a moated site. (fn. 24) Occasionally reckoned as a separate vill, (fn. 25) Pincote decayed probably after 1450. (fn. 26) The main village itself declined after 1660. By 1750 the only dwellings there were 3 or 4 farms; another 4 farms stood out in the fields. (fn. 27) About 1800 there were 13 houses in the parish, providing 18 or 19 dwellings; the number was later increased, partly it seems by the division of houses, to 30 or more. (fn. 28) In 1851 there were c. 16 houses on the street and c. 6 more grouped at Tadlow Gate by the Bedfordshire boundary, another 10 being scattered throughout the parish. (fn. 29) In the 1970s new houses, mostly built privately, filled the large gap at the middle of the street between two groups of surviving 19thcentury cottages.
In the 1740s Sir George Downing (d. 1749) began on the brow of the down a four-storey prospect tower in red brick, later incorporated into Tower Farm. He abandoned the project in 1744, and the derelict tower was demolished in the 1960s. (fn. 30)
Before 1800 there were two main routes through Tadlow. One continued an ancient way westwards from Croydon along the hillside. The other, 750 metres further south, ran parallel to the river. They were called in the 14th and 15th centuries the Ridgeway and Portway, (fn. 31) and in the 18th the upper and lower Cambridge ways. (fn. 32) In 1826 the Cambridge–Biggleswade turnpike was made across the parish. Its eastern part followed the lower way, but further west it cut off the village from the church, crossing many ancient closes. (fn. 33) Tadlow had no inn or public house in 1825 or later, and a single shop only from c. 1850 to c. 1890, (fn. 34) but acquired a village hall in the 1960s. (fn. 35)
Manors and other Estates.
The 23/8 hides at Tadlow held in 1086 by Picot the sheriff as tenant in chief and the 13/8 hide that he held of Countess Judith (fn. 36) passed with his barony of Bourn to Pain Peverel of Dover (d. after 1130). Pain's nephew and heir William Peverel (d. c. 1147) (fn. 37) granted that manor, to be held as 1 knight's fee, to the Shropshire baron Fulk FitzWarin. (fn. 38) After the partition of the Peverel barony the lordship of Tadlow descended from William's sister Asceline through the Torpels to their successors as lords of Orwell. Their rights were not recorded after 1310, (fn. 39) and from 1485 to the 1630s the manor was usually said to be held of the Crown, as of the honor of Clare, (fn. 40) to which leet jurisdiction at Tadlow belonged. (fn. 41)
Fulk held TADLOW manor until his death in 1170, and was succeeded by his son and namesake (fn. 42) (d. c. 1197). (fn. 43) The latter's son Fulk FitzWarin (III), famed in romance as a rebel against King John, (fn. 44) had his lands briefly confiscated between 1201 and 1203. (fn. 45) Still lord of Tadlow c. 1235 and in 1242, (fn. 46) he survived into the mid 1250s. (fn. 47) His son Fulk (IV), drowned at Lewes in 1264, (fn. 48) had by 1257 leased Tadlow for 16 years to Simon Walton, bishop of Norwich (d. 1266), (fn. 49) whose property there was plundered by insurgents in 1263. (fn. 50) Fulk's son Fulk (V), of age in 1273, (fn. 51) leased Tadlow in 1280 for life to the acquisitive Hugh Clopton, but went in person in 1295 to ease him out. (fn. 52)
About 1304 Fulk conveyed the manor to Sir Peter Huntingfield of Kent. (fn. 53) Sir Peter died without issue in 1308, having just passed it to a feoffee, probably for his second wife Maud. (fn. 54) Three months later she married Sir Philip Colville of Longstanton, (fn. 55) and after Philip's death c. 1311 (fn. 56) brought Tadlow in 1313 to her next husband, Robert Baynard of Norfolk, (fn. 57) lord in 1316. (fn. 58) After Baynard's death in 1330 (fn. 59) possession of Tadlow had passed by 1338 to Sir Henry Colville, her son by Philip, (fn. 60) although it was from Maud (d. 1349) that Fulk FitzWarin (VII) (d. 1349) sought c. 1347 to reclaim it. (fn. 61) Sir Henry probably died in 1360, (fn. 62) and in 1363 Anne, perhaps his heir, and her husband Dedric of Somerton conveyed Tadlow to feoffees. (fn. 63)
The manor passed next to the St. Georges. (fn. 64) Baldwin St. George had before 1220 held land at Pincote, (fn. 65) where his son William (fl. 1235) acquired a villein from Fulk FitzWarin (III). (fn. 66) William's son Baldwin (d. c. 1284), after further purchases, (fn. 67) held ½ hide in 1279 under the main manor, (fn. 68) of which his son William was feoffee in 1308. (fn. 69) That William's grandson William St. George held a fee at Tadlow between 1322 and 1349 (fn. 70) and his son Sir Baldwin probably held the main manor by 1381. (fn. 71) He died in 1383. His son Baldwin, (fn. 72) knighted by 1400, (fn. 73) died in 1425, having survived his son John, (fn. 74) whose son Sir William St. George, lord in 1428, (fn. 75) left Tadlow at his death in 1471 to his eldest surviving son Richard (fn. 76) (d. 1485). Sir Richard's son and heir Thomas, of age in 1492, (fn. 77) conveyed Tadlow c. 1513 to his eldest son Thomas (or George) (d. v.p. and s.p.) and his wife Jane Mordaunt for their lives. Jane took as her second husband Edward Slade, (fn. 78) whom the local gentry resented as an intruder and c. 1522 drove from the manor house by threats and violence. (fn. 79) About 1532 Slade had bitter disputes about dilapidations and waste of timber with the elder Thomas St. George (d. 1540), (fn. 80) whom Jane survived. Thomas's son Francis (fn. 81) sold the manor c. 1570, (fn. 82) half to Henry Brograve, half to Robert Ayre.
Brograve died in 1574, leaving his half to his infant son John, of age in 1594, (fn. 83) who died in 1625. His son and heir John (fn. 84) sold that half c. 1630 to Thomas St. George, (fn. 85) who died owning it in 1637. Two thirds of it passed to his son Baldwin, aged 6, (fn. 86) still owner in 1657. (fn. 87) Baldwin and his brother Robert sold it in 1662 to Sir George Downing, (fn. 88) who also acquired after 1661 the third of that half sold after 1637 to pay Thomas's debts. (fn. 89) Robert Ayre had sold his half in 1575 to John Gill, (fn. 90) who resold it in 1580 to John Brograve, (fn. 91) attorneygeneral of the Duchy of Lancaster (d. 1613). (fn. 92) In 1597 that John sold it to Thomas Draner. (fn. 93) Draner died in 1632, having settled his Tadlow land for life on his nephew Draner Massingberd, (fn. 94) still in possession in 1660. (fn. 95) After 1663 that half also was acquired by Sir George Downing, who by his death in 1684 owned the whole parish. (fn. 96) It descended with his other Cambridgeshire lands, and was owned by Downing College, Cambridge, from 1800 (fn. 97) until sold in 1947. (fn. 98)
The manor house, still fit to accommodate the lord and his train in 1295, (fn. 99) possibly stood in a close called Dovehouse close in 1750, when a farmhouse occupied it. Traces of moats survived there and near Bridge Farm a little further south. (fn. 100) In the 1520s Edward Slade attempted to rebuild the ruinous manor house, but it collapsed through poor foundations and had to be moved to a new site. (fn. 101)
A reputed manor called HOBLEDODS, held of Tadlow manor, (fn. 102) was probably held by Adam Hobledod (d. 1383) of Swavesey (fn. 103) and John Hobledod (d. after 1419), an esquire to Henry IV, (fn. 104) who had a substantial house at Tadlow by 1408. (fn. 105) Probably by 1490 Hobledods had been acquired by William Brograve, (fn. 106) a London draper (fl. 1468–98), (fn. 107) whose son John died holding it in 1518. John's son John (fn. 108) sold it in 1539 to John Hinde, later a justice of the Common Pleas. (fn. 109) On Hinde's death in 1550 it passed to his son Sir Francis Hinde (d. 1597) of Madingley, (fn. 110) and in 1593 was settled on George Creede for life. (fn. 111) Mary Johnson, resident at Tadlow since 1579, (fn. 112) devised Hobledods in 1625 to her son Edward Johnson, (fn. 113) still owner in 1634. (fn. 114) In 1676 members of the Turner family sold it to Sir George Downing. (fn. 115) Hobledods manor house perhaps stood in a moat a little east of the church by Hobledods lane, still so named c. 1750. (fn. 116)
By the 1180s Fulk FitzWarin (III) had given 1½ yardland in free alms to St. Peter's abbey, Shrewsbury, by exchange. (fn. 117) The land, all occupied by rentpaying free tenants in 1279, (fn. 118) was retained by the abbey (fn. 119) until 1445, when it passed by exchange to Henry VI, who gave it in 1451 to King's College, Cambridge. (fn. 120) In 1783, when the land had long been occupied by the Downings as lessees and its whereabouts forgotten, 80 a. of the inclosed fields were set out for King's (fn. 121) which sold them to Downing College in 1863. (fn. 122)
The other manor recorded in 1086, 1¼ hide held by Asceline, widow of Ralph Taillebois, (fn. 123) descended through her daughter Maud to the Beauchamps, with whose barony of Bedford its overlordship later passed. (fn. 124) After their male line ended in 1265, lordship over the Tadlow fee descended from Beatrice, one of three coheirs, through successive marriages (fn. 125) to the Latimers and Nevilles, Lords Latimer, until c. 1500. (fn. 126) Part of the land remained linked with the adjoining manor of Cockayne Hatley (Beds.), held of the same barony, (fn. 127) to which 60 a. at Tadlow belonged by 1409, and perhaps by 1335. (fn. 128) In 1490 John Cockayne, its lord, held 140 a. at Pincote of Sir Reynold Grey, then lord of Bedford. (fn. 129) John's great-grandson Chad Cockayne sold that land, called Pincote farm, in 1583 to Thomas Chicheley (d. 1592). Chicheley's son Sir Thomas (fn. 130) sold it to a farmer, from whom it passed to Thomas St. George (d. 1637). (fn. 131)
The greater part of the Beauchamp fee of PINCOTE came, probably by 1200, to the Gilbertine priory of Chicksands (Beds.), founded c. 1150 by Rose wife of Pain de Beauchamp. (fn. 132) By 1235 the priory held 1¼ hide of the Beauchamps as ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 133) Fulk le Moyne had given it c. 60 a., (fn. 134) probably held by his father Robert c. 1198. (fn. 135) In 1239 Ellis le Waleys gave another 1½ yardland. (fn. 136) By 1279 Chicksands had 90 a. in demesne and 102 a. of tenant land, (fn. 137) which it retained until the Dissolution. (fn. 138) The land was sold by the Crown in 1554, resold in 1554 and 1559, and again in 1564 to Matthew Sadock. (fn. 139) In 1582 Sadock sold his Pincote estate with 160 a. to Robert Thorowgood, (fn. 140) a Tadlow yeoman, who died holding it of the Crown by knight service in 1593. He left it in tail male to a younger son John. John was probably succeeded by his brother Edward (fn. 141) (d. 1649), who left it to his son Edward (d. 1662). That Edward's widow Susan (fn. 142) occupied it in 1664. (fn. 143) His younger son Robert had sold it to Sir George Downing by 1683. (fn. 144) The priory's farmstead probably stood within the moat at Pincote. (fn. 145)
In 1213 Barnwell priory was given 2 yardlands, 64 a., lately held by Hugh West of Pincote of the Beauchamp fee. (fn. 146) In 1240 Barnwell agreed that Chicksands should hold its existing land in Tadlow tithe free, Chicksands undertaking to do for Barnwell the services due from its late purchase, and in 1272 to acquit Barnwell of all suit due to the new court leet of the Clares. (fn. 147) In 1279 Barnwell had, including its 1½ yardland of rectorial glebe, 120 a. at Tadlow, (fn. 148) which it retained until its surrender. (fn. 149) That land, sold in 1552 as Tadlow rectory, (fn. 150) was held in socage by the Castells with their East Hatley lands from the 1550s, (fn. 151) and purchased with them as 104 a. by Sir George Downing in 1661. (fn. 152)
In 1086 about half the vill, probably 5 out of 10½ ploughlands, lay in demesne, but there were at most 3 demesne ploughteams, while the 3 villani and 25 bordars had altogether 4½ teams. The yield of the vill, having fallen by a third between 1066 and its occupation by its new lords, had only slightly recovered, to £7, by 1086. (fn. 153) Large properties dominated the parish in 1279. Fulk FitzWarin probably had c. 240 a. of arable in demesne, while his tenants occupied c. 380 a. (fn. 154) Excluding the two priories and William Baldwin, whose land came to 360 a., there were in 1279 only 150 a. of freehold, (fn. 155) partly occupied by prosperous yardlanders, such as Hugh Nobelot, probably descended from a steward of the FitzWarins. (fn. 156) Of 290 a. of customary land c. 230 a. were held of the FitzWarins, who had 2 half-yardlanders and perhaps 24 quarter-yardlanders. The half-yardlanders could be required to plough each Friday and owed weekwork three days a week, except in harvest when they must reap a selion a day and carry the corn. The quarter-yardlanders' services were in proportion. Smaller tenants had to harrow or carry the lord's goods to market or malt his barley. (fn. 157) About eight quarter-yardlanders holding of William St. George and William Baldwin owed almost as much service as the FitzWarin half-yardlanders. Chicksands priory's men, however, had only to reap, between them, 18 a. of barley and 6 a. of wheat. Barnwell's tenants, mostly cottars, owed only reaping boonworks. (fn. 158)
Villeins were occasionally sold in the 13th century, (fn. 159) but by 1308 the 21 on the main manor had apparently commuted their works for 6s. 8d. each a year. (fn. 160) The lord was still granting land as copyhold for fines in the 1560s. (fn. 161) The main demesne was sometimes kept in hand by the lord or his principal lessee: Hugh Clopton was cultivating part of it in 1295, but claimed to have advanced £40 worth of goods to the tenants, perhaps as share-croppers on the rest. (fn. 162) About 1520 Edward Slade was stocking some of his closes with his own cattle, sheep, and poultry, (fn. 163) and probably had £47 worth of goods in the parish. (fn. 164) By then, however, the demesne, like the rectory and King's College lands, was usually leased. (fn. 165) Thomas Hutton of Harlton held the Barnwell estate on a 41-year lease from 1536, (fn. 166) and by 1538 had another long lease of the demesne from Slade. (fn. 167) Such lessees were among the wealthiest of the six yeomen who altogether owned £30 13s. 4d. out of c. £45 assessed on the villagers' goods in 1524, when 11 out of 26 men were taxed only on their wages. (fn. 168)
From the early 13th century to the early 17th Tadlow's arable was divided in two, probably along the line of the village street. (fn. 169) Some land had not yet been brought into the field system c. 1240. (fn. 170) The area towards the river was called the Lower field c. 1640. (fn. 171) The principal peasant crop was barley, (fn. 172) and rye was grown in the 14th century. (fn. 173) There was a narrow belt of meadow along the river, and wider ones beside the two northern streams. (fn. 174) Beyond them Pincote may once have had a separate field system. (fn. 175) Although Chicksands priory possibly kept lay brothers there, having built an oratory at its farmstead by 1240, its land seems then to have lain in open fields, not in severalty as a grange. (fn. 176)
A system of common pasturage was presumably organized by c. 1180, for Fulk FitzWarin (III) assured to the occupants of the land given to Shrewsbury abbey continued sharing in the customary easements. (fn. 177) In 1347 the demesne sheep flock contributed only 10¾ stone to the 69½ stone of wool levied from the township. Geoffrey Nobelot provided 8 stone, and 20 others, each furnishing 1–4 stone, another 39 stone. (fn. 178) Shepherds were often recorded from the 13th century onwards, (fn. 179) but most peasant flocks were small, sheep keeping being eventually left to the lord for whom a fold for 600 sheep was claimed in 1575. (fn. 180) In 1586 the King's College lessee, though entitled to a sheep gate for 60 sheep, bequeathed only 30. The smaller farmers may have concentrated from the 16th century on cattle. In 1559 one left 13 weaning calves. (fn. 181) A stint fixed in 1577 allowed 6 horses or cows for every plough kept, and 2 bullocks for every cottage, but made no mention of sheep. The sheepflock was excluded between 24 February and harvest from the village cow pasture, which was then reserved for milking cattle; on the mown meadows and stubble fields cattle had priority over sheep for two or three months after harvest. (fn. 182)
From the 16th century there was a gradual concentration of ownership and occupation, as farms once owned by yeomen, such as the Kidman family's 40 a., were gradually annexed to the various manorial estates. (fn. 183) By the 1650s the St. Georges' half manor supposedly had c. 270 a. of arable and 140 a. of grass, (fn. 184) the other half probably about the same, (fn. 185) while Hobledods included c. 245 a. of arable and 61 a. of grass. (fn. 186) In 1660 there were 4 resident landowners, and some 7 substantial farmers with goods taxed at £100–200 each. (fn. 187) By the 1670s the large estates in their turn had been united in the hands of Sir George Downing (d. 1684), who in 1683 possessed over 1,225 a. of arable and 120 a. of grass, formerly occupied as 14 farms. (fn. 188) Some inclosures, of 20–50 a., had already been made in the open fields by 1640. (fn. 189) Downing or his son Sir George (d. 1711) proceeded to inclose the whole parish. In its southern half most of the new field boundaries probably followed those of the former furlongs. Several new farmsteads were built out in the fields: (fn. 190) barns of that period survive at Bridge and New England Farms; a 16th-century grange formerly at Tower Farm (fn. 191) has been removed to an open-air farming museum. (fn. 192)
Rather more land was left under the plough than in the neighbouring parishes inclosed early. About 1750 there were 625 a. of arable and 901 a. of pasture. The flat land east and north-west of the village site was then mostly under grass, devoted to dairy cattle, as were the 250 a. of Pincote Dairy farm. The high ground north-east of the village and the south-western corner of the parish remained mostly arable. (fn. 193) By 1801 the arable had increased to 848 a. though the grassland still supported 40 cows and 760 sheep. Most of the 1,060 sheep kept in the early 1790s had perished from rot, because the fields were poorly drained. The arable was still cultivated on a triennial rotation. The crops in 1801 included 216 a. of wheat, 101 a. of barley, 221 a. of oats, and 37 a. of peas and beans; c. 265 a. were fallow. There were only 8 a. of turnips, and the cottagers grew no potatoes, despite the persuasions of the vicar. (fn. 194) By 1842, over 300 a. more having been returned to arable farming, there were only 422 a. of grass. The 1,268 a. of arable were under a four-course rotation, including 63 a. of turnips on the fallow for winter fodder. (fn. 195) From the 1860s, although the area under wheat gradually increased at the expense of barley and legumes, the overall reversion from pasturage ceased, and from the 1880s there were usually almost 500 a. of permanent grass, including in 1925 nearly 200 a. of rough grazing. Large sheepflocks, increasing from c. 900 in 1885 to over 1,200 by 1905, were long kept, but sheep farming ceased after the 1920s; the farmers eventually concentrated again on cattle, of which over 500, mainly for beef, were kept in 1955. (fn. 196)
The nine farms recorded c. 1750, ranging from 100 to 300 a., had been partly reorganized by 1801, when one man occupied 815 a. (fn. 197) By 1817 there were four large farms. Tadlow Bridge farm covered c. 480 a. in the south, New England farm c. 380 a. to the north-west, including the land around Pincote until it was sold c. 1901 to the Hatley Park estate. Between them lay Swans, later Church, farm, c. 265 a. north-west of the village, let with Bridge farm from the 1880s, and Tower farm, 196 a., divided after 1930, also having land in Croydon. By 1900 Hooks Mill farm in the south-western corner was farmed with land in Bedfordshire. In the 1950s five smallish farms covered together 983 a. and one large one 611 a. (fn. 198)
Those farms provided almost all the employment in the parish. In 1830 none of the 40 adult labourers were said to be usually unemployed. (fn. 199) In 1861, when there were 27 adult labourers and 9 more under 20, the farmers had work for 29 men and 17 boys. (fn. 200) The number regularly employed fell from 30 in the 1920s to 20 by 1955. (fn. 201) A tanner worked at Tadlow in 1339 (fn. 202) and carpenters were occasionally recorded before 1500, (fn. 203) but by the 19th century it had no resident craftsmen. (fn. 204) In the 1880s nine tenths of the population were said to be of the labouring class, and the most enterprising inhabitants were emigrating from the village. (fn. 205) By the 1950s mechanization had still further reduced the work available within the parish. Most inhabitants worked elsewhere, and in 1972 Tadlow was said to be dying on its feet. (fn. 206)
A mill belonging to Picot's manor in 1086 (fn. 207) was perhaps that given by Ellis le Waleys in 1239 to Chicksands priory; (fn. 208) it was still in use in the 1350s. It probably stood close to the bridges over the river, for the miller's misconduct could flood the common meadows. (fn. 209) Mill Lane near the village was recorded in 1429 and 1576. (fn. 210)
About 1250 the tenants of the Beauchamp fee owed suit every three weeks to courts held for that barony in Bedfordshire. (fn. 211) In the 1320s William St. George claimed to judge his tenants of Pincote in his own court at Hatley. (fn. 212) Effective jurisdiction over Tadlow was, however, exercised by a court leet of the honor of Clare, based at Litlington. About 1260 the earl of Gloucester's steward acquired or usurped for his master an authority (fn. 213) over both the FitzWarin and the Beauchamp fee that was soon acknowledged by Chicksands priory and most other landholders. (fn. 214) Surviving court rolls between 1321 and 1578 (fn. 215) show the court actively enforcing the assize of bread and of ale, appointing aletasters, haywards, and, in the 16th century, (fn. 216) constables, maintaining highways, (fn. 217) and restricting millers' tolls. (fn. 218) In the 16th century it was the regular organ for enforcing agricultural bylaws, but rarely involved itself in transfers of land.
In the early 18th century the small parish could muster a vestry of only three or four. It usually chose only 1 churchwarden, 1 constable, and 1 overseer. Sometimes, as in 1723, one man held all three posts. Until the 1730s the few parish poor, mostly widows, were usually supported from interest on the £10 town stock, accumulated from gifts and cow money. That was no longer possible after expenditure rose after 1750 to over £20. (fn. 219) By 1780 it was over £50, and in 1803, when 3 adults and 30 children received regular relief, over £150. (fn. 220) Between 1813 and 1815 costs were halved to £74, the number on permanent outside relief being reduced from 13 to 6, (fn. 221) but then rose again to £198 in 1819, and varied only between £107 and £138 in the 1820s. (fn. 222) About 1830 the parish allowed large families 1s. a week from the rates, and provided coal for widows. (fn. 223) Included from 1834 in the Caxton and Arrington poor law union, (fn. 224) Tadlow was part of the South Cambridgeshire R.D. from 1934, (fn. 225) and from 1974 of the South Cambridgeshire district.
Picot gave Tadlow church to St. Giles's (later Barnwell) priory when he founded it c. 1092, and Pain Peverel confirmed the gift. (fn. 226) The church, worth 15–25 marks in the 13th century, (fn. 227) had been appropriated by the 1270s, (fn. 228) and probably by 1240, when, after a dispute, Barnwell agreed to let Chicksands priory hold its lands, mills, and cattle free of all tithes great and small for a 5s. pension. (fn. 229) The 80 a. representing Shrewsbury abbey's estate were recognized as free of great tithes in 1843. (fn. 230)
The advowson of the vicarage established by 1275 (fn. 231) remained with Barnwell until the Dissolution, (fn. 232) the priory's last presentation in 1532 being of one of its canons. (fn. 233) The patronage passed with the rectory from the Castells to the Downings, (fn. 234) and after 1800 to Downing College, still patron in the 1970s. (fn. 235) The vicar had the small tithes and in 1615 a glebe of 10 a. of arable. (fn. 236) After the inclosure, all the field land having been absorbed into the Downing estate, he retained only a 4-a. close (fn. 237) east of the village street, where the old vicarage house probably stood. The house was ruinous by 1800, (fn. 238) and, having declined into a labourer's cottage, was demolished c. 1930. In 1830 Downing College gave 6 a. west of the church, on part of which a new vicarage, a square greybrick house known locally as the Great House, was built c. 1833. (fn. 239) Most of the glebe of 10 a. thus recreated was retained until the 1970s. (fn. 240) The house was sold in the 1960s. (fn. 241) The great tithes had also been absorbed into the Downing estate, upon which the farms were normally let tithe free. (fn. 242) Only 65 a. belonging to the Hatley St. George estate, eventually part of its park, remained liable to great tithe. When the tithes were commuted in 1842 a rent charge of £5 10s. was laid upon them, while £127 was awarded to the vicar for his small tithes. (fn. 243) His income had been small. In 1535 he had had only £6 17s. a year, of which the rectory lessee paid £4 as composition. (fn. 244) In 1650 the vicarage was worth only £15 a year, (fn. 245) in the 18th century £30–35, (fn. 246) by 1830 £120, and from 1851 to the 1870s £130 net. (fn. 247)
Tadlow had six vicars between 1378 and 1395. (fn. 248) In the 15th century, when the living was said to be insufficient to support a resident vicar, (fn. 249) only two were recorded between 1410 and 1510. (fn. 250) The vicar c. 1510 augmented his living by dealing in timber. (fn. 251) In 1548 the Crown sold 4½ a. given for an obit. (fn. 252) The former canon regular, who was vicar to 1564 and lived at his adjoining benefice of Cockayne Hatley, was incompetent to preach in 1561, (fn. 253) and by 1564 had not replaced the altar with a communion table. (fn. 254)
The last two vicars presented by Robert Castell, patron from the 1560s, who assisted his nominees by allowing them £10 a year out of the rectory to encourage them to preach diligently, (fn. 255) apparently had puritan leanings. Matthew Chapman, vicar 1575–1613, who regularly resided in his parish, (fn. 256) was unwilling to wear the surplice in 1579. (fn. 257) Samuel Bradstreet, vicar from 1613, (fn. 258) also often resided. (fn. 259) His church had no communion rails in 1638, so that a dog could shock Archbishop Laud by running off with the communion loaf. (fn. 260) In the 1640s Bradstreet withdrew to the Suffolk living that he had held since 1619, but his curate at Tadlow was commended in 1650 as able and pious. (fn. 261)
In the 1660s the rector of East Hatley ministered at Tadlow as curate. (fn. 262) Between 1674 and 1796, except for 1705–9, the Downings and their successors regularly presented the same men to Tadlow and to East Hatley, where the incumbents lived when resident at all. (fn. 263) Tadlow was neglected. In 1683 the bible was torn, and a prayer book and other books were entirely wanting. (fn. 264) From the 1770s to after 1820 the only services were one each Sunday, and communion three times a year, held by curates from neighbouring parishes. In 1807 the vicar himself, presented in 1796 by lapse, was serving a Sussex curacy. There were only four communicants in 1825. (fn. 265)
From 1823 vicars were drawn from the fellows of Downing College, the first, T. C. Willetts, being an ex-barrister. (fn. 266) Richard Dawes, vicar 1826–40 while still chaplain, tutor, and bursar of Downing, (fn. 267) was from 1833 holding Sunday services alternately morning and evening and claimed eight communicants in 1836. (fn. 268) In 1851 his successor, a former Peninsular officer, had 70 adults, besides 25 Sundayschool children, at the single service. (fn. 269) G. M. Sykes, 1854–77, (fn. 270) who restored the church and established a choir, (fn. 271) was by 1873 holding two services every Sunday, preaching at both, and others on weekdays in Lent; 218 of c. 230 parishioners came to church, however irregularly. There were over 30 communicants at communions then held 15 or 16 times a year, (fn. 272) and by 1885 fortnightly. In 1897 there were c. 160 churchgoers, drawn from the labourers. (fn. 273) H. W. P. Stevens, vicar 1889–1940, (fn. 274) diligently managed and supported two church day schools, two night schools, a young men's club, a workmen's thrift club, and a free parish library, and he repulsed Mormon missionaries. (fn. 275) From 1951 Tadlow was held with Croydon and other parishes and belonged after 1966 to the Shingay team group. (fn. 276)
The church, formerly of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, (fn. 277) but by 1748 of ST. GILES, (fn. 278) is built of field stones with clunch dressings, and comprises a chancel, nave with south porch, and west tower. (fn. 279) The nave and chancel were built in the 13th century, on an orientation distorted to match that of the adjoining furlongs. The slightly later south doorway has elaborate mouldings; the north one is blocked. The three-storey west tower, more correctly oriented, was added after 1400. Money was left for making the steeple in 1472. (fn. 280) Also in the 15th century three windows were inserted in the south wall of the nave, and an arch, perhaps leading to a chapel, was cut through the east end of the north wall. Later blocked, it was reopened c. 1867 to lead to a new organ chamber. (fn. 281)
Although a chalice was sold c. 1550 to pay for repairs to the nave, (fn. 282) the chancel was open to the weather in the 1560s (fn. 283) and still unthatched c. 1600. (fn. 284) When it was repaired c. 1685 it was apparently shortened by one bay but still had no seating. (fn. 285) A chancel screen, which survived in 1748 when there were still no communion rails, (fn. 286) was removed c. 1849. (fn. 287) A thorough restoration began in the 1850s, when Downing College rebuilt the 13th-century chancel arch and the south porch. William Butterfield was called in in 1858, and in 1859–60 and 1866–7, under his direction, the stonework was largely renewed. The chancel was again extended eastwards; it was decorated inside with stripes of fierce red tiles, and a marble font and reredos were installed. (fn. 288) The font replaced one of the 13th century. (fn. 289) In 1893–4 the tower was repaired and the chancel roof ceiled. (fn. 290)
The monuments include a slab with a badly worn inscription for William Brograve's wife Margaret (d. 1490). (fn. 291) The plate, mostly given in 1878, includes a cup of c. 1570. (fn. 292) Of the three bells recorded in 1552 and 1748 (fn. 293) one, with a blackletter inscription to St. Andrew, survives. (fn. 294) The others were sold c. 1820 to pay for repairs and replaced with two new ones in 1893. (fn. 295) An organ was acquired in 1856. (fn. 296) The parish registers begin in 1653, but for baptisms in 1660. (fn. 297)
In 1579 Mary Johnson of Hobledods manor and in 1638 Henry St. George were presented as recusant papists. (fn. 298) There were two dissenters in 1676. (fn. 299) The two Presbyterian families recorded in 1728 (fn. 300) and the few Methodists mentioned in 1825, having no meeting house in Tadlow, (fn. 301) presumably worshipped elsewhere, as did ten or more chapelgoers in the late 19th century. In 1897 a Particular Baptist was chosen as people's churchwarden. (fn. 302)
Tadlow had no school before the 1830s. (fn. 303) About 1827 the vicar was supporting children at a Sunday school at Wrestlingworth (Beds.). (fn. 304) One that he started in Tadlow itself expired before 1836. (fn. 305) By 1843 another with c. 40 pupils was being held in the church, but only 3 or 4 adult labourers were literate c. 1855. (fn. 306) In 1861 a labourer's wife was teaching some of c. 40 children. (fn. 307) A schoolroom and schoolhouse were built in 1866 for a church day school opened in 1867. Most of its annual costs were met at first from subscriptions by Downing College and the farmers. (fn. 308) The school could accommodate 69 pupils, but in 1878 when 70 children were on the books average attendance was only 23. (fn. 309) Between 1885 and 1905 it rose to 40, (fn. 310) and despite its small size the school was effective. (fn. 311) An evening school for adolescents, run by the vicar c. 1870, (fn. 312) had been revived by 1885, when it had 12 pupils, (fn. 313) but was abandoned in 1908. (fn. 314) At the day school attendance fell from 23 in 1914 to 15 in 1921; (fn. 315) the school was closed in 1922, the 11 remaining children going to Wrestlingworth. From 1931 Tadlow children attended Bassingbourn school. (fn. 316)
Charities for the Poor.
In 1559 one man left money from hiring out a cow for the poor every Good Friday. (fn. 317) In the 1650s the parish held for the poor c. £10, including £2 10s. given by Matthew Chapman, vicar 1575–1613, and £5 received c. 1655; the interest was distributed by Col. Robert Castell. (fn. 318) That stock was not recorded after 1750. (fn. 319)
Mrs. Eliza Higgins of Boston (Mass.), by will proved 1918, gave £7,500 for the poor of Tadlow, where her father Thomas MacGregor had farmed in the 1850s. The legacy fell due in 1929 and was invested to yield £264 a year. The Thomas MacGregor Benefaction was regulated by a Scheme of 1934. At first the income was distributed in coal and blankets, but was too great for that sole purpose; by the late 1940s two thirds of the income went to the few needy in cash and kind, the balance being given almost universally in coal and cockerels at Christmas. A Scheme of 1953 enlarged the objects of the charity. In 1963 the accumulated balance was used to buy the former church schoolroom for use as a village hall. In the 1960s and 1970s up to £160 was given annually in cash to old age pensioners, the rest going on fuel, help in sickness, and school outings. (fn. 320)