A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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The parish of Kingston, 7 miles west-south-west of Cambridge, comprises 1,907 a. It is roughly rectangular in shape, stretching south-westwards from the Bourn brook which, in general, forms the northern boundary. The Mare Way forms the southern and Porter's Way much of the western boundary. It is noticeable, however, that the parish does not quite reach to Ermine Street. The Bedford—Cambridge railway line passes through the north part of the parish. (fn. 1) Layer described Kingston as standing 'upon a pretty ascent, but is cold and moist yet not unfruitful'. (fn. 2) The land rises south-westwards from 80 ft. above sea level by the brook to over 250 ft. along the Mare Way. Drainage is effected by small streams flowing north-eastward into the Bourn brook, creating shallow longitudinal valleys. (fn. 3) The soil is heavy, lying mostly over boulder clay upon gault, with a few strains of gravel. The south-west part of the parish is well wooded. Baldwin St. George had a deer-park in Kingston in 1269 and Constantine Mortimer had 100 a. of woodland in 1355. (fn. 4) Kingston wood has remained c. 100 a. in extent. (fn. 5) About 1790 it contained elm, ash, and oak. (fn. 6) Apart from closes of old inclosed pasture near the village, and the water-meadows by the brook, the north and central parts of the parish are largely arable land. The amount of pasture increases in the south. The parish has been mainly agricultural, and was farmed in three open fields until inclosure in 1815. (fn. 7)
The village stands in the north part of the parish on a spur between two streams. The church occupies a commanding position at the north entrance to the village together with a small cluster of houses. The rest of the village is centred upon the remnants of an old green where a road south from the Caxton– Cambridge road meets the road from Bourn to the Eversdens. The green, perhaps the earlier market green, was formerly much larger but has been eroded by building and the passage of traffic. (fn. 8) Most of the dwellings are built along the lanes which radiate from the green. The village includes a number of timber-framed and plastered houses, some of the late medieval period, but most dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 9) Since c. 1960 a number of houses and large bungalows has been built in the village.
As far as is known, the principal settlement in the parish has always been on the same site. It is probable, however, that the site of Kingston Wood Farm, 1¼ mile south-west of the village, has a long history of occupation. The farm-house dates from the early 16th century but stands by a medieval moat, which is almost certainly the site of Kingston Wood manor-house. (fn. 10) It stands ¾ mile from Ermine Street to which it is connected by a drive. A footpath provides the only access thence to Kingston village. (fn. 11) Although Kingston Wood was the principal manor in Kingston after the Conquest, (fn. 12) the site is noticeably remote from the church, suggesting that its importance developed after the establishment of the principal settlement. In 1317 Constantine Mortimer was granted a papal indult to have mass celebrated in his chapel because his manor was remote from the parish church and access was difficult. (fn. 13) The chapel was recorded c. 1280 and in 1297, a chaplain holding 20 a. in free alms in 1279, and an oratory in 1393. (fn. 14) Remains of a chapel were detected at Kingston Wood manor-house in the mid 18th century. (fn. 15) It is not certain whether a settlement developed round the manor-house. In 1720 several of the closes there bore what appear to have been family names, suggesting house-sites, and one was called Cobblers close. (fn. 16)
Kingston appears to have been a flourishing village in the early 14th century. Fifty-six people from it were assessed to the tax of 1327, (fn. 17) the third largest number in the hundred. Only 111 persons, however, paid poll tax in 1377, (fn. 18) which seems to indicate that the population of Kingston had fallen more sharply than that of most other parishes in Longstowe hundred. The parish contained 42 families in 1563, (fn. 19) but in 1666 there were only 27 tenements, one of the lowest totals in the hundred. (fn. 20) In 1676 there were 84 conformists and 11 dissenters. (fn. 21) There were said to be 160 inhabitants c. 1793, a large increase having occurred in the previous 20 years. (fn. 22) Growth continued steadily from 225 persons in 1801 to 322 in 1871, apart from a sharp decline to 168 in 1811. Since 1871 the population has declined, the reduction being particularly severe between 1891 and 1901. (fn. 23) In 1961 there were 151 inhabitants. (fn. 24) The figure has probably risen with subsequent development.
Kingston, a rather isolated village, is linked to the Caxton-Cambridge road by a road which perhaps once continued north to Caldecote, but has been diverted slightly to the east. The road which leaves the Caxton-Cambridge road at the Bourn boundary, passing through the village centre and continuing to Eversden, is called Tinker's Lane east of the green. (fn. 25) Crane's Lane, in existence in 1720, runs south from the village to join the Mare Way. It seems once to have been an important route to the village. (fn. 26)
There was an inn of some sort in Kingston in 1593 when Margaret, wife of Arthur Baker, was presented 'for suffering divers persons to tipple, swill, drink, and keep evil rule in their house at time of divine service to the offence of honest parishioners'. (fn. 27) The Chequers and the Rose and Crown public houses appeared in the 19th and early 20th centuries. (fn. 28) The last public house in the village, however, closed in 1960. (fn. 29)
Manors and Other Estates.
The name implies that Kingston was originally a royal vill. (fn. 30) In 1066 the royal demesne there consisted of 1 hide and 3 virgates and, in addition, ten of the king's sokemen held 2 hides and 1½ virgate. The remaining land had been granted out. Alfgeat Gaest and other of Earl Alfgar's men held 2½ hides, a man of Archbishop Stigand held 3 virgates, and Earl Waltheof's man Almar, Eddeva the fair's man Godinc Turbert, and a sokeman of the abbot of Ely each held one virgate. Wulfmaer, Robert FitzWymark's man, had 9 acres. (fn. 31)
Some consolidation of estates occurred after the Conquest. The royal demesne remained in the king's hand in 1086. Roger, earl of Shrewsbury, held 20 a. which Almar had held of Earl Waltheof, (fn. 32) Almar's other 10 a. passing to Humphrey de Andeville who held them of Eudes the sewer, probably as part of a larger estate centred on Clopton. (fn. 33) Almar of Bourn held Alfgeat's virgate of Count Alan of Brittany, probably as an outlying portion of Almar's estate in Bourn. (fn. 34) Two knights held Godinc's virgate of Hardwin de Scalers. They were presumably the same two men who held of Hardwin in Caldecote into which estate that virgate perhaps was merged. (fn. 35) Robert the bald (calvus) held Wulfmaer's 9 a., also of Hardwin. (fn. 36) The remaining land, over 5½ hides, was swept into the barony of Picot the sheriff. (fn. 37)
The descent of the KINGSTON WOOD manor, almost certainly representing Picot's estate, followed that portion of Bourn which passed to the family of Pecche. It was among the estates sold by Gilbert Pecche to the king in 1284 and subsequently settled on Pecche's widow for her life. (fn. 38) Thereafter the manor was held of the Crown in chief as of the honor of Peverel or Pecche. (fn. 39)
Ralph de Banks held 5½ hides and 16 a. of Picot in Kingston in 1086. (fn. 40) In 1130–1 William de Banks was pardoned danegeld in Cambridgeshire as for 5 hides. (fn. 41) In 1166 Eustace de Banks held 3 fees of Hamon Pecche in Cambridgeshire. (fn. 42) Eustace died before 1179 and was succeeded by his son William. (fn. 43) William died after 1205 and his heir was his son Eustace. (fn. 44) Eustace was dead by c. 1235 when Geoffrey de Banks, probably his son, held the manor. (fn. 45) Geoffrey, who died after 1250, (fn. 46) also held land in Foxton, which by 1279 had passed with Kingston to William Mortimer of Attleborough (Norf.). William's estate at Foxton included land in Harston and, in 1261, land in Harston had been held of a Robert Mortimer. (fn. 47) William Mortimer's father was Robert (d. 1265). (fn. 48) It appears, therefore, that the Banks estates passed to Robert Mortimer between 1250 and 1261, perhaps by marriage. (fn. 49)
William Mortimer died in 1297 when his heir was his son Constantine, then a minor. (fn. 50) Constantine later enfeoffed his elder son Constantine and Agnes his wife jointly with the manor. (fn. 51) Constantine Mortimer the younger died without issue in 1355, (fn. 52) and Agnes married Sir Thomas Gissing before 1358. (fn. 53) Agnes was alive in 1371 but predeceased her husband who died in 1382. (fn. 54) The manor reverted to Constantine Mortimer's younger brother Robert (d. 1387). In 1396 Kingston was described as the manor of Margery, widow of Sir Robert Mortimer. Sir Robert's heirs were his granddaughters Sibyl, Cecily, and Margery. (fn. 55)
In 1403 a partition of estates was made between Cecily, widow of Sir John Harling, on the one part, and her sister Margery and her husband, Sir John FitzRalph, on the other. Kingston became part of the portion of Margery. (fn. 56) Before 1458 Elizabeth, daughter and heir of John FitzRalph, the son of Margery and John, married Sir Robert Chamberlain and brought him Kingston. Sir Robert was attainted and executed in 1491, but his son Ralph succeeded to Kingston in his mother's right. (fn. 57) Elizabeth Chamberlain was still living in 1496 and had married Roger Ormeston, when it was agreed that Ralph should hold Kingston. (fn. 58) Ralph died in 1522, leaving as heir his brother Edward. (fn. 59) Edward Chamberlain died in 1541 and was succeeded by his son Ralph. (fn. 60) In 1567 Ralph (d. 1575) settled the manor on his son, FitzRalph Chamberlain, and FitzRalph's wife Dorothy. (fn. 61) FitzRalph obtained Kingston St. George manor in 1569, (fn. 62) thus uniting the two principal manors.
In 1584 FitzRalph and Dorothy Chamberlain made a settlement of Kingston Wood and Kingston St. George manors. (fn. 63) They continued to hold the estate at Kingston and FitzRalph was buried in the graveyard there in 1622. (fn. 64) In 1625 Thomas Chamberlain conveyed the manors and all lands of FitzRalph Chamberlain to John Crane, an apothecary of Cambridge. (fn. 65) John Crane died in 1652 (fn. 66) and the next year the court of Kingston Wood was held in the name of his widow, Elizabeth. (fn. 67) In 1662 John Crane's son William conveyed the manors to the executors of Sir Thomas Hatton, Bt., of Long Stanton (d. 1658), (fn. 68) whose son and heir Sir Thomas (d. 1682) (fn. 69) was succeeded in turn by his sons, Sir Christopher and Sir Thomas, both of whom died without issue, (fn. 70) and in 1685 the heirs to Kingston were their six sisters, each of whom had a sixth of the estate. Between 1685 and 1691 those shares, increased to quarters by the deaths of two of the sisters unmarried, were consolidated and conveyed to Sir Christopher Hatton, Bt., as heir male of Sir Thomas Hatton, and Francis Henry Lee. Hatton conveyed the manor to Lee, (fn. 71) who in 1691 held a court at Kingston. (fn. 72)
In 1717 Lee's son, also Francis Henry, and his wife Elizabeth conveyed the manor to Col. Thomas King, the agent of Edward, Lord Harley, later earl of Oxford (d. 1741). (fn. 73) In 1739 Philip Yorke, earl of Hardwicke (d. 1764), purchased the manor from the earl of Oxford. (fn. 74) It remained in the Yorke family as part of the Wimpole Hall estate until the estate was largely dispersed to pay the debts of the fifth earl. (fn. 75) The earl's Kingston Wood estate, however, was sold with Wimpole to Thomas Charles Agar-Robartes, later Viscount Clifden, by foreclosure c. 1891. (fn. 76) Viscount Clifden was said to be lord of the manor in 1900. (fn. 77) Before 1903, however, the manor, shorn of its lands, had come into the possession of P. A. S. Hickey, a barrister, who died in 1915. The manor was afterwards held by Hickey's trustees. (fn. 78) In 1936 Fanny Elizabeth Spearing and Beatrice Marion Lock were ladies of the manor. The manorial incidents had been gradually extinguished and the manor seems to have fallen into abeyance. (fn. 79)
The manor of KINGSTON ST. GEORGE has not been found recorded until 1212 when Maud de Dive was said to hold a fee in Kingston, Hatley, and Trumpington of the honor of Peverel of Dover. (fn. 80) The reference to Peverel of Dover is almost certainly an error for Peverel of Bourn. (fn. 81) Pain Peverel of Dover had been granted Picot's lands by Henry I. (fn. 82) Asceline, one of the sisters of William Peverel of Bourn (d. 1147–8), inherited a third of the barony of Bourn and married first Geoffrey de Waterville and secondly Saher de Quincy. Her son, Ralph de Waterville, died c. 1175, when his heirs were his sisters Asceline and Maud. Maud, who held a sixth of the barony, married William de Dive. Their son Hugh died before his mother, and her heirs were her granddaughters Maud, wife of Saher de St. Andrew, Alice, wife of Richard de Mucegros, and Asceline, wife of Simon de Mucegros. Each sister had 1/18 of the barony. (fn. 83) In 1279 the manor was said to be held of the heirs of Mucegros who in turn held of the fee of the earl of Winchester. (fn. 84) In 1471 and 1485 it was said to be held of the prior of St. John of Jerusalem in England. (fn. 85) Apparently therefore the manor was derived from another portion of Picot's lands, possibly the royal demesne in Kingston which he may have acquired after 1086. No reference has been found to the king holding land in Kingston after that date. (fn. 86)
Before 1182 William St. George made a grant in Kingston to the nuns of Clerkenwell (Mdx.). (fn. 87) About 1235 William St. George held one fee in Hatley and Kingston of the fee of Maud de Dive. (fn. 88) In 1269 Baldwin St. George had a deer-park in Kingston (fn. 89) and in 1279 held ¾ fee there of the heirs of Mucegros. (fn. 90) The manor remained in the St. George family (fn. 91) until 1556 when Francis St. George conveyed it to Robert Catlyn, serjeant-at-law. (fn. 92) In 1569 FitzRalph Chamberlain obtained the manor from Catlyn, thus uniting the manor of Kingston St. George with Kingston Wood. (fn. 93)
In the 12th century, perhaps before 1159, Eustace de Banks gave a house, 80 a. of arable, and 9 a. of pasture in Kingston to the priory of St. Mary, Clerkenwell, when his daughter Avice became a nun there. Later members of the Banks family added smaller donations. William St. George also gave ½ virgate to the priory before 1182, and William the bald (calvus) added another 9 a. (fn. 94) The last donation possibly represents the 9 a. which Robert the bald held in Kingston of Hardwin de Scalers in 1086. (fn. 95) In 1279 the prioress was said to hold 80 a. in Kingston of William Mortimer and 60 a. of Baldwin St. George, part of which was rented by the priory, (fn. 96) whose estate in Kingston, together with land in Wimpole and Eversden, became known as BEAMONDS manor. (fn. 97) In 1310 the estate comprised 222 a. and was valued at 102s. (fn. 98) It remained with the priory until its dissolution in 1539, (fn. 99) when it was occupied by Thomas Chicheley. (fn. 100) In 1548 it was granted with many other properties to Sir Thomas Heneage and Lord Willoughby. (fn. 101) Its subsequent history is unknown, though its probable location in the south part of the parish may suggest that it was incorporated into the Kingston Wood estate. (fn. 102)
In 1279 Geoffrey of Soham held 60 a. in Kingston in fee of William Mortimer. (fn. 103) Hugh of Soham was one of the largest contributors in Kingston to the tax of 1327. (fn. 104) It is said that in 1427–8 the Sohams' estate came to Thomas Debden, and thus came to be called DEBDEN'S or DEPDEN'S manor. (fn. 105) In 1441–2 Thomas Debden was presented at the court of Kingston Wood manor for default of suit of court. (fn. 106) Inclosures once made by John Debden are mentioned in the early 16th century. (fn. 107) In 1507 John Debden conveyed an estate in Kingston to Sir Richard Cholmely. (fn. 108) In 1593–4 Matthie, son of John Martin of Barton, held Debden's. (fn. 109) The estate appears to have been united with Kingston manor between 1625 and 1661. (fn. 110) In 1662 it was occupied by Thomas Lawrence and in 1682 by Joseph Sparkes, (fn. 111) and it may have been the same freehold estate of 228 a. which Simon Sparkes sold in 1735 to Sir John Astley of Patshall (Staffs.). Astley gave the estate to Queens' College, Cambridge, in exchange for a college estate at Everleigh (Wilts.), (fn. 112) and it became known as Library farm because the issues went to the college library. (fn. 113) The estate was offered for sale by the college in 1920. (fn. 114) Part was assimilated into New Barns farm in 1921 and the remaining 120 a. were sold in 1922 (fn. 115) and again in 1962 as part of Town farm. (fn. 116) The farm-house, known as Moat House Farm, stands on a medieval moated site which may have been the site of Kingston St. George manor. (fn. 117)
Paine's farm probably developed from 112 a. of copyhold land in Kingston. James Kemp surrendered the estate in 1769, (fn. 118) and in 1815 Simeon Sell was allotted 61 a. in Kingston, (fn. 119) apparently of the same estate. Simeon Leete Sell (d. c. 1859) devised it to his nephew, Tempest Sell (d. 1864), whose son Simeon Wortham Sell was admitted tenant in 1867. (fn. 120) The farm was sold in 1906 (fn. 121) probably to Henry Dalton Nash Wortham for whom it was enfranchised in 1907. (fn. 122) Roger Howard owned the farm in 1933. (fn. 123)
In 1815 Jackey Leete and David Royston were each allotted c. 60 a. in Kingston. Royston's land had previously belonged to one estate called Sparkes's and another called Palmer's. (fn. 124) The latter was perhaps the land surrendered by Thomas Palmer in 1766. (fn. 125) Small portions of one or other of those estates had belonged to the Jellings family in the mid 17th century and part had been held by Hannah Dalton in 1745. (fn. 126) Royston's estate had apparently been acquired by 1819 by Leete who in 1822 also obtained a small amount of land allotted to M. G. Wragg in 1815. (fn. 127) Leete died c. 1837 when his estate, called Kingston farm, was inherited by his son Alfred. (fn. 128) It was offered for sale in 1848. (fn. 129) In 1871 William Male of Madingley took possession of the farm under the will of his brother Richard Male. The farm-house, Southsea House near the green, bears the date 1850. John Male was admitted to the estate in 1881 and in 1892 his trustees and mortgagees conveyed part of it to Henry Collwood. (fn. 130) In 1900 N. H. Johnston occupied Southsea House, (fn. 131) and in 1928 land in Kingston, then held by Weston Johnston, was freed from manorial incidents. (fn. 132) Weston Johnston, farmer, occupied Southsea House in 1933. (fn. 133)
In 1066 Kingston was assessed as 8⅓ hides, and the land was occupied by c. 21 people. There was estimated to be arable sufficient to employ c. 10½ plough-teams in 1086, and the land appears to have been fully utilized. (fn. 134) Of the two largest estates, the king's included a villanus, 4 bordars, and a servus, (fn. 135) while that which Ralph de Banks held of Picot, by far the largest in the vill, employing 7½ plough-teams, included 9 villani, 2 bordars, 5 cottars, and 4 servi, with livestock comprising 2 head of cattle, 40 sheep, 44 pigs, 3 horses, and 2 asses. (fn. 136)
In 1279 Kingston was divided into two manors, the larger held by William Mortimer. In his demesne William had 284 a. of arable, 12 a. of meadow, 5 a. of pasture, and 50 a. of wood. His 15 free tenants held c. 300 a., the largest tenements belonging to Clerkenwell Priory and Geoffrey of Soham, both having over 60 a. The free tenements were held mostly for rent or in free alms, but Geoffrey of Soham, Thomas Brock, and Robert Madingley owed a few days' ploughing in addition to their rent. There were further under-tenancies on some of the larger of those estates. There were 30 villeins on William's manor: 13 had half-yardlands of 15 a., 7 had 10-a. holdings, and the rest had miscellaneous portions. The half-yardlanders owed 2 week-works and ploughed on Fridays, with reaping boons at harvest time, when they also had to find additional workers. They were also obliged to produce a workman at William's manor of Foxton in the first week of August. The holders of 10-a. estates owed similar services. The remaining villeins paid rent in commutation for most of their works, though many still owed boon-works or ploughing. Several men bore the name Woodward, possibly indicating their duties. The 10 cottars held tenements of various sizes at rent, only one owing any labour dues. Baldwin St. George had 140 a. of arable, 8 a. of meadow, 7½ a. of pasture, and 20 a. of wood in his demesne. His free tenants, principally Clerkenwell Priory, held 106 a. at rent. He had 7 villeins, each having 10 a., and heavily burdened with customary dues. They performed 5 week-works in August and 4 in the remainder of the year. (fn. 137)
Between 1279 and 1355 the amount of arable demesne decreased slightly on Kingston Wood manor, while the amounts of demesne meadow and pasture increased. The lord's wood doubled in size from 50 a. to 100 a. The total demesne increased by c. 30 a., and the villeins' labour-services seem to have been commuted for a money rent. (fn. 138) In 1340 it was claimed that the village could not pay the ninth because one carucate of the Clerkenwell estate lay frisca et inculta, and because the villagers were so oppressed by various royal imposts that they were unable to cultivate their lands. (fn. 139)
In the early 16th century the Chamberlain family was consolidating and enlarging its demesne estate, and built Kingston Wood manor-house. Ralph Chamberlain was accused of inclosing common land, which he claimed was his own, and had taken advantage of the Statute of Labourers to obtain the services of the son of one of Anne St. George's customary tenants against the man's will. (fn. 140) Ralph also had the lease of the Clerkenwell estate in Kingston. (fn. 141)
During the 16th century the Chamberlains also acquired several tenements once held by their tenants, (fn. 142) in addition to buying Kingston St. George manor and later the Debden estate. (fn. 143) Much of the land thus engrossed was soon inclosed. In 1279 William Mortimer had held 4 a. of pasture in severalty. (fn. 144) References to closes are common by the 16th century. (fn. 145) John Debden was alleged, like Ralph Chamberlain, to have inclosed common land. (fn. 146) In 1666 155 a. of pasture inclosed in a quickset hedge were leased by the lord of the manor. (fn. 147) In 1720 there were 590 a. of inclosed pasture in the south part of the parish, surrounding Kingston Wood manor-house and a farm-house called Paine's Home (later Kingston Pastures Farm). (fn. 148) About 1735 the Queens' College estate included 44 a. of inclosed pasture. (fn. 149) About half the parish appears to have been inclosed before 1810. (fn. 150)
It had probably been traditionally divided into two fields. High field and Low field, recorded in 1615, were probably the only open fields, (fn. 151) but it was stated in 1666 that a three-course rotation system had previously been employed. In that year the manor court ordered a re-arrangement into three: East, Middle, and West fields. (fn. 152) Shortly before the inclosure in 1815 there were four fields: West field in the south-west, Middle field in the south-east, Low field in the north-east, and a small area called Caldecote Brook field in the northwest. (fn. 153)
Although the parish was predominantly arable, it also supported livestock, and there are references to sheep and cattle from the time of Domesday. (fn. 154) In 1489 Robert Ward complained that John Marshall had seized 46 steers and 120 sheep belonging to him in Kingston. (fn. 155) An alternative name for the Clerkenwell estate was Beamonds Leese, (fn. 156) suggesting that it included much pasture land. The farms of inclosed pasture in the 17th century have already been mentioned. (fn. 157)
In 1615 the rector was allowed to graze 5 cows and 40 sheep on the commons for his 40-a. holding, (fn. 158) considerably more than he would have been allowed for a similar estate after 1653. In that year the manor court stinted each tenant to 6 sheep for every 20 a. of commonable land and 6 for a commonable cottage, the lord's shepherd receiving a supplementary allowance of ten. At the same time the village herd was reduced by one-third to the rate of 6 beasts for 80 a. and 2 for a cottage. (fn. 159) In 1656 it was decreed that the lord's flock should not exceed 250 sheep. (fn. 160) About 1793 it was estimated that there were 450 sheep at Kingston. The animals had not been so severely affected by the rot as those in neighbouring parishes. (fn. 161)
The remaining open-field land in Kingston was inclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1810 in spite of the opposition of several landowners led by Queens' College. They objected to the details of the proposed allotments rather than to the principle of inclosure. (fn. 162) Allotments were made to 16 landowners by the award of 1815. The rector received 306 a., the earl of Hardwicke 257 a., Queens' College 113 a., and Benet Clear, Jackey Leete, David Royston, and Simeon Sell c. 60 a. each. Most of the other allotments were smaller than 10 a., often representing outlying parts of estates in other parishes. (fn. 163) The earl's estate dominated the parish, and he and the rector owned almost all the land south of the village. (fn. 164) The trend towards larger holdings continued when the Leete and Royston estates were merged. (fn. 165) Inclosure caused a sharp rise in land values. The Queens' College estate, leased in 1735 for £80 a year and valued in 1805 at £95 a year, was let in 1812 as an inclosed farm at £200. (fn. 166)
In 1834 the earl of Hardwicke was leasing c. 950 a., over half the parish, in three farms. (fn. 167) One of them, Town farm, had apparently developed from that part of the earl's property, c. 250 a., which lay outside the old inclosures of the Kingston Wood estate. The copyhold land had been purchased by the earl in 1807 from Michael Gifford Wragg, (fn. 168) who had bought part from Laurence Banyer in 1787 and part from the Revd. Richard Which who had been admitted tenant at the manor court in 1770. (fn. 169) Kingston Pastures farm was part of the old inclosed estate belonging to the earl of Oxford in 1720. (fn. 170)
The pattern of landholding changed as estates were amalgamated during the 19th century, and redivided at the turn of the century. The dispersal of the Hardwicke estate is described elsewhere. (fn. 171) Kingston Pastures farm remained with the Wimpole Hall estate, although it was offered for sale in 1920, when Kingston Wood farm, comprising 280 a., was sold. (fn. 172) Town farm may not have passed with the other Hardwicke properties to Viscount Clifden in 1891 (fn. 173) and was not included in the sale of the Wimpole estate in 1920. (fn. 174) It was owned by Philip Hagger in 1933, (fn. 175) and offered for sale after his death in 1962, when it included 120 a. which had been part of Library farm. (fn. 176)
Agriculture remained the predominant occupation of the parish. In 1831 65 of the 74 families in Kingston were engaged in farming. The largest number of adult males were labourers; there were only two occupiers who were not employers of labour. (fn. 177) In 1869 there were a blacksmith and a wheelwright, and in 1879 a thatcher and hurdlemaker also. (fn. 178) By the mid 19th century the village was probably at its most populous. The agricultural depression and later mechanization of farming led to a steady decline. (fn. 179) At the same time the earl of Hardwicke's estate was dispersed between 1882 and 1920. (fn. 180) Farming continued to be mixed, with arable tending to predominate in the north and pasture in the south. (fn. 181) Early in the 20th century soft-fruit growing was introduced on Paine's farm north-east of the village. (fn. 182) Kingston in 1967 comprised a number of medium-sized farms, the occupiers employing little labour. As a result most of the inhabitants, apart from the farmers, either worked in Cambridge or elsewhere, or lived in Kingston in retirement. (fn. 183)
In 1306 Constantine Mortimer was granted a weekly market at Kingston on Tuesdays and two yearly fairs there, one held on 19–21 July and the other on 17–19 October. (fn. 184) No further references have been found to the market or the fairs, although the incumbent was called rector of Kingston Market in 1465. (fn. 185)
William Mortimer had a windmill in Kingston in 1279. (fn. 186) No further reference to a mill is known until 1584 when a windmill was mentioned in an extent of the manor in a final concord. (fn. 187) It was not subsequently recorded.
In 1279 William Mortimer and Baldwin St. George each held view of frankpledge at Kingston once a year in the presence of the king's bailiff. They also had the assize of ale. (fn. 188) Though the two manors were united in the Chamberlain family in the 16th century, (fn. 189) the courts of Kingston Wood and Kingston St. George were held separately as late as 1653. (fn. 190) Court rolls survive from 1400 to 1709, with gaps, and the manor books continue until 1936, by which time most of the manorial incidents had been extinguished. (fn. 191)
Although there was a constable in 1659, (fn. 192) no record of an election by the manor court to the office before 1720 has been found. (fn. 193) In 1537–8 aletasters were elected. (fn. 194) The court was very active in the later 17th century. Numerous orders were made concerning the husbandry of the parish, and the open fields were re-arranged in 1666. The following year two field-reeves and a hayward were appointed. (fn. 195) In 1723 a fieldward, a hayward, and a pinder were elected. (fn. 196) Although manorial business became increasingly a matter of admissions and surrenders of tenants, presentations concerning encroachment on the manorial wastes were made in 1789 and 1798. (fn. 197) Courts continued to be held at infrequent intervals in the 19th century, most of the routine business being conducted out of court. The last recorded meeting of the court baron appears to have been in 1880. (fn. 198)
Overseers' accounts survive for the period 1656– 1826, though they are very brief indeed by the end of the period, and churchwardens' accounts for 1817–36. The former show that the overseers' disbursements increased steadily over the years. (fn. 199) In 1655 six town houses belonging to the parish, with small parcels of land attached to them, were let for sums varying between £1 and 3s. 4d. annually. Two of the occupants were widows, suggesting that the tenements were used partly as an indirect form of poor-relief and partly as a source of parish revenue. (fn. 200) In 1837 twelve tenements in six town houses were occupied rent-free. Two of the occupiers claimed their dwellings as their own property, but that was disputed by the parish. (fn. 201) Kingston spent £33 on poor-relief in 1776 and an average of £73 in 1783–5. By 1803 the expense had almost doubled to £135, and 16 people were on relief. (fn. 202) The parish was included in 1835 in the Caxton and Arrington poor law union, (fn. 203) and in 1934 was transferred from the Caxton and Arrington R.D. to the South Cambridgeshire R.D. (fn. 204)
Between 1896 and 1935 the parish meeting elected yearly 4 constables and 2 overseers, and latterly an assistant overseer also. (fn. 205)
Kingston probably had a church before 1092, for Picot the sheriff granted two-thirds of the tithes of his knights in Kingston to the canons of St. Giles, Cambridge, later Barnwell Priory. (fn. 206) The living is a rectory, held since 1907 in plurality with the vicarage of Bourn. (fn. 207) The advowson was annexed by 1299 to Kingston Wood manor, (fn. 208) with which it descended until the 1380s. In 1360 Sir Robert Mortimer granted to Sir Thomas Walkfare the reversion of Kingston rectory, which would come to Robert on the death of Thomas Gissing and Agnes his wife. (fn. 209) In 1373 Gissing conveyed the advowson with the manor to Sir Robert Swillington. (fn. 210) In 1390 the patron was John Borle, perhaps by Robert Mortimer's gift. (fn. 211) In 1399 Borle and his wife conveyed the advowson to Thomas and Walter Cotton and others, (fn. 212) perhaps as feoffees for Spinney Priory, for which a licence to acquire and appropriate the church was sought in 1400. (fn. 213) The appropriation was evidently not completed, and in 1408 the Cottons conveyed the advowson to William Somersham, Henry Thomestone, and others, (fn. 214) perhaps for the benefit of Gonville Hall, of which Somersham was master by 1410 and Thomestone a fellow. (fn. 215) In 1416, however, the advowson was conveyed back to the Cottons, whose feoffees granted it to a group who were probably the feoffees of William Derby, archdeacon of Bedford (d. 1438). (fn. 216) In 1442 Derby was commemorated at King's College as the donor of Kingston church, but in 1445 his nephew John Derby conveyed the advowson to John Langton, chancellor of the university, who granted it to Henry VI. (fn. 217) The king granted it, with a licence to appropriate, to Barnwell Priory, (fn. 218) but in 1457 the prior gave back the advowson of the unappropriated church to the king, who granted it to King's College. (fn. 219)
In the same year Robert Wodelarke, provost of King's, ceded the patronage to two other members of the college who then presented Wodelarke to Kingston, and the college resisted a claim to the advowson by Robert Chamberlain, lord of Kingston Wood manor. (fn. 220) Thereafter the patronage remained with the college, although in 1480 it was ceded for one turn to Thomas Clyff. (fn. 221) The advowson, however, was erroneously mentioned as belonging to the manor of Kingston Wood for some time following. (fn. 222) The queen presented in 1580 for unknown reasons. (fn. 223) The college transferred the advowson to the bishop of Ely in 1926. (fn. 224)
In 1217 the rectory was taxed at 6 marks, which had increased to 8 marks in 1251 and 16 marks in 1291. (fn. 225) In 1400 the value was said to be £10, (fn. 226) but in 1445 it was assessed as 12 marks only. (fn. 227) In 1458 the local clergy estimated that the living was worth £20. (fn. 228) It was valued at £11 15s. 4d. in 1536, (fn. 229) and at £80 in 1650. (fn. 230) In 1646 the Committee for Plundered Ministers ordered the incumbent to pay a fifth of the proceeds to the ejected minister's wife. (fn. 231)
In 1360 one acre of land in Kingston had been conveyed with the advowson. It was described as glebe in 1408. By 1445 that acre had been either exchanged for, or converted into, a toft and a croft. (fn. 232) In 1615 the glebe comprised 40 a. with a house. The land was occupied by Thomas Graystock, a local landowner. (fn. 233) At inclosure in 1815 the rector was allotted 32 a. for his glebe and 266 a. for his tithes. (fn. 234) The estate lay in two places (fn. 235) and became divided into Rectory farm (220 a.) in the centre and south of the parish, and New Barns farm in the north. The rector derived a gross income of £87 from his farms in 1896. Both were sold in 1912 to Robert Ingle. (fn. 236) The building known as the Old Rectory is medieval in origin, and may represent the toft belonging to the incumbent in 1445. It was secularized in 1931, (fn. 237) since when the rector has lived at Bourn vicarage. (fn. 238)
Barnwell Priory's share of the tithes, which Picot the sheriff had granted before 1092 to the canons of St. Giles, Cambridge, as two-thirds of the tithes of his knights in Kingston, (fn. 239) was represented in 1251 by a fixed payment of £2 (fn. 240) which was expressly excluded from the priory's grant of the rectory to the king in 1457. (fn. 241) It was recorded as belonging to the priory at the Dissolution. (fn. 242)
The rectors have often been absentees. Thomas Alblaster, rector from before 1357 until 1374, was resident in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield in which he held a prebend. (fn. 243) In 1378 John Podington was accused of neglecting his duties. (fn. 244) Most subsequent rectors had connexions with Cambridge University. Thomas Stafford (alias Haldenham) seems to have been a notable pluralist. At his death in 1457 he held at least two other livings besides Kingston and had been rector of several other churches during his tenure of Kingston. (fn. 245) After the advowson came into the possession of King's College, one of the fellows was usually presented. The practice encouraged non-residence, although most rectors resigned their fellowships shortly after presentation. Giles Ayre, presented in 1538, was a chaplain to Henry VIII and later became dean of Chichester. He was said to be a distinguished preacher. (fn. 246) He employed a curate for Kingston in 1543. (fn. 247) In 1562 divine service was said to be conducted 'but rarely, hardly once a month'. (fn. 248) There were curates at intervals throughout the 16th century. (fn. 249) One of the more eminent rectors of the period was Dr. Fogge Newton, provost of King's and rector 1602–12. (fn. 250) Although a curate is recorded during his incumbency, he was himself buried at Kingston, (fn. 251) as were several of his successors, suggesting that they had been at least occasionally resident. (fn. 252)
Many people from Kingston of puritan sympathies petitioned against Bishop Wren in 1638. (fn. 253) In 1644 Cuthbert Pearson was ejected on the grounds that he had observed ceremonies, preached in support of the king, and had not officiated for 20 weeks, so that on some Sundays there were no services. (fn. 254) Philip Johnson, one of the Interregnum incumbents, was said to be 'a man very insufficient for the ministry'. (fn. 255) Only minor improvements, however, were ordered after the visitation of 1678, including the removal of the town plough from the church. (fn. 256) Rectors thereafter seem generally to have resided. (fn. 257) In 1728 two services were held each Sunday, Holy Communion was celebrated thrice a year, and there were 10 or 12 communicants. (fn. 258) In 1825, when the cure was served by a curate, there was one service on Sundays, alternately morning and afternoon. Holy Communion was celebrated four times a year with 8 or more communicants. (fn. 259) In 1873, when the rector was resident, there were two services each Sunday and 12 people received communion four times a year. (fn. 260)
In 1815 2½ a. of freehold land in Kingston were allotted to the churchwardens. (fn. 261) The land was let for £5 10s. a year in 1837 (fn. 262) and £4 a year in 1952, the income being devoted to church repairs. (fn. 263)
The parish church of ALL SAINTS AND ST. ANDREW has a chancel, aisled and clerestoried nave with south porch, and west tower. Nothing remains visible of an 11th-century church, and the earliest surviving fabric suggests an extensive rebuilding in the 13th century when there was a chancel and an aisled nave. The tower may have been of the same period, and the south porch was built a short time later. In 1488 the bishop of Ely granted an indulgence for the repair of the church, which had been severely damaged by fire, and of the belltower, which had also been blown down. The subsequent rebuilding incorporated, wherever possible, the surviving walls, re-using some windows and providing many that were new. The nave arcades were completely rebuilt and were carried up to a clerestory which supported a roof of flatter pitch than there had been before. The chancel arch contained a rood-screen and the wall above it a painting of the Crucifixion with carved figures, presumably of the Virgin and St. John, forming part of the composition.
In the late 16th or early 17th century the east window was rebuilt and framed texts were painted on the spandrels of the nave arcades. Restorations were carried out in 1894–5, 1930, (fn. 264) and 1962, (fn. 265) and the wall-paintings were restored by E. W. Tristram in 1928. There is a memorial tablet in the chancel to Dr. Fogge Newton, rector 1602–12. (fn. 266)
In 1552 there were three great bells at Kingston. (fn. 267) There were in 1967 three bells: (i) T. Newman of Cambridge, 1722; (ii) John Rufford of Toddington (Beds.), c. 1350, inscribed 'Ave Maria' in Gothic capitals; (iii) Joseph Eayre of St. Neots, 1727; and also a sanctus bell dated 1845. (fn. 268) In 1552 there was a chalice with a paten of silver, two copes, and four other vestments. (fn. 269) In 1970 the plate included a cup and paten of 1570, a paten of 1891, and an undated silver-gilt cup. The registers of burials begin in 1654, of marriages in 1659, and of baptisms in 1674.
In 1664 eleven parishioners were presented for absenting themselves from church for one month, and another had not brought his child to be baptized. (fn. 270) There were 11 dissenters in 1676. (fn. 271) A house was licensed for worship by protestants, possibly Quakers, in 1707. (fn. 272) There were 20 dissenters, mostly Independents, in 1728, (fn. 273) and nine families of protestant dissenters in 1755. (fn. 274) In 1807 many dissenters from the parish attended a meeting-house in Eversden. (fn. 275) A licence was granted for protestant worship in a dwelling-house in 1811. (fn. 276)
A Congregational meeting-house, erected c. 1839, (fn. 277) was probably the building licensed for protestant worship in 1841. (fn. 278) The chapel had 150 sittings and the evening service was attended by 100 people in 1851. (fn. 279) Kingston chapel was closely linked with that at Great Eversden. (fn. 280) The two chapels together had 26 members in 1933 (fn. 281) and 14 in 1954. (fn. 282) The Kingston chapel was still in use in 1967 and had six members. (fn. 283)
In 1579 Henry Morton of Kingston was excommunicated and forbidden to teach until he had obtained a licence. (fn. 284) Francis Todd by will dated 1702 gave a rent-charge of £13 for teaching children to read, write, cast accounts, and know the catechism: £10 for a schoolmaster, £2 for the minister to catechize the children, 13s. 4d. for books, and 6s. 8d. for rewards to the children. By 1837 all the money was paid to the schoolmaster, who was appointed by the rector. (fn. 285) By 1819 a schoolroom and house for the master had been built by subscription. (fn. 286) In 1830 the curate, aided by private subscription, built a new school-house on the waste at the edge of the green. (fn. 287)
In 1819 between 15 and 25 children were taught free of charge and 15 others from neighbouring villages at their parents' expense. In 1835 18 boys and 22 girls attended the school, some of whom paid. There was also a Sunday school attended by between 24 and 33 children in 1819, and by 15 boys and 20 girls who were instructed free in 1835. (fn. 288) By 1847 the charity day-school and the Sunday school seem to have been amalgamated as one school teaching 40 children on week-days and Sundays. (fn. 289) In 1867–8 the same number of children were paying weekly fees of 1d. (fn. 290) There were 44 pupils in 1871. (fn. 291)
In 1876 a new school and teacher's house were built on part of the garden of the old school, at the expense of the ratepaying occupiers and the landowners. The school became undenominational, though affiliated to the British and Foreign Schools Society. The rector ceased to appoint the master. In 1903 the lord of the manor, P. A. S. Hickey, successfully claimed the land and school buildings as his private property, and agreed to lease the school to the parish at a nominal rent on condition that he should choose the managers and that the chairman should be the rector. The school then ceased to be a British school and became a Church of England school until it was transferred to the county council in 1920. (fn. 292)
The school was maintained by the Todd charity, school pence, and, from 1880, by annual parliamentary grants. (fn. 293) The Todd charity was regulated by a Scheme of 1905, which directed the money to be spent on prizes, the school library, and exhibitions. (fn. 294) Average attendance was 42 in 1880, (fn. 295) 32 in 1899, (fn. 296) 24 in 1919, (fn. 297) and 9 in 1938. (fn. 298) The school was closed in 1960 and the few children of primary age subsequently went to school in Bourn. (fn. 299) In 1967 the school building was used as a kindergarten in the mornings and occasionally as a hall in the evenings. (fn. 300)
Charities for the Poor.
In 1697 £9 11s. 4d., being four years' interest upon £40, was distributed to 13 poor people in sums varying from 7s. to £1 4s. The origin of the capital is unknown. The interest continued to be distributed at irregular intervals until c. 1708, by which date the principal appears to have been used to purchase land yielding an annual rent of c. £2. (fn. 301) What was presumably the same charity produced c. 1787 an annual income of £2 7s.; the land lay in the open fields of Bourn, and was replaced by 9 a. at the inclosure of Bourn in 1820. (fn. 302) In 1837 the annual rent of £7 12s. was distributed to the poor in small sums in May. (fn. 303) Part of the land was sold for the railway line from Bedford to Cambridge. In 1952 the income from rent and interest was £6 15s., of which £4 8s. was distributed at Christmas to 88 people in gifts of 1s. (fn. 304) In 1966 the trustees decided to discontinue the Christmas distribution, and to allow the annual income (c. £10) to accumulate until a case of real need arose. (fn. 305)