Teversham : Economic history

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


A F Wareham, A P M Wright, 'Teversham : Economic history', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire)( London, 2002), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol10/pp178-181 [accessed 18 July 2024].

A F Wareham, A P M Wright, 'Teversham : Economic history', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire)( London, 2002), British History Online, accessed July 18, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol10/pp178-181.

A F Wareham, A P M Wright. "Teversham : Economic history". A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). (London, 2002), , British History Online. Web. 18 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol10/pp178-181.

In this section


In 1086 the vill included 72/3 hides, half on the largest manor, and land for nine ploughteams. Of the six present, at least three were probably on the demesnes, the others belonging to the seven villani with 19 bordars who occupied the other land. The reported yield of the manors had fallen by almost a third since 1066. (fn. 1) By 1279, (fn. 2) apart from the demesnes, of which those of the serjeanty and Richmond manors had probably covered respectively 240 a. and 200 a. before their division, c. 690 a. of arable were reported. Freeholdings comprised 430 a. altogether, of which ten tenants with 10 a. or more occupied 310 a., including William of Leicester's widow Millicent who had 80 a., virtually a manor, settled in 1272. (fn. 3) About 30 small freeholders with under 5 a. each had barely 42 a. The land held in villeinage, only c. 240 a. in all, consisted mainly of the twelve half yardlands shared equally between the two serjeanty manors, each having also 2–3 tenants of 8–10 a. and four crofters with 2 a. each. On those manors, villein services, presumably defined before their partition c. 1200, were identical and relatively light. One tenant of c. 10 a. on each, perhaps representing holdings such as that of the single Domesday servus, owed weekwork, two days in winter, double in summer. Half yardlanders, however, had only to plough ½ a. each, hoe the lord's crops and make his hay, and in harvest reap 1 a. and send two men to two boonworks. They might also be required to carry produce to other serjeanty manors at Ongar and Maplestead (Essex). (fn. 4) Manners manor and the Richmond fee had only free tenants.

Some freehold yardlands, singly or combined, were recorded into the 14th century. (fn. 5) About 1298 a remarried widow claimed as her customary dower from her son and heir, who was newly of age and demanding a statutory account, half his 45-a. holding, all but 10 a. held in socage. (fn. 6) Such freeholds were gradually accumulated into larger holdings of 50 a. or more, (fn. 7) eventually from the 16th century absorbed into corporate estates. (fn. 8) By that time the villein land had been converted into copyholds; those held of Dengaines manor c. 1500, when its 120-a. demesne was on lease, totalled 132 a. in all, including four 18-a. holdings, presumably representing half yardlands. (fn. 9) At inclosure only 70 a., all but 3 a. held of Dengaines manor, was allotted as copyhold for c. 85 a. of copyhold then reported. (fn. 10)

By the mid 14th century (fn. 11) the arable was cultivated in four open fields. (fn. 12) West of the village lay one then called Portway field, by 1440 Townsend field, and from the 1630s also Causeway field. The part of it stretching north of the village was occasionally styled Brook field after 1580. South of that field in Church, Hall and Long crofts (over 12 a.), recorded from 1366, lay meadow severally occupied in strips. (fn. 13) Some Lammas land, 6½ a., also divided, lay further east. (fn. 14) South of the village was Mill, after 1500 often called Millhill, field, also named c. 1565–1635 Gaines field from the adjoining manor house. By 1800 it was called Hinton field. Eastwards lay Millditch and, beyond a watercourse, Holm fields, distinct until the 1650s, but combined under the former name, corrupted to Middleditch, by 1800.

On the north-west a brook separated that field from fen pasture, probably the North fen which in 1279 stretched for three furlongs from the village to 'Ditchemelndam', apparently beside a parallel common pasture reaching as far as the northern part of the Fleam Dyke. (fn. 15) By 1366, as still in 1618, its western part was distinguished as Freshlake fen, perhaps from that stream's original name. By 1800 it had probably long been described as the Long meadow and Cow common. (fn. 16) To its east lay Holm fen, renamed after 1636 Fishhouse, by 1800 Fishers fen. A 'fisher's house' by the Quy Water bank had long been demolished by 1775. (fn. 17) A narrow South fen, in 1279 six furlongs long between 'Caldwell' and 'Meldich', (fn. 18) was probably later represented by the smaller Gaines fen which lay south of Millditch field, beside the Caudle Ditch. Straddling the road south from the village was Garland green, so named by 1517, (fn. 19) which provided at least 28 a. of permanent sheep common. (fn. 20)

In 1794 the open fields were said to cover 600 a., the common pastures 100 a., while another 60 a. of grass was held in severalty. (fn. 21) About 1810, when c. 900 a. (local measure) of fieldland were claimed, (fn. 22) the open fields were reckoned to cover 704 a. with 40 a. of balks, besides 312 a. of sheep and cow commons. There were also 129 a. of old inclosures, of which 108 a. belonged to the manorial estates. (fn. 23) The open fields remained until inclosure under a triennial rotation, (fn. 24) Millditch and Holm fields being worked in 1636 in a single shift. (fn. 25) By 1567 Caius College had laid down as leys one 12-a. block in the south-west of Millhill field, near marshy land. (fn. 26) Some leys remained in 1810. (fn. 27) Wheat, barley, and oats had been grown from the 13th century. (fn. 28) Barley probably predominated in early modern time: (fn. 29) c. 1640 one farmer had sown only 20 a. of wheat and 30 a. of rye, but 120 a. of barley, besides 70 a. of oats and other 'horsecorn'. (fn. 30) In 1801, however, the crops on c. 475 a. included 217 a. of wheat compared with 182 a. of barley and 31 a. of oats. (fn. 31) The name of Saffron close, recorded in 1669, attached to a manor by 1810, when Cinquefoil close was mentioned, (fn. 32) suggests that those crops had once been cultivated at least on inclosed land. By 1810 turnips were also being sown in the open fields, to be eaten off by sheep. (fn. 33)

In 1086 the manors had carried 220 sheep. (fn. 34) Bylaws of 1608 excluded sheep from the stubble for two weeks after harvest, initially reserving Holm field for calves and working horses. (fn. 35) By then sheep were mostly kept by the manorial farms, whose owners and lessees in 1552 resolved disputes by mutually recognizing their equal entitlement to keep 180 sheep each, the Savoy having another 60 for Allens farm, in a combined flock of not over 600 (five 'long hundreds') under one shepherd; they shared costs proportionately. A single fold was to manure their land over successive periods in proportion to the number of sheep which each farm actually kept. (fn. 36) In 1773, finding the pasture overburdened, the sheepmasters agreed to reduce their respective shares to 120 or 90 ewes with lambs, besides 28 or 21 'dry' hoggets, for each of which they should sow 1 lb. clover. The shepherd was allowed 40 other sheep. (fn. 37) In 1810 common rights, of shackage and of stray for great cattle, also of mowing the balks, were claimed for 37 dwellings or their sites. They were apparently unstinted although one Quy owner claimed such rights for 9 cows and a bull. (fn. 38) Before inclosure cottagers could keep 2–3 milking cows and 3–4 other cattle, but afterwards none. (fn. 39)

Inclosure was effected under an Act sought in 1809 (fn. 40) and obtained in 1810. (fn. 41) The land was divided and common rights extinguished later that year, (fn. 42) but, partly through disputes over the allocation of the manorial allotment for rights over waste, (fn. 43) the award was delayed until 1815. (fn. 44) It covered 1,043 a. of fields and commons, 13 a. of old inclosures also being exchanged. (fn. 45) After 231 a. had gone to the rector for glebe and commuted tithes, the manorial estates emerged with c. 575 a., equal to their previous fieldland, but other colleges had only 85 a. altogether instead of 125 a. An owner-occupied farm, the only substantial one, received 98 a. for 135 a. Smaller holdings, none over 12 a., shared barely 80 a., including 21 a. assigned in 3-a. lots solely for common rights, mostly on the sheep common. (fn. 46)

On the collegiate farms beneficial leases, for rents largely in kind established by the 17th century, (fn. 47) continued to be issued for a time, but four-course rotations were required, following inclosure, by the 1820s. (fn. 48) Part of the former fen apparently remained unploughed in 1841. (fn. 49) The parish continued into the 20th century to be dominated by four or five relatively large farms, (fn. 50) occupied by a few well established families, such as the Heylocks, Footes, (fn. 51) Grains, and Yarrows. Those farms were often, especially until the 1880s, combined. In 1851 one man was working 560 a., including the Rectory and Pembroke farms, with Manor farm; the Hall farm tenant occupied 350 a. or more into the 1870s. In the mid 19th century, when 30–40 labourers lived in the village, those large farms required 35–50 men and 6–10 boys. A new Manor farm lessee, engaged in 1871 in coprolite digging, employed 104 men, only five, apparently, from Teversham itself. The rector was letting 6 a. of his glebe west of the village to cottagers in 1/4-a. allotments by 1886, (fn. 52) and 10 a. by 1910, when the four largest farmers with over 175 a. each occupied between them 962 a. The biggest holding, worked from Hall farm, then covered 354 a., while the Manor farm tenant had 245 a. (fn. 53) In 1951 there were still, as since the 1870s, c. 25 labourers employed in Teversham, but by 1971 only five. (fn. 54)

On the arable slightly more wheat than barley was usually sown until the 1930s and again c. 1970, while sugar beet was grown from 1930. The area under grass increased by a half to c. 350 a., 1870–1900, but again declined to barely 150 a. by 1930; it carried milking cattle into the 1970s. One farmer also started in 1948 a herd of pedigree Ayrshires, sold in 1969. Sheep, the grown flock numbering 650 c. 1870–90, only 150–200 later, were no longer kept by 1950. (fn. 55)

In 1267 a former rebel had a half share in a windmill. (fn. 56) A mill attached to Dengaines manor in 1328 (fn. 57) was perhaps that which stood on the Millhill acre, still belonging to that manor in 1567, beside Hinton and Millhill ways in Millhill field. (fn. 58) Another windmill was settled for the Jermys with 'Bassingbourns' manor in 1606, (fn. 59) but none was recorded in the parish later.

Smiths, carpenters, and tailors were occasionally recorded c. 1275–1335, and a fuller in 1335. (fn. 60) After 1800 the village seldom had many craftsmen; only two out of 47 families were supported by trades in 1831, (fn. 61) and in the mid and late 19th century there were only 1–2 carpenters and shoemakers, a tailor, and by 1871 a painter and glazier. (fn. 62) The Borley family, which by 1900 worked the village smithy, once part of the Hall estate, (fn. 63) built up there a small engineering firm, still in business at the site of the demolished forge (fn. 64) off Church Road c. 1990. Another metal working business was then installed at the Hall, and Teversham also housed a monumental mason, a tree surgeon, and a firm handling refrigerated transport. (fn. 65) The village then had only one shop as in the late 19th century, (fn. 66)


From the mid 1930s the firm of Marshall developed within the north-western part of Teversham the car and aircraft business built up by D. G. Marshall (1873–1942) and his son Sir Arthur Marshall (b. 1903, kt. 1974, retired 1989). From 1989 it was managed by Sir Arthur's son Michael. The Marshall Group of Companies is still owned by the founding family, despite its size. It had originated from a car hire and garage firm, started in Cambridge in 1909 to provide chauffeured vehicles for dons and undergraduates. (fn. 67) The firm began to sell and lease cars, initially for Austin Motors, in 1920. Marshall's flying school started c. 1930 to train pilots and flying instructors. The firm purchased farmland mostly in Teversham in 1935 for a grass airfield, replacing an earlier one of 1929 near D. G. Marshall's house. The associated hangars and other ancillary buildings, including a hotel, were put up along the north-west boundary of Teversham parish. The new airfield, completed in 1937, was formally opened in 1938. (fn. 68) The school trained 20,000 RAF pilots during the Second World War. Between 1939 and 1945 Marshall was also deeply involved in maintaining, repairing, and modifying over 5,000 military aircraft, with work continuing after 1945 on Vampires, Canberras and V-bombers. (fn. 69)

After 1945, the firm, then employing over 3,000 people, continued into the 21st century to service aeroplanes for the R.A.F. and other air forces, especially from 1966 Hercules transport aircraft. It also engaged in modifying civil airliners to its own designs. Its products included 'drooping' nosecones for Concordes. Its steelframed hangars, the first built in 1937, standing with other workshops each side of the Newmarket road, mostly within Teversham's ancient boundaries, eventually numbered over twenty; especially large ones were erected in 1956, 1978, 1983, and 1991–2. (fn. 70) The development in 1984–6 of an 11-a. site north of the Newmarket road aroused much local opposition; objections included ones on grounds of noise and traffic congestion. (fn. 71) Marshall was also involved from the 1970s in aerospace, both for American and European space agencies. By the 1990s the total area that its hangars and workshops occupied came to 112;000 sq. metres. The workshops also accommodated, initially when work on aircraft was less intense, Marshall's other main business of designing and building, from the mid 1940s, military and commercial vehicle bodies, also between 1959 and 1985 buses, and from the 1970s military shelters for specialised equipment. (fn. 72) The airfield (fn. 73) came to serve, though in private ownership, effectively as Cambridge's municipal airport. Scheduled flights from it went by the 1990s to destinations both in Britain and western Europe. In 1952–3 more land was bought to enlarge it southwards, and the runway, then concreted to take jet aeroplanes, was widened and extended in 1957 and again in 1972–4 to stretch for 6,400 ft. (c. 2,250 m.) from inside Cherry Hinton up to the Newmarket road. By 1979 2,000 of Marshall's 3,200 employees worked at the airport works. (fn. 74) By the 1990s the total workforce numbered c. 3,500.


  • 1. V.C.H. Cambs. i. 373–4, 396, 407.
  • 2. For 1279 tenures, Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 432–6.
  • 3. P.R.O., CP 25/1/25/34, nos. 10–11; cf. ibid. JUST 1/86, rot. 9d.; JUST 1/89, rot. 16d.
  • 4. Cf. J.H. Round, King's Serjeants, 203–5.
  • 5. e.g. P.R.O., CP 25/1/27/58, no. 24; CP 25/1/29/88, no. 9.
  • 6. Ibid. JUST 1/95, rott. 2d., 8d., 16, 25d.; cf. ibid. JUST 1/86, rot. 16d.; Pollock and Maitland, Hist. Eng. Law (2nd. edn.), i. 323 n; ii. 421–2.
  • 7. e.g. Caius Coll. Mun., XIV/5 b, 6 a, deeds 5 Edw. IV, 16 Hen. VII; XIV/9–12, terrier 1502; XV/4–6, terrier 1569; XIV/8 (rental c. 1500).
  • 8. Above, manors.
  • 9. Caius Coll. Mun., XV/7, ct. rolls 11 Hen. VII; 1 Hen. VIII; cf. ibid. XV/4–6, rental 1673.
  • 10. C.U.L., Doc. 658, no. 83; C.R.O., Q/RDz 8, pp. 20, 23, 25, 27, 31–2, 34–5.
  • 11. For late medieval field names, e.g. Caius Coll. Mun., XV/1 a, deed 29 Edw. III; XV/2 a, deed 40 Edw. III; XV/2 b, deed 1 Hen. IV; XIV/1, deeds 20, 28 Hen. VI.
  • 12. For early modern names and layout of fields and fens (shown on map 15), Caius Coll. Mun., XIV/9–12, terriers 1502, 1610, 1630; XV/4–6, terriers 16th-cent., 1654, 1724; XIV/11 (terrier 1636); ibid. XV/25, survey and plans c. 1800; Pemb. Coll. Mun., Teversham, A 12, 15, 17; C.R.O., P 153/25/1; ibid. Q/RDc 22 (incl. map, 1810–15).
  • 13. Caius Coll. Mun., XIV/2 a; C.U.L., Maps, 5696.a.98.9; cf. ibid. Add. MS. 6079, f. 33.
  • 14. C.R.O., Q/RDz 8, p. 26; cf. C.U.L., Add. MS. 6079, ff. 21v., 33; L.M.A., H.1/ST/E 67/37/9.
  • 15. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 436.
  • 16. Caius Coll. Mun., XV/7, ct. roll 16 Jas. I; C.U.L., Add. MS. 6079, f. 22.
  • 17. Ibid. Doc. 658, no. 48.
  • 18. Rot. Hund. ii. 436.
  • 19. Pemb. Coll. Mun., Teversham, A 12.
  • 20. C.R.O., Q/RDz 8, pp. 19–20, 22–3, 25, 27, 32; cf. C.U.L., Add. MS. 6079, f. 33v.
  • 21. Vancouver, Agric. in Cambs. 46–7.
  • 22. Claims in C.U.L., Add. MS. 6079; cf. List & Index Soc. vol. 189, p. 67: 1 local acre = 3/4 statute acre.
  • 23. C.U.L., Doc. 658, no. 140; cf. C.R.O., Q.RDz 8, p. 13; ibid. Q/RDc 22.
  • 24. e.g. Vancouver, Agric. in Cambs. 47; C.U.L., Doc. 658, no. 140.
  • 25. Caius Coll. Mun., XV/11.
  • 26. Ibid. XV/4–6, terrier 1567, m. 5.
  • 27. e.g. ibid. XV/7, ct. roll 16 Jas. I; C.U.L., Add. MS. 6079, f. 24v.
  • 28. e.g. Rot. Hund. ii. 430; P.R.O., JUST 1/95, rot. 2d.
  • 29. e.g. B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 81, 87.
  • 30. C.U.L., E.D.R., K 1/41, ff. 1–2.
  • 31. List & Index Soc. vol. 189, p. 60.
  • 32. Caius Coll. Mun., XV/7, ct. roll 21 Chas. II; C.U.L., Add. MS. 6078, ff. 22v.–23; cf. ibid. Add. MS. 6079, ff. 30, 32v., 33v.
  • 33. C.U.L., Add. MS. 6078, f. 17 and v.
  • 34. V.C.H. Cambs. i. 407.
  • 35. Caius Coll. Mun., XV/7, ct. roll 6 Jas. I.
  • 36. Ibid. XIV/6 k; C.U.L., Add. MS. 6079, ff. 5v., 21v., 32, 33v.
  • 37. C.R.O., P 153/28/1 k.
  • 38. C.U.L., Add. MS. 6079, esp. ff. 9v., 17, 22, 25; cf. ibid. Doc. 658, no. 48.
  • 39. Ibid. Doc. 658, no. 78.
  • 40. Camb. Chron. 3 June 1809, p. 3.
  • 41. C.J. lxv. 47, 148, 291, 319, 449; Teversham Incl. Act, 50 Geo. III, c. 68 (Private, not printed).
  • 42. C.U.L., Add. MS. 6078, f. 25 and v.
  • 43. Ibid. ff. 38, 41v.–42; ibid. Doc. 658, nos. 108, 111.
  • 44. C.R.O., Q/RDz 8, p. 35.
  • 45. Ibid. pp. 13, 17, 24, 30–1, 34.
  • 46. Ibid. pp. 17–35. Areas, except for manors, include old inclosures; for owner-occupied farm, cf. ibid. 285/T 5.
  • 47. e.g. Venn, Biog. Hist. Gonville and Caius, iv. 87; Pemb. Coll. Mun., Teversham, B 1.
  • 48. e.g. Caius Coll. Mun., XIV/14; Pemb. Coll. Mun., Teversham, B 25.
  • 49. C.R.O., P 153/3/1; cf. P.R.O., MAF 68/1258.
  • 50. For 19th-cent. farms and farmers, and nos. of labourers, P.R.O., HO 107/1759, ff. 493–504; ibid. RG 9/1020, ff. 41–8; RG 10/1581, ff. 37–46; C.R.O., 334/O 48; ibid. 281/O 26; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1858–1937); cf. C.R.O., P 153/25/29.
  • 51. Cf. Camb. Chron. 15 Mar. 1786, p. 4; 2 Dec. 1786, p. 2; 14 Mar. 1807, p. 3.
  • 52. C.R.O., P 153/3/6, 16.
  • 53. Ibid. 470/O 73–4.
  • 54. P.R.O., MAF 68/3502, 4304, 5161.
  • 55. Ibid. MAF 68/232, 1258, 2398, 3502, 4304, 5161; Cambs. Colln., C.06 (f).
  • 56. Cal. Inq. Misc. i, pp. 112–3.
  • 57. P.R.O., CP 25/1/27/64, no. 14.
  • 58. Caius Coll. Mun., XV/4–6, terrier 1567.
  • 59. P.R.O., CP 25/2/277/4 Jas. I East. no. 20.
  • 60. e.g. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 431–4; P.R.O., JUST 2/17, rot. 2; ibid. SC 2/155/71, rot. 1.
  • 61. Census, 1831.
  • 62. e.g. P.R.O., HO 107/1759, ff. 499–504; ibid. RG 9/1020, ff. 41–9; RG 10/1581, ff. 37–46; RG 11/1661, ff. 90–8.
  • 63. C.U.L., Maps, PSQ 18/286; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1900–33).
  • 64. Camb. Evening News, 22 Apr. 1971; Town Crier, 1 Feb. 1986.
  • 65. Businesses listed in inf. from Cambs. Cty. Council, Corporate Policy & Planning, 1990.
  • 66. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1879 and later edns.).
  • 67. For development of firm, Sir Arthur Marshall, The Marshall Story (1994), passim: printed publicity material provided by Marshalls; Engineering; cf. Cambs., Hunts. & Peterb. Life, Apr. 1979, 12–14; Sunday Times, 20 May 2001.
  • 68. Marshall, Marshall Story, 147–50, 156, 160–1; cf. below, church. See plate 60.
  • 69. Marshall, Marshall Story, 149 sqq., 170 sqq., 199–204, 234; M.J.F. Bowyer, Military Airfields of Cambs. (1987), 36–58.
  • 70. Marshall, Marshall Story, 234, 250–2, 320 sqq., 334– 8, 343 sqq.; cf. Camb. Evening News, 6, 11 Sept. 1986; 21 Sept. 1987; 17 Mar., 8 Dec 1988.
  • 71. Local inf.
  • 72. Marshall, Marshall Story, 240 sqq., 294–5, 298, 323, 346.
  • 73. Ibid. 238 sqq.
  • 74. Ibid. 246–7, 252–3; cf. Camb. Evening News, 30 Mar., 21 Sept. 1972; cf. press release for air tattoo, 1979: copy, Cambs. Colln.