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.
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The ancient parish of Bottisham, (fn. 1) c. 10 km. (7 miles) east of Cambridge, covered 5,987 a. until it was divided in 1894 for civil purposes, as it had been ecclesiastically since 1863, (fn. 2) into the two parishes of Bottisham, 1,155 ha. (2,854 a.) in the south, and Lode, 1,268 ha. (3.133 a.) in the north, (fn. 3) the latter largely comprising former fenland. The boundary between them, marginally adjusted in 1979, (fn. 4) follows a road, its west part laid out in 1802, (fn. 5) running from Quy village towards Swaffham Bulbeck. From 1894 Lode, reckoned before 1863 as 2,590 a., (fn. 6) included for civil purposes also Swaffham Bulbeck Poor's Fen, covering 73 a. (fn. 7) The ancient parish, though seldom over 1.5 km. wide, stretches for almost 10 km. (7 miles) between the river Cam on the north-west and the line of the Icknield way, (fn. 8) a turnpike between 1724 and 1870. (fn. 9) In Bottisham's south-eastern part the borders (fn. 10) mostly run somewhat irregularly along ancient furlong boundaries. North-east of Bottisham village they follow for a time part of a stream rising to its east, at 45 m. (150 ft.), at Whiteland spring. It flows eventually into Swaffham Bulbeck Lode, whose ancient, more meandering course (fn. 11) formed Bottisham's north-eastern boundary in the fen, except where a square block belonging to Swaffham, called by 1793 Swaffham Hundred Acres (134 a.), (fn. 12) projects south-west of that lode. It forms the northern part of the area assigned to Swaffham Bulbeck in 1677, when the formerly intercommonable Longmeadow moor was divided in severalty among landholders of the two parishes; Bottisham's share, 107 a., lay between two portions allotted to the other parish. (fn. 13) On the southwest Bottisham's, later Lode's boundary within the fen follows a series of watercourses and dykes, eventually joining Bottisham Lode which runs into the Cam.
The south-east of the parish lies mainly upon the Middle and Lower Chalk. In the northwestern fenland, gault is overlaid with peat and river gravels. (fn. 14) The higher ground at 30 m. on the south-east edge of the parish rises further north, at Alington Hill, (fn. 15) to over 45 m. The land then slopes downwards to 15 m. south of Bottisham village, before dipping to the Whiteland stream. The village itself stands by a very slight rise. Beyond it an imperceptible slope declines to below 8 m. at the southern edge of the virtually level fen. That fen is divided by numerous straight drainage ditches made in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to bound sections of fenland then assigned in separate ownership. The more irregular courses of two brooks, called in the 17th century the Crouch and White Lakes, mark them as being more ancient: (fn. 16) their flow, in a north-eastward direction, indicates the natural direction of the fenland drainage before it was diverted north-westwards to lead water into the Cam. That alteration was probably initiated in the Roman period, when Swaffham and Bottisham Lodes were cut. (fn. 17) Bottisham Lode is fed from the south by a branch of the Quy water, probably straightened artificially by 1800 in places west of Lode mill. (fn. 18) No ancient woodland survives, none being recorded in 1086. (fn. 19) The owners of Bottisham Hall, however, undertook extensive planting soon after 1800, (fn. 20) especially in the park around their Hall, described as well timbered from the late 19th century. (fn. 21) The grounds of Anglesey Abbey were also exotically planted and landscaped in the 19th and 20th centuries. (fn. 22) The southern part of the ancient parish was devoted from the Middle Ages to arable farming under a triennial rotation until its inclosure in 1802. The northern fen had served as common pasture for the villagers until its inclosure c. 1650-80 and finally from 1802. (fn. 23)
Numerous finds over most of the ancient parish, including flints and bronze axes, suggest a human presence at various periods over most of the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages. (fn. 24) A group of ten or more round barrows, most ploughed down, and one or two containing Bronze Age burials, are scattered over the former Bottisham heath to the south. One barrow on Alington Hill was found in 1876 to contain a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon interment. (fn. 25) Another Bronze Age burial chamber was found in 1977 at a spot near the Swaffham border, once called Barrow meadow. (fn. 26) Traces of a ditched 3rd-century Romano-British settlement have been found west of Alington Hill. (fn. 27) Other Roman remains discovered from the 1950s north-west of Lode hamlet, including buildings, pottery, and coins, show settlement close to the end of the Lode. (fn. 28)
By the late 13th century the parish contained three hamlets, in addition to the main village. (fn. 29) The tofts and crofts of the lost hamlet of Angerhale, possibly existing by 1100 (fn. 30) and certainly inhabited by the 1260s, (fn. 31) are represented by a line of earthworks visible in the northern part of Bottisham park, running north-east towards the moat around Alingtons manor house. (fn. 32) Men of Angerhale, and houses there, were still recorded in the mid 14th century, (fn. 33) and an Angerhale croft lay north of White field c. 1450. (fn. 34) The name had become disused and the settlement had disappeared by the 16th century. In 1800 the only surviving dwellings among the 90 a. of ancient closes lying north of the Swaffham road where Angerhale may once have stood were two large manorial farmhouses, both shortly removed, in moats at either end of those earthworks: (fn. 35) one was said c. 1530 to stand by the 'town's end'. (fn. 36) Lode and Longmeadow, the two hamlets that survived in the 20th century stood at the fen edge. (fn. 37) The older part of Lode lay along a dog-legged street running southwards from the south end of Bottisham Lode, while the crofts of Longmeadow stretched along the west side of a droveway leading south from Longmeadow moor. Prosperous men of Lode (Lada) were recorded in the 1160s, (fn. 38) and from the early 13th century substantial families were named from, and messuages recorded at, Lode (fn. 39) and Longmeadow. (fn. 40) In the early 16th some parishioners described themselves as living at Bottisham Lode and Longmeadow. (fn. 41) The two hamlets were then and later called Lode street and Longmeadow street. (fn. 42) From the late Middle Ages Longmeadow was probably always the smallest of the surviving settlements in the parish. About 1500 Anglesey priory had only 5 tenants there, 26 at Lode street, (fn. 43) while in 1759 there were 34 landholders at Bottisham village, c. 30 at Lode, 5, all smallholders, at Longmeadow. (fn. 44)
In 1086 the whole vill had contained 37 peasants and 14 servi. (fn. 45) The population had increased greatly by 1279, when c. 140 resident landholders were recorded, and at least 76 messuages and 11 cottages. (fn. 46) In 1327 c. 70 people paid the fifteenth. (fn. 47) Numbers fell sharply in 1349: in the 1330s and 1340s 20 or more ale sellers had been needed to supply the villagers, (fn. 48) but their number fell to 13 in May 1349, (fn. 49) and was only 4-8 by the late 1350s. (fn. 50) In 1377 392 adults still paid the poll tax, (fn. 51) but only 67 people were assessed to the subsidy in 1524. (fn. 52) By 1563 the parish had 104 households. (fn. 53) In the 1670s there were c. 300 adults, (fn. 54) occupying 140-5 dwellings. (fn. 55) In 1728 100 families comprised 400'souls'. (fn. 56)
Total numbers in the ancient parish, 864 in 1801, rose by 180-200 in each decade between 1811 and 1841, before stabilizing at 1,500-50 in the mid 19th century. (fn. 57) The population of Bottisham village and its outlying farms, over 800 by 1841, fell by almost 150 in the 1850s, (fn. 58) and, after a brief recovery to 905 in 1871, had declined to 701 by 1901, thereafter varying between 625 and 700 until the 1930s. (fn. 59) Numbers at Longmeadow, after rising from 57 in 1841 to 134 in 1871, fell to c. 100 in 1881, while 25-30 farms and cottages scattered in the fen held 135-160 people in the mid 19th century. At Lode itself there were then 485-95 people, and 527 as late as 1881. (fn. 60) Lode parish as a whole contained c. 800 inhabitants in 1891, but its population fell steadily to 659 in 1901 and in the early 20th century ranged between 570 and 640. It was still only 663 in 1981, but rose to 831 by 1991. (fn. 61) In Bottisham parish, where numbers in 1951 had apparently been swollen by c. 500 military personnel, the civil population rose steadily from 566 then to 975 in 1961 before almost doubling with new housing to 1,673 in 1971. Growth slowed thereafter: in the 1980s there were c. 1,750 people, all but c. 50 in 661 private households. (fn. 62)
Since at least c. 1800 Bottisham village stood mostly along the high street (fn. 63) which ran southeast from a small green called in the 20th century Pound Hill, perhaps the 'Cagehill' mentioned in 1528. (fn. 64) The early 19th-century village pound still stood a little to its north in 1991. (fn. 65) Swaffham Lane or Road, also called Tunbridge Lane, runs north-east from that green. The main street runs south past another green, called by the 1340s the Green hill, (fn. 66) just west of the slight rise where the church stands. Thereafter the street turns a little eastwards. Another group of houses stands by an east-west road called by 1450 Newmarket Way, (fn. 67) which between 1745 and 1874 (fn. 68) formed part of the main Cambridge- Newmarket turnpike. There at the town's 'south end' stood by 1618 (fn. 69) one of the village's oldest remaining houses, Bottisham Place, the home in the 16th and 17th centuries of the Hasells, one of Bottisham's wealthiest families. About 1670 it had 8 hearths. (fn. 70) Developed to an L-plan, it is partly brick-faced, partly plastered, over timber-framing. A symmetrical south front of c. 1830 covers part of an early 16th-century hall house, whose eastern half was extended northwards, partly before 1600, with a long range, jettied in places. In one room with re-arranged panelling of c. 1550, the overmantel, dated 1564 and bearing initials J H, probably for John Hasell (d. 1572), contained the carved heads of a man and woman in mid 16th-century costume. (fn. 71) Another substantial timber-framed and jettied house, basically 16th-century, called by 1936 Tudor House, which stands just south of the church, owes the plaster dripmoulds over its windows to 19th-century refurbishment. (fn. 72) Up to 20 other surviving houses along the street date from before 1800: the timber-framed ones have been mostly refaced in brick. The front of an early 18th-century redbrick house west of Pound Hill, hip-roofed and platbanded, has five segment-headed recesses separated by shallow windows. Many older houses were lost in fires that repeatedly devastated the village. One in 1712 caused £3,000 worth of losses to 20 families. (fn. 73) Another near Parsonage Farm destroyed six thatched houses in 1795. (fn. 74) In 1846 one started by a labourer with a grudge burnt down 18 cottages, leaving 70 people homeless. (fn. 75) The sufferers were largely rehoused by 1851 in three connected ranges of terraced cottages just west of the church, later called the Arch after their entrance. It contained 15 dwellings, each with one room on each floor. Threatened with demolition in the late 1950s as damp and insanitary, it was preserved by conversion c. 1962 into 7 larger dwellings. (fn. 76)
About 1800 Bottisham village had contained 55 houses, 13 being occupied by farmers, out of c. 125 dwellings in the whole parish. The total number of inhabited houses rose to 255 by 1831 and c. 330 in the 1850s. (fn. 77) A few farmsteads were built out in the former open fields after inclosure, one by 1810, another after 1840 on the heath; Hall Farm was newly built just north of Bottisham Hall after 1820. (fn. 78) Otherwise, except at Six Mile Bottom, (fn. 79) in the southern part of the parish there was little building beyond the bounds of the village closes before 1950. By the 1860s farmers had built rows of up to five cottages along and off the high street. (fn. 80) About 1850 c. 130 houses lay along the high street, and c. 20 more near the turnpike at its south end. After 1841 settlement began to extend a little eastward, northward, and westward of the Pound Hill crossroads, the number of houses along Swaffham, Lode, and Bell roads increasing from 22 in all in 1851 to 67 by 1871. (fn. 81) After the 1870s the number inhabited fell from over 170, 25-35 dwellings soon being empty, to c. 155 by 1900. (fn. 82) About 1910 Bottisham included c. 25 houses and 135 cottages, (fn. 83) and in 1931 still only 180 dwellings in all. (fn. 84)
The later 20th century saw rapid growth: (fn. 85) c. 60 houses were built both in the 1950s and the 1970s, over 200 in the 1960s. (fn. 86) A sewage works to cater for 3,070 people begun west of Bottisham park in the late 1950s was finished by 1964. (fn. 87) Beside some infilling on the old street, and mid-century ribbon building on Bell Road, several closes of houses went up from the late 1950s, partly over former allotments. (fn. 88) The largest development was the Park Estate of over 150 houses begun c. 1960 along, and in closes off, Beechwood Avenue, (fn. 89) which runs north-east of, and parallel to, the high street. Besides 12 old people's bungalows, completed in 1975, (fn. 90) that estate includes much of the council housing which in 1981 accounted for c. 175 of 599 houses in the (modern) parish, where a fifth of the dwellings were still council housing in 1991. (fn. 91) Building was restrained after the 1970s, although a few closes of more expensive houses were still erected, one north of Tunbridge Lane c. 1988-91. (fn. 92) From the 1970s gipsy scrapdealers established themselves in caravans at what was then called 'Muckdunghill corner' south of the village. (fn. 93) At Lode hamlet (fn. 94) the houses lay within closes, covering 48 a. c. 1800, around a main street from which two lanes led east. The northern one, Mill lane, formed the southern edge of Lode green, mentioned in 1678 (fn. 95) and covering c. 5 a. in 1800. Where that street bends before leading south towards Bottisham there stood in 1991 a group of one-storeyed timber-framed 17th-century cottages, then still thatched. A few similar ones, besides up to six similar early 19thcentury cottages, are scattered elsewhere along the streets. By the 1860s the hamlet contained c. 120 dwellings, (fn. 96) while at Longmeadow, where only 8 had stood north of the road c. 1800, there were 20-5 by the 1850s. (fn. 97) Many farmhouses with dependent cottages, 20 by 1841, over 30 by the 1860s, were also built in the former fen. (fn. 98) From 175-85 in the 1880s the total number of dwellings in Lode parish fell to c. 150 by 1901, when 16 were empty. It recovered only from the 1920s, when c. 30 were built along the road leading north to it from the main east-west road. After the late 1940s an estate called Northfield was laid out along a new parallel north-south road. (fn. 99) Lord Fairhaven of Anglesey Abbey also built some cottages. (fn. 100) Another 60 dwellings were added 1951-71 and at least 75 in the 1980s, (fn. 101) but there was little further growth before 1991. At Longmeadow, where building stretched by the 1950s northwards along both sides of the street, only two or three of the existing houses dated from before the late 19th century.
The frequent bequests made in the early 16th century to maintain the torches of the Town street, Lode street, and Longmeadow street (fn. 102) were later believed to have been intended to light nocturnal travellers in the fen. (fn. 103) Besides the two main roads which became turnpikes, (fn. 104) the parish was crossed near its southern end by a section of Street way, recorded c. 1450. Other fieldways such as Wilbraham way and Woodway, also then named, (fn. 105) ran south-east from the village, one splitting soon after it crossed the Whiteland brook by a stone bridge, recorded in 1595 and possibly by 1450. (fn. 106) To the north the causeway linking Quy to Swaffham entered the parish by 1680 at Sax bridge. (fn. 107) At inclosure in 1802 some ways were stopped, others straightened, while Cambridge road, the modern Bell Road, linking Pound Hill to the Newmarket turnpike was laid out. (fn. 108) The fen droveways ran alongside the principal drainage channels: the main ones probably followed the lines of the 'great droveways' to the Adventurers' lands established by 1677. (fn. 109) A section of the Great Eastern Railway's Cambridge- Fordham line, opened as late as 1884, (fn. 110) ran across the fen north of Lode and Longmeadow, a station being established at the north end of Lode street. (fn. 111) The line was closed to passengers in 1962 and completely in 1964, (fn. 112) and its track, along with a bridge over the lode, was later removed. The redbrick station, partly adapted as a private house, survived in 1991. Part of the modern dual carriageway linking the Cambridge and Newmarket bypasses, opened early in 1978, sweeps, north of and parallel to the former turnpike, across rising ground south of Bottisham village. Part of a similar road, linking it to the former southern road to Newmarket, runs north in a cutting west of Alington Hill. (fn. 113)
A house with the sign of the George, perhaps an inn, was recorded between 1636 and 1696. (fn. 114) Bottisham could furnish 19 guestbeds and stabling for 82 horses in 1686. (fn. 115) Of the 6-7 public houses established from the late 18th century (fn. 116) the most important in Bottisham village were the Rose and Crown, closed c. 1920, and the (White) Swan. By the 1760s they stood side by side at the southern end of the turnpike. (fn. 117) The Swan, where societies often dined in the mid 19th century, (fn. 118) was still open in the 1990s in a timber-framed early 19th-century house. (fn. 119) The Bell, opened c. 1779 near the church, (fn. 120) was transferred c. 1850 to a timber-framed, brickfaced house west of Pound Hill, (fn. 121) where it was still open in 1991, by which time the other three out of five public houses recorded in the village in 1937 had closed. In 1987 a restaurant was opened in another 16th-century timber-framed house west of the Green Hill. A brick front covers its jetty. At its rear survive a possible stair turret and garderobe. (fn. 122) The two northern settlements had their own public houses. At Longmeadow the Gate, opened by 1790, where the droveway crossed the Swaffham road, (fn. 123) survived into the 1930s, latterly in a brick 19thcentury house still standing there in 1991. The Cow and Hare at Lode, open by 1768, (fn. 124) had provided the base for one of the parish's three friendly societies which had 190 members between them c. 1880. (fn. 125) The Cow and Hare was closed by 1937, but the (Three) Horse Shoes, at the street's south end, recorded from 1871 was still open in 1991. (fn. 126) Another public house called the Wait for the Bus was open, 1870-1920, at the crossroads where the Bottisham-Lode road met the road between Quy and the Swaffhams. (fn. 127) Of the public houses in the fen, the Jack of Clubs by Bottisham Lode, opened c. 1846, was a farmhouse by 1880, but the Sportsman by Swaffham Lode survived in 1937. (fn. 128)
Bottisham's camping place, 2 a. south-east of the church, recorded from the 1520s, (fn. 129) was still so named, though privately owned c. 1800, into the 1930s. (fn. 130) From the 18th century the village feast was held at Bottisham for one or two days after Trinity Sunday, being continued at Lode and Longmeadow on subsequent days. (fn. 131) Although in decline in the 1860s, (fn. 132) it was still being celebrated on Green Hill with steam carousels and cricket matches until after 1900. (fn. 133) A rival cottagers' flower and vegetable show, started by the vicar in 1865 (fn. 134) and revived in 1882, persisted into the 1890s, (fn. 135) when a Conservative club, founded in 1886 and supported by the main landholders, also survived. (fn. 136)
A cricket club, which in the 1860s used a ground in Bottisham park, (fn. 137) was revived c. 1882 and later sponsored by the Kings of Bendish Farm. (fn. 138) A successor survived in the late 20th century, as did a football club started by 1912. (fn. 139) A recreation ground laid out by 1925 east of the Lode road was built over in the late 1950s. (fn. 140) In the late 20th century the village sports clubs used the extensive playing fields of Bottisham village college. (fn. 141) In 1976 the parish council opened a new swimming pool, planned from 1971, north of the college. (fn. 142) The pool was covered with a large building in 1982 and extended in 1988. (fn. 143) After the closure of a reading room in use from 1886, (fn. 144) communal social activities at Bottisham were mostly held in the college's large hall. (fn. 145) The Bottisham Operatic Society, also based there, regularly staged operas, some relatively obscure, in the 1960s and early 1970s. (fn. 146) Bottisham Women's Institute, the first to be founded in Cambridgeshire, was started in 1918. (fn. 147) A British Legion club formed by 1929 (fn. 148) had by 1938 erected a hall rebuilt on a new site in 1974-5. (fn. 149)
Bottisham usually had a resident doctor from the 1840s, the second serving c. 1855-85. A successor occupied in the 1930s a substantial redbrick Edwardian house on Tunbridge Lane, (fn. 150) next to which a local medical centre was erected c. 1970. (fn. 151)
Lode parish, though largely losing after 1983 the use of the large thatched village hall built off the Bottisham road in 1930 by Lord Fairhaven, (fn. 152) had by the 1970s its own recreation ground and sports pavilion on former allotments east of its high street. (fn. 153)
By the 1980s much of the southern angle of the parish near Six Mile Bottom was used for breeding and training racehorses by studs, including the Swinford Paddocks Stud, recorded from the 1930s, (fn. 154) as were the Cedar Tree and Blandford Lodge Studs from the late 1970s. (fn. 155) The Bottisham Heath Stud occupied in the 1980s over 150 a. of the 230-a. Heath farm. (fn. 156)
A airfield, (fn. 157) which was a satellite of that at Waterbeach, was established in May 1940. Bottisham Hall was taken over for the officers' mess, and the southern half of its park filled with military hutments. Hangars and other buildings were also put up south of the village by the former turnpike. A triangular complex of runways, metalled in 1941, extended southwards onto the higher ground in Little Wilbraham. At first used for bomber training, the airfield accommodated fighter reconnoissance squadrons 1941-3, the number of airmen stationed there reaching 1,000 by 1943. American fighter bombers flew from it for eight months in 1943-4. It was formally closed for R.A.F. use in May 1945, but briefly housed Belgian air force personnel in 1945-6. The remaining land was sold in 1956, and the buildings were mostly demolished soon after.