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 1086 the largest manor in Soham was that comprising 9½ hides, which before 1066 had been part of King Edward's ancient demesne, and in 1086 was still possessed by King William. (fn. 1) It remained with succeeding kings, save for the alienation of Barway, (fn. 2) until the late 12th century. (fn. 3) From 1194 Richard I usually assigned the manor, or its income, sometimes in two equal shares worth £19 each, to those whom he wished to favour or oblige; among them were Adam, butler of his ally Adolf, archbishop of Cologne, (1194-5, 1199-1200), William of Ste.-Mére-Eglise, later bishop of London, (1195-6), and Ilbert de Carency (1198-9). (fn. 4) In 1200 King John gave the whole manor to Alan, son of Henry, a Breton count, (fn. 5) who was deprived for disloyalty in 1202. (fn. 6) John's chamberlain, the future justiciar Hubert de Burgh, who received the whole royal manor in 1203, (fn. 7) kept it longer. (fn. 8) When created earl of Kent in 1227, Hubert was formally confirmed in hereditary possession of the king's Soham manor, to be held as one knight's fee. (fn. 9) Although Henry III seized Soham when he dismissed Hubert in 1232, (fn. 10) it was restored to him when he was pardoned late in 1234. (fn. 11) Within four months Hubert had rewarded Philip Basset, who in 1233 helped free him from captivity in Devizes castle (Wilts.), (fn. 12) by giving him 176 a. of his Soham demesne with lordship over numerous tenants, who held 465 a. there. (fn. 13) About 1242 each lord of Soham held his manor as ½ knight's fee, Hubert in chief, Philip of Hubert. (fn. 14) After Hubert died in 1243 and his widow and joint tenant Margaret of Scotland in 1259, his part of that Soham manor descended to his son John de Burgh, (fn. 15) who was granted free warren there in 1260. (fn. 16) In 1273 Edward I induced John to sell him the reversion of Soham among other estates, retaining a life interest. (fn. 17) After John died in 1274, Edward took possession of rights there, (fn. 18) including in 1279 lordship over freehold and sokemen's land covering c. 430 a. (fn. 19) In 1283 the king granted that manor, in an exchange, to Sir Robert de Crèvecoeur (d. 1316) for life, (fn. 20) but recovered a 'moiety' of it, perhaps all the king's part, in a further exchange in 1289. (fn. 21) In 1299 Edward included Soham in the dower of his second wife, Margaret of France, (fn. 22) from whom it passed in 1314 to Hugh Despenser, heir to Basset's share.
In the mid 13th century Philip Basset enlarged his Soham manor by purchasing freehold in and around Soham. (fn. 23) He also in 1262 obtained from John de Burgh a lease during Philip's life of Burgh's manor there. (fn. 24) Philip married his surviving daughter and heir Aline first c. 1260 to Hugh Despenser (killed 1265), (fn. 25) next to Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk. (fn. 26) Bigod succeeded to that Soham estate, including 70 a. held of other manors there, when Philip died in 1271. (fn. 27) In 1275 Edward I obliged the earl to hand over that manor until he had paid certain debts to the king. (fn. 28) In 1279 Bigod was reported as holding of the king's manor half a knight's fee, including lordship over 270 a., (fn. 29) besides 376 a. of demesne. (fn. 30) After Aline died in 1281, Bigod reluctantly, having had no issue by her, surrendered Soham to her son by her first marriage, Hugh Despenser, then just under age. (fn. 31) By the 1310s, when his Soham tenants found him oppressive, (fn. 32) Hugh was a prominent supporter of Edward II, who in 1314 granted him the reversion of the Crown's share of the Soham manor, which Queen Margaret within a month agreed to lease to him. (fn. 33) Soham was among Despenser's manors plundered by Edward's opponents in 1321-2. (fn. 34) After Despenser's execution in 1326, (fn. 35) Soham was seized for Queen Isabel. (fn. 36) When she fell from power in 1330, Edward III included the whole manor, reunited as part of the royal demesne, in the dower of his queen, Philippa of Hainault. (fn. 37)
Philippa, who retained Soham until her death in 1368, (fn. 38) leased her manor from c. 1340 probably until the 1360s to the neighbouring priory of Ely. (fn. 39) In 1370 the king granted a life interest in Soham to the military commander Sir Robert Knolles and his wife Constance. (fn. 40) Edward included it in 1372 in the endowment of his son, John, duke of Lancaster, (fn. 41) who by c. 1390 had assigned it to his son, Henry, earl of Derby. (fn. 42) It returned to the Crown upon Henry's accession to the throne in 1399, remaining part of the Duchy of Lancaster estates until the early 17th century. (fn. 43) Even after its sale then that manor, later called SOHAM AND FORDHAM, was regularly described as parcel of the Duchy. (fn. 44) In 1415 Soham was among the Duchy lands assigned to the feoffees for executing Henry V's will, with whom it remained until transferred in 1439 to Cardinal Henry Beaufort. (fn. 45) From the late 15th century the manor was again sometimes included in the dowers of queens consort, (fn. 46) and was probably intended c. 1625 to form part of that of Queen Henrietta Maria. (fn. 47)
A first attempt under James I to sell the DUCHY manor in 1604 fell through by 1607. (fn. 48) In 1625 James agreed to grant it to a Scots favourite, John Ramsay, earl of Holdernesse (d. 1626). The earl shortly assigned his interest to Edward and Robert Ramsay, to whom Charles I formally sold Soham, subject to a £90 feefarm, in 1626. Probably then, as certainly later, they were acting for Sir Robert Heath, then Charles's solicitor, soon attorney general, and, 1631-4, chief justice of the Common Pleas. (fn. 49) Although Sir Robert settled Soham in 1636 on the marriage of his eldest son Edward Heath, (fn. 50) he remained effectively in control into the early 1640s. (fn. 51) Edward's legal ownership saved it from forfeiture when Parliament confiscated the royalist chief justice's lands in 1647, (fn. 52) but Edward himself, heavily fined for his own royalist allegiance, had to mortgage his Soham estate from 1647, (fn. 53) and sold it in 1654, through an intermediary, to Sir Thomas Chicheley (kt. 1670) of Wimpole. (fn. 54)
Chicheley greatly altered the composition of the manorial estate, abandoning attempts to recover its ancient demesne arable from the manorial tenants who had leased it since the late 14th century. (fn. 55) Instead he bought c. 1655 from Samuel Thornton much of the estate, then covering 256 a., the largest non-manorial holding in the parish, (fn. 56) which the Thorntons had built up, while dwelling at Soham, since the mid 15th century. (fn. 57) Chicheley, knighted in 1670, also added to the 500 a. in the north-west of Soham's fens which he obtained as inclosures in 1658 (fn. 58) by taking over c. 1,050 a. of the fen allotments in the north-east of Soham assigned from the 1630s to the Bedford Level Adventurers. (fn. 59) He also enjoyed some 1,335 a. in the newly drained Soham Mere, and the 138-a. Sealode fen. (fn. 60) By the 1680s Chicheley thus owned up to 3,300 a. in Soham. (fn. 61)
Following his death in 1690, (fn. 62) his estate passed to his eldest son Sir John's widow Isabel, named as lady from 1699 until her death in 1709, and her son John Chicheley, lord 1710-18. (fn. 63) In 1719 the lordship passed to Edward Hughes, (fn. 64) brother-in-law and probably representative of Edward Harrison, an East India Company merchant and director, who owned the manor from 1719 until he died in 1732. (fn. 65) Soham was inherited by his daughter Audrey's husband Charles Townshend, 'lord Lynne', who succeeded his father as Viscount Townshend in 1738 and died in 1764. (fn. 66) It descended to his son and successor George, created a marquess in 1787 (d. 1807), recorded as lord of Soham until at least 1804. (fn. 67) Some outlying fen farms were then probably already being sold off. (fn. 68) The lordship and remaining manorial estate, for sale in 1807, were bought, by 1808 at latest, by Thomas Martin Dennis of Kettlesey (Norf.). Almost at once they were acquired by William Dunn Gardner, (fn. 69) who had just married his daughter Sarah to the next Marquess Townshend's son and eventual successor. The lordship descended to Dunn Gardner's heirs with his Fordham Abbey estate until the 20th century. (fn. 70) About 1974 Mrs. Miriam Leader, the Dunn Gardner heiress, sold it to Mr. Timothy Clark, of the family owning the main Soham water mills. He still possessed the Dunn Gardners' former Soham lordships in 1997. (fn. 71)
From the early 19th century the manorial landholdings in Soham were much reduced. About 1840 William Dunn Gardner's grandson and (eventual) namesake owned, as 'Lord William Townshend', only two farms, covering c. 505 a., in the fen to the north-east. (fn. 72) In 1910 the latter's son Cyril possessed only 116 a. in the south of Soham. (fn. 73) In 1807 William Dunn Gardner (I) had settled on Sarah's marriage the extensive manorial farms in Soham Mere, which covered 1,570 a. c. 1840. They then belonged, through his life interest, to her nominal husband, by then third Marquess Townshend, until his death in 1856. (fn. 74) Under his father-in-law's will the Mere farms passed after Sarah's death in 1858 to her eldest son (not by the marquess), John Dunn Gardner (formerly 'Lord John Townshend') of Chatteris Abbey, (fn. 75) who died in 1903. His surviving son and heir, A. C. W. Dunn Gardner, (fn. 76) who eventually succeeded to the Soham lordships, inherited the Soham Mere estate. In 1909 he leased Tiled House farm, 662 a., one of his farms there, to Cambridgeshire county council for use as smallholdings. In 1921 that council bought from him all three Mere farms, altogether 1,570 a., for the same purpose. It still owned most of that land in the 1990s. (fn. 77)
Philip Basset probably sometimes dwelt at Soham before inheriting his family's barony: in 1245 the bishop of Norwich, with the vicar's consent, licensed him to have a chantry for his household in the chapel at his manor house (curia). That chapel was to remain subject to the parish's mother church, to which the offerings and confessions of Basset's men were reserved. (fn. 78) From Basset's manor house there probably derived that in use in the 14th century; in 1272 it included a newly built chapel and in 1342 a new chamber called a chapel. (fn. 79) The manor house, apparently timber-framed, contained from the late 13th century to the late 14th a hall, chamber, kitchen, and bakery, and had c. 1390 another chamber over its gateway. (fn. 80) Even after the Duchy demesne had been leased, the bailiff spent substantially on the residential buildings, importing timber c. 1395 to add a new upper chamber, wainscotted and with a chimney. (fn. 81) By 1412 that chamber was being leased, as were several of the thatched manorial farm buildings by the 1420s, when the hall was given new windows. The Duchy manor house, itself rented out by the 1450s as again in the 1640s with its 'hallyard', stood in the 1410s, as presumably earlier, west of the churchyard. (fn. 82) Part of its site was probably represented by a 2-a. close just west of the church, held c. 1655 by Samuel Thornton, which Thomas Chicheley sold in 1661 with the 'mansion house' on it called the manor house. (fn. 83) By the 19th century the site was incorporated into the grounds of Soham Place, itself called the 'hey manor house' c. 1800. (fn. 84)
In the 14th century the Crown manor included a warren at Soham, kept by a warrener whose office was effectively hereditary in a local family surnamed Warrener from the mid 13th century. (fn. 85) From the 1360s the warrenership was held by royal grantees, including by the 1410s the Thorntons. (fn. 86) In the late 14th and early 15th centuries both Soham villagers and gentry from neighbouring parishes were often reported for taking hares without leave within the Duchy warren, (fn. 87) which still existed nominally c. 1600. (fn. 88)
The manor of BARWAY derived from a fraction, based at the hamlet of that name, of the 12th-century royal demesne manor. It was apparently promised by the Empress Maud to Roger of Sandford, to whom Henry II granted it c. 1155. (fn. 89) Roger retained Barway (fn. 90) until c. 1191, when it passed, according to his grant in free alms confirmed by Henry II in the 1170s, to the nuns of the Sandfords' family foundation, St. Nicholas's priory at Littlemore in Sandford (Oxon.). (fn. 91) The nuns in turn owned Barway, by 1279 almost all occupied by their tenants, (fn. 92) until 1433, when they exchanged it for rental property in Oxfordshire with five feoffees, (fn. 93) perhaps acting for the Tiptofts, to whose Soham estate Barway manor was attached in 1470. (fn. 94) When that estate was divided among Joan Ingoldisthorpe's granddaughters and heirs in 1494, Barway was assigned to Lucy Neville, married 1497 x 1507 to Sir Anthony Browne (d. 1506). (fn. 95) It descended to their son Sir Anthony Browne, K.G. (d. 1548) and grandson Anthony Browne, created in 1554 Viscount Montagu. (fn. 96) In 1568 the viscount sold the manor to trustees acting for Pembroke College, Cambridge. (fn. 97)
Until after 1700 Barway was nominally owned by fellows in trust for the college, (fn. 98) which effectively possessed it into the late 20th century. (fn. 99) From the 17th century onwards the college's Soham estate, besides the lordships of Barway and of Soham Rectory manors, whose copyholds totalled in 1873 respectively 146 a. and 186 a., included 138 a. (local measure) of former rectorial glebe around Soham, all but 10 a. openfield land, besides 32 a. of fen allotted in 1665-6, and at Barway 44 a., mostly inclosures. (fn. 100) The college acquired some 25 a. more in the late 19th century (fn. 101) and was still buying up open-field strips, 26 a. between 1969 and 1986, south of the village in the late 20th century. (fn. 102) The modern brick farmhouse of the college's Barway farm, south across the road from the chapel, probably occupies the site of the former manor house.
Two other 11th-century manors at Soham were by the 13th combined into one, probably called NETHERHALL manor. (fn. 103) One of them, which had been among those promised to the abbey of Ely by Beorhtnoth, ealdorman of Essex, was given to the abbey by his widow Aelfflaed after he fell in battle at Maldon in 991. (fn. 104) In 1066 and 1086 the abbey held ½ hide at Soham. (fn. 105) The other manor involved consisted of a hide held in 1066 by Aelfsige under Eddeva the fair, and in 1086 by Adestan of her successor, Count Alan, lord of Richmond. (fn. 106) In the 1230s, and often later, that Soham lordship was said to be held directly of the honor of Richmond as ½ or 1 knight's fee, the Ely manor being similarly held by 1279 of the bishop of Ely. (fn. 107) By the late 13th century a mesne lordship over the Richmond fee was sometimes ascribed to the Bassingbourns, vassals of that honor at Wicken. (fn. 108)
By the early 13th century both those manors were probably held by the Soham family. Robert of Soham (fl. 1200-08) (fn. 109) was succeeded c. 1210 by Warin of Soham, possibly his younger brother rather than son, (fn. 110) a rebel c. 1216. Warin, who by 1219 held a fee of the honor of Richmond, (fn. 111) served the bishop of Ely in the 1220s. (fn. 112) In 1235 his Soham Richmond fee descended to his son Ralph of Soham, (fn. 113) later knighted. (fn. 114) Sir Ralph was succeeded by 1271 by Basile of Soham, (fn. 115) presumably his daughter and heir. In 1283 Mabel, probably Sir Ralph's widow, released her dower in Soham to Basile (d. after 1286) and her second husband Baldwin de St. George, who held the Richmond and Ely fees until after 1282. (fn. 116) In 1295 those manors were shared, apparently ignoring previous tenurial distinctions, between two of Basile's four daughters by an earlier marriage, Margaret, married by 1282 to her stepbrother, Baldwin's son William de St. George, and Margery, wife of Roger de Gyney of Norfolk; those two coheirs bought out their two sisters. (fn. 117)
Of those moieties, each of which included from 1300 parts of both the Richmond and the Ely fees, (fn. 118) one, that styled by 1600 NETHERHALL WYGORNS, (fn. 119) was held c. 1302 by William de St. George (d. by 1317). Soon after, he entailed his Ely portion, with 95 a. of demesne arable, on his daughter Maud's marriage to Sir Peter Huntingfield of Kent (d. s.p. 1308). (fn. 120) Margaret, presumably William's widow, possessed a Soham manor in 1316, (fn. 121) as did Eleanor St. George in 1327. (fn. 122) Although in 1346 the St. George fee was said to be held by Edmund le Butler, (fn. 123) in 1372 it apparently belonged to Baldwin St. George (d. 1383), his family's heir male. (fn. 124) By 1428, and probably by 1412, that fee was held by Sir John Tiptoft, later lord Tiptoft (fn. 125) (d. 1443). It descended to his son John, earl of Worcester (fn. 126) (ex. 1470). After the earl's son and heir Earl Edward died without issue in 1485, his estates, including the Soham manor, were partly inherited by Earl John's sister Joan Ingoldisthorpe, whose share, following her death in 1494, (fn. 127) was divided among her daughter Isabel's five daughters. Her Soham manor was assigned to Margaret (d. 1528), who married first Sir John Mortimer (d. 1504). (fn. 128) Divorced in 1507-8 by her next husband Charles Brandon, (fn. 129) she took refuge with Edward Bestney, Soham's wealthiest resident, worth 400 marks in 1522. He took on the lease of her Netherhall manor and in 1518 induced her to sell him its reversion. The transaction was completed, after disputes, by Margaret and her last husband Robert Downes in 1527, when the manor supposedly included only 60 a. of arable, but c. 400 a. of grass. (fn. 130)
At his death in 1540 Bestney divided his estates between his two daughters' husbands, devising his Soham manors to Edward Barnes of Soham, husband of Margaret. (fn. 131) Edward Barnes died in 1551 and his son and heir Thomas in 1557, leaving as heir a son Edward, of age in 1566. (fn. 132) Edward long dominated the parish, inheriting from his grandfather a 40-year lease, extended to 1589, of the parsonage. (fn. 133) He served as steward of the Duchy manor until dismissed c. 1598, charged with abusing his office. (fn. 134) Well before his death in 1615 he had, perhaps in 1607, transferred his Soham lands, supposedly including in 1595 c. 360 a. of arable, to his eldest son William, (fn. 135) who soon began to sell them off. (fn. 136) In 1623 William sold the Netherhall Wygorns lordship, apparently with little land save at Henney, to Daniel Wigmore, archdeacon of Ely (fn. 137) (d. 1646). The archdeacon was succeeded by Gilbert Wigmore, who probably alienated the manorial rights in 1656. (fn. 138) Acquired soon after, at latest by the 1670s, (fn. 139) by Thomas Chicheley, Netherhall Wygorns lordship descended between the 1690s and the early 20th century with the Soham and Fordham Duchy manor. (fn. 140)
In the mid 13th century Sir Ralph of Soham had his manor house beside a lane running east from the church, probably one of those leading from the village high street to the later Paddock Street, (fn. 141) to the east of which lay the Netherhall closes, so named by the 1650s. (fn. 142) No manorial building survives there. In the 1660s houses belonging to the other Netherhall manor also stood on Paddock Street. (fn. 143)
That other manor derived from the Gyneys' moiety of the combined Richmond and Ely fees. Roger de Gyney, its lord in 1302, (fn. 144) entailed its reversion in 1321 upon his, perhaps younger, son John, in possession in 1327. (fn. 145) By 1346 that manor was held by Sir William Gyney, (fn. 146) possibly Roger's elder son. The immediate descent is uncertain: (fn. 147) until the 1360s the Crown manor paid quitrents to the 'hall of Gyney'. (fn. 148) By the 1390s 'GYNEYS' manor in Soham had for some time belonged to John Tyndall, soon to be M.P. for Cambridgeshire, (fn. 149) from Northamptonshire. (fn. 150) He died in 1413 and his elder son Richard, probably under age, in 1415. Richard's brother and heir William, of age c. 1418, (fn. 151) died in 1426 and his son Thomas in 1448. (fn. 152) From Thomas's son Sir William (d. 1497) the Soham manor, then managed by Edward Bestney as bailiff, descended to his son John Tyndall, (fn. 153) kt. by 1512, who died in 1539. His son and heir Sir Thomas (fn. 154) in 1562 sold NETHERHALL TYNDALLS manor, so then named, with a supposed 100 a. of arable to Henry Payne of Suffolk. (fn. 155)
Dying in 1568 Payne ordered his Netherhall manor to be offered for sale to his brother Nicholas and Nicholas's son William, (fn. 156) of Worlington (Suff.), who succeeded his father 1580 x 1586. (fn. 157) After William's death in 1617 it descended to his surviving son Henry, who settled Netherhall Tyndalls in 1625 (fn. 158) and still held it in the 1630s. (fn. 159) By 1656 it belonged to James Ward of Twyford (Norf.), who then had no Soham fieldland, but was in 1666 allotted 80 a. of fenland, for his five houses there, once copyhold of his manor. (fn. 160) When he died in 1678, Netherhall Tyndalls lordship presumably descended to his son and namesake, whose son Hamond Ward (fn. 161) (d. 1714) with his sisters and their husbands conveyed it, with 96 a. of fen, in 1702. (fn. 162) The next owner, who may have had property in Soham by 1693, was Thomas Folkes of Bury St. Edmunds (Suff.), who also leased the rectory from 1703. Folkes was succeeded by 1729 by his daughter Elizabeth, by then married to Sir Thomas Hanmer, Bt., (d. 1746). (fn. 163) She soon left her husband for the protection of the Hon. Thomas Hervey, upon whom she settled in 1734 the reversion of her inherited property, including Netherhall Tyndalls. Hervey accordingly succeeded to it at her death in 1741. (fn. 164) The rectory lease remained with Hanmer, passing until 1778 to his devisees, the Bunburys, baronets in Suffolk. (fn. 165) When Thomas Hervey died in 1775 his Soham property descended to his son and namesake, (fn. 166) who probably died in 1782. His son, a third Thomas Hervey (fn. 167) (d. c. 1803-4), was succeeded by his son William. (fn. 168)
The Tyndalls lordship, offered for sale in 1804 with 23 a. of inclosures and 70 a. of leased arable and bought in 1805 by Richard Pigott, an Ely attorney, (fn. 169) was sold in 1814 to James Drage Merest. (fn. 170) He had just inherited from his father James (d. 1812) a substantial Soham estate built up in the late 18th century, including from the 1770s c. 185 a. of Duchy copyhold. About 1825 J. D. Merest bought from his brother John William Drage Merest (d. s.p. 1872) another Soham holding including c. 140 a. of such copyhold, which had been left to J. W. D. Merest by their great-uncle John Drage, J.P. (d. 1791). (fn. 171) J. D. Merest, who from the 1820s acted as Soham's resident J.P., (fn. 172) established himself at The Moat, south-west of the village, a substantial house lying within a moated site just south of Soham Lode. (fn. 173) In the 1650s it had belonged, probably with c. 60 a. of closes to its south still owned with it in the 19th century, to a branch of the Thorntons. The 'Mote house' there in 1656, (fn. 174) presumably preceding the basically 19th-century house surviving on the site, (fn. 175) was perhaps the Thorntons' Soham dwelling. (fn. 176) About 1840 J. D. Merest owned altogether c. 525 a. in Soham. (fn. 177) Even before he died in 1860, leaving his lands to his eldest son Henry James, his trustees began to disperse that property by sales extending from 1857 to 1869, when The Moat with its 9-a. grounds, including a walled garden and vinery, was finally sold. The Netherhall Tyndalls lordship, with rights over 67 a. of copyhold, also then for sale, (fn. 178) was owned by 1892 by Thomas Godfrey. (fn. 179) About 1925 the lordship was vested in Lt.-Col. Reginald Seward Ruston. (fn. 180)
In 1470 the Tiptofts' Soham estate also included a reputed manor of HENNEY, on a rise a little east of Barway. It represented land held in the 1260s by Thomas of Henney. He sold a messuage and 20 a. in 1270 to William la Zouche (d. 1274) and another with 40 a. in 1273 to John of Quy. (fn. 181) In 1277 Zouche's daughter Joyce and her husband Robert Mortimer released their rights in Henney 'manor' to John, whose widow Florence of Quy possessed 100 a. there in 1279. (fn. 182) In 1403 two heiresses and their husbands released half Henney manor to feoffees, possibly for Ralph Bateman. (fn. 183) Henney was part of the Soham holding of the Tiptofts and their heirs until the division of 1494, (fn. 184) passing thereafter with Netherhall Wygorns manor until the mid 17th century. (fn. 185) When offered for sale, probably in the 1650s, the Henney estate included c. 210 a. of surrounding inclosures. (fn. 186) That farm remained attached to the main manorial estate until the 1790s when it was still owned by Marquess Townshend. With the adjoining Goose, Sedge, and Sealode fens south of Henney hill, it was sold soon after to the Slacks, already then tenants there. (fn. 187)
About 1840 the Slacks owned and partly farmed c. 505 a. in the north-west of the parish from Henney farm, (fn. 188) which they retained until its sale with 484 a. in 1903. By 1910 that farm belonged to Cole Ambrose of Stuntney (I. Ely) as part of a 1,360-a. estate in Soham's northern fens, built up from the 1890s. Henney farm was again sold with 482 a. in 1928. (fn. 189) The 'mansion house' on Henny hill, sold in the 1650s, with its spacious brick-walled garden, orchard, and great dovehouse, perhaps once its owner's local residence, may have been the six-hearth house which Thomas Chicheley had in Soham in 1666. It was presumably the predecessor of the Slacks' 19thcentury brick, slated five-bedroom farmhouse there. (fn. 190)
From the 16th century to the mid 20th St. John's College, Cambridge, owned at Barway a small farm, let to Sir Anthony Browne in 1546. (fn. 191) Reckoned to cover c. 28 a. of closes in 1799 (fn. 192) and 25½ a. from c. 1840 until after 1910, (fn. 193) it was sold in 1946. (fn. 194)
A substantial estate, for a time the largest in Soham, was built up from the 1790s by the Dobedes, (fn. 195) who had grown wealthy as millers and corn merchants there. (fn. 196) From John Dobede (d. 1815), (fn. 197) who with his descendants leased the rectorial tithes c. 1806-46. (fn. 198) Dobede's property, increased by 1819 to at least 290 a., descended to his son John (fn. 199) (d. 1827), and grandson, another John. (fn. 200) By 1840 the grandson owned 1,882 a., including five large farms, one of 360 a. bought in 1837, mostly in the former Great Metlam fen. (fn. 201) John Dobede the grandson (fn. 202) removed c. 1855 to Exning Hall (Suff.). (fn. 203) When he died in 1875 (fn. 204) his Soham Place estate comprised 2,241 a., mostly purchased between the 1820s and the 1840s, and all lying within Soham, except for Lark Hall farm in Isleham (324 a.). John's son Henry Frederick Dobede, upon whom he had settled his former residence, Soham Place, in 1871, soon went bankrupt and the estate was broken up by sales in 1877. (fn. 205) H. F. Dobede as trustee controlled one large farm, Hodson's, c. 234 a., until its sale in 1891 to Charles Morbey, who from the 1890s built up a holding, mostly in the fen north and north-east of the village, totalling c. 1,025 a. by 1910. Morbey first dwelt from c. 1885 at The Moat, then until c. 1920 at Beechurst off Sand Street, which he probably built 1900 × 1904. In 1921 he sold 380 a. of his fen farms for smallholdings to the county council, which still owned them in the late 20th century. (fn. 206)
The Dobedes established their home at Soham Place, so named by 1791, west of the parish church, already dwelling there before John Dobede (I) bought that house in 1809. (fn. 207) His large greybrick home, c. 50 ft. square, reconstructed in Regency style around a perhaps earlier timber-framed core with lath-and-plaster interior walling, had by the 1870s extensive conservatories and other outbuildings and stood amidst 11 a. of well-timbered gardens. (fn. 208) Let from 1861 to tenants including, c. 1870-80, George Mainprice, a local brewer and wine merchant, (fn. 209) and acquired in 1887 by John Taylor (d. 1893), The Place remained in Taylor's family with 187 a. of farmland in the north-western fen until sold in 1925. (fn. 210) Of the house, rebuilt in a heavy Tudorish style after being burnt out in 1889, (fn. 211) all that survived in the 1990s was the ground floor, apparently eventually acquired by the parish council which had bought the grounds in 1929. (fn. 212)