A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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Manor and other estates
An estate at Graveley was among the four that Athelstan Mannesson (d. 986) left to the newly founded Ramsey abbey after the death of his widow, (fn. 1) perhaps the 'matron' Leofgifu to whom the abbey later ascribed the gift. (fn. 2) In 1066 and 1086 Ramsey held all five hides in Graveley. (fn. 3) During the disorders of the 1140s Robert Foliot, lord of Old Warden (Beds.), seized Graveley, but restored it to the abbey c. 1147, under pressure from Archbishop Theobald. (fn. 4) Thereafter GRAVELEYremained a Ramsey demesne manor until the Dissolution, (fn. 5) by the mid 12th century rendering to the cellarer a full week's food farm, (fn. 6) mostly commuted for cash by the 1240s. (fn. 7) The abbot was granted free warren there in 1251. (fn. 8)
Probably by 1150 the abbey had granted 4 yardlands to be held freely by two tenants, who did suit for the manor to counties and hundreds. Two yardlands held c. 1190 by knight service by Richard of Conington (fn. 9) descended in his family until Robert of Conington, despoiled c. 1264 as a royalist by Nicholas Segrave, sold c. 80 a. to the abbey to redeem his other property. (fn. 10) The other 2 yardlands were held c. 1190 by Walter of Knill (fn. 11) and in the 13th century by the Hall family, (fn. 12) headed in 1279 by Robert 'of Graveley'. (fn. 13) The abbey acquired their reversion in the early 1340s. (fn. 14) Thenceforth until the mid 19th century the whole parish, outside the demesne and glebe, was held as copyhold of Ramsey abbey and its successor. (fn. 15)
The manor, surrendered to the Crown in 1539, (fn. 16) was sold in 1557 to Dr. John Fuller, master of Jesus College, Cambridge, who at once gave it to endow new scholarships there. (fn. 17) From that time it was held under the college by successive lessees at a beneficial rent, unchanged from the 1530s to the 1830s. (fn. 18) From the 1570s until after 1628 the lease probably belonged to the Young family, who by 1600 also had 154 a. of copyhold. (fn. 19) By 1649 the lease had passed to the Plumptons of Windsor (Berks.) and by 1686 it belonged to Thomas Brooke (d. by 1700), a Graveley yeoman. He and his son Edward Brooke, gentleman, also had from the 1690s a copyhold estate of 70 a., enlarged to 116 a. by 1730, (fn. 20) when Edward's son Thomas sold the heavily mortgaged land and lease to Dr. Matthias Mawson, (fn. 21) from 1754 bishop of Ely. (fn. 22) Dying in 1770 the bishop left the land and lease to his niece Ann (née Godfrey) (d. 1777) and her husband Adm. Charles Wager Purvis (d. 1772), whose eldest son Charles (fn. 23) sold the lease in 1784 to George Thornhill of Diddington (Hunts.). (fn. 24) It remained with the Thornhills until allowed to run out in 1840. (fn. 25) Jesus College's Lordship farm, which covered c. 312 a. in 1784 and c. 245 a. after inclosure in 1800, (fn. 26) was let directly to tenant farmers from the 1840s until its sale in 1962 to W. F. Eayre, its tenant since 1948. (fn. 27) The college retained the lordship of the manor. (fn. 28)
Ramsey abbey's manor house included by 1250 a hall and chamber, by 1300 also a kitchen and a chapel, (fn. 29) licensed in 1254. (fn. 30) The house probably stood within the 14-a. Home close (fn. 31) east of the church, later occupied by the college's farmhouse, which had six hearths c. 1674. (fn. 32) That house, a four-bay building in brick with stepped end gables, (fn. 33) probably late 17th-century, was pulled down in 1948. (fn. 34)
Bishop Mawson's 157 a. of copyhold passed to Ann Purvis's younger son Thomas (d. 1786), whose two daughters sold it in 1801 to David Veasey (d. 1837) of Huntingdon, (fn. 35) who was allotted 172 a. at inclosure in 1805. (fn. 36) His land, enlarged by purchase to 297 a., was sold in 1866 by his son Samuel (fn. 37) to Samuel Pulham (d. c. 1875), a Sussex victualler. (fn. 38) Pulham's nephew and legatee R. P. Pulham died in 1917 and his daughter sold the estate as Baldock farm. (fn. 39)
In the 16th and early 17th century the Wiseman family held c. 200 a., divided and sold c. 1650. (fn. 40) Half passed through Robert Pepys (d. 1661), an uncle of the diarist, to the Brookes. (fn. 41) Leonard Nightingale of Yelling (Hunts.), who bought the other half in 1650, devised it in 1660 to his kinsman Geoffrey Nightingale of Kneesworth. (fn. 42) The estate, 157 a. after 1660, descended in that family (fn. 43) until Sir Charles E. Nightingale, Bt., in 1807 sold the 175 a. allotted at inclosure to the Londoner Richard Haighton (fn. 44) (d. 1813). Haighton left it to his nephew Thomas Wilkins, in whose family it remained until sold to the tenant in 1889. (fn. 45) About 1960 it was bought by W. F. Eayre. (fn. 46) The farmhouse, at the west end of the village street, has an early 18thcentury five-bay front of red brick elaborately decorated in plaster. (fn. 47)