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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The manor of GREAT CHILDERLEY derived from 5 hides held in 1066 by a man of Earl Waltheof, which in 1086 were held of Waltheof's widow Countess Judith by Picot the sheriff. (fn. 1) That manor continued thereafter to be held of the honor of Huntingdon, being usually reckoned as ½ knight's fee. (fn. 2) When the honor was divided after 1237, that fee was assigned c. 1244 to Dervorguilla and her husband John de Balliol, (fn. 3) whose heirs retained it until the 1290s. (fn. 4) After the Balliol forfeiture the manor was said until the 17th century to be held of the Crown as of the honor of Huntingdon. (fn. 5)
By the early 12th century the manor was probably held in demesne by Lancelin of Belvoir or his son Robert, lord of Great Oakley (Northants.), and by 1167 by Robert's son William. Probably in the 1170s its possession was confirmed to William and his son Reynold by Saher de Quincy (d. 1190), whose wife Asceline was a coheir of the Peverel barony of Bourn, once Picot's. (fn. 6) The Peverel coheirs' mesne lordship was not recorded later. Reynold, called of Oakley, held the family land from c. 1195 to 1205. (fn. 7) By 1208 (fn. 8) it had descended to his son Robert (fn. 9) who as Robert of Oakley possessed the family's Northamptonshire lands from 1219 and occupied Childerley from c. 1235 to 1245. (fn. 10) Perhaps by 1252 (fn. 11) he had been succeeded by his son Simon of Oakley, (fn. 12) a rebel in 1266. (fn. 13) He probably died c. 1270: his son Richard owed Dervorguilla 100 marks in 1271 perhaps as a relief. (fn. 14) Simon's widow Sarah occupied all Great Childerley in 1279 and 1284. (fn. 15)
The heirs to Richard, who died 1277 × 1293, were his two daughters, the elder Margery, wife by 1299 of John de Lyons, lord of Warkworth (Northants.), and Sarah. (fn. 16) The manor remained divided into moieties between their descendants and successors until c. 1500. Margery retained her half after her husband's death between c. 1310 and 1315 (fn. 17) until after 1327. (fn. 18) In 1310 she and John had settled its reversion in tail upon their younger son Richard (d. 1370). (fn. 19) By 1335, however, his elder brother John put him out. (fn. 20) John, a knight c. 1336, (fn. 21) died c. 1367. (fn. 22) By 1357, perhaps by 1346, he had probably installed at Childerley his son and namesake, (fn. 23) who being childless (fn. 24) in 1371 settled the reversion of his half of Great Childerley on Richard's newly married daughters, Isabel, Cecily, and Christine, who were each to have a third. (fn. 25) John died in 1385 (fn. 26) and Christine soon after. About 1392 Isabel and her husband Geoffrey Ludworth released her rights to Cecily, by 1387 wife of John Ragenhill (fn. 27) (d. by 1398), a London fishmonger. (fn. 28)
When she died in 1410, Cecily left as heirs her four daughters by her previous marriage to Thomas Frere and their representatives, each being entitled to a quarter share of the undivided manor. (fn. 29) The second daughter Alice, then wife of Denis Lopham (d. after 1414), (fn. 30) next married the Norfolk landowner Sir John Rodenhale (d. 1420), controller and from 1416 keeper of the Wardrobe. (fn. 31) She died without issue in 1435, (fn. 32) as had the third sister Elizabeth, wife of John Thorpe of Surrey, in 1421. (fn. 33) Their quarters accrued to the surviving heirs. (fn. 34) Cecily's eldest daughter Joan had died before her mother, leaving two sons. The younger, Richard Burman, took possession of her quarter in 1411, (fn. 35) but when his elder brother John died overseas in 1415, leaving an infant son John, the royal grantee of his wardship occupied that quarter (fn. 36) from 1417 until after the boy came of age in 1437. (fn. 37) In 1439 John (d. 1462) released his right in the Lyons inheritance to Cecily's youngest daughter Margaret and the London fishmonger John Michell, by 1410 her husband. (fn. 38)
Michell, an alderman of London from 1414, died in 1445 (fn. 39) and Margaret in 1455, when her heirs were her three daughters. Her substantially reunited moiety of Great Childerley was assigned to the youngest, Joan, wife of William Druell of Waresley (Hunts.). (fn. 40) He died in 1458 and his son William in 1485. (fn. 41) Joan, married by 1463 to John Bourn of Willingham, (fn. 42) retained the Childerley estate until her death in 1495. Her grandson and heir John Druell (fn. 43) died later that year and his brother Richard, then aged 14, (fn. 44) entered upon the manor in 1505, (fn. 45) and sold it in 1509 to Sir John Cutts, (fn. 46) owner of the other half of Great Childerley and of Little Childerley.
The other half of Great Childerley manor had passed to Richard of Oakley's younger daughter Sarah, wife by 1305 of Simon of Seyton (d. after 1306) (fn. 47) and by 1315 of Tibbald of Bray, lord in 1316. (fn. 48) In 1339 Thomas of Seyton conveyed that half to Richard Tulyet, several times mayor of Cambridge between 1338 and 1347. (fn. 49) Richard, tenant in 1346, was succeeded c. 1349 by his son Robert. (fn. 50) He died in 1393, leaving as heir his young daughter Joan. She married John Hore to whom the Tulyets' feoffees shortly released that half. (fn. 51) Hore, who acquired Little Childerley, and came to live in the parish, possessed the estate until after 1434. (fn. 52) His son Gilbert probably occupied it when sheriff of Cambridgeshire in 1438. (fn. 53) Gilbert died in 1453. (fn. 54) Under his will his Childerley estate passed to his younger son Thomas, (fn. 55) who died holding it in 1480. Thomas's infant son Gilbert (fn. 56) died under age in 1498. (fn. 57) It then went to Edith, daughter of Thomas's elder brother John (d. 1471) (fn. 58) and wife by 1505 of Thomas Fulthorp of Hipswell (Yorks. N.R.). (fn. 59) They sold their Childerley land in 1508 to Sir John Cutts. (fn. 60)
The 3 hides held in 1066 by Earl Harold's man Siward and in 1086 of the bishop of Lincoln by Roger of Childerley (fn. 61) later became LITTLE CHILDERLEY manor. Until c. 1450 it was held of the see of Lincoln as ½ knight's fee, (fn. 62) but after 1500 of the Crown in chief. (fn. 63) Thomas of Childerley, fl. 1180-5, was succeeded as tenant in demesne by his son Henry of Childerley, fl. 1194-1217, (fn. 64) and he by 1220 by John of Childerley, (fn. 65) lord c. 1235. (fn. 66) John was dead by 1238, leaving a son under age, (fn. 67) Henry, tenant in 1242. (fn. 68) Henry probably held the manor, 2½ hides, in 1279 and c. 1284, (fn. 69) but it was probably his son Henry, recorded by 1285, (fn. 70) who was tenant in 1302. (fn. 71) From the elder Henry's grant of c. 90 a. to John and Margery de Lyons, (fn. 72) there probably derived the 125 a. of Little Childerley which Cecily Ragenhill granted c. 1410 to her younger daughter Alice, (fn. 73) and which were reckoned in 1428 as half the Little Childerley fee. (fn. 74) The remainder had descended by 1316 to Henry's son John of Childerley, lord until after 1327. (fn. 75) Catherine of Childerley, its possessor in 1339 and 1346, (fn. 76) was perhaps his widow. By 1349 that manor had passed to William of Childerley, (fn. 77) who died in 1381. His widow Isabel (fn. 78) and her second husband Thomas Lackford occupied his carucate until 1397, when they ceded it to William's daughter Catherine for an annuity. (fn. 79) Catherine, who shortly sold the manor to John Hore, died c. 1415. (fn. 80) That manor thereafter passed with the Hores' half of Great Childerley, (fn. 81) with which it was acquired by Sir John Cutts. (fn. 82)
Following his purchase all the manorial rights were combined in one hand although the manors were occasionally distinguished formally until the 18th century. (fn. 83) Thenceforth virtually the whole parish belonged to the manorial estate, although the 30 a. of Starvegoose farm in the north-western corner were acquired only after 1804. (fn. 84) Sir John Cutts, under-treasurer and councillor to Henry VII, (fn. 85) died in 1521, leaving the manors for life to his widow Elizabeth (d. 1524). (fn. 86) Their son and heir John died just after coming of age in 1528. His son John, not of age until 1547, (fn. 87) when he was knighted, (fn. 88) died in 1555, in his turn leaving a son John aged ten. (fn. 89) Under Sir John's will Childerley passed to his widow Sibyl, (fn. 90) who very soon married John Hutton of Dry Drayton. She died after 1565. (fn. 91) The young John Cutts, who had livery in 1566 (fn. 92) and was knighted in 1571, lived mostly at Childerley after the 1570s. (fn. 93) He died in 1615. His son and heir John (kt. 1603) (fn. 94) died in 1646, after which his widow Anne (fn. 95) controlled the whole estate until their son John came of age c. 1655. (fn. 96) That John, created a baronet in 1661, (fn. 97) died without issue in 1670. Under his will his estates passed to his distant heir male, Richard Cutts of Arkesden (Essex), descended in the eighth generation from Richard, brother of Sir John Cutts (d. 1521). (fn. 98) Richard died without issue after 1679. (fn. 99) His younger brother John, later Lord Cutts, (fn. 100) sold his whole estate in Childerley in 1686 to Felix Calvert, a brewer and excise farmer, already its mortgagee in 1684. (fn. 101)
Calvert died in 1699, leaving Childerley to his son William (fn. 102) (d. 1749), who in 1715 settled it upon the marriage of his eldest son Felix. By the 1730s Felix (d. 1758) had probably transferred it to his own son Nicolson. (fn. 103) The latter, an eccentric Whig, (fn. 104) died without issue in 1793, having c. 1789 settled the reversion of his lands upon his younger brother Felix's son Nicolson Calvert. (fn. 105) He in turn left the lands to his eldest son Gen. Felix Calvert. (fn. 106) The estate was several times offered for sale from 1842, and after Gen. Calvert died in 1856, leaving it to his younger brother E. S. F. Calvert, the mortgagees foreclosed c. 1859, and sold it in 1860 (fn. 107) to Edward Burtenshaw Sugden, created Lord St. Leonards as Conservative Lord Chancellor in 1852. (fn. 108) He died in 1875. Following the bankruptcy by 1884 of his grandson and namesake, the second lord (d. s.p. 1908), (fn. 109) the Childerley estate was vested in his mortgagees from 1888 to 1920, when it was sold to John Marsland Brooke, its tenant since 1897. (fn. 110) From him it descended between 1925 and 1929 to Francis Benjamin Brooke, (fn. 111) who sold it in 1957 to Mr. J. G. Jenkins, who still owned the whole parish in 1985. (fn. 112)
Great Childerley's manor house, whose gates were mentioned in 1411, (fn. 113) may have stood on a moated site, c. 205 by 180 ft. (62 by 55 m.), in the western half of the medieval village. (fn. 114) Little Childerley also had a manor house, in whose chamber William of Childerley killed an intruding chaplain in 1355. (fn. 115) The later Childerley Hall, almost in the center of the parish, was originally built by Sir John Cutts (d. 1521). (fn. 116) Sir John Cutts (d. 1615) added or rebuilt the chapel. It was perhaps from the brickworks needed for their building that a field to the east was called Brick Clamps. (fn. 117) The house was a large one, containing in 1670 a hall, new hall, gallery adjoining the staircase, dining room, great and little parlours, and a study and closet for Sir John Cutts's curiosities. Its upper floor included six well furnished and tapestried chambers for the family and their guests, with 18-19 others for inferiors and servants. With some 50 rooms indoors, (fn. 118) it may have extended around a courtyard. Of that house there survives only part of the south wing towards the garden. It is twostoreyed with dormers, with walls of ancient red brick. Its ground floor contains two rooms, each with rebuilt massive chimneys, projecting externally. A bay window formerly adjoined the eastern chimney. (fn. 119) On the east side is an original square staircase. Above the 20th-century hall, a room with a many-panelled ceiling has on three of its walls, over partly restored wainscot, a painted upper frieze of 'antick' work. The arms of Cutts and Brocket date it to c. 1610. The lower painting with its heavy, curving foliage was probably added in the later 17th century. All the much darkened paintwork was heavily restored c. 1850. (fn. 120) That room was by the 1740s called King Charles's chamber, (fn. 121) because Charles I was believed to have occupied it in 1647, when he stopped at Childerley on 6-7 June, while being brought from Holmby House (Northants.) to the army near Newmarket. (fn. 122) South of the house, beyond a terrace, low banks surround an almost square enclosure, of 250 by 300 ft. (76 by 91 m.), probably the former hall garden. A large pond was formed to its west by damming a stream there, which on the east helped feed a series of fishponds. (fn. 123)
The house was surrounded by a large park, in the early 17th century stocked with fallow deer. (fn. 124) A warren then yielded rabbits sent thrice weekly to the London market. (fn. 125) If the park stretched as far as the west-facing bank 720 yd. (700 m.) long on the west parish boundary, perhaps its paling, it would have covered c 140 a. (fn. 126) In the 1730s 85 a. east of the hall was described as parkland. (fn. 127)
Sir John Cutts's executors sold all the contents of the house in 1670, (fn. 128) and it ceased to be a gentleman's residence thenceforth. By the 1740s all had been demolished except the south wing (fn. 129) which was then and later occupied by tenant farmers. That wing was largely reconstructed in 1852, the windows, mostly two-light, being renewed with plastered mouldings and the central bay window removed. A two-storeyed stair hall was added on the north side and a short twostoreyed gabled wing to the north-east replaced a fragment of the Tudor house. Also in the 1850s two extensive ranges of farm buildings in brick and timber were erected to the north and east. (fn. 130)