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.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
PAPWORTH Everard, (fn. 1) so named from a 12th century lord of the manor (fn. 2) but in the 19th century often called Papworth St. Everard (fn. 3) through a mistaken analogy with its neighbour Papworth St. Agnes, lies by the former western edge of Cambridgeshire. The parish, approximately lozenge-shaped, measures 3.25 km. (2 miles) from north to south and 2 km. (1 & 1/4 miles) from east to west. (fn. 4) Until 1904 it covered 1,139 a., thereafter 1,157 a. (468 ha.), following the transfer of 18 a. from Papworth St. Agnes, (fn. 5) after which its whole western boundary followed a minor road from Eltisley to Hilton (Hunts.). (fn. 6) The other boundaries probably derive from those of medieval fields or commons. At the south-east corner a small triangular tongue, once common land, reaches down to the main road from Cambridge to St. Neots (Hunts.) at Caxton Gibbet, where it crosses the Old North Road, formerly Ermine Street, an important highway since ancient times, which runs through the parish from south-east to north-west.
The parish lies mainly upon boulder clay, partly overlying Elsworth rock, but near the north-western edge a pocket of Oxford clay is exposed. The ground slopes down steadily from almost 70 m. (230 ft.) at the far south-east, where the drainage is poor. (fn. 7) From near the modern Crow's Nest Farm a brook runs northward down a narrow depression. The manorial wood, probably mentioned in 1086, (fn. 8) east of the modern Papworth Hall was said c. 1530 to have had c. 2,050 oaks and wych elms and 300 elms recently felled. (fn. 9) When another crop of timber was sold in 1563, Papworth wood possibly covered c. 30 a. (fn. 10) In the 18th century the estate included 32 a. of woodland (fn. 11) and 29 a. in 1840, when the old wood extended to 24 a. (fn. 12) By 1900 another 40 a. of trees were scattered over the parish, mostly in 19th-century plantations. (fn. 13) An area called the Warren north of the wood, allowed from the 1890s to become overgrown with trees, was mostly cleared c. 1940. (fn. 14) From 1970 the old wood, still 24 a., was managed by the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Naturalists' Trust as a wildlife reserve. (fn. 15) The parish remained purely agricultural until light industry was introduced in the 20th century.
The village probably did not originally stand beside the Roman road: fragments of medieval pottery found 500 m. from the road in fields south of the church, (fn. 16) where scattered ancient closes survived at inclosure in 1815, (fn. 17) suggest that settlement began there close to the brook. In 1086 the recorded inhabitants included 15 peasants and 4 servi. (fn. 18) There were c. 45 landholders by 1279, (fn. 19) 49 taxpayers in 1327, (fn. 20) and 85 adults in 1377. (fn. 21) Thereafter numbers declined: in 1524 only 12 people paid the subsidy. (fn. 22) From 15 in 1563 (fn. 23) the number of households rose, especially after 1580, to 24 by c. 1630. (fn. 24) After another decline there were only 15 dwellings in the 1660s, (fn. 25) occupied in 1676 by c. 48 adults. (fn. 26) In 1728 the village had 16 families and c. 70 people, (fn. 27) in 1741 only 14 families. (fn. 28) The population had risen again by 1801, when the 22 families included 111 people. (fn. 29) By then the inhabited area had moved to the main road, along which c. 1800 stood all but one of the three or four farms and most of c. 15 cottages. (fn. 30) Two timber-framed thatched cottages called the Barracks, probably 17th-century, survived west of the brook until demolished in 1954. (fn. 31) Few dwellings from before 1850 survived in 1980. The population, usually occupying c. 30 houses, had remained stable at c. 125 between 1801 and the 1850s, (fn. 32) then rose, when the landowners built six more cottages, to c. 135 between the 1860s and c. 1890, and again, after the next owner built seven pairs of model cottages west of the road, to 191 by 1901. It fell to 165 in 1911, when there were c. 40 houses. (fn. 33) The later expansion of the village is outlined below.
The Old North Road was first turnpiked in 1663 (fn. 34) and was continuously a turnpike between 1710 and 1876. (fn. 35) Charles Madryll Cheere, owner of the Papworth estate, sought between 1818 and 1824 to enlarge his park by diverting the road to a route further west but desisted on learning that he must bear the whole cost himself. (fn. 36) A lane from the old road to the church was made at inclosure in 1815. (fn. 37) The traffic on the road encouraged innkeeping. John Morden's house, called the Red Lion by 1668, (fn. 38) was presumably the inn with 5 beds and stabling for 8 horses recorded in 1685. (fn. 39) In 1695 it had 5 bedchambers containing 9 beds and was well equipped with hogsheads, pewter, and linen. (fn. 40) Converted after 1700 to a farmhouse, it was succeeded by the 1760s by the Chequers, further north along the road. (fn. 41) That also became a farmhouse soon after 1850. (fn. 42) The house, partly probably 18th-century or earlier, with a onestorey centre and two-storey cross wings, all thatched, was burnt down in 1935. (fn. 43) After 1850 the only public house was Kisby's Hut, opened c. 1770 at the crossroads a mile north of the village by Samuel Kisby (d. 1797) to serve waggoners journeying along the Old North Road. Rebuilt after a fire in 1913, the Hut was also the scene of the week-long annual village Feast, held about Old St. Peter's Day (12 July) until c. 1914, (fn. 44) and was still open in 1982.
The character of the village was greatly changed following the establishment there in 1918, despite local fears of contagion, of the Cambridgeshire Tuberculosis Colony, renamed in 1927 the Papworth Village Settlement. (fn. 45) Founded at Bourn in 1916 by Dr. Pendrill Varrier-Jones (kt. 1931, d. 1941), its first director, its object was to provide those suffering from tuberculosis, once their condition had been stabilized by hospital treatment, with permanent and adequately paid work under medical supervision, initially based mainly on holistic concepts. The number of patients rose from 17 in 1918 to 125 in 1920, c. 200 by the late 1920s, when over 100 were being admitted a year, and almost 350 by 1930. Until c. 1933 they were accommodated partly in the Hall, which had 60 beds from 1918. Men rehabilitated were at first housed in individual wooden huts in the park to the southwest, numbering almost 100 from the early 1920s; the last of them were not demolished until c. 1958. Most early inmates were exservicemen. Women were also admitted from 1923, being installed in the former Home Farm, renamed Homeleigh, disused from 1955 and demolished in 1965. In 1920 and 1921 two onestorey wooden-framed hostels for single men who settled permanently at Papworth were built beside Church Lane. Another for women was added in 1928.
Settlers with families were placed in cottages built in the village: 30 had been completed by 1922. By the mid 1930s the settlement had up to 150 semi-detached houses, mostly built west of the main road. In 1936 it began a new housing estate east of that road further north at Pendragon Hill, so named from Papworth Industries' trademark. The 40 dwellings there, some prefabricated in the Settlement's workshops, were mostly put up between 1945 and 1955. By 1960 another 36 houses were built further south on new roads east and south of the village sports field. Between 1948 and 1953 a new sanatorium for 60 people, replacing the huts, was built south-east of the Hall. In 1980 the Settlement owned over 270 of the 280 dwellings in the village, of which c. 240 had been built between 1921 and 1961. (fn. 46)
The number of people accepted for permanent residence stood at 152 by 1922 and c. 200 by 1937, and from 1945 to the mid 1950s fluctuated between 310 and 325, the majority being male. From the late 1950s, as tuberculosis became less common, the Settlement began to accept instead those disabled or crippled by such diseases as multiple sclerosis and arthritis: by 1970 two thirds of new arrivals were people thus handicapped, although a majority of settlers, surviving from the earlier period, were still former tuberculosis patients. Individual houses, except for some old people's bungalows, were therefore no longer built. Instead the old hostels were gradually demolished and replaced between 1966 and 1975 with three new single-storey homes, designed to accommodate handicapped people in their own flats. In 1977 the permanent settlers numbered c. 380, including 160 living in those homes.
In 1932 and 1933 the Settlement replaced the beds in the Hall by building to the north-west two three-storey hospitals, semi-hexagonal in plan, with long wooden balconies. The earlier, for women, had c. 63 beds, that for men c. 100. Together with a research laboratory opened in 1923, a small surgical unit opened in 1936, and two nurses' homes, one of 1937 initially for tuberculous ex-nurses, the hospitals were taken over from 1948 by the National Health Service. (fn. 47) The management of the Settlement shared in running them until 1965. By 1960 only half of their 213 beds were occupied by tuberculosis patients. Instead, owing to the experience gained from lung operations, Papworth Hospital was used from the 1950s as a regional centre for chest and, from 1954, heart surgery. The surgical staff numbered 30 by 1964 (fn. 48) and by the 1970s over 1,000 operations were performed annually. (fn. 49) In 1979, when the hospital was menaced with closure on account of its isolation and expense, the surgeons began heart transplant operations: (fn. 50) over 40 people had received new hearts by 1982, but scarcely half still survived then. (fn. 51)
The coming of the Settlement transformed village life. The population doubled to 338 between 1918 and 1921 and again to 842 by 1931, including c. 400 in the hospitals and hostels. By 1951 numbers had reached 1,205, of whom, as more colonists were settled in cottages, 687 were in private households, as were 798 of 1,130 people in 1961 and 740 of 1,091 in 1971. By 1981 the resident population had fallen to c. 865. (fn. 52) Social life flourished. In 1928 the Settlement opened a village hall, including a 400-seat theatre, also used for film shows. In 1949 a large playing field was laid out east of the main road with a sports pavilion, enlarged c. 1970. (fn. 53) In 1977 a village community centre was built beside the school. (fn. 54) Village sports clubs included in 1958 ones for cricket, football, tennis, and bowls. By 1923 there were amateur dramatic and horticultural societies and a band was started in 1949. The annual flower show, started by 1923, succeeding the old village Feast and also held in July, was from 1974 restyled the Papworth Festival. (fn. 55)