Landwade: Economic history

Pages 472-473

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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Landwade's economy has been closely involved with that of Exning (Suff.). The parish contained four common fields: Exning, Fordham, South and West fields are all recorded in the mid 13th century. (fn. 1) The parish's landscape also comprised heaths, marshes, meadows, pastures and grazing grounds divided between Landwade parish and Exning. In 1279 Landwade comprised 290 a. of arable and pasture, besides 1,440 a. of common and marsh. (fn. 2) Seventeen freeholders, who collectively owed cash rents of £4 15 s. held tenements of less than 1 a. from the prior of Fordham. Three other freeholders held minor holdings of Agnes of Hastings, and six villeins held half yardlands. Each villein had to plough 2 a. each, thresh and malt 3/4 a. of barley, besides providing two boons, and carrying services. As late as the 15th century the lord was working his own demesne: in 1407 there was 90 a. of demesne arable, which was divided into unusually large pieces of c. 10-20 a., and in 1455 horses were pulling the lord's ploughs. (fn. 3) The lord's stonebuilt barn, probably in the 14th century with a dovecot attached to it, stood to the south of the moat and church until it was pulled down c. 1850. (fn. 4)

In 1625 three quarters of the recorded strips were less than 1 a. in East (formerly Fordham), South, and Great South (formerly Exning) fields, while half of the strips in West field were larger than 1 a. (fn. 5) There were small inclosures in 1517, and the remainder of the open field arable was enclosed during the late 18th century through non-Parliamentary initiatives. (fn. 6) In 1811 c. 1-2 tons of hay per acre were harvested, and c. 3-6 tons of cereals. (fn. 7) In the 19th and 20th centuries wheat and barley stood at c. 130 a., with each being grown in equal proportions. (fn. 8)

In 1407 pasture included Chekker meadow north of the mill-pond, and Feltons meadow to the east. (fn. 9) In 1700 a 20-a. plot of pasture was leased to a Cambridge alderman. (fn. 10) Cattle grazed around Landwade Hall in 1820. (fn. 11)

From c. 1881 until c. 1934 the parish's farm land was divided between two farms. Although the farmhouses of both farms stood in Landwade parish, their main landholdings lay in Exning and Fordham parishes. (fn. 12) Landwade Hall farm had c. 200 a. in 1871, but c. 302 a. c. 1910-12 of which around one third lay in Landwade: (fn. 13) the main arable holdings comprised 30 a. to the north-west of Landwade Hall, 44 a. to the south, and 10 a., formerly part of Fordham field, in the north-east of the parish. The land was offered for sale as being eminently suitable for a stud farm', (fn. 14) and after Lord St. Davids purchased the estate the park was laid out again. Adjoining the Hall a new barn was built, which was used for threshing and storing crops until the 1930s. Since the Second World War, however, Landwade's crops have been processed in Exning. In 1995 the farmhouse of Landwade farm was taken over by a brewing business which bridged the gap between home and commercial brewing, with customers mixing brews on site. (fn. 15)

In 1246 the lord of the manor granted Fordham priory the labour services of the villein Adam the shepherd and the right to fold 200 sheep in the common and in the fold of Exning and Landwade. (fn. 16) There was a sheepwalk in the parish c. 1420, and in 1455 Walter Cotton left 400 sheep from his estates at Landwade and Exning to his widow Alice. (fn. 17) In the late 19th century around 200 sheep were grazed on the pasture, but numbers declined thereafter. (fn. 18) Between 1890 and 1930 the number of cattle increased from 12 to 47, and the number of pigs from 20 to 33. In the second decade of the 20th century Lord St. Davids created a compact agricultural and sporting property at Landwade and Exning: in Exning a series of paddocks were laid out, which were broken up by elevated treelined banks with paths. Landwade stud was closed shortly after the Second World War. (fn. 19)

In 1407 the lessees of the manor were granted the right to fish from the mill pool. (fn. 20) There were 360 ducks kept at Landwade in 1700, (fn. 21) and shooting parties met at the Hall during the early 20th century.

The hamlet's small male population worked the land: in 1801 there were nine farm labourers; and between 1811 and 1831 there were four or five labourers. (fn. 22) In 1871 five farm labourers employed on Landwade and Landwade Hall farms lived in the parish. (fn. 23) Between 1881 and 1891 numbers of farm labourers declined from seven to five, (fn. 24) and in 1999 none of the residents in the parish worked on the land.

In the 13th century tenants had a yearly obligation to clean the dykes below the stream so that water could flow unrestricted to the mills from higher up. (fn. 25) Robert of Hastings had two mills on the demesne divided by a small piece of ground, and enclosed by a ditch, perhaps to be identified with the 'white dyke' mentioned in the mid 13th century. (fn. 26) In 1407 a watermill stood at the eastern end of Blakeponde, with an enclosure attached to it. (fn. 27) The 17th-century watermill was a substantial single-storeyed building with dormers, a roof and a central chimney. (fn. 28) It was pulled down between 1849 and 1884. In the late 20th century there was confusion over its location, with local tradition favouring a site in the north-eastern portion of the parish, but Buckler's watercolours suggest that it stood to the east of the medieval barn, near the south-western tip of the medieval moat.


  • 1. B.L. Add. MS. 37669, ff. 2, 37; Add. MS. 36360, ff. 26-28; Cat. Anct. D. i, D 1265.
  • 2. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 506.
  • 3. B.L. Add. MS. 37669, f. 28; C.U.L., A/40, no. 33; P.R.O., PROB 11/4, f. 25.
  • 4. B.L. Add. MS. 36360. f 26.
  • 5. C.R.O., 515/SP 680.
  • 6. M. Beresford, Lost Villages of England (1965), 344; Proc. C.A.S. xl. 85.
  • 7. Gooch, Agric. of Cambs. 152.
  • 8. Ibid.; P.R.O., MAF 68/232, 1258, 2398, 3502, 4304, 5161; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1864-1933).
  • 9. B.L. Add. MS. 37669, ff. 26, 28.
  • 10. C.U.L., A/40, no. 165.
  • 11. Camb. Evening News, 29 Nov. 1984.
  • 12. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1864-1922); Census, 1851-91.
  • 13. P.R.O., RG 10/1597; C.R.O., 1026/SP 1252; ibid. 370/O 75.
  • 14. C.R.O., 1026/SP 1252.
  • 15. Camb. Evening News, 19 Oct. 1995.
  • 16. B.L. Add. MS. 37669, f. 37.
  • 17. C.U.L., A/40, no. 39; P.R.O., PROB 11/4, f. 25.
  • 18. P.R.O., MAF 68/232, 1258, 2398, 3502, 4304, 5161.
  • 19. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1922-1937).
  • 20. B.L. Add. MS. 37669, f. 28.
  • 21. Above, manors; C.U.L., A/40, no. 165.
  • 22. Census, 1801-31.
  • 23. P.R.O., RG 10/1597.
  • 24. Ibid. RG 11/1676; RG 12/1293.
  • 25. B.L. Add. MS. 37669, f. 4.
  • 26. Ibid. ff. 11v., 27.
  • 27. Ibid. f. 29.
  • 28. Ibid. Add. MS. 36979, f. 37.