Flendish Hundred

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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A F Wareham. A P M Wright, 'Flendish Hundred', 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), pp. 98-99. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol10/pp98-99 [accessed 25 June 2024].

A F Wareham. A P M Wright. "Flendish Hundred", 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) 98-99. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol10/pp98-99.

Wareham, A F. Wright, A P M. "Flendish Hundred", 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). 98-99. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol10/pp98-99.


Flendish hundred, first recorded in Domesday Book, lies immediately east of Cambridge. It is largely rectangular in shape, with an attached peninsula of land stretching north-eastwards. (fn. 1) It presumably took its name from the Fleam Dyke, constructed between the Iron Age and the Anglo-Saxon period. (fn. 2) The Dyke's main section, which stretches along part of the hundred's north-eastern boundary, may have been intended as an obstacle to attackers moving north-east along the Icknield way towards East Anglia. Another earthwork, which shared its name in modern times, was probably built to block access from the south to the Fen Ditton-Horningsea peninsula. Between the 6th and 9th centuries the southern section of the Dyke may have marked a boundary between early Anglo-Saxon territories. (fn. 3) The Fleam Dyke was probably the point at which in 903 the forces of King Edward the Elder (d. 924) began to ravage the lands of the East Anglian Danes, during the campaigns that ended by 920 with his subjugation of the southern Danelaw. (fn. 4)

Flendish hundred was probably created in the early 10th century. A tumulus at Mutlow Hill, on a height close to the point where the Icknield way passes through the southern part of the Fleam Dyke, near the boundary between Fulbourn and Great Wilbraham parishes, was perhaps in the Anglo-Saxon period the original assembly place for Flendish, Radfield, and Staine hundreds. (fn. 5) In all three hundreds north of the Icknield way, there is evidence for the existence of sometimes purposebuilt meeting places, which may well have been in use in the 10th century, and possibly earlier. (fn. 6) In the 11th century Flendish hundred contained four vills, later divided into five parishes: Fulbourn, Teversham, Hinton, and Horningsea, the last being later separated into Fen Ditton and Horningsea parishes. They were together assessed in 1086 at 46 hides, of which over a quarter, 12 hides, belonged to the abbey of Ely, while 16½ hides, held by Count Alan, were later included in the honor of Richmond. (fn. 7)

The Icknield way, already an important route in prehistoric times, in the Middle Ages connected Great Chesterford (Essex) to Newmarket (Suff.). It was known as Newmarket Way in 1450, and was a turnpike between 1724 and 1872. (fn. 8) The hundred's straight south-western boundary follows the Roman road which ran northwestwards from Haverhill (Suff.) to Cambridge. (fn. 9) The irregular north-western boundary runs northwards along the course of the river Cam as far as Clayhithe, where from the Middle Ages there was a ferry across the river. In the far north the hundred boundary touches the north end of Bottisham lode, which had probably been cut through the fen in the Roman period. (fn. 10) The curving eastern boundary partly follows watercourses through land which remained fenland until the drainage schemes of the 17th century, until it reaches the north end of the southern section of the Fleam Dyke.

From the late 11th century onwards, with a short gap in the 1550s, Flendish hundred remained in the king's hands. (fn. 11) Its bailiff was also responsible for Staine and Staploe hundreds. About 1260 he farmed Flendish hundred for only ½ mark, by 1279-86 for 16-20s. (fn. 12) The hundred court met twice a year during the later Middle Ages. (fn. 13) In the 1230s at least three lords may have exercised view of frankpledge, a number that rose to seven in the late 13th century; all but one of them were among the eight lords who in the 1270s enjoyed the assizes of bread and of ale. At least four had a gallows and one infangthief. (fn. 14) From Teversham, where no manorial lord had such franchises, suit was owed to the court held at Babraham for the honor of Richmond, which in the mid 1330s was enforcing the assizes of bread and of ale in Teversham. (fn. 15) In 1553 Sir John Cheke was granted Flendish hundred, but restored it to the Crown in 1557. (fn. 16)

All the parishes in the hundred were from 1836 included in Chesterton poorlaw union, and from 1894 belonged to Chesterton rural district. (fn. 17) In 1911 the south-west portion of Cherry Hinton parish, comprising 338 a. (134 ha.), was transferred to the then borough of Cambridge. (fn. 18) Since 1931 all of Cherry Hinton parish has belonged to Cambridge. In 1934 the south-western portion of Fen Ditton parish, comprising 441 a. (178 ha.), was also transferred to Cambridge. (fn. 19) From 1974 Horningsea, Fen Ditton, Teversham, and Fulbourn parishes formed part of South Cambridgeshire district. In 1971 Cherry Hinton and the former south-western portion of Fen Ditton parish were divided between Cherry Hinton, Queen Edith's, Coleridge, and Abbey wards within the city. (fn. 20)


  • 1. V.C.H. Cambs. i. 362.
  • 2. P.N. Cambs. (E.P.N.S.), 35; R.C.H.M. Cambs. i. 144-7. For further discussion, below, Fen Ditton, intro.
  • 3. Above, volume intro; below, Staploe hundred article.
  • 4. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed. D. Whitelock (1961), p. 59.
  • 5. P.N. Cambs. (E.P.N.S.), 138.
  • 6. Below, Staploe hundred article.
  • 7. V.C.H. Cambs. i. 407-8. For their layout, see map 1.
  • 8. P.R.O., SC 12/5, no. 80; Stump Cross Roads Act, 10 Geo. I, c. 12; Annual Turnpike Acts Continuance Act, 34 & 35 Vic. c. 115.
  • 9. V.C.H. Cambs. vii. 17-18; P.N. Cambs. (E.P.N.S.) 30-2.
  • 10. Below, Horningsea, intro.
  • 11. Inq. Com. Cantab. ed. Hamilton, 25; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 432; Cal. Pat. 1553, 92-3; 1555-7, 537.
  • 12. e.g. Assizes at Camb. 1260, 13, 15, 22, 24; Rot. Hund. ii. 432; P.R.O., JUST 1/86, rot. 46d.; JUST 1/95, rot. 48.
  • 13. Cal. Close, 1422-9, 234-5.
  • 14. Liber de Bernewelle, 276; Rot. Hund. i. 53; ii. 431, 434; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 103-4, 107.
  • 15. P.R.O., SC 2/155/71, rott. 1-2.
  • 16. Cal. Pat. 1547-53, 92-3; ibid. 1555-7, 537.
  • 17. Poor Law Com. 2nd Rep. 512; Youngs, Guide, 49; Census, 1891-1901.
  • 18. Camb. Planning Proposals (1950); M.H.L.G. Order no. 78023.
  • 19. Census, 1931-51.
  • 20. Ibid. 1971-91.