Wisbech Hundred: Tydd St. Giles

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, City of Ely; Ely, N. and S. Witchford and Wisbech Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.

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T D Atkinson. Ethel M Hampson. E T Long. C A F Meekings. Edward Miller. H B Wells. G M G Woodgate, 'Wisbech Hundred: Tydd St. Giles', A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, City of Ely; Ely, N. and S. Witchford and Wisbech Hundreds, (London, 2002), pp. 224-232. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol4/pp224-232 [accessed 22 June 2024].

T D Atkinson. Ethel M Hampson. E T Long. C A F Meekings. Edward Miller. H B Wells. G M G Woodgate. "Wisbech Hundred: Tydd St. Giles", in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, City of Ely; Ely, N. and S. Witchford and Wisbech Hundreds, (London, 2002) 224-232. British History Online, accessed June 22, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol4/pp224-232.

Atkinson, T D. Hampson, Ethel M. Long, E T. Meekings, C A F. Miller, Edward. Wells, H B. Woodgate, G M G. "Wisbech Hundred: Tydd St. Giles", A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, City of Ely; Ely, N. and S. Witchford and Wisbech Hundreds, (London, 2002). 224-232. British History Online. Web. 22 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol4/pp224-232.

In this section


Tydd St. Giles, the northernmost parish in Cambridgeshire, is situated 6 miles north of Wisbech. The Shire Drain divides it on the north and west from the sister parish of Tydd St. Mary in Lincolnshire. This stream has shrunk to a shadow of its former self but is an important boundary, separating, as it has done, two counties, two dioceses, and in all probability two AngloSaxon kingdoms. The upper part of the Shire Drain, forming the western boundary of Tydd, has been known since the 17th century as Lady Nunn's Old Eau, from the wife of a 14th-century Tydd landowner. (fn. 1) The eastern boundary of the parish is also a county boundary, and was in 1934 adjusted to conform with the modern course of the River Nene. (fn. 2) The neighbouring parish on the south is Newton-in-the-Isle. The most important watercourse in the parish, after the Nene, is the North Level Main Drain (1831-4), the successor to the Shire Drain, which cuts straight across from south-west to north-east and has considerably altered the local topography. The parish is crossed by the main road from Wisbech to Long Sutton (A 1101) and the Peterborough to Sutton Bridge branch of the former Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway (1866), which has a station (Tydd) about 3 miles east of the village just outside the county boundary. The soil is highly fertile and much given over to orchards and market gardens. As in most Marshland parishes, as opposed to those in the fens proper, there is a network of by-roads and a more scattered type of settlement. At Tydd, besides the main village round the church, which is roughly in the centre of the parish, there are hamlets at Four Gotes and Tydd Gote, (fn. 3) where the high road enters and leaves the parish, and at Foul Anchor in the extreme north-east corner, near the outfall of the North Level Main Drain into the Nene.

The name 'Tydd' defies explanation. Tydd St. Giles is not mentioned in Domesday Book, since it was within the liberty of the Bishop of Ely, but Tydd St. Mary appears there in the form of Stith. (fn. 4) The writers of Domesday may have identified the name with the Saxon word 'staith', meaning such parts of the banks of a watercourse or sea beach as were used for a regular landing-place for men or goods. Staithes were quite common in East Anglia, e.g. the Staithe in Wisbech (now called Staithe Road) on the old sea bank. Here, at Tydd, was the outlet to the sea of the old Nene or Sluice Drain or Elloe River-the last of which alternatives gave its name to the whole wapentake; and so Stith (or Staithe) St. Mary on the Lincolnshire side of the river would have its counterpart on the Cambridgeshire side. This argument depends upon the correctness of the Domesday 'Stith'. Alternative suggestions are that the name is derived from (a) Tidi, an Old English personal name used in the 9th century from which a number of other place-names are derived- though the use of such a name uncompounded would be most unusual; (b) from O.E. titt, used in the transferred sense of a slight hill. (fn. 5) The facile 'tide' is unwarranted. Although the name is of a single syllable it possesses nearly a score of variants. 'St. Mary's Tyd', which constantly recurs, might perhaps account for the appearance of the initial 'S' in Stith, which is a rare form; this would negative the 'staith' explanation. But the chain of manor houses along both banks of the river at Tydd points clearly to the use of the river as a highway, with its concomitant landing-places.

Probably the oldest house in the parish is Kirkgate House, lying opposite the present manor house. It is built on the site of the home of the Fisher family who lived at Tydd St. Giles from 1320 for several generations. Its south gable at one time bore the date 1587, and the north end was stated to be 100 years older. (fn. 6) The house was badly damaged a few years ago by the fall of a tree, which crashed through the centre of the building. The Fishers, as their name implies, were predominantly a seafaring family, some of them being engaged in commercial enterprises both at home and overseas. (fn. 7) Two at least of them took orders, apart from the John Fisher whose sepulchral monument in the church is referred to below.

Hannath Hall is a handsome Elizabethan residence probably somewhat older than the manor house. The property belonged to Richard Sparrow, whose family is referred to in early manorial records as 'Passur'. It was sold to John Laverock of Upwell in 1573. (fn. 8) John Laverock devised by will (fn. 9) to his son Edmund 'all free lands and my house that I have in Tyde Seyntt Jeyles and Tyde Seyntt Marye's that I lately purchased of Richard Sparrow', which suggests that the house was already in existence at the time of purchase. It was known as the 'Sparrows Nest', until in later years it became vested in the Hannaths. It does not appear that the Laverocks ever lived there. Edmund Laverock died c. 1618, leaving two daughters and coheirs, of whom Dorothy married Hamond L'Estrange of Hunstanton, brother of the first baronet. The property was sold by the L'Estrange family to the Traffords and was comprised in Lady Trafford's marriage settlement of 1791. It was then occupied by Thomas Watkinson and afterwards by John Hannath. In 1812 it was sold to Joseph Hannath of Tydd St. Giles, son of John Hannath, for £7,948 10s. under the description of 245 acres in Tydd St. Giles and Tydd St. Mary, which included lands other than of former Laverock ownership. Joseph Hannath died in 1868 after devising his property to his nephews and nieces, children of his late sister Jane Marshall, the wife of Joseph Marshall of Waldersea House, Elm. The devisees sold Hannath Hall and' a portion of the land in 1870 to William Kilham of Tydd Gote, who devised the property to his son Frederick Kilham. From him it passed to George Williams, who was living at Hannath Hall in 1899, (fn. 10) and it still continues in possession of his family. A portion of the house appears to have been taken down but substantially it is intact, and capable of restoration.

The manor house dates from the early 17th century, with later alterations. It has good octagonal and diamond-shaped chimneys.

The rectory is a brick building erected for Canon John Scott, the rector, from the design of his brother Sir Gilbert Scott in 1868. It occupies the site of the former rectory which was a plain square ivy-covered house in a state of dilapidation. The present house is built on a raised terrace and is supported on solid blocks of reinforced concrete. Part of the field in front is an intake from the common. Close to the old boundary of the field, on the east side of the drive, was the tithe barn, and traces and fragments of the foundation have been discovered from time to time. The old name of the road passing the rectory, Barn Gate, is derived from this circumstance. The old house in New Field, nearly opposite the church, is said by persistent local tradition to have been the old rectory, but there is no evidence in support of this. It is of considerable antiquity and when first built must have been imposing. It has been spoilt by modern alterations and is now divided into two cottages. Originally the property of Francis Dusgate, c. 1640, it was for a number of years owned by Timothy Hall and his family, afterwards by Joseph Hicks and Robert Hicks, and later by John Broughton. It was purchased from the representatives of the latter by E. B. Howlett, whose relict now possesses it.

Park House, in the Fen, was built by the Traffords and, together with a considerable area of land, was sold c. 1789 to Charles Littlewood. On Littlewood's death in 1796 it was again sold and eventually became vested in Lord Peckover of Wisbech, upon whose death (1919) (fn. 11) it was purchased by Mr. Abraham Licquorice. It has been considerably added to and altered.

In Fold Lane, off Kirkgate, are to be found the remains of the village pound, as well as the remaining portion of the old parish workhouse, now consisting of two cottages vested in the Tydd St. Giles Charity Trustees. Part of the parish workhouse was destroyed by fire in the last century.


There are about thirty fields, or campi, extending from east to west: Hallcroft (the Angle); Hallcroft (South); Doddins; Gardyke or Laysoken; Furlong, Headacres or Spadeholme; Blowhead; Great Broad East; Little Broad East; Gores or Cotefield; Southcrofts or Dike Field Crofts; Long Pricks; Summer Leazure or Church Field; Edyke Field; Bladderwick; New Field or High South; Low South Field; Hornfield; Ryeland Field; Carrow Field; Bottle Lane or Cockley Field; Eagate Field; Ealeet Field; North Lane Field; Quaney Field; Fengate Field; Thridding or Treading Field; Fen Lane or Gitt Field; Shoffendyke or Shoddyk Field. (fn. 12) East of the Roman Bank are High Marsh and Low Marsh, representing the land inclosed from the sea. These marshes were gradually silted up as the sea receded, and became ripe for inclosure temp. Charles II. They were 'improved, set out and divided' under the Bedford Level Act of 1663. (fn. 13) The land was allotted to the lord of the manor and the owners of commonable messuages in the parish on the basis of 2 a. 11. 20 p. in the High Marsh and 2 acres in the Low Marsh in respect of each commonable messuage. By this means some 500 acres of marsh were brought into cultivation, and now provide some of the finest silt farms in the county. The final parliamentary inclosure took place in 1841. (fn. 14) Only 159 acres remained to be dealt with at this date, of which 2 were allocated for a recreation ground, 21 sold to defray costs, 17 given to the Bishop of Ely as lord of the manor, and the remainder divided, in very small allotments, among 52 proprietors.


Tydd St. Giles, Newton, and Tydd St. Mary are associated with a particularly successful piece of land drainage. On 29 August 1632 Richard Colvile of Newton, Simon Wood, and other proprietors and commoners of the 3,000 or so acres of fen land in these parishes determined upon their recovery. The lands, it was said, were so waterlogged as to be of little value and were soon likely to be of none, 'by reason of their ancient drain the river of Wisbech, the outfall to the sea by the fower gotes, being diverted and drained'. The proprietors accordingly agreed with Henry Dereham of London that he would, within two years at his own cost, drain such lands to the outfall near Catsmere in such manner that the lands should always be kept dry one foot at least under the soil, and would maintain the drains and sluices he erected. In return he was to receive in fee simple two-fifths of the lands in question. This agreement was ratified at a Session of Sewers held at Wisbech on 20 September 1632. The Commissioners enacted that the fens in question should be charged with a rate of 40s. an acre, payable to Henry Dereham. In default of payment by any owner two-fifths of his lands should be set out and allotted to Henry Dereham absolutely. One moiety of Dereham's two-fifths was to remain liable for maintenance works, and every owner was to divide his land from that of his neighbours by such dikes as should be sufficient to carry away their waters to Dereham's main drains. All owners of high grounds in the three parishes were to be permitted to send their waters into Dereham's drain, for which an acre shot of 1d. an acre was to be paid.

This isolated drainage scheme, like that at Elm, must be considered to have been a success. Only a few years later, when the number of landowners in the parish of Tydd St. Giles was just under a hundred, Henry Dereham is shown to have been the owner of 13 acres in the Fen, which suggests that practically all the owners paid their 40s. per acre rather than hand over two-fifths of their land.

The drainage is now carried out by the Tydd and Newton Drainage Commissioners, appointed under an Act of 1773, (fn. 15) whose powers were amplified by a further local Act (1808). (fn. 16)

The Marsh lands, inclosed from the sea and lying on the east side of the old Sea Bank (now popularly known as the Roman Bank) possess natural drainage and did not in consequence in ancient times fall under any special drainage commission. The Marsh now falls within the area of the Westside Marshes Internal Drainage Board, a body which in 1939 was incorporated and re-formed under the Land Drainage Act (1930).


The manor of TYDD ST. GILES with the advowson of the church belonged to the bishops of Ely, and the sub-manors of Hockholds (Colvile's), Rickards, and De la Launds were held of this manor. In the inquisition upon the manor taken in 1222 (fn. 17) Robert, son of Walter, was found to hold 8 virgates of arable land, each virgate containing 32 acres, by the fourth part of a knight's fee and suit to the Hundred Court, which 8 virgates in the inquisition of 1251 (fn. 18) were found to be held by William de Weston, knight, by the same service. This is presumably Rickards manor. Similarly in 1222 Stephen de Marisco was found to hold 3½ virgates by the service of ½ knight's fee, presumably Hockholds manor. By the inquisition of 1222 Innocencia, widow, was found to hold 2½ virgates for 3s. 6d. in equal payments, which in 1251 were held by John de Lytbery and Innocencia his mother, presumably De la Launds manor. This last manor extended also into Tydd St. Mary, in which parish was the manor of Littlebury.

There were in 1251 94 separate customary tenants, holding 69 messuages and 9 cottages, and 32 virgates were accounted for besides 3 crofts, a virgate in Newton, certain other holdings and the demesne lands. The demesne lands detailed in the inquisition of 1251 were: 5 acres in Hevedakeres (Headacres, now Furlong Field); 2 acres in Suth Meadow Field (South Crofts); 3 acres in Bradherst Field (Broad East); 3 acres in Laysoken (Gardike); 5 acres in Hassecroft (Hall Croft); 4 acres in 'Thystlecroft'; 7 acres in 'Sumersleswe'; 2 acres in 'Stackstede'; 13 acres in 'Chapeleland'; making a total of 44 acres of profit-yielding (lucrabilis) land, which could and ought to yield profit according to the customs of the town. There also belonged to the manor a pasture which the lord held in severalty called Edych (Eadike), worth 10s., and with other herbages of stubble worth 20s. more or less. There was also a salt pit which then returned half a load (fn. 19) of salt yearly; it used to yield more but had been almost entirely destroyed by the sea (periit per mare). (fn. 20)

Of the customary tenants, Oky son of John held a messuage and found a hen at Christmas and 10 eggs at Easter. He would plough with 5 oxen 2 days in winter and 2 days in Lent. He would go for seed to the lord's granary in Tydd St. Giles, would sow and harrow what he had ploughed, and would hoe for one day, receiving the lord's food. Among other services he would dig and embank about Wisbech Castle a portion in common with his mates (paribus), like the men of Wisbech. He should go with the lord's bailiff to distrain whenever necessary, pay gersuma or fine on his daughter's marriage, and the lord should have for relief at his death 20s. at most. He was liable for service as beadle or dike-reeve, if appointed. For every day that he mowed he should have 2 loaves, 4 herrings or 5 eels, or ¼d. worth of cheese. The other messuages were held on similar terms. Ralph, son of Geoffrey del Wer, held a cottage for which he had to collect hens or eggs in Tydd St. Giles and carry them to (Wisbech) castle, for which he was to have his food.

Tenants of virgates could and ought to reclaim land towards the sea and marsh without increase of rent, and if any man's land or messuage should be destroyed by the sea, yet he must answer for his rent and customs. Elgere, son of Lenmere, held a cottage at the rent of 11d., but nothing was then paid because it was destroyed by the sea. If any man could get a profit from the messuages and lands which had been for a long time drowned (presumably fen lands), the lord must have his due. Other tenements are mentioned as being destroyed by the sea. Sea wreck and royal fish, if found, should belong to the bishop as lord, but the finder should have 4d.

The whole yearly rental was £4 3s. 7d., with 24 hens at Christmas, 800 eggs at Easter, and boon days.

Richard del Mers (Marsh), Symon Bryd (atte Bridge), and Richard de Fenna are names of significance. William de Stabulo is mentioned, but though the lord in later times possessed a mill, rented at the ancient rent of 8d., no reference is made to it in the 1251 inquisition except inferentially, e.g. the reference to the lord's granary given above. Subsequently also reference is made to a chapel in Eadike, rented at 6d. This is doubtless the chapel near Tritton Bridge, by the 13 acres called 'chapel land', and until recently known as the Chapel Field, though the chapel has long since disappeared. The bishop's, or Barton manor appears to have been seized during the Civil War, for in March 1650 Lawrence Bromfield levied a fine in which Denis Taylor and Katherine his wife were deforciants, and in another fine of 1657 (fn. 21) John Thurloe, Cromwell's Secretary of State, who had acquired other episcopal property, including Wisbech Castle, was plaintiff against Lawrence Bromfield and Sarah his wife, over the manor of Tydd St. Giles, with the rectory, all tithes, and the advowson of the church. At the Restoration the manor reverted to the bishops of Ely, who held it until it became vested in the Church Commissioners.

The manor of HOCKHOLDS was held of the Bishop of Ely, as above stated, by Stephen de Marisco as a knight's fee, being described as 3½ virgates in 1251; de Marisco obtained a grant of free warren there in 1268. (fn. 22) He was succeeded by his son Geoffrey, whose daughter Desireé carried it in marriage to Roger Colveil of Newton. (fn. 23) The ownership remained in this family until John Colvile of Newton, fifth in descent from Roger, died possessed of it and was succeeded by his son Francis, who died in 1509 (fn. 24) without surviving issue, whereupon the manor devolved upon Richard, a younger son. Richard Colvile, who died in 1525, appears to have disposed of the manor, (fn. 25) which eventually became vested in the old Lincolnshire family of Welby.

The manor house belonging to this manor was originally in the north-eastern corner of Horn Field, (fn. 26) now called Willoughby's Corner, on a piece of land containing 4 acres, where now stands a small farmhouse. It had evidently fallen into decay, for a new manor house was erected by the Welby family on the north side of Kirkgate, being the house now known as the 'Manor House'.

It is probable that the manor was acquired by Thomas Welby of Long Sutton, whose relict Agnes (subsequently Agnes Deynes) and their eldest son Richard Welby possessed it. The manor was settled in 1579 upon Agnes for life, with remainder to Richard Welby and his heirs and remainder in default upon the right heirs of Mary, relict of Henry Adams of Tydd St. Mary, a daughter of Thomas and Agnes Welby. (fn. 27)

Richard Welby was probably the first occupant of the new manor house, which is a handsome Elizabethan building of red brick. On the east side a fleur-de-lis, the Welby crest, is carved in a panel in the brickwork. Originally the roof was thatched, and there were two upper stories, but one was taken down in the latter part of the 19th century by John Richard Tindall, the then owner, who roofed it with slate as it now appears. Richard Welby was living at Tydd St. Giles as early as 1574, (fn. 28) and his children were baptized there, the earliest in 1577. He married Audrey, daughter of William Callow of Holbeach, who survived her husband. He died in 1584, having by his will dated 3 April in the same year made provision for his younger children out of his other lands there. He was succeeded at Tydd St. Giles by his eldest son John Welby, who in 1601 married Jane, daughter of Sir Edward Osborne, Sheriff of London and Lord Mayor in 1583. In 1613 Welby entered his pedigree at the College of Heralds. (fn. 29) His elder children were baptized at Tydd St. Giles, but he eventually removed to Lynn, where from 1608 onwards his younger children were baptized. William, the second son, baptized in 1604, held the manor, containing 3½ virgates, of the Bishop of Ely, and sold it in 1629 to Thomasine Owfield or Oldfield, widow, who in turn sold it to Simon Wood of London. (fn. 30) Considerable property at Tydd was held by Richard Welby, younger brother of William, and according to a note in the parish terrier (fn. 31) 'Mr. Robert Girling bought all R. Welby's land and sold it to Mr. Wood'. Simon Wood (fn. 32) was a citizen and Merchant Taylor and evidently a man of considerable means, having apparently succeeded his father Robert Wood in the ownership of the manors of Dunton Hall and Tilney in Tydd St. Mary, though in 1643 he was at pains to disclaim any idea of wealth. (fn. 33) If he ever lived in the locality it would probably have been at Dunton Hall, though in the manor house at Tydd St. Giles, in a painted chamber window, was a shield bearing the arms of Robert Wood, i.e. Wood and two other coats quarterly, impaling the arms of Montague. From the bottom of the shield issued eleven sprigs with an escutcheon for each showing the differences for his eleven children. (fn. 34)

Simon Wood appears as owner of the manor in 1636, when the quit-rents of Hockholds amounted to about £2 per annum, and the rental due to him out of the two manors of Hockholds and Rickards amounted to £206 14s. His only daughter and heiress Margaret Wood carried the properties on her marriage to John Trafford of Low Leyton (Essex), descendant of a very ancient family and a firm adherent of the Royalist cause. He resided at Dunton Hall, where he died in 1666. His second daughter and eventual coheir, Anne, married Fisher Dilke of London, and their only daughter, another Anne, married (1692) Clement Boehm, a Director of the Bank of England, whose son Sigismnnd assumed the surname of Trafford upon succeeding to the estate. Sigismund Boehm Trafford made considerable additions to the family property in the Tydds, and rebuilt Dunton Hall at great expense. A few years before his death in 1723 he, like the Welby family, went to reside at Lynn. He was succeeded by his nephew Clement Boehm, and the latter, who died in 1741, by his son, another Clement, who was knighted on the occasion of his carrying an address to the king in 1761.

In 1759 Clement Trafford suffered a recovery upon the manors of Hockholds and Rickards and other properties, which passed to him under the will of Sigismund Trafford, in order to vest the same in himself absolutely, and part of it was then settled by him in trust for his wife and their issue. Matrimonial difficulties arose, which led to the break-up of the establishment at Dunton Hall; the building was demolished, and by deed dated 18 August 1779 the unsettled properties were conveyed to trustees upon trust for sale. The greater part of the property was disposed of in lots during the next few years, though some parts were still unsold at Sir Clement's death in 1786.

Lady Trafford obtained a private Act of Parliament in 1791 (fn. 35) authorizing her to use her maiden name of Southwell alone. She died in 1809, and in 1812 the settled property was sold for £49,800, in lots, but although the two manors of Hockholds and Rickards were included in the recovery of 1759, they do not appear to have been separately disposed of subsequently, and must have lapsed. Included in the sales of 1812 was the manor house with 90 acres of land, purchased for £8,025 by Barnabas Coe of Terrington St. Clement, who two years later re-sold to John Cartwright of Holbeach Marsh. It does not appear that the latter ever lived in the house, and some years after his death, which occurred in 1845, the property was sold by his trustees to Richard Joseph Tindall, son of John Tindall of Little Hale (Lines.), then resident at Tritton manor, Tydd St. Mary. Like some of his predecessors he spent the last years of his life at Lynn, dying there in 1890, when the property passed to his elder son J. R. Tindall, J.P. The latter died in 1946, leaving the property in trust for his daughter Edith Mary, the wife of Mr. A. H. Carter.

The manor of RICKARDS, like that of Hockholds, was held of the Bishop of Ely, and in 1529 belonged to William Depdale, citizen and painter-stainer of London. He directed by will that his manor called Ricards manor in Tydd St. Giles and his lands there held by Richard Ogle, and his co-feoffees, who were seised thereof to his use, should be sold and the money divided among his children. (fn. 36) The following year Thomas Tyd of Tydd St. Mary, yeoman, appears to have been possessed of a moiety, for he directed by will (fn. 37) that his feoffees should stand seised of a moiety of a manor in Tydd St. Giles called Ryckards manor and a messuage and 24 acres of land in Tydd Hern formerly belonging to his father Thomas Tyd. In 1550 the manor was held by Richard and Thomas Tydde. (fn. 38) By 1614 it had become vested in John Welby and thereafter was held in similar fashion to Hockholds (q.v.) until it lapsed. No trace of any manor house exists, but the site was identified in the Tydd St. Giles parish terrier, c. 1647, as being on 2 roods of land in Newfield next Kirkgate on the north, and land of William Watkinson on the east, being the property now and for many years occupied by the village blacksmith's shop, and not much more than a hundred yards from the site of Hockholds Manor.

In 1636 the quit-rents of the manor were given as £1 17s.


A manor was held by Sir Thomas de la Laund of Gosberton (Lincs.) which, with many other manors in Lincolnshire and elsewhere, on the rebellion of Sir Thomas were forfeited to the Crown. In 1471 it was granted by Edward IV to his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, (fn. 39) and four years later was regranted (probably in trust) to Queen Elizabeth (Woodville), Richard (Beauchamp) Bishop of Salisbury, and William Dudley, Dean of the Chapel of the Household. (fn. 40) Richard Laund's heirs held property in Tydd St. Giles in 1435, (fn. 41) and a number of parcels in Tydd St. Giles were held of 'Dallalands Manor' (as the name came to be known in the passage of time) but it is evident that the manor was actually sited in Tydd St. Mary. On this point the will of Henry Adams, esquire, of Tydd St. Mary (fn. 42) is decisive. In it he devised to his son Robert Adam 'twelve acres of pasture at Clements Cross being the scite of the Manor of Dallalands'. Except that the 12 acres were in Tydd St. Mary, the exact location has not been established. In the reign of Henry VIII this manor was in possession of Thomas Denton, who made settlements of it in 1535 (fn. 43) and 1538. (fn. 44)

Robert Adam after his father's death (c. 1586) wasted his inheritance, and sold this manor to his kinsman William Welby. In 1629 it was settled by fine by another William Welby; by this date it had acquired the alternative title of DENTONS, and the manors of Rickards and Hockholds were also included in this settlement. (fn. 45) In the following year the same three manors were acquired by Philip Culme and another from Thomasine Owfield, widow, John Janson, esquire, Joyce (Jocosum) Glover, clerk, Joseph Owfield, and John Owfield, (fn. 46) who were acting as trustees for Welby under the 1629 settlement. The ownership of this manor ultimately became vested in Thomas Pell, from whom it passed to his son Edmund, lord of the manor of Littlebury in Tydd St. Mary, of which he was in possession in 1677. (fn. 47)

References occur to another manor in Tydd St. Giles, held by the Thimbleby family and subsequently that of Cony, which may perhaps be identified with Rickards or De la Launds. About 1540, (fn. 48) William Walgrave, illegitimate son of Richard Thimbleby, esquire, the grandson and heir of the said Richard, was plaintiff in respect of lands at Tydd St. Giles set out to him in lieu of an annuity charged on manors in the two Tydds and elsewhere; and in 1558-9 Sir William Cordell, Master of the Rolls, obtained this manor, with that of Dunton Hall in Tydd St. Mary and other property in Lincolnshire, from various members of the Thimbleby family for £1,080, (fn. 49) followed by another fine of 1559 between the same parties (fn. 50) in which the manors of Dunton (Tydd St. Mary), Tydd St. Mary, and Tydd St. Giles are specifically mentioned. Ten years later William Cony senior, esquire, bought the manor from Sir William Cordell and Mary his wife. A third of the area at this date was stated to be marshland. (fn. 51)


The advowson has always followed the descent of the main manor, and has been in the gift of the Bishop of Ely. The earliest recorded rector is Nicholas de Houton, 1320. The church, like most of those on the episcopal manors, was never appropriated, and in the early Middle Ages was a valuable one. It was assessed at £20 in 1217, £33 13s. 4d. in 1254, and £42 in 1291. (fn. 52) At the last date it was one of the richest in the Isle. In 1535, however, the value was only £21 13s. (fn. 53)

The church of ST. GILES consists of clerestoried nave, aisles, north porch, and detached south-east tower. It is of early 13th-century origin, to which period the chancel arch, nave arcades, and two lower stages of the tower belong. The aisles were rebuilt in the first half of the 14th century and the porch added, and at the end of the 15th century the clerestory was rebuilt and raised and another stage added to the tower. The chancel, originally 50 ft. long by 20 ft. wide, was completely destroyed in a gale in 1741. It was rebuilt in a shortened form and debased style the following year, but the 18th-century building was taken down in the 19th-century restoration and not replaced. This restoration was begun in 1868 by the rector, Canon John Scott, under the direction of his brother, Sir Gilbert Scott the architect. The whole church was refloored and re-seated, the nave re-roofed, screens provided for the vestries, and the musicians' gallery at the west end taken down. The tower was strengthened in 1888, and the organ installed in place of a harmonium about the same time.

The position of the tower, about 50 ft. to the southeast of the church, is probably due to the necessity of obtaining a firm ground for the foundations. It may be paralleled at Terrington St. Clement and West Walton (Norf.), and Fleet and Long Sutton (Lincs.). in the marshland. As at West Walton and Long Sutton, and also at certain churches in the Isle, e.g. Littleport and March, the tower rested on open arches which have now been filled in.

The blocked chancel arch is two-centred and has deep mouldings, while the responds have engaged shafts and caps with early foliage. A modern window of three lights has been inserted in the arch. There is a blocked opening in the wall on either side of the arch. The arcades consist of six bays with two-centred arches of two orders and hood-moulds; the piers and caps are round and the bases square; several of the caps have stiff foliage and the west responds have three engaged shafts and foliaged caps. The blocked upper doorway of the rood stair exists in the north-east angle of the arcade. On one of the piers is a 14th-century inscription reading 'Cest Piler Comencat Ricard le Prestre Primer Preyez Pur Luy'. The westernmost bay is of slightly later date than the rest, suggesting that there was formerly a tower in the normal position, which was replaced, when the present one was built, by an extra bay to the nave.

The clerestory consists of cinquefoiled two-lights under square heads. The blocked heads of the original clerestory lights exist between the present windows and at a lower level; they are plain lancets. The blocked rood stair is in the south-east angle of the north aisle and is corbelled out on the exterior. The large west window of the nave is of mid-14th-century date and has five lights with flowing tracery. It is flanked on the outside by large 14th-century buttresses with three setoffs and a canopied niche on the face, with gabled tops and angle pinnacles. The west ends of the aisles also have angle pinnacles and crocketed coping, all of the 14th century. The west doorway has a wide ogee arch with three niches above.

The east window of the north aisle is late 15th century and of four main lights cinquefoiled, with eight tracery lights, all under a square head. The first three windows in the north wall are of three trefoiled lights with mid-14th-century tracery; the remaining two windows in this wall are also of the 14th century and of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoils above. The west window is a 15th-century insertion of three lights cinquefoiled, with rectilinear tracery in the two-centred head. There is a large pinnacle at the north-east angle.

Plan of St. Giles's Church

The south aisle has an east window of four lights with rather clumsy 14th-century tracery. The east portion of the south wall has been rebuilt in brick with stone dressings, probably at the end of the 15th century, and contains a contemporary window of three lights. This portion of the aisle, now the vestry, was in the Middle Ages used as a Lady Chapel (fn. 54) and contains a piscina. The second, fourth, and fifth windows are 14th-century three-lights and the third a four-light, with trefoiled heads and tracery of the period; the west window is also of four lights and of the 14th century. There is a niche with trefoiled head in the south wall.

The north porch has an outer arch of two orders with moulded caps, and a two-light trefoil-headed window on the east and west. The inner doorway has continuous mouldings. The buttresses throughout the building are almost entirely 14th century, of two setoffs with gabled tops. The north aisle has a plain plastered lean-to roof which is probably 17th century; the other roofs are modern and poor.

The font has a hexagonal bowl with the arms of Ely, the emblems of the Passion, the shield of St. George, an angel and two grotesque faces, representing sloth and gluttony, growing out of leaves. The shaft is traceried and the font stands on two stone risers. In the modern screens in the east bays of the arcade are some old tracery heads.

The detached tower is of three stages, the two lower being of the 13th century and of stone, and the top stage a late 15th-century addition in brick with stone dressings. It stands on four two-centred arches of three orders with moulded caps and bases, the east and south being blocked with a brick filling when the tower was raised. There are large and massive angle buttresses, which are square below and semi-octagonal above. The newel stair is contrived in the south-east buttress, which was raised in brick and stone in the 15th century so as to reach the top stage. There is a large 13th-century window on all four sides in the second stage. Each is of three uncusped lights now blocked with brick, with a quatrefoil pierced in the solid head, the whole contained within a two-centred arch of two orders with engaged shafts to the jambs-an early example of plate tracery. The top stage has a window of two cinque foiled lights on each face, and there is an embattled parapet.

The most interesting sepulchral inscription remaining is a 13th-century cross slab of grey marble with an inscription commemorating Sir John Fysuer. The stone was originally at the east end of the nave, but was moved to its present position behind the organ in 1868. According to John Layer, the antiquary (1585- 1640), there were formerly inscriptions in the stainedglass windows commemorating (i) Robert Michell, rector, collated 1349 (east window), (ii) Thomas Howson, who 'built two faire wyndowes', (iii) Simone Howson, his wife, and John Howson, 1483, and (iv) Henry at the Bridge and his wife ('in the fair ancient window' in (?) north aisle). The following coats of arms were apparently also displayed (i) argent, a lion, over all a label of five points gules, (ii) or, two bars gules, (iii) or, a chief, and (iv) or, on a fesse gules, three roundels argent. (fn. 55)

The plate consists of a communion cup and cover paten of silver, 1569, the latter inscribed on the foot 'FOR TED SENT GYLS 1570', and a paten and flagon both of silver, dated 1869.

In 1552 there were three bells in the bell turret, another bell on the ground, and the sanctus bell. (fn. 56) The tower now contains six bells by Mears and Stainbank of London, 1887, replacing a ring of five. The inscriptions on the latter were: treble, 'The gift of Sigismund Trafford of Dunton Hall in Tidd St. Maries 1710. Henry Penn Fusor', with the Trafford arms and crest; 2nd, 'Omnia fiant ad gloriam Dei. Abell Hodges, Rector. Tobie Norris cast me, 1625'; 3rd, 'In aure Dei non clamor sed amor cantat. Tobie Norris cast me, 1625'; 4th, 'Coelorum Christe placeat tybe vox sonus iste. Jesus spede us. Johannes Welbe generosus et Clement Martin, Rector, 1603'; 5th, 'James Scribo, Adam Cook, Churchwardens, 1726'. (fn. 57) The cost of the sixth bell was met by public subscription.

The registers begin in 1559, with a gap from 1659 to 1689.

About 1865 Richard Young built a Church mission house at Foul Anchor at his own expense. He stipulated in doing so that the work of restoration of the parish church should be pressed forward with all convenient speed. The mission house was opened for use in 1866. On Young's death (1871) the ownership vested in his son the Revd. Belton Young, who several years later handed it over to the ecclesiastical authorities. It was closed for some years during the 20th century, but in 1950 was reopened for its original purpose and as a Sunday school.


There were three guilds at Tydd St. Giles, those of Our Lady (founded in 1350), Holy Cross (1385), and St. Giles (1386).

Our Lady's Guild was remarkable in that its membership was strictly limited to twelve brethren, and every vacancy which occurred was to be promptly filled up. It was founded by William Everswell, chaplain, and Nicholas Clerk, who, wishing to do something for the improvement of their lives and for the benefit of their souls, and because they two alone were insufficient to carry out the purpose in mind, founded a chaplaincy and got others to join them. In 1535 the guild's properties were valued at £4 13s. 1d. (fn. 58) It possessed a hall of its own, with a house for the chantry priest, and certain lands. Two torches at festivals and one candle before the image of St. Mary were provided by the members. (fn. 59)

St. Giles' Guild maintained three candles at masses, and subscriptions were paid in the form of one, or two, bushels of barley. The members were required to attend vespers on the vigil of the feast-day, high mass on the day itself, and vespers following. All members were obliged to attend the funerals of dead brethren unless excused for illness or infirmity. The proctor was to suffer the bellman to go round the town ringing his bell, to make all men pray for the soul of the deceased, and to summon all the guild members to mass, at which each brother was to give 1d., and the brotherhood 1s. 8d. in bread to the poor. The brethren each paid ½d. in soul arms. (fn. 60)

The Guild of Holy Cross possessed its own chapel at Sea Gate, at the Tydd Gote end of the village next the outfall of the Shire Drain, where the members were accustomed to meet. This guild did not possess a hall. (fn. 61)

There was a further Guild of St. John Baptist, (fn. 62) in respect of which no guild certificate exists. It is possible that the chapel at Tritton Bridge, previously mentioned, belonged to this guild.


A congregation of Baptists was established at Tydd St. Giles by 1782. John Smith, who kept the village shop in the house next the rectory field, founded the chapel in Broadgate, adjoining a house belonging to him, with an open-air baptistry for immersion. Smith was ordained in 1795, and two deacons were appointed at the same time. In 1796 the congregation numbered 15. It had increased to 28 in 1800. In 1817 there were 65 Baptists at Tydd St. Giles, Sutton St. James, and Fleet. Smith died in 1807, and was buried beside his chapel. He was succeeded by Mr. Pocklinton and James Smith. (fn. 63) In 1851 there was a larger average attendance at the chapel than at the parish church, where the rector was non-resident. (fn. 64) The chapel was discontinued in 1922 and the building sold.

Two Methodist chapels, Wesleyan and Primitive, in the village and fen respectively, were established in Tydd in the latter part of the 19th century. (fn. 65) They are both still in use. (fn. 66)


In 1789 Tydd St. Giles was one of the sixty-eight parishes in the diocese without a school. (fn. 67) Dr. Jobson, reporting on the state of the schools in Wisbech hundred in 1814, (fn. 68) stated that there were about 50 children of school age in the parish, including many Dissenters. By this date a school had been established in the workhouse, where 30 to 35 children learned their catechism under a master who was allowed £12 a year by the parish. Jobson mentioned the possibility of applying £70 a year from charity lands to education, but nothing seems to have been done until after the foundation of Marshalls' charity.

In 1834 Thomas Marshall purchased 4 a. 2 r. 29 p. to meet the cost of school fees for children of deserving families. In 1837 this land was let in eleven allotments at an average rent of 50s. an acre, to the sober and industrious poor. On the establishment of the School Board (1879) the charity became superfluous and was wound up by J. T. Marshall, the settlor's son, who had complete discretionary power for that purpose. Thomas Marshall, although born deformed with only one arm, by his diligence and industry amassed a considerable fortune. He attributed this largely to the good start he got by attending school at Leverington, and is said never to have missed the 5-mile daily journey except in flood-time. In his childhood, early in the 19th century, the land was mostly in pasture and it was possible to walk from Tydd to Leverington almost in a straight line.

The school thus endowed was held in the south aisle of the church. This was partitioned off and a door cut in the west wall, an arrangement which lasted until the restoration of the church in the 1860's. Soon after its establishment there were 35 boys, all over 6 years of age, receiving free education in reading, writing, and arithmetic, besides 16 boys whose parents paid 5s. a quarter for reading and 2s. a quarter extra for writing and arithmetic. (fn. 69) The schoolmaster was Samuel Clarke; the girls received their instruction from Mrs. Parker in a cottage near the church, where the village post office now is.

The first actual school building was erected opposite the church in 1866 (fn. 70) at the instance of Canon John Scott, the rector, who collected moneys for the purpose and himself contributed £150; the National Society made a grant of £70. (fn. 71) A. J. Burling was the last master to teach in the church, and when the new school was opened he and Mrs. Burling found themselves with over a hundred children. He and his wife were still teaching in 1899, when there were 140 places and an average attendance of 110. (fn. 72) The school was originally a Church school, but failure to raise the funds for its necessary enlargement led to the compulsory formation of a School Board in 1879, (fn. 73) to which the Church authorities leased their school at a nominal rent. Early in the 20th century the school was again enlarged by the provision of a porch, and in 1927 a new head teacher's house was built on a fresh site in Church Lane, the old one being occupied by the school cleaner. Six years later the senior children, 30 in number, were transferred to the Colvile School at Newton, leaving 85 at Tydd. This number had decreased to 72 in 1949, when the school buildings were described as obsolescent. (fn. 74)

CHARITIES (fn. 75)

The Brigstock and Wren's Charities' trustees, acting under a scheme established by the Charity Commissioners in 1910, administer about 29 acres of land, with 3 cottages, in Tydd St. Giles, and about 12 acres in Sutton St. Edmunds (Lines.). Wren's charity originated when the English fleet attacked the Dutch in Sole Bay in 1672. One of the naval officers on board the Royal Prince was Matthew Wren, son of the Bishop of Ely, who had a presentiment that he would not survive the engagement. He made his will on board on 19 May 1672, in sight of the Dutch fleet and in expectation of fighting with them in a few hours' time, and thereby gave 15 acres in the Low Marsh for the use of the poor of Tydd St. Giles, subject to a rent charge. The 15 acres were let in 1835-7 to Robert Mills at £29 yearly.

The Charity Commissioners of 1837 declared that John Brigstock in 1667 had given the following lands to 9 trustees for the poor of Tydd St. Giles: a messuage and 3 roods in Sumer Leazure, the messuage in 1837 being used as the parish workhouse and very old and in bad repair; a messuage and 1¼ acre in Gardyke; two other parcels each of 1¼ acre in South Crofts and Carraway Fields; 2 acres in Low South Field; 2 acres in Furlong and Spade Holme Fields; 2 acres in Low Marsh; 2¼ acres in High Marsh. In point of fact none of the property ever belonged to Brigstock; he was the last surviving trustee of an older charity and the deed was simply an appointment of new trustees for the continuation of the trust. It is difficult to establish the origin of these charity lands, but (mainly with the aid of the Tydd Terrier) it may be stated as follows. The 2 acres in Low South Field were given by Robert Wilzey of Tydd St. Giles for providing, out of the rent, a supply of coals for the poor. The lands in Gardyke were purchased by the town from Coyton. The 2 acres in Furlong and 1 acre in Great Broad East were taken in exchange for the water mill. The land in the Marsh was allotted to the trustees on the inclosure of the marshes. The remaining lands are described as 'Town Lands' and are of uncertain origin, except that some of them were derived from one Coxon. The income of all of them, so far as is known, has always been, and now is, distributed to or for the benefit of the poor. Certain odd portions of lands were sold when the North Level Drain was cut in 1834, and separated from the remainder, and the proceeds of the sale were employed in the purchase of 12 acres at Sutton St. Edmunds (Lines.), which are held upon the same trusts.


  • 1. See P.N. Cambs. (E.P.N.S.), 7.
  • 2. By the M. of H. Prov. Ord. Conf. (Ely, Holland, and Norf.) Act, 1933, which took effect 1 Apr. 1934, mutual exchanges were made between the Isle and Holland and the Isle and Norfolk, involving the parishes of Tydd St. Giles, Tydd St. Mary, Walpole St. Peter, and West Walton. This resulted in a net loss to Tydd St. Giles of 230 acres and 17 population (1931 Census). Previously, owing to the straightening of the course of the Nene in the 18th and 19th centuries, the eastern end of the parish round Oldroyd's Farm was inaccessible by road from the main part except by a 12-mile detour through Wisbech or Sutton Bridge.
  • 3. Gote, a corruption of go-out, the outfall of a drain. Four Gotes was where the Wisbech Drain, Leverington High Lode, Newton Lode, and Tydd Drain discharged into the Nene (P.N. Cambs. (E.P.N.S.), 285).
  • 4. Stith is mentioned in Domesday (Lines. Domesday, ed. Foster and Longley (Lines. Rec. Soc. xix), 184) as a socland of Holbeach and Whaplode, and is identified tentatively as Tydd. There is no other holding in Elloe Wapentake with a name at all similar, and this identification may therefore be accepted.
  • 5. See P.N. Cambs. (E.P.N.S.), 285-6, for a full discussion of the various possibilities.
  • 6. On the authority of the late J. T. Marshall of Tydd Gote.
  • 7. See De Stemmate Piscatoris by Mr. Frank Owen Fisher their descendant, containing an exhaustive and scholarly history of the family from the earliest times (privately printed c. 1910).
  • 8. C.P. 25(2)/93/838.
  • 9. P.C.C. 23 Pyckering. The Laverock arms are ermine a fesse engrailed gules.
  • 10. Kelly, Dir. Cambs. (1900).
  • 11. G. E. C., Compl. Peerage, 2nd ed., xiii, 84.
  • 12. These names are taken from the Tithe Award, the Tydd St. Giles terrier, deeds, and wills.
  • 13. 15 Chas. II, c. 17.
  • 14. 4 & 5 Vic. c. xvi. Award at County Hall, March.
  • 15. 13 Geo. III, c. 60.
  • 16. 48 Geo. III, c. xxiii.
  • 17. B.M. Cott. MS. Tib. B. II, f. 151a.
  • 18. B.M. Cott. MS. Claud. C. XI, f. 86b.
  • 19. Summa, a measure containing 6 or 8 bushels.
  • 20. It was estimated that 400 acres were devastated by 'sweet', i.e. fresh, waters temp. Edw. III (Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 203).
  • 21. C.P. 25(2)/539/Hil. 1657.
  • 22. Charter dated 20 June 52 Hen. III (1268) as given in inspeximus of 1466 (Cal. Pat. 1461-7, 498).
  • 23. Sir C., C. R., and Z. Colvile, Hist. of Colvile Family (privately printed, 1896).
  • 24. W. Watson, Hist. Wisb. (1827), 482.
  • 25. For further details of this family see under Newton.
  • 26. Tydd St. Giles parish terrier, c. 1647, in which the 4 acres of land is described as 'the site of the Manor of Hockholds'.
  • 27. C 142/204/141. The settlement of 1579 affected 118 acres, part of the manor lands. See also C.P. 25(2)/93/843, a fine of East. 21 Eliz. between John Walpole and John Callow, and Anne Deans and Richard Welby.
  • 28. When he attested the will of Robert Akers (P.C.C. 12 Pyckering).
  • 29. Visitation of Norfolk of that year (Visit. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 307). The arms of Welby, viz. sable a fesse between three fleurs-de-lis argent, were formerly in a window in Tydd St. Giles church and recorded by Layer (Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 275, f. 182).
  • 30. B.M. Add. MS. 5838, f. 195a.
  • 31. c. 1647.
  • 32. Robert Wood of Langley (Notts.) married, c. 1539, Margaret daughter of Sir Edward Montague, C.J. of K.B.
  • 33. See his petition to Parliament in that year.
  • 34. B.M. Add. MS. 5809, ff. 121-4, where a drawing of the arms is given. This shield has disappeared since 1745 when Cole saw it, but in recent years Mr. A. H. Carter has put new glass of the same general design in one of the dining-room windows.
  • 35. 31 Geo. III, c. xxxix.
  • 36. P.C.C. F 13 Jankyn.
  • 37. P.C.C. 17 & 18 Jankyn.
  • 38. Cal. Pat. 1549-51, 414.
  • 39. Ibid. 1467-77, 297, 560.
  • 40. Ibid. 543, 567.
  • 41. Wisbech MSS.
  • 42. P.C.C. 65 Windsor.
  • 43. C.P. 25(2)/4/20.
  • 44. Ibid.
  • 45. C.P. 25(2)/526/East. 4 Chas. I. Welby also included his Lynn property in this settlement.
  • 46. C.P. 25(2)/400/Mich. 5 Chas. I. This fine is defaced, and the name of Culme's partner and the consideration paid are illegible. The three manors included a dove-house, orchards, and 240 acres of arable land and 450 of marsh.
  • 47. E 134/29 Chas. II/T. 4.
  • 48. C 1/1086/2.
  • 49. C.P. 25(2)/83/713.
  • 50. C.P. 25(2)/259/Hil. 1 Eliz.
  • 51. C.P. 25(2)/93/835.
  • 52. W. E. Lunt, Valuation of Norw. 539.
  • 53. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii, 499.
  • 54. Will of Robert Galyon, rector, 1435 (P.C.C. 20 Luffenham).
  • 55. Bodl. Lib. MS. Rawl. B. 275, f. 182.
  • 56. E 315/495, p. 165.
  • 57. J. J. Raven, Church Bells of Cambs. (1881), 172.
  • 58. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii, 499.
  • 59. C 47/36.
  • 60. C 47/35.
  • 61. C 47/34; E 179/82/197 and /247.
  • 62. See will of Richard Farrour, 1537, bequeathing 5s. for the repair of St. John's guildhall (P.C.C. 14 Dingley); also rental of Hockholds manor, 1636, showing land formerly of St. John Baptist held at a yearly rent of 4¼d.
  • 63. A. Taylor, Hist. Engl. Gen. Baptists (1818), ii, 300-1, 406-7.
  • 64. H.O. 129/7/193.
  • 65. These chapels are not mentioned in the 1851 Census ecclesiastical returns.
  • 66. Meth. Ch. Bldgs. Stat. Return as at 1 July 1940 (privately printed, 1947).
  • 67. Bp.'s Mun., Ely, B 6.
  • 68. Ibid.
  • 69. Rep. Com. Char. (Cambs.), [103], 270-1, H.C. (1837-8), xxiv.
  • 70. Kelly, Dir. Cambs. (1900).
  • 71. Archives of Nat. Soc.
  • 72. Kelly, Dir. Cambs. (1900).
  • 73. Lond. Gaz. 1879, 736.
  • 74. M. of Ed. File no. 12/50.
  • 75. Rep. Com. Char. (Cambs.), [103], 270-1, H.C. (1837-8), xxiv. Infm. Messrs. Fraser, Woodgate, and Beall, of Wisbech.