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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MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES
The bishop of Lincoln's manor of HISTON covered most of the 30-hide vill in 1086, when it comprised a demesne manor of 16¾ hides, held by the bishop of Dorchester before the transfer of the see to Lincoln in 1072, and 9¾ hides of tenanted land. (fn. 1) The bishop's lordship of the whole manor was recorded in 1279, (fn. 2) and in the 14th century he was said to hold 5 knights' fees in Histon and elsewhere. (fn. 3) The demesne and the tenanted land descended as two separate manors until the early 17th century, when they were united. Each also had a rectory estate attached to it until the 17th century, when the impropriate rectories were combined and held briefly with the manors before being sold together.
Bishop Robert Bloet gave the demesne manor to Eynsham abbey (Oxon.) when he moved the monks back there from Stow (Lincs.) before 1100. (fn. 4) The grant was confirmed by Henry I in 1109 and by later kings, (fn. 5) and the abbey retained the manor until its dissolution in 1539. (fn. 6) The abbot was said in the mid 13th century to hold 2 knights' fees in Histon of the bishop of Lincoln and in 1392 still held of him, but by 1428 the abbot was regarded as holding the manor in chief. (fn. 7)
The manor was called HISTON EYNSHAM until c. 1630, (fn. 8) and from the 17th century HISTON ETHELDRED or HISTON ST. ETHELDRED, after its former parish church. (fn. 9) The Crown sold it in 1539 to the courtier Sir Thomas Elyot (d. 1546), (fn. 10) whose widow Margaret took the manor in 1547 to her second husband James Dyer (kt. 1553, afterwards chief justice of Common Pleas). (fn. 11) Elyot's heir, his nephew Richard Puttenham, (fn. 12) apparently sold the reversion to Sir John Hinde (d. 1550) of Madingley, whose son and heir Sir Francis Hinde (fn. 13) presumably took possession of Histon on Margaret Dyer's death in 1560. (fn. 14) Histon Eynsham passed with Madingley from Sir Francis (d. 1596) to his son Sir William (d. 1606). Sir William had settled his estates on his wife Elizabeth but his brother and heir Edward obtained possession of Histon from her in 1607. (fn. 15) Edward Hinde seems to have sold the land in 1611 to Humphrey Gardiner, who at his death in 1620 held the site of the manor and 360 a. of arable, (fn. 16) and the lordship in 1613 to William Norton, who was said to hold it in 1621 and 1623. (fn. 17) Norton in turn sold it in 1631 to Matthew Weld, (fn. 18) and before 1635 it was united with the other manor in Histon, held by William Bowyer, though Bowyer did not hold courts for it in his own name until 1638. (fn. 19)
The land was held for life by Humphrey Gardiner's widow Elizabeth (d. 1642), with remainder to his infant grandson, also Humphrey Gardiner. (fn. 20) That Humphrey's son Humphrey by will proved 1681 settled his estates on his daughter Cecily, who died shortly afterwards, and on his widow of the same name. (fn. 21) The elder Cecily in 1683 married John Penhallo (d. 1716), who left a life interest in Histon to Margaret Gwalter, afterwards wife of Thomas Matthews. (fn. 22) Penhallo's brother and heir Benjamin was later in possession and in 1738, after his death, his niece Elizabeth and her husband John Peters sold the land to Francis, earl of Godolphin. The estate, 140 a. in 1684, (fn. 23) was thereby combined with the united impropriate rectory, held by Godolphin's daughter Mary. (fn. 24)
The manor styled HISTON DENNY and later HISTON ST. ANDREW originated in 926¾ hides held in 1066 by nine sokemen of the bishop of Dorchester. Picot, sheriff of Cambridge, took the land and in 1086 also held 1 5/12; hides that had belonged before the Conquest to the abbot of Ely's tenant Wulfwine the mead-maker (medarius) and had been seized by Bishop Remigius after 1067. (fn. 25) Successive bishops of Lincoln evidently prevented Picot's successors as barons of Bourn from establishing any hereditary right to the manor, despite claims in the 1220s. (fn. 26) The bishop's overlordship was recorded in 1392. (fn. 27)
Two knights' fees in Histon were held of the see in the late 12th century by Geoffrey du Boys, who sold his interest to Bishop Hugh (1186- 1200) in order that the bishop might enfeoff his own brother Peter of Avalon. Peter's possession was confirmed by King John in 1200. (fn. 28) By 1223 the bishop's tenant in Histon was Henry de Colville, (fn. 29) who held 2 knights' fees there c. 1235. (fn. 30) From Colville part at least of the manor was held by undertenants: in 1242 Robert son of Henry Bourn sold ½ knight's fee held of Henry de Colville to Hugh of St. Vedast and his wife Cecily, possibly a daughter of Colville, while Hugh and Cecily at the same time exchanged the other 1 ½ fees with Colville for land in Oxfordshire, (fn. 31) and in 1250 Robert Bourn released the entire 2 knights' fees to Colville. (fn. 32) The division into two parts remained in 1279, when Henry's son Philip de Colville, (fn. 33) in possession by 1273, (fn. 34) had 1½fees and his tenant Brian of Lincoln 160 a. (fn. 35) Brian's surname suggests that he may have been the successor of Hugh of St. Vedast, a tenant of the bishop of Lincoln in Lincolnshire. (fn. 36) From the late 13th century the Colville manors in Histon and Impington descended together, gradually becoming regarded as a single manor. (fn. 37) From Philip the manor descended to his son Henry, then to Henry's son Philip, who held it in 1302-3 and died c. 1311. (fn. 38) His widow Maud married Sir Robert Baynard, lord in 1316, (fn. 39) and died after 1346. (fn. 40) She was presumably succeeded by her first husband's heir, his brother Henry de Colville (d. c. 1360), since Anne, probably Henry's daughter, and her husband Dedric of Somerton sold Histon in 1362 to Sir Robert Thorpe (d. 1372). (fn. 41) Histon passed with Thorpe's manor of Lolworth to his nephew William Thorpe, who settled it on feoffees in 1383. (fn. 42) The feoffees sold Histon in 1392 to Denny abbey, (fn. 43) which retained the manor until the Dissolution. (fn. 44)
Histon St. Andrew was sold by the Crown in 1539 to Edward Elrington (fn. 45) and in 1541 by Elrington to William Bowyer. (fn. 46) William died, knighted and holding office as mayor of London, in 1544, leaving the manor of Histon and Impington to his illegitimate son John Bowyer or Turner. John was granted leave to hold the manor in 1547, notwithstanding irregularities in his father's will. (fn. 47) Sir William's executor, Henry Searle, nevertheless retained possession until 1557 and had leases of both the manor and the rectory until 1560. (fn. 48) John Bowyer died in 1571, (fn. 49) and his son Francis in 1598; (fn. 50) Francis's son William and his feoffees held courts until 1651. (fn. 51)
William Bowyer had bought the manor of Histon St. Etheldred, without any demesne land, by 1635, from which time the two descended together. William's son Hutton Bowyer held courts from 1651 and sold both to Richard Bigg in 1655. (fn. 52) Successive sales took place in 1657 to Hezekiah Haynes, (fn. 53) in 1659 to Richard Pigott, and in 1664 to Thomas Archer. (fn. 54) The last (d. 1704) (fn. 55) settled the manors in 1698 on his son, also Thomas, on whose death in 1728 (fn. 56) his widow Rebecca released her interest to their son Hoste Archer. (fn. 57) Hoste died childless in 1740 and left Histon to Guy Sindrey (d. 1761), who devised it successively to his widow Grace (d. 1771), John Alderson (d. 1782), (fn. 58) and Thomas Sumpter, Hoste Archer's nephew and a member of a farming family long established in Histon. (fn. 59)
In 1784 Thomas Sumpter owned over 400 a. in Histon and Impington. (fn. 60) Contrary to his will, proved 1806, (fn. 61) his executors conveyed the 25-a. park and 108 a. of land in the parish as well as the manor house to his eldest son Richard (d. 1817). (fn. 62) Richard Sumpter later sold a large part of the land. (fn. 63) The much reduced manorial estate passed to Richard's brother William (d. 1847), (fn. 64) William's son William Richard (d. 1870), and the latter's widow Catherine, on whose death in 1877 her husband's nephew, the Revd. W. S. Beevor, sold the estate to William Peed, (fn. 65) a Cambridge solicitor. After Peed's scandalous bankruptcy and disappearance in 1897 the manorial rights were sold to J. F. Eaden, (fn. 66) and they were held until 1935 or later by partners in the Cambridge legal firm of Eaden, Spearing, and Raynes, and by members of their families. (fn. 67)
Histon Manor and the park were bought in 1897 by F. Crisp, (fn. 68) and the house passed by sale successively to W. A. H. Harding (1899-1927), (fn. 69) W. H. D. Rouse (1927-50) and his devisee Christ's College, Cambridge, (fn. 70) Pye Ltd., Chivers and Sons Ltd., and, from 1953, Professor J. K. S. St. Joseph. (fn. 71)
The moated site 200 m. south-west of St. Andrew's church is presumably the location of the medieval manor house of Histon St. Andrew. The ditch encloses a rectangle 85 by 42 m. (fn. 72) The site was probably abandoned in the late medieval or early modern period in favour of a new house on the site of the present Histon Manor, between the moat and the church. There was a manor house standing in 1560. (fn. 73)
One bay of an early 17th-century timberframed hall range aligned north-south survives in the centre of the north side of Histon Manor. The northern part of the range, which projected north of the present house in the early 19th century, (fn. 74) had been demolished by 1886. (fn. 75) A tall doorway at the south-east corner of the surviving bay may have been the entrance to a stair or to a screens passage. The 17th-century house appears to have had a southern cross wing: part of its cellars survive, with walls partly of ashlar, and a large chimney stack to the west may indicate the position of the original kitchen.
In the 18th century the T-or H-shaped house was altered to make it face south by rebuilding the southern cross wing as a Palladian entrance front of three storeys and five bays, having a three-bay centre with pilasters and pediment. (fn. 76) The addition of a room in the western angle between the south and hall ranges made an irregular plan with part of the original hall projecting north and probably by then used as the service wing. The south front was remodelled in the late 19th century, when the attic floor was removed and a porch added. Two or more phases of extensions on the east side accommodated new service rooms. A large billiard room was added to the north-west in the late 19th century, and early in the 20th a small single-storey addition was built between it and the south range.
The grounds of Histon Manor include the moated site, landscaped in the 18th century. An eastern arm added to the moat before 1801 had been filled in by 1901. (fn. 77) East of the house a brick and thatch snake house survives from the private zoo kept by W. A. H. Harding. (fn. 78) In the late 19th century and the early 20th the park extended south across Park Lane and included an ornamental lake called the Ballast Hole further along Park Lane by the railway, (fn. 79) presumably created by gravel digging.
The impropriate rectory of Histon St. Etheldreda descended with Histon Eynsham manor from 1268 until the early 17th century. (fn. 80) Either Edward Hinde or William Norton, who bought the manor from him in 1613, evidently sold the rectory estate to William Bowyer, who was in possession of it some years before acquiring the manor in the 1630s. It was thus united with the impropriate rectory of Histon St. Andrew, held by the Bowyer family since 1541 with Histon St. Andrew manor. (fn. 81) The two impropriate rectories thereafter remained together. William Bowyer and his wife Dorothy conveyed them in 1626 to William's uncle George Coke (later bishop of Hereford, d. 1646). (fn. 82) Coke's son Thomas (fn. 83) sold the estate in 1655 to Humphrey Gardiner, who in turn sold it in 1658 to Sir Thomas Willys, Bt., of Fen Ditton. (fn. 84) Sir Thomas settled the rectory estate in 1681 on the marriage of a younger son Robert. (fn. 85) Robert's widow Mary held it for life in 1704 and their son John Willys (fn. 86) (d. 1729) devised the rectory estate and c. 60 a. of copyhold land to his cousin Sir William Willys, Bt. (fn. 87) The estate passed with Fen Ditton on Sir William's death without issue in 1732 to his six sisters, from whom it was bought in 1733 by Henrietta Godolphin, duchess of Marlborough (d. 1733). (fn. 88) Under the duchess's will, proved 1736, Histon rectory passed to her daughter Lady Mary Godolphin, who married Thomas Osborne, duke of Leeds. (fn. 89) Thomas in 1749 sold the estate, together with freehold land acquired by Mary's father Francis, earl of Godolphin, (fn. 90) to Thomas Panton, who settled it in 1767 on the marriage of his son, also Thomas. After the younger Thomas Panton's death in 1808 (fn. 91) it came to his niece Priscilla Barbara Elizabeth Burrell, Lady Willoughby de Eresby, and her husband Peter Burrell, Lord Gwydir, (fn. 92) who sold the estate, comprising 605 a., in 1809. (fn. 93)
Over half the estate, the 368 a. comprising Abbey farm, was bought by its tenant Uriah Taylor, (fn. 94) who was succeeded in turn by his son William and William's daughter Anne, wife of F. W. Rowley (d. 1886). Their son S. H. Rowley died in 1930 and was followed successively by his son S. S. Rowley (d. 1963) and grandson J. S. H. Rowley, the owner in 1986. (fn. 95) Abbey farm covered 384 a. in 1986, (fn. 96) though the Taylor and Rowley families had earlier owned other farms in Histon as well. (fn. 97)
A house was built after 1611 on the site of Histon St. Etheldred manor by the Gardiner family as their main residence. (fn. 98) After c. 1738 it was the farmhouse for the rectory estate. The house occupied by the Gardiners in 1662 was taxed on 11 hearths, and by 1664 new building had added 6 more. (fn. 99) It stood immediately south of the present Abbey Farm, and was a large building with a front of four 17th-century gables. (fn. 100) It was called the Parsonage in 1783, (fn. 101) and was demolished in the early 1860s after a period of disuse. Materials sold in 1860 included timber-framing, brick, Ketton stone, roof tiles, and sash windows, (fn. 102) while panelling was taken in 1864 to the Taylors' farm in Harston. Abbey Farm was built in 1847 (fn. 103) in the Gothic style and has the arms of the Taylor family over the front door.
Two small estates in Histon recorded in Domesday Book were already then attached to adjoining manors outside the vill. In 1066 the abbot of Ely had a demesne manor of 1 ¾hides valued in 1086 with his larger manor of Impington, (fn. 104) which was afterwards often said to include land in Histon. (fn. 105) One third of a hide belonging to Robert, count of Mortain, was attached in 1086 to his manor of Girton and held by the undertenant of that manor, Morin. (fn. 106) It may have become the farm at the north end of Girton village, just within Histon parish, which was recorded from 1521 onwards. (fn. 107) In 1604, when it was called Collyns after a Girton yeoman family, it was bought by Sir William Hinde of Madingley, (fn. 108) whose successors as lords of Girton held it until the 19th century. (fn. 109)