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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In the late 10th century Aelfwold, brother of Ealdorman Aethelwine of East Anglia, gave an estate at Swaffham acquired by exchange from one Aethelwold to the new abbey founded at Ramsey in the 970s. After Aelfwold died, Aelfnoth son of Goding claimed the Swaffham land. In a plea at Wandlebury Aethelwine's support enabled the prior of Ramsey to defeat that claim, but after the ealdorman's death in 992 Aelfnoth seized the estate and Ramsey apparently did not recover it. (fn. 1)
By 1066 over half the vill that became Swaffham Bulbeck depended on the abbey of Ely. Aelfwine the harper held 3 hides in demesne farm of the monks, while three sokemen of the abbot occupied another 2½ hides. That land, with the two hides possessed by 19 more sokemen commended to King Edward, had all been occupied by 1086 by Walter Giffard. (fn. 2) Lordship over that manor, named from the 16th century MI(T)CELL (for MICKLE) HALL, (fn. 3) passed after 1189, when the honor of the Giffard earls of Buckingham, extinct in 1164, was divided between their coheirs, (fn. 4) to the Clares, earls of Hertford, later also of Gloucester. (fn. 5) After 1314 it descended with the honor of Clare through Elizabeth de Burgh to the Mortimers (fn. 6) and the dukes of York, merging in the Crown in 1461. (fn. 7) From the 12th century to the early 14th the manor was said to be held by knight service, as one fee, (fn. 8) occasionally in error of the king in chief. (fn. 9) By 1360, as later, it was reckoned to be held freely in socage for 1d. rent: (fn. 10) in the 14th century the lords of Clare received £2 of rent from the vill. (fn. 11)
By 1086 that 7 ¾-hide manor was held of Walter Giffard by Hugh, (fn. 12) probably Hugh de Bolbec, whose descendants possessed it in the 12th century. (fn. 13) Hugh de Bolbec, son of Hugh's son Walter (fl. to c. 1140), (fn. 14) succeeded his father in the 1140s (fn. 15) and was tenant under the Giffards in the early 1160s. (fn. 16) Dying c. 1165, he left as heir a minor son Walter, (fn. 17) of age by 1176, (fn. 18) who was himself dead by 1186. The wardship of his daughter and heir Isabel (fn. 19) had by then been acquired by Aubrey de Vere, earl of Oxford (d. 1194), whose ancestor and namesake had in 1086 possessed 2/3 hide at Swaffham by usurpation from a king's sokeman. The earl married Isabel c. 1190 to his eldest son Aubrey, his heir as earl (d. s.p. 1214). (fn. 20) Isabel died, however, c. 1197, whereupon the Bolbec lands were divided between her father's sisters, Constance (d. s.p. 1214 × 1219), wife of Ellis de Beauchamp, and Isabel, then married to Henry de Nonant (d. 1206). (fn. 21) In 1207 Isabel married to the younger Earl Aubrey's brother and eventual successor, Robert de Vere, (fn. 22) after whose death in 1221 she possessed the whole Bolbec barony, holding Swaffham herself, until she died, aged c. 80, in 1245.
Her son and heir Earl Hugh (fn. 23) in 1258 granted his Swaffham manor for life to Roger of Walsham, (fn. 24) who held it with 300 a. of demesne in 1279 and into the 1280s. (fn. 25) On his death c. 1299 the manor was reclaimed by Earl Hugh's grandson and successor, Earl Robert (d.s.p.m.s. 1331), (fn. 26) who in 1316 settled it upon the marriage of his eldest son Thomas (fn. 27) (d.s.p. v.p. c. 1329), (fn. 28) and in 1330 in remainder on his nephew and next heir John. (fn. 29) In 1341 Earl John in turn settled Swaffham upon the marriage of his eldest son John to Elizabeth Courtenay. (fn. 30) Following her husband's death c. 1350 she exchanged it with John's sister Elizabeth, who was her brother's widow. That Elizabeth on remarrying surrendered her rights in the manor in 1359 to her father Earl John (d. 1360), who assigned them for life to his wife Maud (d. 1366), with remainder to his youngest son Sir Aubrey Vere. When Elizabeth Vere, who had released her rights to Aubrey in 1371 for an annuity, died in 1375, Elizabeth Courtenay reclaimed her life interest. She retained the manor as Lady Luttrell until her death in 1395, when it returned to Sir Aubrey, restored since 1393 as earl of Oxford. (fn. 31)
After Aubrey died, holding Swaffham, in 1400, (fn. 32) it descended to his son Earl Richard (d. 1417) (fn. 33) whose widow Alice possessed it until her death in 1452, (fn. 34) then to his grandson Earl John. Following John's execution in 1462 the manor was briefly granted to Richard, duke of Gloucester, but was recovered in 1463 for John's son John, the next earl. (fn. 35) After he suffered forfeiture in 1471 as a Lancastrian, it was again granted to Gloucester, but in 1475 also to John Howard, Lord Howard. (fn. 36) Earl John Vere, who recovered it in 1485, directed when he died without issue in 1513 that Swaffham should pass with the other ancient lands of the earldom of Oxford to his nephew John Vere, (fn. 37) the next earl (d. s.p. 1526), then to the heirs of his grandfather's body. It passed therefore in 1526 to his uncle Robert's great-grandson John (fn. 38) (d. 1562). Under that Earl John the manor was actually possessed on a long lease by Henry Lucas (d. c. 1558) of Bury St. Edmunds (Suff.) and his son Edmund, who were the effective lords, subletting the demesne, into the 1560s. (fn. 39) A lease of the manor long held by 1612 and probably into the 1640s by the Grange family also included the quitrents and copyholders' entry fines, and probably the court profits. (fn. 40) John's son, the spendthrift Earl Edward, sold Michell Hall manor, nominally with 500–600 a., in 1579 to Thomas Marsh, (fn. 41) a notary.
When Marsh died in 1587, leaving the Swaffham demesne for life to his widow Alice, that manor descended with Pampisford to his son and heir Thomas (fn. 42) (d. 1624), whose son Thomas (fn. 43) (d. 1657) settled Swaffham upon the marriage of his son, also Thomas (d. v.p. 1649), to Dorothy Horsley. (fn. 44) She and her second husband Edward Wray held it in her right until she died in 1679, (fn. 45) when it passed to her son (Sir) Thomas's son Edward Marsh. (fn. 46) He died without issue in 1701, devising his estates for life to his sister Grace (d. 1706), widow of Dr. William Parker, then to their son William Parker (fn. 47) (d. 1728), whose widow Elizabeth possessed the Swaffham manor until her death c. 1753. (fn. 48) Their son William Parker also died without issue in 1776, leaving as heirs his sisters Grace (d. s.p. 1781) and Elizabeth (d. 1789). The estates were inherited by Elizabeth's son William Parker Hamond, (fn. 49) who was lord at inclosure in 1801 when he emerged with 900 a. (fn. 50) Dying in 1812 he was succeeded in the Michell Hall estate by his son (d. 1873) and grandson (d. s.p. 1884), both likewise named William Parker Hamond, of Pampisford Hall. In 1884 the entailed estate passed for life to a cousin, Col. Robert Thomas Hamond, (fn. 51) who sought to sell his two farms of 862 a. at Swaffham with the manorial rights in 1893. Only c. 200 a., part of the 543-a. New England farm to the south-east, was apparently sold, (fn. 52) and Col. Hamond still owned c. 675 a. in the parish in 1910. (fn. 53) In 1914 he sold his Swaffham property, including the lordship, to Charles Porter Fison (d. 1927), tenant of Mitchell Hall farm since c. 1890, whose widow Anne possessed both land and lordship in the 1930s. (fn. 54) By the late 20th century the farm was owned by the Turner family. (fn. 55)
The Veres' original manorial farmstead may have stood within one of a group of moats at the north-east end of the village street. Remains of two moats there, once fed from the adjoining Gutter brook, contained by 1800 the farmhouse, rebuilt in the 19th century around an earlier chimney, and the farm buildings of Lordship (formerly Sorrels) Farm. (fn. 56) A house there was possibly the earl's 'mansion house' mentioned c. 1560. (fn. 57) It was perhaps that house, when possessed by the Granges in 1612, which contained a hall, parlour, and several chambers. Its burning down in 1643 after a Cavalier drinking party was seen by local puritans as a judgment. (fn. 58)
Lordship House, to the south-west, whose clunch walling retains on the east and south the chamfered jambs of blocked early 13th-century lancets, triple to the east, has been identified as a medieval chapel remodelled in the 17th century as a two-storeyed dwelling house with mullioned windows. (fn. 59) Another rectangular moat of 300 by 175 ft., with a ditch 30 ft. wide partly filled in, was by 1800 overgrown (fn. 60) with elms. Named in the 20th century Denney plantation, that wood was part of the Parker Hamond estate until sold c. 1910 to the parish council; (fn. 61) it may be related to the 8-a. Dennies meadow which in 1574 belonged to Burgh Hall manor. (fn. 62) The modern Mitchell or Mickle Hall Farm, standing halfway along the village street, is a timberframed early 17th-century house, brick-cased towards the street after 1800, with an 18th- and 19th-century north wing. It was separated from the farm by its sale in 1985. (fn. 63)
Probably by 1187, the Bolbecs had founded at Swaffham Bulbeck a Benedictine nunnery, later called Swaffham priory. (fn. 64) The nuns' original endowment of four yardlands, in 1279 held in free alms of the earl of Oxford, probably comprised the appropriated rectorial glebe; more than one yardland was acquired later. (fn. 65) Further purchases by the priory totalling 35 a. were licensed in 1363. (fn. 66) When the last prioress surrendered the house in 1535 its Swaffham Bulbeck lands included 308 a. of arable and 37 a. of grass. (fn. 67) That whole estate, having been leased, was initially given in 1538 to the see of Ely by exchange. (fn. 68) The 'nunnery' manor farm was from the 1560s occupied by beneficial lessees or their undertenants: from 1580 the lease was held by John Folkes (d. 1591) and his son Martin, (fn. 69) from whom it passed c. 1602 to their kinsmen, the Granges, who retained it at least into the 1610s. (fn. 70)
The former PRIORY manor was among the estates ceded to the Crown in the exchange forced in 1600 upon the new Bishop Heton. (fn. 71) In 1605 James I sold it to two speculators (fn. 72) from whom it was at once acquired by Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke (fn. 73) (d. 1634). Coke settled his Swaffham estate in 1632 on his fourth son John (fn. 74) (d. 1661), from whom it possibly descended to his son, also John (d. s.p. 1671). (fn. 75) In 1718 the priory manor was settled by George Read and John Keyde and their wives Jane and Isabel, who were presumably heiresses to it. (fn. 76) By 1778 it belonged to Elizabeth Parker's husband William Hamond. (fn. 77) The 'Abbey' farm, for which c. 350 a. was reckoned to have been allotted at inclosure, (fn. 78) remained with the Parker Hamond estate into the late 19th century. By 1910 the 'Old Abbey' and its surrounding closes, c. 80 a., had been sold to the Allixes of Swaffham Prior, whose park there they adjoined, and whose descendants retained them in the 1930s. (fn. 79)
The buildings of the nunnery, which c. 1480 included, besides the church and dormitory, a hall and chamber presumably in the prioress's lodging, (fn. 80) stood beyond the north-east end of the medieval end called Newnham, later Commercial End. (fn. 81) The only surviving medieval part by 1800 was a five-bayed structure, perhaps an undercroft, probably early 13th-century, its original walling being of clunch ashlar with knapped flints. It is vaulted with chamfered ribs on octagonal limestone piers and matching responds, and still divided by an original partition wall into two rooms. Some medieval doorways and window openings survive, as do, internally, various arched lockers. (fn. 82) In the late 18th century, probably shortly before 1778, William Hamond, who lived in Surrey, converted the building into the offices of a substantial house. (fn. 83) He largely renewed the clunch walling and added above it a first storey in plain Georgian style, of grey brick dressed in red, with a tall pediment-like gable on the main southwest front. Used by the early 19th century as a farmhouse, (fn. 84) the building was converted by 1850 into tenements for two to four families, numbering 26 people in 1871, and latterly old retainers of the Allixes. After the last such tenant died in 1959 C. I. L. Allix modernized and leased it as a single house. It was again remodelled in 1980. (fn. 85) The surrounding earthworks probably represent post-medieval farm buildings: one farmstead to the south, standing in 1800, was removed 1810 × 1820. (fn. 86) About 1849 upright burials were discovered among ancient walnut trees on the supposed site of the nuns' church near the 'Abbey'. (fn. 87)
The other substantial manor in Swaffham Bulbeck also extended into Swaffham Prior, where land continued to be held of it into the 16th century. (fn. 88) It derived from 1¾ hides in Swaffham Bulbeck and 7¼ hides in Swaffham Prior, mostly held in 1066 by Eddeva the fair and her dependents. She and her man Wulfwig had each occupied 1¼ hides, her man Ordmaer 4 hides, and six sokemen the 1¾ hides, while Huscarl, still present in 1086, possessed another 3¼ hides directly under King Edward, besides a share in the abbot of Ely's sokeland. By 1086 those properties had been granted to, and appropriated by, Eddeva's successor Count Alan, lord of Richmond, who gave the 4 hides to his man Eudes, the 1¾ hide to Geoffrey, and the rest to three knights. (fn. 89) Lordship over the single manor later created from those holdings remained with the honor of Richmond, of which it was held with Burrough Green manor for 2 knights' fees, being apparently itself reckoned by 1280 as ½ fee, into the early 15th century. (fn. 90) By 1500, having incorporated some freehold, it was supposedly held instead of the earls of Oxford. (fn. 91) In 1561 the manor was said to be held of the honor of Richmond in socage. (fn. 92)
By 1200 that consolidated manor was held by the Burghs, who had perhaps already held it for three generations in the 12th century with their eponymous manor at Burrough Green. (fn. 93) Thomas, son of Thomas (d. 1199), de Burgh, tenant at Swaffham c. 1210, (fn. 94) (d. s.p. 1234), was possibly succeeded by his brother Philip, who was dead in 1235. (fn. 95) The Swaffham manor, by 1400 called BURGH HALL or BURGHALL, (fn. 96) descended to Philip's son Thomas, still under age in 1243 (fn. 97) (d. 1284). Perhaps after 1260, (fn. 98) he granted it for life to John of Burton, who possessed 330 a. of demesne at Swaffham in 1279 (fn. 99) and into the 1280s. (fn. 100) Thomas, son and heir of that Thomas de Burgh's son Philip (d. 1285), held that manor by 1302 and died in 1322. (fn. 101) In 1327 it was apparently occupied by his younger son and eventual successor Sir Thomas, (fn. 102) upon whom his elder brother John (d. 1332 as a monk) settled the family's Cambridgeshire manors in 1329. (fn. 103) When that Thomas died in 1334, Burgh Hall descended to his son John, (fn. 104) who was under age in 1346 when his guardians John and Thomas de Verdon possessed it; he came of age in 1349. (fn. 105) Sir John de Burgh (kt. by 1353) (fn. 106) possessed the Swaffham manor, which he settled on feoffees in 1385, until his death c. 1392–3, (fn. 107) after which his widow Catherine held it as her jointure, probably living there, until she died c. 1409–10. (fn. 108)
When Sir John's only surviving son Thomas died in 1411, the Burgh inheritance passed to his three half-sisters. The Cambridgeshire manors were assigned to Elizabeth and her husband Sir John Ingoldisthorpe, in possession in 1412. (fn. 109) He died in 1420, their son and heir Thomas, who was under age, in 1421, Elizabeth in 1422, and Thomas's widow and dowager Margaret in 1426. The heir, Thomas's infant son Edmund, (fn. 110) of age in 1443, kt. c. 1446, (fn. 111) died in 1456. (fn. 112) His Swaffham manor may have remained along with Burrough Green with his widow Joan until her death in 1494. The heirs then were the five daughters of Sir Edmund's daughter and heir Isabel (d. 1476) by John Neville, marquess Montagu (killed 1471). At the partition of 1502 Burgh Hall was assigned to Margaret Neville, then wife of Sir John Mortimer (d. s.p. 1504). (fn. 113) By 1507 she had married, irregularly, Charles Brandon, later duke of Suffolk. Shortly before their union was dissolved they had in 1508 sold Burgh Hall manor to William Mordaunt (fn. 114) of Hempstead (Essex). At his death in 1518 he devised that manor from 1531 to his third son Edmund, (fn. 115) who sold it in 1540; the lordship with over 400 a. of land went to Sir Giles Alington (d. 1586) of Horseheath, c. 70 a. to others. (fn. 116)
In 1555 Sir Giles settled Burgh Hall manor in tail upon the marriage of his third son Richard to Joan Cordell, (fn. 117) who, following Richard's death in 1561 leaving only daughters, retained the estate for her life until after 1596. (fn. 118) By 1608 the manor belonged to Sir Giles's greatgrandson and heir Sir Giles Alington (fn. 119) (d. 1638) and remained with his descendants, the lords Alington, throughout the 17th century. William, the second lord (d. 1685), owned the manor in 1677. (fn. 120) In 1702 his daughters and eventual heirs, Diana and Catherine, and their husbands executed a conveyance of that part of Burgh Hall manor not held by his widow. (fn. 121) It was subsequently acquired by Charles Seymour, duke of Somerset, following whose death in 1748 it was included among the estates assigned to the duke's daughters by his second marriage. Burgh Hall manor passed to Charlotte (d. 1805), who married Heneage Finch, earl of Aylesford (d. 1777). (fn. 122) They were recorded as lords from the 1760s. Their son Heneage, the fourth earl, owned the manor, his farmland covering 341 a. after inclosure in 1801, (fn. 123) until his death in 1812. The lordship and the 220-a. Burgh Hall farm were then sold to Samuel Chambers, who had just succeeded his father John, its tenant farmer since the 1770s. (fn. 124) Chambers owned the Burgh Hall estate, farming the land in person, until his death in 1856 when he was succeeded by Sarah Chambers, probably his niece, who was lady of the manor until c. 1870. (fn. 125) In 1873 William Chambers and another sold the manor to John Kent who owned Burgh Hall farm, working it until c. 1885, until his death in 1888. Alfred Kent, named as lord since 1874 perhaps as his trustee, who occupied the farm when it was for sale in 1889, (fn. 126) possessed the lordship until after 1900. By 1903 it had been acquired by Daniel Ward, whose heir Miss Emily Ward of Chesterton House, Cambridge, was lady between 1909 and c. 1930. (fn. 127) The 225-a. farm was sold by 1910 to Henry Edwards, its tenant since 1893, who owned and occupied it until his death in 1936, also acquiring the lordship by 1932. (fn. 128) In the late 20th century the farm belonged to the Rayner family. (fn. 129)
The Burghs' manorial farmhouse, which in 1427 included a long and a tiled chamber, was said to be ruinous by 1456. (fn. 130) It probably occupied then, as in 1574, the 5-a. close at the southwest end of the village street, (fn. 131) where the existing Burgh Hall Farm stands. The timberframed house of 3½ bays (fn. 132) was built c. 1500 as a hall house. The two-storeyed parlour and service ends, both jettied towards the road, are separated by a central two-bayed hall, into which a first floor was inserted later in the 16th century along with the existing chimneys, their stacks remodelled after 1600. The hipped roof is of tieand collarbeam construction. A spandrelled doorway survives, and a few early mullioned windows, but most were sashed in the 18th century. A 17th-century kitchen wing to the rear was rebuilt in 1967.
At inclosure Lord Aylesford's allotment included 120 a. of the heath at the south-east end of the parish, (fn. 133) which adjoined the former 50-a. hare warren, set out there for James I's hunting c. 1607 on heathland belonging to the Cages' Momplers estate. Called the Hare Park by 1628, it was claimed by Sir Anthony Cage c. 1650, when it covered 34 a. Royal keepers were appointed between 1605 and the late 1630s and again after 1660 into the 1670s. (fn. 134) About 1800 the 20-a. inclosure, by then called the Upper Hare Park, was owned jointly by the duke of Somerset's heirs, Lord Aylesford and the duke of Rutland. (fn. 135) In 1768 the duke of Bridgewater's racehorses occupied stables there. (fn. 136) By 1780 the inclosure was probably let to Richard Grosvenor, first Earl Grosvenor (d. 1802). Then, as probably until 1796, Grosvenor employed 19 servants in Swaffham Prior, presumably stable staff for his Newmarket racehorses. (fn. 137) About 1812 his son Robert, Earl Grosvenor, bought it with the surrounding land from the Aylesford estate. (fn. 138) Probably after quitting Lower Hare Park in Dullingham c. 1825, (fn. 139) the earl was said c. 1850 to have built in Swaffham a substantial mansion, called Upper Hare Park, where his elderly cousin Gen. (later Field Marshal) Thomas Grosvenor lived c. 1830–41. (fn. 140) The Oddfellows' lodge founded in the village in 1845 was named after the general. (fn. 141) Possibly in 1842 the house with 120 a. in Swaffham Bulbeck was sold to Isaac Herbert Wilkinson, who built up around it a 'sporting estate' of 426 a., then including 138 a. within the parish, besides the 207-a. Alington Hill farm in Bottisham. He possessed it, farming it himself, and sometimes occupying the mansion, sometimes letting it, until 1893 when it was put up for sale. (fn. 142) Probably in 1894, (fn. 143) the Upper Hare Park estate was bought by William Brodrick Cloete, who was living there by 1904. Having apparently also bought the 525-a. Heath farm in Swaffham offered for sale by Downing College in 1893, Cloete owned and occupied in 1910 over 750 a. in the parish. Following his death in 1915 (fn. 144) that estate was bought c. 1917 by the financier Sir Ernest Cassel (d. 1921). In the 1930s it was possessed by Capt. A. S. Cunningham-Reid, then husband of Cassel's younger granddaughter Ruth Mary (Ashley), later Lady Delemere (d. 1986). (fn. 145) In 1992 the Upper Hare Park estate, almost undiminished, was held by, or in trust for, her son Mr. Noel Cunningham-Reid. (fn. 146) The greybrick house, of two storeys with a dormer roof, mansarded above its balustraded single-storeyed portico, had in 1893 five reception rooms around a pentagonal hall, and 22 bedrooms, and was surrounded by 36 a. of well planted grounds in Swaffham Bulbeck. (fn. 147) It was demolished by the 1960s, although a range of late 18th-century stables in pink brick survived, along with three sides of the surrounding bank made for the rectangular warren c. 1607. (fn. 148) By the 1970s that stabling with more recent additions accommodated the Hare Park Stud. (fn. 149)
A considerable estate, styled c. 1500–1675 MOMPLERS manor, (fn. 150) was built up in the 15th century from various substantial freeholds, including that of Thomas Mounpellers, who owned 60 a. at Swaffham in 1380 and over 100 a. by 1411. He was allowed a private oratory there in 1408. (fn. 151) Soon afterwards the local Hamond family incorporated the former 'Momplers' holding, comprising 140 a. of several land, with their own accumulated 140 a. (fn. 152) Nicholas Hamond of Swaffham (fl. from 1420), the Ingoldisthorpes' receiver c. 1435 and reckoned among the gentry by 1434, (fn. 153) was succeeded c. 1448 by William Hamond, probably escheator for the county in 1468, (fn. 154) who died in 1482. His daughter and heir Joan (d. 1498) married Nicholas Hughson, (fn. 155) who added the Swaffham part of BURGHDEN GRANGE, once owned by Warden abbey (Beds.).
Soon after 1200 Warden abbey had been given by the brothers Osbert and William sons of Mainer much of the ancestral half-hide in Swaffham which they divided in 1202. (fn. 156) In 1243 William's son Robert released common there for 400 sheep to the abbey, (fn. 157) which alienated the grange in 1387. (fn. 158) About 1467 it was acquired by William Alington (d. 1479) of Bottisham for his wife Joan (d. 1493), who left it to her sister Elizabeth, wife of William Taylard. (fn. 159) In 1501 she and Taylard sold Burghden Grange, nominally with 300 a. of arable and over 200 a. of grass, largely heathland, in Swaffham Bulbeck and neighbouring parishes, to Hughson. (fn. 160)
The 430 a. in the parish which Hughson held at his death in 1512 included, besides the grange, four other freeholds, some recently purchased, comprising 126 a., mostly held of Michell and Burgh Hall manors. His heirs were his elder daughter Agnes Hildersham's infant daughters Dorothy, later wife of John Beacon, and Joan, who married Reginald Rabett, and his own younger daughter Dorothy, who inherited half. That Dorothy was married by 1512 to John Brockett (d.s.p. 1524 × 1526) and later to Thomas Rudston. (fn. 161) Rudston, active in Cambridgeshire affairs from 1530 onwards, (fn. 162) and Dorothy entailed their half of c. 600 a. of demesne in 1528. (fn. 163) Having obtained a release from his stepson Sir John Brockett (d. 1558) in 1549, (fn. 164) Rudston died in 1556, devising his Swaffham lands to his elder son William, (fn. 165) who in 1557 bought another quarter of the estate from Reginald Rabett (fn. 166) and in 1560 acquired 400 a. of Swaffham heathland from John Cotton. (fn. 167) At his death in 1567, when he owned almost 700 a. in the parish, besides heathland, William entailed that estate, from his wife Elizabeth's death, upon his elder daughter Dorothy, (fn. 168) who married Anthony Cage (d. 1603). After she died it passed to their son Sir John Cage (fn. 169) and upon his death in 1628 to his son Sir Anthony. (fn. 170) Still in possession c. 1635–50, (fn. 171) he did not include his Swaffham estate in the lands that he divided among his children when he died in 1668, (fn. 172) although copyhold there descended to his eldest son John (d. c. 1700) and grandson Seckford Cage (d. 1706). (fn. 173) Thomas Cage, who in 1677 conveyed Momplers and Hamonds 'manors' with 35 a. of arable and 140 a. of pasture, (fn. 174) sold other copyhold in 1678 to Sir George Downing, Bt. (fn. 175) who in 1677 already owned Place farm with sheepwalk for 700 sheep. (fn. 176)
Those properties, though not recorded later as manors, were represented by the Downings' large estate in Swaffham Bulbeck. From Sir George (d. 1684) it descended to his son and grandson, both namesakes, (fn. 177) and after 1749 passed from the widow of the last Sir George's cousin and heir to her nephew J. J. Whittington, (fn. 178) a substantial Swaffham landowner in 1790. (fn. 179) At inclosure in 1801 he was allotted 788 a., which passed at once, under the third Sir George's will, to the new Downing College, Cambridge. (fn. 180) In 1873 the college owned two farms, one of 262 a. close to the village, another of 590 a. in the south of the parish. (fn. 181) Having probably sold the Heath farm c. 1893, (fn. 182) the college retained in 1910 only the 'Old farm', 249 a. near the village, which was sold in 1956 to the Turners, its tenants since the 1920s. They still owned it in the 1970s. (fn. 183)
One of the Cages had a seven-hearth house in 1664. (fn. 184) The present Downing College Farm south-west of Gutter Lane, a timber-framed 17th-century house, stands south of a former 1or 2-a. double moat. That house was brick-cased and extended after 1800, and has a seven-bayed 16th-century barn to its south-west. (fn. 185)