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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CROYDON CUM CLOPTON
The parish of Croydon cum Clopton, (fn. 1) 16 km. south-west of Cambridge, covers 1,106 ha. (2,734 a.), (fn. 2) of which c. 1,605 a. and c. 1,125 a. derive respectively from the originally separate vills of Croydon and Clopton, (fn. 3) united in 1561. (fn. 4) The modern parish, approximately triangular, is bounded on the south by the Cam or Rhee, and along its other sides by ancient field boundaries. Its southern half, resting upon gault, rises gently from under 25 metres by the river to 45 metres at the foot of a chalk down mounting sharply to 75 metres. The northern part, a plateau at over 75 metres, is entirely overlaid with heavy boulder clay, on which, however, there remained in 1086 barely enough timber for hedging. (fn. 5) The woods called Gilrays (12 a.) and Rowses (8 a.), by the river near the south-west and south-east corners of Clopton, were not recorded before the 18th century, when spinneys had also grown up near the deserted site of Clopton village. (fn. 6) In 1905 there were 34 a. of woodland. (fn. 7) The whole parish has been devoted to agriculture. The open fields, once under a biennial rotation, were inclosed for pasture at Clopton c. 1500, at Croydon c. 1640. From the late 18th century the land mostly reverted gradually to arable farming.
The two villages stood on the chalk slope at the spring line, Croydon 1½ km. west of the Old North Road, Clopton another 1½ km. further west. At Clopton, where there were traces of Roman occupation, an Anglo-Saxon village covering 30 a. had been established by the 10th century. (fn. 8) There were 18 peasants there in 1086 (fn. 9) and probably c. 20 taxpayers in 1318. Some 32 people paid the wool levy in 1347. (fn. 10) The medieval churchyard received four levels of graves between the 12th century and the 15th. (fn. 11) By 1524, after the inclosure, the only households were those of the lady of the manor and five labourers. (fn. 12) In 1561 only two households remained in the parish, (fn. 13) whose former area contained only five or six scattered farms c. 1750 (fn. 14) and later. The deserted site of the medieval village (fn. 15) slopes downward from an ancient road just below the hill crest. The church and manor house stood facing one another in the northern half of the village, whose main street, diverted around the churchyard after 1200, ran from north-east to south-west between them. (fn. 16) They were surrounded by the peasants' crofts, many of whose earthworks are still traceable. A cobbled area, repeatedly renewed, just north of the church, may have served for the Friday market granted to Robert Hoo, lord of Clopton, in 1292. (fn. 17)
Croydon contained c. 28 peasants in 1086. (fn. 18) There were 24 taxpayers in 1327; (fn. 19) 38 people owned wool in 1347, (fn. 20) and 78 paid the poll tax in 1377. (fn. 21) In 1524 20 people were assessed for the subsidy, (fn. 22) and there were 19 households in 1563. (fn. 23) After the union with Clopton the population may have reached c. 140 in the early 17th century, but prob- ably fell to c. 90 under Charles II, (fn. 24) when there were over 20 houses (fn. 25) and in 1676 65 adults. (fn. 26) In 1778 there were still only 22 families. (fn. 27) From the 1750s numbers ranged between 150 and 190, (fn. 28) and had reached 208 by 1801, when there were 34 families. The population then grew rapidly, doubling to c. 440 in the 1830s and reaching a peak of 545 in 1871, (fn. 29) when 3 families with 21 members lived at the site of Clopton. (fn. 30) Thereafter numbers declined steadily to 426 by 1891 and c. 325 in the 1900s. After 1920 the population fluctuated around 230, and in 1971 was only 205, below the level of 1801. (fn. 31)
The modern village of Croydon stretches along the north side of a street running east and west along the hillside. Habitation probably once extended further north around the green, still so styled in 1750, (fn. 32) which lay on the brow of the hill between the church and manor house, and also south along a lane leading between two moated sites towards the river. A few timber framed houses of the late 17th or early 18th century, such as Church Farm, survive on the street. Elsewhere the farmhouses out in the fields, probably of that period, depicted in 1750, had mostly decayed (fn. 33) and been replaced by square grey-brick ones in the early 19th century. Most of the cottages in the village also date from that period. The number of inhabited dwellings rose from 41 in 1821 to 81 by 1831 and 105 by 1871, (fn. 34) when nearly 60 stood along the street, and c. 48 elsewhere, mostly by the new turnpike road. (fn. 35) Later the village shrank again. There were only c. 60 houses from 1920 to 1950, and still only 70 in 1971. (fn. 36) A few council houses had been built south of the street, but otherwise development was discouraged. (fn. 37)
The main east-west route through the parish formerly ran along a terrace on the hillside, past the villages and on to Tadlow. (fn. 38) Along the northern boundary Croydon Old Lane led south-west towards the Hatleys. A minor track across the flatter ground south of the villages, called c. 1750 the Royston road, (fn. 39) was improved and partly realigned in 1826 to form part of the CambridgeBiggleswade turnpike, and a road north over Croydon Hill towards the Hatleys was made in 1830. (fn. 40) In 1827 Downing college established the Downing Arms at a farmhouse on the new turnpike. (fn. 41) Rebuilt in the late 19th century, it was open in 1979. In the 1830s two carpenters opened public houses in the village; (fn. 42) the Axe and Compasses, closed after 1937 and by 1960, and the Queen Adelaide, transformed into a restaurant in 1975. (fn. 43)
By 1086 Anschil and Alfred held under Picot the sheriff respectively 21/8 and 1¼ hides in Croydon, owned in 1066 by two men of Robert FitzWymarc. (fn. 44) Lordship over Anschil's manor descended with Picot's barony of Bourn (fn. 45) to the Peverels, and was included in the portion which at the division of c. 1150 passed to the Pecches and by surrender in 1284 to the Crown. (fn. 46) As TAILBOYS manor, it was said to be held of the Crown, as of the honor of Peverel, from the 14th century. (fn. 47)
By the early 12th century that manor, held usually as 1 knight's fee, (fn. 48) belonged to one Hugh, who was succeeded by his son William and grandson (fn. 49) Hugh of Croydon, tenant in 1166 (d. by 1199). Hugh's son John, (fn. 50) not of age until 1212, (fn. 51) died in 1229. The manor probably remained with his widow Sibyl from 1230 (fn. 52) to after 1261. (fn. 53) In 1230 she had married Robert Sulman, named as lord c. 1235. (fn. 54) Hugh of Croydon, perhaps John's son, was dead by 1263 when his widow Mary released 50 a. to the Hospitallers of Shingay. (fn. 55) In 1277 Philip of Croydon sold the manor to William of Brompton, a justice of the common pleas from 1278. (fn. 56) In 1285 Brompton also acquired from the Andeville heiress a manor with 64 a. of demesne, (fn. 57) derived from the 2 hides in Croydon held in 1086 by Humphrey de Andeville of Eudes the steward, which had descended with Clopton manor. (fn. 58) Brompton settled his lands, including over 330 a. in Croydon and Clopton, in 1286. (fn. 59) He was disgraced for corruption in 1289, (fn. 60) and his lands were temporarily confiscated, (fn. 61) but he had recovered Croydon by 1302, probably dying c. 1303. (fn. 62)
William Tailboys, of a prominent Northumberland family (fn. 63) had acquired it by 1315. (fn. 64) He was still lord in 1347, (fn. 65) but, before his death in 1364, (fn. 66) and probably by 1354, it had passed to another Northumberland man, Sir William Heron (fn. 67) of Ford. (fn. 68) When Heron died in 1379 Tailboys manor, with another 210 a. at Croydon held of other fees, and appendages in three neighbouring parishes, descended, unlike his north country lands, to his eldest son Sir Roger Heron. (fn. 69) From 1389 to 1395 William Tailboys's grandson and heir Walter (d. 1411) sued Sir Roger and his wife Margaret to regain the manor. (fn. 70) Walter possibly recovered some rights, for his son Walter (d. 1444) was named as lord of Croydon in 1428, (fn. 71) and that Walter's son, the turbulent William Tailboys (executed 1464), was thought to have land there at his forfeiture in 1461. (fn. 72)
The bulk of the manor, however, remained with the Herons. Sir Roger was dead by 1400. (fn. 73) His son William died that year, leaving a new-born son William. (fn. 74) The manor remained with Margaret (d. 1407), for her life. (fn. 75) In 1401 she married John Blacket, a king's esquire, (fn. 76) who obtained William's wardship in 1407 and occupied the manor in 1412. (fn. 77) William had livery in 1423, (fn. 78) but died in 1425, leaving as heir a daughter Elizabeth, (fn. 79) who in 1438 married John Heron of Ford, descended from a younger brother of Sir Roger. (fn. 80) A Lancastrian, Sir John Heron was killed and attainted in 1461, (fn. 81) and the manor was granted in 1465 to Thomas Gray, esquire to Edward IV, in possession from 1462. (fn. 82) Sir John's son Roger obtained a reversal of the attainder in 1472, (fn. 83) and apparently gave Tailboys manor to William Tailboys's son Robert, who c. 1467 had married Roger's sister Elizabeth. (fn. 84)
Sir Robert Tailboys died holding Croydon in 1495 and was succeeded by his son George, (fn. 85) knighted in 1497. Sir George was insane from 1517. Many of his estates fell under the control of his son Gilbert. (fn. 86) Gilbert was in 1529 created Lord Tailboys, and died in 1530. His father survived to 1538. Gilbert's sons George and Robert died in 1540 and 1541, leaving as heir their sister Elizabeth. By 1542 she had married her father's widow's ward Thomas Wimbish. (fn. 87) In 1545 he and Elizabeth sold Tailboys manor to Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, who in 1546 resold the manor with 360 a. of demesne to William Walter, (fn. 88) already lord of Francis manor in Croydon, with which it thereafter descended.
FRANCIS manor possibly included the 1¼ hide held by Alfred in 1086, for its tenants were said in the late 12th century to have held of the Picots of Boxworth, (fn. 89) and were apparently parceners with the Croydons c. 1212. (fn. 90) In 1279 1¼ hide, part of Francis manor, was held of Denise de Munchensy, a granddaughter of Gilbert Pecche (d. 1212). (fn. 91) In 1346 half the manor was held of her great-grandson, Lawrence Hastings, earl of Pembroke. Another moiety, belonging in 1346 to the Scalers fee, (fn. 92) was presumably derived from 3¼ hides held in 1086 by two knights of Hardwin de Scalers, (fn. 93) lordship over which descended with the Whaddon half of the Scalers barony. (fn. 94) About 1250 its lord Geoffrey de Scalers and his vassal Thomas of Whaddon were themselves said to occupy 2¾ hides in Croydon. (fn. 95) A third fraction of the later Francis manor, including 30 a. of demesne in 1279 and held of the fee of Brittany, (fn. 96) probably represented the 7/8 hide held in 1066 under Eddeva and by 1086 of Count Alan by Almar of Bourn. (fn. 97)
Probably by c. 1150 those three estates had been consolidated by the Feugeres family, their tenants in demesne, descending until c. 1270 with its Abington Pigotts manor. (fn. 98) About 1199 Alan de Feugeres, then tenant, sued Ralph son of Joscelin for 1 hide at Croydon, which Ralph claimed to hold of Alan as ⅓ knight's fee. (fn. 99) Ralph still held it c. 1235, and John Goscelin c. 1250 had 1 hide, (fn. 100) which William Goscelin (fl. to 1302) held in 1279 of Hamon Pichard, a Feugeres coheir, under the Scalers. By 1346 it had passed to the Hospitallers of Shingay. (fn. 101) An associated fee of 1½ hide belonged in the mid 13th century to Humphrey at Minster, (fn. 102) and by 1302 to Robert at Church, also passing to the Hospitallers. (fn. 103) In the 1570s a manor styled that of John of, or Humphrey at, the 'Monastery' was incorporated with Tailboys and Francis manors. (fn. 104)
The latter estate had been divided among coheirs when the Feugeres male line failed c. 1270. One fraction with 27 a. belonged by 1279 to Hamon Pichard, (fn. 105) with whose Abington land it descended until the 1340s. (fn. 106) By 1381 what was perhaps the same fraction with 60 a. belonged to the Herons. (fn. 107) The greater part, with 115 a. of demesne, was owned in 1279 by Richard le Fraunceys, (fn. 108) who had bought out two other Feugeres coheirs in 1272 (fn. 109) and died after 1283. (fn. 110) From his successor John Fraunceys, tenant in 1302 and 1327 (fn. 111) (d. c. 1337), (fn. 112) that manor passed to Richard Fraunceys, tenant in 1346, (fn. 113) whose daughter and heir Eleanor married first Sir John Norwich (d. s.p. 1373) (fn. 114) and then by 1377 Geoffrey Cobbe. In 1380 Cobbe held with her 2 carucates at Croydon, (fn. 115) briefly forfeited for his insurgency in 1381. (fn. 116)
The estate next passed to John Walter of Orwell, who had land at Croydon by 1363 and occupied a manor there in 1381. (fn. 117) He was succeeded between 1388 (fn. 118) and 1405 by John Walter, probably his son, (fn. 119) lord of Francis manor in 1428. (fn. 120) That John died in 1460, leaving a son Walter (fn. 121) (d. c. 1470). Walter left a life interest in the manor to his widow Agnes with remainder in tail male to his illegitimate son John, who turned Agnes out after a lawsuit in 1488, (fn. 122) but had himself died without issue by 1499. The manor then came to Henry Walter, a London scrivener, son of John's uncle Henry. (fn. 123) The younger Henry died in 1527, leaving it to his son William. Francis manor was then said to be held in socage of the Hospitallers of Shingay, (fn. 124) and later of their successors there. (fn. 125) On William's death in 1559 Francis and Tailboys manors descended to his son John (fn. 126) (d. 1582), who in 1579 transferred that estate to his son William. (fn. 127) The latter leased and mortgaged it in 1585 to Anthony Cage of Longstowe, selling out to him in 1591. (fn. 128)
Cage died in 1603, having devised Croydon to two younger sons, who were bought out in 1606 by his eldest son John, knighted in 1609. (fn. 129) In 1616 Sir John acquired from Richard Godfrey all his lands, including c. 230 a. of the former Tailboys demesne which Richard's ancestor Luke Godfrey had bought from Sir Robert Tyrwhitt in 1554. (fn. 130) Sir John died in 1628. His son and heir Anthony (fn. 131) was heavily indebted long before he was fined as a royalist in 1648. (fn. 132) In 1643 he had mortgaged to Rose Hale, who took possession in 1645, c. 655 a. in the south of Croydon, which her representatives retained until after 1675. (fn. 133) In 1655 Ralph Bovey foreclosed on a mortgage of another 850 a. including the Wilds farm. (fn. 134) After Bovey's death in 1679 his widow sold that land in 1681 to John Gape the younger of St. Albans (Herts.) (d. 1734). (fn. 135) Meanwhile Sir Anthony Cage had died in 1668, leaving his little remaining land in Croydon to his son William Cage, and his other rights there to his daughter Anne and her husband Henry Slingsby to be sold to pay off the mortgages. (fn. 136) Instead they at once settled the manor on themselves. (fn. 137) In 1676 William Cage conveyed up to 120 a. in Croydon to Sir George Downing, already owner of Clopton, (fn. 138) whose family's estates later included c. 647 a. in the south of Croydon, probably derived through the 1643 mortgage. (fn. 139) Henry Slingsby died in 1690 and Anne in 1695. (fn. 140) Their younger son Anthony (d. s.p. 1697) inherited the manorial rights and devised them to his sister Elizabeth and her husband Adelard Cage, (fn. 141) who in 1704 conveyed their last 25 a. at Croydon to John Gape. (fn. 142)
The manorial estate, thus partly reunited, and comprising in 1747 c. 840 a. (fn. 143) and in 1839 899 a., (fn. 144) descended from John Gape (d. 1734) in successive generations to William Gape (d. 1742), Thomas Gape (d. 1799), the Revd. James Carpenter Gape (d. 1827), and Thomas Foreman Gape (d. s.p. 1857). The latter's brother George (d. 1874) was succeeded by his son James John (d. 1904) whose grandson and heir W. N. W. Gape died in 1942, (fn. 145) leaving his lands to his widow Sibyl. About 1949 she sold the Croydon farms, mainly to their tenants. (fn. 146)
A manor house, perhaps that of Tailboys manor, probably stood on a moated site on the high ground 600 metres north-west of the church. (fn. 147) About 1840 a new farmhouse was built slightly west of it for Manor farm. (fn. 148) Four other moats south of the village (fn. 149) are perhaps attributable to the lesser estates combined into Francis manor. A regular moat, 90 metres square, was made in the north end of the parish by the Cages in the early 17th century around a house described by 1648 as the 'mansion house upon the Wilds'. (fn. 150) It was later also named Croydon Tower (fn. 151) from the square tower which stood in the middle of the brick E-plan house. In 1664 it had 14 hearths. Later used as the farmhouse for Croydon Wilds farm, its surviving northern part was demolished c. 1957 by the farmer. (fn. 152)
Three yardlands at Croydon held by Earl Roger in 1086 (fn. 153) presumably passed with his Shingay manor to the Hospitallers, who had c. 50 a. in Croydon in 1279 and 1338. (fn. 154) Much land there was still attached to the Shingay estate in 1547 and 1615, (fn. 155) but it was probably included, along with the rectorial glebe once appropriated by Barnwell priory, in the Russells' sale of their Croydon land to Sir John Cage in 1618. (fn. 156) In the 13th century small properties in Croydon were acquired and let at fee farm by Warden abbey (Beds.) (fn. 157) and Sawtry abbey (Hunts.). (fn. 158)
In 1086 a manor of 1½ hide at Clopton, to which 2 hides at Croydon and 1¼ hide at East Hatley were attached, was held by Humphrey de Andeville of Eudes the steward (fn. 159) (d. s.p. 1120). Eudes's barony was later divided: the lordship over Clopton was included in the portion granted by Henry II to his chamberlain Warin FitzGerold (d. s.p. 1159), (fn. 160) whose brother Henry was overlord in 1166. (fn. 161) From Henry's elder son Warin the overlordship passed through a daughter to the Redvers earls of Devon. Upon the death of Isabel, countess of Aumale, in 1293, (fn. 162) the FitzGerold inheritance came to Warin de Lisle of Rougemont (d. 1296), great-grandson of Henry FitzGerold's younger son Henry. In 1326 Clopton was held as ¼ knight's fee of Warin's son Robert (d. 1344), (fn. 163) whose grandson Robert (d. c. 1395) surrendered his 86 knight's fees, including Clopton, to the Crown in 1368. (fn. 164) Under Henry VI the manor was still said to be held of Lisles fee, (fn. 165) but by 1471, perhaps from confusion with Clopton (Northants.), the overlordship was ascribed to Thorney abbey, (fn. 166) whose successor at Thorney, Sir William Russell, was named as overlord in 1596. (fn. 167)
CLOPTON BURY manors (fn. 168) also called WAKEFIELDSc. 1480 and in 1530, (fn. 169) was held in demesne by 1166 by Thomas de Andeville, (fn. 170) whose son Hamelin (fl. 1198–1217) (fn. 171) was succeeded by Richard de Andeville, lord c. 1235 and in 1242. (fn. 172) The next lord Alexander de Andeville died between 1271 and 1274. (fn. 173) His widow Beatrice held Clopton in dower in 1279. (fn. 174) By 1283 their daughter Beatrice had married Robert Hoo, who was granted free warren there in 1292. (fn. 175) In 1298 they granted the manor for his life to William Bereford, chief justice of the Common Pleas 1309–26, (fn. 176) to whom, after Robert's death in 1310, Beatrice released the freehold in 1313. (fn. 177)
When Bereford died in 1326 his heir was his eldest surviving son Edmund, (fn. 178) already in holy orders and a pluralist. (fn. 179) Of Edmund's three illegitimate sons, (fn. 180) upon whom he settled his extensive lands before his death in 1354, the second, Baldwin, received Clopton in tail male in 1342, subject to a life interest for Margaret, countess of Hereford, and succeeded to the remaining lands in 1356. (fn. 181) In 1372 Sir Baldwin Bereford sold Clopton manor to William Newport, a London fishmonger, (fn. 182) who died in 1391 having provided for its sale. (fn. 183) By 1393 it had been acquired by the brothers Richard and Thomas Haselden of Guilden Morden, (fn. 184) after whose deaths possession came in 1405 to their illegitimate cousin Hugh Haselden. In 1406, however, following the aged Sir Baldwin Bereford's death in 1405, (fn. 185) the descendants of Edmund Bereford's three sisters and lawful heirs, Joan, Agnes, and Margaret, won their claim to the manor on the expiry of the entail. (fn. 186) They divided the manor into fractions between them.
Agnes's interest, descending through the Argentines of Melbourn, came to the descendants of her three granddaughters, Elizabeth, Joan, and Maud. (fn. 187) Elizabeth's son, Sir Baldwin St. George (d. 1425), was succeeded by his grandson William St. George, named as a coparcener in 1428. (fn. 188) Joan Argentine's rights passed through her daughter Margaret Bokenham, whose daughter Margaret and her husband Robert FitzRalph sold their share in 1431 to Robert Clopton, a London draper. (fn. 189) Maud married Sir Ives FitzWarin of Dorset, (fn. 190) who died in 1414, holding supposedly a sixth of Clopton manor. His daughter and heir Eleanor, (fn. 191) then wife of Sir John Chidiock (d. 1415), (fn. 192) married Ralph Bush in 1416 and died in 1433. (fn. 193) When Bush died in 1441, the ninth of Clopton Bury which he still held (fn. 194) passed to his stepson Sir John Chidiock (d. 1450), whose rights were inherited by two daughters. (fn. 195)
From Joan Bereford, wife of Sir Gilbert Chels- field, a reversionary title to a third of the manor descended to two great-granddaughters, Joan, wife of Thomas Loundres, a plaintiff in 1406 but not recorded at Clopton later, and Anne, whose daughter Joan married John Hore of Childerley, another plaintiff, still tenant in 1428. (fn. 196) Hore died soon after 1434, (fn. 197) leaving half of a third of Clopton manor to his son Gilbert who in 1445 sold it to Alderman Robert Clopton. (fn. 198)
The remaining third of Clopton Bury manor came in 1406 to Sir Philip Sinclair of Kent, descended through the Audleys, lords of Horseheath, from Margaret Bereford. (fn. 199) He died in 1408, and his third passed in succession to his sons John (fn. 200) (d. s.p. 1418 aged 21), (fn. 201) and Thomas, of age in 1423, (fn. 202) who died in 1435, leaving three daughters. (fn. 203) His third share was assigned to Elizabeth, the eldest, who with her husband William Lovell sold it in 1457 to Robert Clopton the younger. (fn. 204) He was kinsman and successor to the elder Robert Clopton, an alderman from 1434 and mayor of London 1441–2 (fn. 205) (d. 1448), (fn. 206) who had probably acquired all the other fractions of Bury manor. In 1457 2/3 of it were settled in tail upon the marriage of his namesake. When the younger Robert died without issue in 1471, the whole manor passed to his brother William. (fn. 207) In 1486 William promised to sell his estate to Thomas Thoresby, a merchant of King's Lynn (Norf.), then in possession as lessee and mortgagee. (fn. 208) In 1489, however, he sold it instead, except for the manor house which he reserved for himself and his wife Gillian to live in, to John Fisher, serjeant-at-law. Fisher bought out Thoresby's claim, but had many disputes with William Clopton (d. after 1501). (fn. 209)
When Fisher, a justice of the Common Pleas 1501–9, (fn. 210) died in 1510, Clopton descended to his son Michael. (fn. 211) However, just before Gillian died, still occupying the manor house, in 1525 the estate was seized by Thomas Chicheley of Wimpole, claiming as grandson and heir of Alderman Clopton's daughter Alice. In 1527, following arbitration, he sold his interest to Michael Fisher, (fn. 212) who was knighted by 1529 (fn. 213) and died in 1549. His heir was his daughter Agnes, wife of Oliver St. John, (fn. 214) created in 1559 Lord St. John of Bletsoe, who died in 1582. (fn. 215) From his eldest son John (d. 1596) Clopton Bury passed to John's daughter Anne, (fn. 216) who in 1597 married William Howard, by courtesy Lord Howard of Effingham (d. s.p. 1615). (fn. 217) In 1616 Anne sold Clopton to Francis Russell, then Lord Russell of Thornhaugh (fn. 218) and from 1627 earl of Bedford (d. 1641). Clopton was probably used to support Earl Francis's fifth son Edward. (fn. 219) In 1677 the Russells sold it to Sir George Downing, (fn. 220) with whose Cambridgeshire lands it descended thereafter, passing in 1800 to Downing College, Cambridge. (fn. 221) The college sold its farms in Croydon and Clopton in 1947, mostly to the tenants. (fn. 222) The manor house, called in 1490 the Bury, presumably stood within the round moat towards the north-east corner of the former village. (fn. 223) It was last recorded in 1525. (fn. 224) The farmhouse which replaced it, itself rebuilt in brick in the early 18th century, declined after 1750 into cottages and was demolished soon after 1900. (fn. 225)
Another manor in Clopton, ROWSES, derived from the 3½ hides held in 1086 by the bishop of Winchester, (fn. 226) with whose Steeple Morden estate the land passed in Stephen's reign to the honor of Boulogne. (fn. 227) Rowses was later held of that honor, the lords of Cheyneys manor in Steeple Morden being mesne lords of 1¼ hide of it. Another 1¼ hide was held of Lesnes abbey (Kent), (fn. 228) founded in 1178, (fn. 229) to which Robert de Rokelle gave it in free alms. (fn. 230) In 1196 Simon le Rous, whose father William had been tenant in Henry I's reign, successfully sued the abbey's tenant Ralph son of Everard for that half manor, (fn. 231) which the Rouses thenceforth held of the abbey as 1/5 fee, for £2 10s. a year (fn. 232) regularly paid until the 15th century. (fn. 233) Simon (fl. 1209) (fn. 234) was succeeded by William le Rous, probably his son, (fn. 235) tenant from 1217 (fn. 236) to his death in 1250. His son and heir Geoffrey (d. 1267) left a son Robert aged 4, (fn. 237) who in 1294 sold the Clopton land to Hugh Clopton. (fn. 238) When Hugh died in 1306 Rowses and 80 a. held of Bury manor passed to an infant kinswoman Maud, (fn. 239) whose wardship was purchased by Hugh le Rous of Oakington, lord c. 1317. (fn. 240) John le Rous, lord by 1327, held 120 a. at Clopton in 1345 (fn. 241) and died in 1356. The lord of Cheyneys then granted Rowses to William Childerley. (fn. 242) William Newport (d. 1391) probably owned it by 1381, (fn. 243) and it passed with Bury manor to the Haseldens. (fn. 244) In 1430, when Rowses was occupied by Sir Robert Hakebeche and his wife Joan for her life, John Middleton sold the reversion to Alderman Clopton, (fn. 245) to whom Richard Haselden's grandson William released it in 1445. (fn. 246) Thereafter it passed with the Bury manor, into which it merged after 1550. (fn. 247) Its manor house possibly stood near Rowses wood.
Between 1066 and 1086 the total yield of Croydon was reduced from £12 to £10 15s. In 1086 there were still only 9¼ ploughteams on the 11½ ploughlands, and the peasants, including c. 11 villani, 17 bordars, and 3 cottars, were poorly equipped with ploughing beasts. Some 9 villani on the Andeville estate had 2 teams between them, and there were possibly barely 2 other peasant teams, suggesting that manorial demesne already comprised up to half the vill. (fn. 248) At Clopton the value of the manors, having fallen from £7 to £4 after the Conquest, had partially recovered to £6 by 1086. The 6 teams working the 7 ploughlands belonged half to the lords, half to the 6 villani on the Winchester manor; the 12 bordars had none. (fn. 249)
In 1279 William of Brompton had at Croydon nominally 4½ yardlands, 30 a. each, of demesne arable. The demesne of Francis manor comprised in all 140 a. Few villeins were noted. Brompton's probably owed weekwork, but on the Francis and Andeville fees 5 third-yardlanders owed only 2 to 5 boon-works and 2 carrying services each. At least 250 a. were held freely, in parcels seldom exceeding 10 a., by over 35 tenants. (fn. 250) Their rents probably yielded most of the £5 payable to Brompton in 1285. The demesnes later expanded at the tenants' expense. By 1285 Brompton owned 320 a. in Croydon, (fn. 251) having purchased 102 a. since 1277. (fn. 252) In 1381 Tailboys manor included 190 a. held of other manors, (fn. 253) and by 1545 probably 500 a. of arable, 34 a. of meadow, and 52 a. of pasture. (fn. 254) In 1528 the Francis demesne, which had been partly leased to three farmers c. 1470, covered c. 200 a. of arable and 27 a. of grass. (fn. 255)
At Clopton the Andevilles had in 1279 had 3 hides of demesne arable. Their free tenants, including one with 55 a. and one yardlander and two halfyardlanders, held in all 135 a., while 60 a. was held in villeinage by one half-yardlander and six quarteryardlanders. The half-yardlander owed two works a week from Michaelmas to Lammas and had to plough every Friday in the autumn and reap and carry the corn for four days in harvest, besides other carrying services every Saturday. The quarteryardlanders owed services in proportion, including three works a fortnight in the spring. On Rowses manor, where Hugh Clopton had in 1306 altogether 225 a., there were no villeins in 1267. In 1279 only one tenant, holding a half-yardland under a freeholder, owed labour service, from July to September. The remaining tenant land, c. 150 a., was held freely, mainly by 2 yardlanders, 4 half-yardlanders and 2 quarter-yardlanders. (fn. 256)
By 1423 there were 12 customary tenants on Clopton Bury manor, paying £6 a year in rent. Its demesne, then leased, included 300 a. of arable and 6 a. of meadow, (fn. 257) to which the acquisition of Rowses had added 80 a. by 1471. (fn. 258) The peasants were also consolidating their holdings. Before the 1480s eleven tenements, seven of them with messuages in Clopton, had included three with 100 a. of arable each, one of 80 a., three of 60 a., and four of 40–50 a. All those holdings, altogether 960 a. of arable and 80 a. of grass, were gradually acquired by the Cloptons, (fn. 259) William Clopton buying one of the last, Grandfather's place with 100 a., c. 1482. Borrowing to finance his purchases contributed to oblige him to mortgage the manor. Much land was probably converted to pasture by the Cloptons. In 1485 Thomas Thoresby as lessee sent many sheep and cattle to Clopton upon taking up his lease, and found 92 loads of hay in the barns. (fn. 260)
Until the 15th century the Clopton arable remained in open fields, being divided into the high field and the east and west low fields, (fn. 261) probably above and below the chalk slope. The far northern end, called Clopton Wilds c. 1485, (fn. 262) may have remained rough pasture. In the 1490s John Fisher, possessing almost all the lay property in the parish, finally inclosed the fields and laid them under grass. After 1500 he gradually dispossessed the rector, the only other remaining landowner, of his glebe. He brought actions for trespass against those brought in to mark out the glebe, and against William Clopton, still the rectory lessee; (fn. 263) and it was impossible to use the rector's isolated and unfenced strips amidst the new pastures either for sowing corn or feeding cattle. About 1512 the rector ceded possession to Michael Fisher. (fn. 264) In 1579 Clopton manor had c. 200 a. of meadow and 1,000 a. of pasture, but only 100 a. of arable. (fn. 265)
The open fields of Croydon survived longer. In 1279 they had been under a biennial rotation. (fn. 266) In 1547 they were divided between the north field, probably lying along the eastern side of the parish, and the east, middle, and west fields, apparently stretching round from south-east to north-west: the last two both abutted Clopton hedge, and the west field touched East Hatley. (fn. 267) In the early 17th century the arable lay in the low field and two high fields. (fn. 268) A strip of meadow covering 80 a. ran along the river. (fn. 269) Beyond the northern fields lay the 'walds' of Croydon, mentioned in 1285, when a corpse could lie hidden there, (fn. 270) and presumably uncultivated. In the 16th century Croydon was still growing the usual crops, wheat, oats, and barley. Husbandmen then often owned milking cattle. (fn. 271) Earlier, sheep had perhaps been more important, although the vill had only 20 a. of recognized common pasture in 1279. (fn. 272) In 1086 Croydon had carried a demesne flock of 300, and Clopton one of 243 sheep. (fn. 273) In 1347 Croydon had rendered c. 70 stone to the wool levy, of which 21 stone came from manorial flocks and 18½ more from four other men providing 2 stone or more. Clopton had probably then produced 52 stone, 15 from the manors, and 14 from five other substantial wool producers. (fn. 274)
At Croydon also holdings were engrossed in the early 16th century. Of the £86 assessed for tax in 1524 £45 belonged to Richard Godfrey and £28 to two other yeomen; 12 of 17 others taxed paid only on their wages. (fn. 275) Godfrey was already buying up other men's half-yardlands. (fn. 276) In 1547, when there was only one other substantial resident landowner, he owned 60 a. besides land in Hatley and Bassingbourn, (fn. 277) and by the 1540s and until his death in 1557 was lessee of Tailboys demesne, (fn. 278) 200 a. of which his son Luke bought in 1554. (fn. 279) In the 1590s the demesne of Tailboys and Francis manors was let in blocks of up to 140 a. to local men. (fn. 280) Between 1616 and 1633 the Cages acquired not only the lands of the Godfreys, 270 a., and the Russells, (fn. 281) but also c. 1620 the beneficial lease of the rectory (fn. 282) and another 120 a. formerly held by yeomen, (fn. 283) and being possessed of almost the whole parish proceeded to inclose it.
The open fields of Croydon still existed in 1615 and supposedly in May 1639, (fn. 284) but the inclosure had been accomplished before December 1639. The six farms in the south, ranging from 190 a. to 40 a., then had only 120 a. of arable, all in the largest farm, as against 108 a. of meadow and 436 a. of pasture. (fn. 285) Further north a farm of 500 a., run from the new house at Croydon Wilds, and two others of 150 a. and 140 a. had been created by 1648. (fn. 286) Except in the far north the field boundaries largely followed those of the open-field furlongs. (fn. 287) In 1643 the southern farmsteads were in poor condition, and at first the farmers declined leases of more than three years, but they were eventually said to have doubled or trebled their stock over seven years. (fn. 288) Richard Deere, who enlarged his farm from 128 a. of pasture in 1648 to 385 a. by 1663, (fn. 289) left over £200 when he died in 1682. (fn. 290)
In Clopton farming was also reorganized in the mid 17th century, perhaps in connexion with a change from sheep farming to grazing cattle. About 1505 the new pastures had lain largely open, and been shared between only two farmers. (fn. 291) Hedges were later planted: in the south their lines may represent the shapes of the earlier furlongs, but a less regular pattern near the northern boundary suggests inclosure there directly from the waste. (fn. 292) The inclosures were large. Four recorded in 1632 averaged 85 a., each being let to a different man. (fn. 293) The old field and furlong names were forgotten, and in the 1660s the farmers' land was simply distinguished as their high and low grounds, flat fields, and 'sweet plotts'. (fn. 294) Change began in the 1630s. In 1632 the earl of Bedford required the lessee of a newly built farmhouse and 380 a. to feed a third every year with cattle. (fn. 295) Another Clopton farmer, John Stacy, was a grazier in 1656, (fn. 296) and by 1663 c. 975 a. of Clopton was divided into 12 farms ranging from 220 a. to only 45 a. Their fields seldom exceeded 50 a. and were often under 25 a. (fn. 297)
About 1750 the Downing estate in Clopton and Croydon contained some 9 dairy farms, altogether c. 1,090 a., on the flat land below the hillside. They covered 100–120 a. each, apart from Clopton Dairy of 247 a. All were entirely devoted to pasturing milking and store cattle. Three other Downing farms further north had 286 a. of arable as against their 314 a. of pasture. (fn. 298) The Gape estate, which lay mostly on the heavy clays north of Croydon village, had in 1747 proportionately more arable. Low farm (104 a.) to the south was all under grass, but Middle, later Manor, farm and Croydon Wilds farm to the north had respectively 316 a. and 247 a. of arable compared with 102 a. and 122 a. of pasture. Some fields there with such names as Sheepwalk had been converted back to arable. (fn. 299)
More land had been brought back under the plough by 1801. The Downing estate then included 598 a. of arable and 1,099 a. of grass, comprising 467 a. of meadows and hayfields and 632 a. of pasture. The arable was under a triennial rotation: 207 a. were fallow, and cropping on the remainder included c. 185 a. of wheat, the rest being about equally under barley, oats, and peas and beans. (fn. 300) Downing College was faced with a heavy burden of restoration after neglect, first by Sir George Downing (d. 1749), who had left land lettable at £1,500 a year untenanted and his farmhouses tumbling down, (fn. 301) and then during the 36-year lawsuit over his will. (fn. 302) The small farms were gradually amalgamated and their farmhouses demolished or converted to cottages. (fn. 303) Even large rent reductions could scarcely attract tenants c. 1830, when there was a rapid turnover. (fn. 304)
In 1839 there were still nine farms on the college estate, varying in size from 108 a. to the 291 a. of Church farm. Of the Gape estate, sublet by its head-lessee, the southern half had been combined by 1839 into Manor farm, 334 a., but Croydon Wilds farm had been divided in two, covering 181 a. and 177 a. (fn. 305) By 1861 almost the whole parish was being farmed by six men, two of whom occupied 671 a. and 650 a., and none less then 200 a. (fn. 306) In 1873 the college land was mostly leased to only four men, farming c. 300 a. each; the remaining 280 a. were attached to farms in Tadlow. One man had in 1871 been farming 1,190 a. altogether. (fn. 307) Despite the size of the farms, the quality of the soil made it hard for their occupiers to prosper, especially during the agricultural depression. There was an almost complete turnover among them between the 1870s and the 1890s: (fn. 308) one bursar of Downing (1902–11) alleged that every college tenant succumbed to bankruptcy, or suicide, or both. (fn. 309) The early 20th century saw a temporary break-up of the larger units: in 1905 and 1925 there were only two or three farms of over 300 a., but seven or eight of 100–300 a. (fn. 310) The college sold Church farm (286 a.) to the tenant in 1920, (fn. 311) and the other farms on both estates were sold, mostly to their tenants, in the late 1940s. (fn. 312)
The reversion from pasture to arable had continued during the 19th century. Sheep were still kept: two farmers had flocks of 240 and 110 in 1808 and 1817, (fn. 313) and there were two shepherds in 1861. (fn. 314) In 1839, after another 300 a. of the college estate had been ploughed up, the parish contained 1,612 a. of arable as against 972 a. of grass. (fn. 315) The customary method of cropping, including clover and turnips, was gradually superseded. A four-course rotation had been introduced on some of the better arable by 1839; on Manor farm in 1844 the fallow third was partly under legumes, but much of the corn sown was still oats. Even the pasture needed better draining to improve it. (fn. 316) Steam threshing machines were in use on the largest farm by 1864. (fn. 317) The permanent grassland had fallen to 483 a. by 1866, but the depression after 1875 in turn reduced the arable to 1,370 a. by 1905, when there were 1,142 a. of grass. The number of mature sheep kept gradually declined from c. 1,150 in 1866 to under 300 by 1905, when over 330 cows were kept. In 1955 there was still one flock of 460. From the late 19th century much more wheat than barley was grown. (fn. 318) Renewed ploughing restored the proportion of arable on the college estate by 1945 to 1,010 a. out of 1,400 a. (fn. 319) Later the parish was mostly cultivated as mixed arable, including in 1955 nearly 300 a. under vegetables, while up to 350 cows were still kept. (fn. 320)
The impoverished farm labourers formed the bulk of the population: out of 87 families 81 depended on agriculture in 1831. (fn. 321) About 1830 there were 82 labourers over, and 54 more under, 20. (fn. 322) Their cottages had no adequate gardens, and the land, 48 a. by 1842, let to them in ½-a. allotments lay on the steep hillside west of the village. (fn. 323) Sixteen labourers were convicted in 1832, and four transported to Australia, for destroying a threshing machine. (fn. 324) Out of 105 adult labourers 27 were away in the summer of 1841 working on the hay harvest near London. (fn. 325) In the early 1840s 11 farmers employed only 45 men. (fn. 326) Emigration to Canada, to which 30 people went in 1843, and Australia (fn. 327) partly relieved the pressure, and in 1851 the farmers, employing 83 men and 10 boys, provided work for most of the available labourers. (fn. 328) The coprolite diggings, which started c. 1864, (fn. 329) also furnished employment. In 1871 the farmers, then employing 90 men and 33 boys, found barely half that workforce available to them in Croydon itself. Many of the younger men worked in the diggings, 28 of the 34 so employed being natives of the village. (fn. 330) In the 1920s and 1950s c. 45 men still worked on the farms, but by 1977 barely 20; most of the active inhabitants were employed elsewhere. (fn. 331)
Clopton manor had in 1279 a water mill, (fn. 332) probably that for which an artificial channel fed from the Bury manor moat was made south of the village. The mill was not recorded after 1399, but though dry the channel had given the field where the village had stood the name of Canal close by 1750. (fn. 333) A mill, probably by the river, was acquired in 1263 by the Hospitallers, who owned it in 1279. A windmill in Croydon held of Clopton manor was acquired by William of Brompton from the Andeville heirs in 1285. (fn. 334) It was perhaps from the Hospitallers' mill that a field by the meadows was called Mill close in 1750. (fn. 335)
Before 1747 a brick kiln had given its name to a field north-east of Croydon Wilds. (fn. 336) By 1843 there was a limekiln by the road junction west of the village. (fn. 337) A small builder at the Downing Arms, who employed 5 workmen in 1851 and 10 by 1871, was perhaps supplied by the brickworks opened by 1861 by William Turrell. He employed 6 men there in 1871, besides managing the local coprolite workings. The brickworks closed c. 1920. (fn. 338) Some pits remain south of the junction of the turnpike and Hatley roads. Croydon still had a few craftsmen in the 19th century. A wheelwright's lasted from c. 1820 to the 1860s, (fn. 339) there were 3 carpenters in 1871, (fn. 340) and the Moules ran a smithy from the 1840s to c. 1900. (fn. 341) Of 3 village shops 2 closed in the 1880s, but one was still open in 1979, despite the shrinking of the village. (fn. 342)
The Andevilles and their heirs as lords of Clopton claimed in 1275 and 1299 to hold view of frankpledge and in 1275 the assize of bread and of ale, while Hugh Clopton claimed the same liberties for Rowses manor in 1299. (fn. 343) About 1334 the Richmond fees at Croydon owed suit to the honor's tourn for the area. (fn. 344) No court rolls have been traced for any manor in the parish.
About 1650 Clopton was still paying a separate overseers' rate, yielding about a third of the parish expenditure. (fn. 345) Because the parish was small, only 6 to 8 farmers were available to sit on the vestry, and after 1700 only one man was elected to each of the three regular parish offices. Often one man held two, and sometimes, as c. 1710–15 and 1739–43, all three. After 1750 the rising burden of poor relief caused two overseers to be chosen yearly. From the 1660s to the 1710s between four and eight poor people had been supported from the interest on a parish stock of £5, lost after 1729. (fn. 346) Rate-borne expenditure on the poor, including from 1740 clothing the 'town children' and boarding them at over £1 each, mounted from £10 c. 1720 to c. £35 by the 1740s. In 1741 it was agreed that a majority of the vestry must approve the granting to paupers of certificates entitling them to regular allowances. The average yearly cost passed £40 c. 1760 and from 1766 to the 1790s ranged between £100 and £120. From 1793 it rose steeply to peaks of £312 in 1796–7 and £433 in 1800–1.
In 1803 £212 was spent, mainly on permanent outside relief for 22 people. The cost of supporting 15–18 paupers was reduced from £312 in 1813 to £199 by 1815, (fn. 347) but rose again after 1816 to over £400 in 1819 and in 1822, seldom falling below that level in the late 1820s. (fn. 348) About 1820 labourers were distributed among the farmers in turn, and were also employed by the parish in digging and, after 1830, in stone-breaking. The largest item, however, £192 of c. £350 in 1833–4, was for regular relief to 20 people, including 13 widows, while £60–80 went on maintenance during illness. Fuel and clothing were sold to the poor c. 1830 at reduced prices. (fn. 349) An overseer whose strict management reduced the sum spent on the poor by a quarter between 1831 and 1832 was assailed by indignant labourers. (fn. 350) In the early 1840s the landowner, clergy, and farmers were still sponsoring a coal and clothing club, and bringing coal from Cambridge free of charge for distribution among the poor by ticket. (fn. 351)
From 1835 Croydon was included in the Caxton and Arrington poor law union, (fn. 352) in 1934 becoming part of the South Cambridgeshire R.D. (fn. 353) and in 1974 of the South Cambridgeshire district. The parish council established in 1894 long concerned itself mainly with maintaining the parish pump, and procuring land for allotments. After 1918 it sold some ruinous cottages built to let to the poor in the 1830s and called by 1871 Paradise Row. (fn. 354)
When founding Barnwell priory c. 1092 Picot gave it two thirds of the tithes of his vassals' lands at Croydon. (fn. 355) Probably before 1135 Hugh of Croydon gave Croydon church itself to that priory, on becoming a canon there. Hugh's great-grandson John sued for the advowson, but eventually recognized Barnwell's title in 1212. (fn. 356) The priory appropriated the church and established a vicarage before 1250. (fn. 357) It retained the rectory and the advowson of the vicarage until the Dissolution. (fn. 358)
Croydon became a poor living: in 1254 the vicar received only 4 marks out of the church's income of c. 22 marks. (fn. 359) Five vicars successively quitted the benefice between 1377 and 1396. (fn. 360) In 1445 it was thought too poor to support a resident vicar, and between 1454 and 1460 was held in commendam by the abbot of Warden (Beds.). (fn. 361) Barnwell assisted Robert Mareys, vicar 1486–1527, by letting him farm the rectory at £2 a year, (fn. 362) and he could thus afford to have an assistant priest. (fn. 363) In the 1530s the priory allowed the vicar a pension of £5 6s. 8d. out of the rectory farm, (fn. 364) but his income was still only £7 9s. 5d. in 1535. (fn. 365) Barnwell then granted a turn to present exercised in 1544 by Thomas Chicheley. (fn. 366) The rectory and advowson were bought in 1549 by Sir Michael Fisher, (fn. 367) already patron of Clopton, which was united with Croydon in 1561. (fn. 368)
The church at Clopton had been established by the late 12th century. (fn. 369) The advowson of the rectory descended until the 15th century with Clopton manor. (fn. 370) William Clopton, who was lessee of the glebe, reserved the advowson at the sale of the manor in 1489, (fn. 371) but after his death it passed to the Fishers. (fn. 372) In the 13th century the benefice was worth £10 a year. It received tithes from the former Andeville fees in Croydon and East Hatley and probably from 35 a. in Tadlow. (fn. 373) The glebe was said to be 50–60 a., but when measured c. 1500, was found to be only 34 a. (fn. 374)
The rectors were probably often non-resident. (fn. 375) Edmund Bereford's chosen clerks were often licensed to be absent in their patron's service. (fn. 376) Hugh Haselden, presented by his kinsmen in 1393, shortly renounced his orders. (fn. 377) The parish was probably thus left to chaplains, such as those recorded in 1378 and 1406. (fn. 378) Three of William Clopton's four nominees were canon lawyers. The last, William Spicer (1506–36), also a pluralist, (fn. 379) was seldom seen in the parish and left the church unserved; (fn. 380) its declining population made Clopton almost a sinecure. The same was true of the chantry there, which Robert Clopton (d. 1448) had founded with £5 a year due from the London Drapers' Company, and to which his heir Thomas Chicheley presented in 1525: (fn. 381) the priest who died that year was apparently acting as domestic chaplain to Gillian Clopton at the manor house. (fn. 382)
The rector's income fell sharply after the inclosure of the 1490s. The corn tithes were lost and the value of the glebe fell to £2 a year. William Spicer was constrained c. 1512 to lease the glebe and the tithes of hay and cattle to the lord at 8 marks a year. He received by exchange 4½ a. in closes by the rectory house, (fn. 383) probably the parsonage croft included in 1663 in the manorial estate. (fn. 384) By 1535 the rectory was worth only £4 9s. 6d. (fn. 385) The last incumbent, William Warner (d. 1564), departed after 1552 to serve his patron, Oliver St. John, who had taken away the church bells in 1551. (fn. 386) In 1561, with Lord St. John's consent as patron of both livings, the bishop united Clopton with Croydon to form a single parish, appointed Croydon church, which was easy of access for the two remaining households at Clopton, as the mother church, and named the then vicar of Croydon as the first incumbent after the union. (fn. 387)
The patronage of the united living, whose incumbent was commonly called a vicar until after 1800, remained with Clopton manor, until in 1618 Anne, Lady Howard, sold it and Croydon rectory to Sir John Cage. (fn. 388) Cage's descendants retained the advowson and the great tithes of Croydon, even after mortgaging their Croydon land, (fn. 389) until Adelard Cage sold the rectory and advowson in 1704 to John Gape, (fn. 390) in whose family it remained until the 1970s. (fn. 391) One patron, S. C. Gape, briefly occupied the living himself in 1827. (fn. 392)
Even after the union the living was not rich. The glebe in Clopton was absorbed, apparently without compensation, into the manorial estate there, and the vicar retained only the Croydon vicarial glebe, comprising before 1640 c. 8 a. in Croydon, and also 5 a. in East Hatley, perhaps once belonging to Clopton. (fn. 393) After Croydon too was inclosed the glebe was concentrated in 10½ a. of closes near the church. They were actually in the lord's hands c. 1675 when William Cage planned to sell them, and in 1747. (fn. 394) For the tithes the vicar had from the 1640s 1s. in the £ on the rental of the Croydon farms, (fn. 395) yielding £11–14 a year. (fn. 396) In 1650 he was said to receive £20 from Croydon by composition and £30 from Clopton as a salary. (fn. 397) From £40 11s. in 1728 (fn. 398) the income rose to £450 by 1830. (fn. 399) In 1839, when the tithes were commuted, the incumbent, being then often styled rector, was allowed a rent charge of £531 for all the tithes great and small, not only of Clopton, but of Croydon, except for those of the 885 a. of the Gape estate, then free of great tithes in right of the impropriate rectory. (fn. 400) The rector's income stood at £390 net in 1851 and £418 net in 1873, (fn. 401) of which barely £10 came from the 8½ a. of glebe which the living retained until the 1970s. (fn. 402) Croydon vicarage house stood in 1639 between the church and the site of the rectory to the west. (fn. 403) Described as indifferent in 1788, it had been rebuilt in white brick by 1851 (fn. 404) and was sold after 1966. (fn. 405) At Clopton the site of the rectory, probably north of the church, was occupied by cottages until the late 19th century. (fn. 406)
In 1560 neither incumbent, though resident, was thought capable of preaching. (fn. 407) Henry Lilley, vicar from 1596, also held the neighbouring vicarage of Arrington. Being moderately puritan he kept his living until after 1650. (fn. 408) No successor was appointed until 1661. One vicar was deprived for simony c. 1695. (fn. 409) His successor c. 1730, also holding Caxton, was an absentee and paid the vicar of Arrington to do the duty. (fn. 410) Thomas Lalley, vicar 1746–69, was succeeded by his kinsman Edmund Lalley, 1769– 1827. Both were pluralists, (fn. 411) and from the 1770s to the 1830s Croydon was served by curates, often also employed in neighbouring parishes. They customarily provided one service every Sunday, alternately morning and evening, and communion three or four times a year. In 1825 the curate did not catechize, because it was not the custom, and there were only two communicants, three having lately died. (fn. 412) J. D. Hirst, rector 1828–40, taught a Cornish grammar school, and paid the vicar of Arrington, who lived at Croydon rectory, as curate. (fn. 413)
Francis Fulford, rector 1841–5 and later metropolitan of Canada, (fn. 414) started holding two services with sermons every Sunday, organized a choir, and claimed at least 77 of c. 175 adults as regular churchgoers, although 36 others never attended; 55 children attended the church Sunday school which he maintained. (fn. 415) Until the 1960s the rectors were normally resident. In 1851 there was an adult afternoon congregation of 160. (fn. 416) In 1873 Henry Stone, rector 1864–1908, claimed that the newly repaired church, seating 320, was constantly full; even the dissenters mostly went to church. Communion, held monthly in the 1870s and 1880s and weekly by 1897, attracted c. 30 communicants. In 1897 364 out of 426 inhabitants were said to be church people. (fn. 417) The last resident rector quitted the parish in 1966, following bitter disputes: most inhabitants opposed his plan to demolish the parish room, built in 1910 in Stone's memory, and sell the site to maintain the former church school for parish purposes. The parish room, disused for many years, was restored to use after 1967. Presentation was suspended from 1966, (fn. 418) and by 1969 Croydon was being served by the Shingay group team of clergy. (fn. 419)
The church of ALL SAINTS, Croydon, so named by 1520, (fn. 420) stands on a sloping platform above the village street and has suffered much from subsidence. It consists of a chancel, now with no arch, aisled nave under a single roof, with transeptal chapels and south porch, and west tower. (fn. 421) It was built of field stones with clunch and freestone dressings, and has been much patched, and heavily buttressed on the south, in brick. The nave south arcade of three surviving bays, with chamfered arches on octagonal piers, is of c. 1300, the north arcade of the late 14th century. The two chapels, of which that to the north was later reduced in size, are also late 14th-century, as are the mostly squareheaded aisle and chapel windows and the north and south doorways. The south chapel has niches flanking its east window, and traces of a screen dividing it from the nave. A fourth bay of the nave was blocked when the west tower was inserted in the 15th century. The font has a 12th-century limestone bowl. The nave roof, a ceiled waggon roof with tiebeams, is probably medieval.
The whole church was said to be in decay in 1561. (fn. 422) Sir John Cage spent much on it in the 1620s, probably providing a pulpit, from which re-used panels survive, and the font cover. (fn. 423) The wooden south porch is also 17th-century in origin. The chancel, still near to falling in the early 1670s, (fn. 424) was entirely rebuilt in brick by Sir George Downing (d. 1684), who made a family vault there. (fn. 425) In 1685 the chancel had been newly paved and was being retiled, but the chapels were still ruinous and the tower badly cracked. (fn. 426) The very plain woodwork is mostly early 19th-century. The classical chancel windows were replaced with Perpendicular ones between 1850 and 1864, (fn. 427) and the church was further repaired between 1867 and 1872. (fn. 428) The tower was repaired in 1912 and again in 1934–8, when the chancel roof was renewed and the south chapel virtually rebuilt. (fn. 429) In 1979 the fabric was much overgrown, and the tower appeared badly riven and unstable. (fn. 430)
The plate includes a paten of 1709, given by Francis Fulford in 1842. (fn. 431) There were two bells in 1552. (fn. 432) One was sold in 1698. (fn. 433) The other, recast in 1786, was still the only one in the 1970s. (fn. 434) The registers begin in 1672, but are not complete before 1727. (fn. 435)
The church at Clopton was built in the late 12th century, upon an artificial terrace on the north side of the village, and reconsecrated in 1352, perhaps after rebuilding. It was c. 40 ft. by 20 ft. and consisted of a chancel and nave, and possibly a tower. (fn. 436) Disused and decaying after 1561, it was converted to agricultural use well before 1660, (fn. 437) and was wholly demolished, even the foundations being removed, probably under Charles II. (fn. 438)
John St. George and his family, perhaps occupying the manor house, were presented as recusants in 1638, having regularly failed to attend church. (fn. 439) The yeoman Richard Conder (d. 1693), (fn. 440) who had been suddenly convinced c. 1633 that playing football on the sabbath was sinful, (fn. 441) was probably the single dissenter recorded in 1676. (fn. 442) He registered his house for dissenting worship in 1672 and was resolute in not attending church c. 1686. (fn. 443) His son and namesake (d. c. 1718), lessee of Clopton, (fn. 444) was converted by Francis Holcroft's preaching and in the 1690s acted as pastor for a small church with 17 members, linked with the Independents of Barrington. (fn. 445) That Richard's son Jabez in 1727 registered for Independent worship a house at Croydon used by six or seven families in 1728. (fn. 446)
A congregation for whose worship a house was registered in 1807 was well established by 1825, when it was taught by a preacher from St. Ives (Hunts.). (fn. 447) About 1840 the 15 dissenters in Croydon worshipped elsewhere, but c. 1843 Thomas Hopkins, minister at Bassingbourn, acquired a cottage (fn. 448) accommodating 100, at which evening services attracting c. 70 were held in 1851 (fn. 449) and until the 1870s. It was then a Congregational preaching station served from Bassingbourn and Guilden Morden. (fn. 450) In 1897 there were 52 dissenters. (fn. 451) The chapel, reorganized in 1889 as a separate congregation, was served as part of the Royston district, and had c. 10 members, including two lay preachers, from 1900 to c. 1930, (fn. 452) after which membership fell. After 1950 it was attached to Bassingbourn and Litlington. (fn. 453) It was closed in 1976, and by 1980 the chapel had been sold for a dwelling house. (fn. 454)
A schoolmaster recorded in 1590 had gone by 1593, (fn. 455) and no organized teaching was recorded until after 1806. (fn. 456) In 1818 a master was teaching a school in the church, where the number of pupils had lately declined to 10. There were also two small dame schools, and a dissenting Sunday school. (fn. 457) In 1829 a Sunday school was opened at the church. The curate, his wife, and the parish clerk taught there in the 1830s. It had then c. 55 pupils, (fn. 458) as into the 1850s. It was supported by the Gapes. A labourer's wife also kept a small day school with c. 20 pupils. About 1843 the adult population included c. 110 who could read, over 80 of them tolerably, while only 48 were entirely illiterate. (fn. 459)
A National day school with a schoolhouse was built beside the street in 1858. The yearly expense in the 1860s was met from subscriptions and schoolpence, and attendance averaged 60–65. (fn. 460) Evening classes, dropped after 1871, were revived between 1897 and 1910. (fn. 461) Attendance declined from 80–90 in the 1880s (fn. 462) to c. 65 by 1900, (fn. 463) 40 by 1920, (fn. 464) and 21 in 1938. (fn. 465) The older children went to Bassingbourn after 1947, and when the school was closed in 1961 there were barely 10 pupils, who were sent to Orwell. (fn. 466)
Charities for the Poor.
In 1557 Richard Godfrey left for the poor 16s. 8d. a year, which was lost after 1579. (fn. 467)