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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Until 1958 the parish of Gamlingay, the largest in west Cambridgeshire, comprised 4,460 a. In that year 122 a. were transferred to Hatley, (fn. 1) and in 1965 the western section of the parish, known as Woodbury, and hitherto sandwiched between two parts of Huntingdonshire, was transferred to Bedfordshire. (fn. 2) The ancient parish, irregular in shape, was some 5 miles from east to west and nearly 2 miles at its widest point from north to south. Most of the northern boundary adjoins Waresley and Tetworth, in Huntingdonshire, and the southern boundary adjoins Potton and Cockayne Hatley, in Bedfordshire.
The parish lies between the 225 ft. and 75 ft. contours, including two escarpments as the land falls away westwards forming the valley of the Ouse. The village lies around the 175 ft. level somewhat to the east of the centre of the parish, between the two escarpments. Geologically its affinities are with Bedfordshire, and most of the parish is regarded as part of the Bedfordshire market-gardening area. (fn. 3) Most of the central part of the parish is on the Lower Greensand. The 'thin, cold, and hungry' (fn. 4) clay, so typical of the rest of the hundred, is to be found on the higher land east of the village and along the northern and southern boundaries. Most of Woodbury is on Oxford Clay. To the south of the village, on the Greensand, is a small area of valley gravel, parts of which were worked at the end of the 19th century. (fn. 5)
The parish is not well watered. The Millbridge brook, rising in Hatley St. George, flows westwards to the village and then south-westwards into Potton; there is also a small stream rising in the Park, also flowing into Potton, and another rising in Tetworth running through Woodbury parallel to the scarp. The lack of good drainage on the Greensand produced two quaking, acidic bogs, one on the Heath, drained in 1855, and another on the Cinques Common. (fn. 6) The surrounding heath-land was not mentioned in the Domesday survey, but in the mid 12th century 100 a. of heath there were given to Sawtry Abbey. (fn. 7) A secondary settlement on the heath, mentioned below, had apparently disappeared by 1279, and the land evidently reverted to its former state, eventually becoming common land. (fn. 8) Only since inclosure in 1844 has extensive treeplanting and pig-rearing altered the natural vegetation. (fn. 9) The area still retains a large variety of rare plants. (fn. 10)
In the 11th century the area of woodland was not extensive. (fn. 11) In 1601, however, Merton College, Oxford, owned 107 a., and there was woodland at the Grange known as Lambcott wood, and at Woodbury known as Broome wood (later White wood). (fn. 12) There was a timbered park at Woodbury at the end of the 17th century. (fn. 13) An earlier park, apparently attached to Avenels manor, had been created by 1289, but subsequently disappeared. (fn. 14) Further parkland was developed on the Grange estate, later known as the Park, in the 18th century. (fn. 15) Tree-planting on the Heath in the later years of the 19th century has added considerably to the wooded areas in the parish. The parish is mainly agricultural and until inclosure in 1844 was farmed in three open fields. Woodbury had its own open fields. (fn. 16)
The road pattern has changed little since the early 17th century. (fn. 17) The northern edge of the triangular green at the centre of the village was then known as High Street. (fn. 18) At its western end stood a 'cross tree' marking the junction of the Cambridge– Bedford road with the Waresley-Potton road. A little to the north of the junction ran, and still runs, the road to St. Neots, then called St. Edes Way. The Waresley-Sandy road, then, as in 1967, formed the north-western boundary of the parish. Part of its course, known as Woodbury Lane, was slightly altered in 1764. (fn. 19) The roads east of the village, known in 1601 as the Cambridge way and the Hatley way, retain their old courses. To the south, below Mill Bridge, a road running south-east, of which only the first few yards remain, was in 1601 called the London way. Woodbury was served by tracks, apparently similar to those across the open fields. The southern and eastern boundary of the parish followed a track known as the Processional or Perambulation Way, its course marked by the Gilbert, Gamlingay, and Gransden crosses. (fn. 20)
Most of the roads were maintained by the parish officers, but those most frequently used were turnpiked in the 18th century. The Waresley-Potton road became part of the Bury (Hunts.) and Stratton Park (Beds.) turnpike in 1755, having been described as 'very narrow and incommodious'. A drover had earlier claimed that in winter it was impassable for sheep, and that he had often to obtain permission to drive them over private grounds. (fn. 21) The Act was renewed in 1779. (fn. 22) In 1814 the St. Neots and Potton turnpike was formed, incorporating that part of the same road in and south of the village; (fn. 23) it was disturnpiked in 1854. (fn. 24) A railway station was opened just outside the village, on the Bedford– Cambridge line, in 1862. (fn. 25) It was closed in 1965. (fn. 26)
The origin of settlement in the parish is obscure. There are traces of prehistoric occupation from the middle Stone Age and the middle Bronze Age. (fn. 27) The name of Woodbury indicates a Saxon settlement in the north part of the parish. (fn. 28) It has been suggested that the settlement began around a central, triangular green, bounded by Church Street (formerly High Street) on the north, West Street and Mill Street on the west, and Honey Hill and Stocks Lane on the south-east. The suggestion implies an early erosion of settlement on the third side. (fn. 29) The hamlet of Newton on the Heath had been established by the early 13th century. (fn. 30) There were messuages and houses there in 1230 (fn. 31) but the hamlet had apparently disappeared by 1279. (fn. 32) The sites of two medieval manor-houses, one moated, lie beyond the church at the east end of the triangular green, an area which also included a complex of buildings centred on the rectory house, in 1967 represented only by a tithe barn and the late-medieval house known as Emplins. (fn. 33) Such a layout had the effect of creating two focal points in the village, one centred on the church at the east end of High Street, the other at the cross-roads at the west end. At the crossroads stood a medieval house known as Whitehall, built in 1317 by the steward of Mertonage manor. (fn. 34) Houses were concentrated along the former High Street and Mill Street, the south and east axes of the cross-roads. In addition to the hamlet of Newton on the Heath there was another medieval settlement away from the village, at Woodbury. By the end of the 16th century the inclosure of Woodbury was probably complete, and it continued to develop independently of the rest of the parish. (fn. 35) Building was more dispersed in the 16th and 17th centuries, eastwards along the Cambridge road to Church (formerly Dutter) End, and westwards to Green End. Inclosure in the mid 19th century encouraged further expansion, notably on the Heath in the extreme south-west of the parish, and around the Cinques Common. Considerable building activity soon after the Second World War was concentrated in the north end of the village, but later development, including the village college, tended to fill the original triangle and other open areas on the south and east.
Gamlingay has been described as a 'decayed town', (fn. 36) but its apparent population seems to have been rather that of a large village. In 1086, when 65 people were enumerated, (fn. 37) Gamlingay was the largest vill in the hundred, and in 1377 219 people were assessed for poll tax. (fn. 38) In 1525 105 people paid the subsidy and in 1563 there were said to be 50 families. (fn. 39) In 1600 a fire destroyed 76 houses, the greater part of the village, (fn. 40) an event thought to have been responsible for subsequent decline. In 1662, however, 64 houses owed hearth tax, and in 1674 the number had increased to 109. (fn. 41) In 1801 there were 847 inhabitants and during the 19th century the population rose rapidly to 2,063 in 1871, more than twice that of Bourn, the second largest parish in the hundred. (fn. 42) The increase may have been partly accelerated by inclosure. (fn. 43) The agricultural depression at the end of the century contributed to a rapid fall in the population to 1,692 in 1891. It rose to 1,797 in 1911 but the closure of the brick- and tile-works was probably responsible for a fall to 1,408 in 1931. In 1961 the population was 1,569. (fn. 44)
While most of the buildings in the village are of the 18th and early 19th centuries, often of red brick and tiles probably of local manufacture, there is a number of earlier, timber-framed buildings, the earliest and most imposing being Merton Manor Farm and Emplins. Both date from the late 15th or early 16th century. Houses of the 16th and 17th centuries are also well represented, the most sophisticated being one at the north end of West Street, of c. 1688, which contains three plaster ceilings, probably by Henry Doogood. (fn. 45) Apart from the buildings described elsewhere (fn. 46) one house, Tetworth Hall, is of note. Lying before 1965 across the boundary between Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire, (fn. 47) it was built in 1710 (fn. 48) and has later additions. The house, of five bays and two storeys with basement and attics, is constructed of red brick with stone dressings. Also away from the village, in the south-west corner of the parish, a group of 60 cottages in widely spaced blocks of 4 was built between 1844 and 1850, (fn. 49) of brick and slate with Gothic details, but about half of them have been replaced. There is a range of industrial buildings to the north of Church Street, of brick and tile, containing features dating from the late 17th to the 19th centuries, and including a kiln. (fn. 50)
By the 19th century the village had a plentiful supply of inns. The Cock dates at least from 1588 (fn. 51) and the Rose, later the Rose and Crown, from 1622. (fn. 52) The Blue Ball in Mill Street was described as lately built in 1777. (fn. 53) By 1844 there were five inns in the parish, of which the Dolphin served the St. Neots and Potton turnpike road. (fn. 54) The Sultan was built in 1867 by the station. (fn. 55)
Manors and Other Estates.
Nine hides in Gamlingay formed part of the original endowment of St. Neots Priory, founded between 972 and 975, and were probably given by Ely Abbey, one of the joint founders of the new priory. (fn. 56) The priory apparently did not survive, but in 1066 the abbot still retained a virgate in Gamlingay, later occupied by Lisois de Musters, which belonged to his manor of Little Gransden. Most of Gamlingay, however, had by that time come into the hands of Ulmer or Wulfmaer of Eaton. By 1086 Ulmer's holding had passed to Eudes the sewer, whose estate in 1086 was assessed at 18 hides. (fn. 57) On the death of Eudes in 1120 his estate at Gamlingay reverted to the Crown and was given to Eustace, count of Boulogne, becoming part of the honor of Boulogne, among that group of properties which had its caput at Newsells in Barkway (Herts.). (fn. 58) The honor of Boulogne passed to Maud, daughter of Eustace, and wife of King Stephen, and then successively to their sons Eustace (d. 1153) and William (d. 1159). The latter's widow may have held it until 1164, but it then reverted to Henry II, and remained with the Crown. (fn. 59)
A mesne tenancy in Gamlingay seems, from the later possession of two-thirds of the estate by the FitzWalters and the appearance of the FitzSimons as their under-tenants, to have followed the descent of Radwell (Herts.). (fn. 60) On the death of Eudes the sewer in 1120 his sister, Gunnora, wife of Peter de Valognes, held Radwell of the honor of Boulogne, and it passed successively to their son Roger, to Roger's sons Peter and Robert, and to Robert's daughter Gunnora, wife of Robert FitzWalter (d. 1235). Robert was certainly holding c. 1210 an estate in Gamlingay (fn. 61) which developed into the manors of Mertonage and Avenels, his inheritance from Eudes the sewer having lost, meanwhile, the later manor of Woodbury and the grange of Shakeldon. (fn. 62) In 1212 Warin FitzGerald was in temporary possession of the property, (fn. 63) Robert FitzWalter having fled from England in that year. (fn. 64) The FitzWalters retained possession throughout the 13th century, but the division of their estate into the manors of Mertonage and Avenels made their possession little more than nominal. They were still recognized as lords of Mertonage in 1350 (fn. 65) and of Avenels in 1386. (fn. 66) Their claims may have lapsed during the minority of Walter, Lord FitzWalter (d. 1471), in the early 15th century. (fn. 67)
In 1279 it was said that King Stephen had enfeoffed the ancestors of the holders of Gamlingay's three manors. (fn. 68) In the case of the later manor of MERTONAGE, then held by the Valognes family, supporters of the Empress, (fn. 69) it is not unlikely that subinfeudation then took place. Before c. 1178 the tenant was Roger son of Remphrey. (fn. 70) He was succeeded c. 1196 by his son Remphrey, who held the fee in 1206 (fn. 71) and died c. 1208. By 1212 Remphrey's brother, Ralph de Bruera, was holding the property, (fn. 72) and may still have been tenant c. 1227. (fn. 73) Before 1235 Adam son of Simon was holding the lands of Robert FitzWalter, (fn. 74) and by 1242 had been succeeded by his son Simon, known as Simon son of Adam of Hatfield, who died after 1254. (fn. 75) John son of Simon, or FitzSimon, held the lordship by 1279, and his son, also John, died in 1304, leaving as his heir his eldest son Edward (d. by 1328). (fn. 76) Hugh FitzSimon, Edward's brother, succeeded to the lordship, but in 1347 Merton College, his tenants, were allowed to convert their holding from one by knight service to one in free alms. (fn. 77)
In the second quarter of the 13th century the demesne tenants of the manor of Mertonage were members of the Leicester family. William of Leicester, who held half a fee (fn. 78) of Adam son of Simon before 1235, (fn. 79) was living in 1243. (fn. 80) By 1246 the estate was held by Richard of Leicester (fn. 81) who occurred in 1248 (fn. 82) and perhaps again c. 1260. (fn. 83) William of Leicester, his successor, formerly bailiff of Bedford, borrowed money in 1261 and 1262 secured on his estate at Gamlingay. (fn. 84) He later joined the dissident barons, and temporarily lost his lands in 1265. (fn. 85) In 1268 Walter of Merton, later bishop of Rochester, bought the mortgage, (fn. 86) and later the same year William conveyed the whole estate, including half the church, with some minor exceptions, to Walter for his life, with remainder to his house of scholars at Malden (Surr.), later Merton College, Oxford. (fn. 87) Walter immediately made the property over to his scholars, reserving to himself a rentcharge for life. (fn. 88) Until 1347 the college held the property as ½ knight's fee, (fn. 89) and subsequently in free alms. (fn. 90) Except for the years 1302–14 and 1352–5 the college administered the manor through a bailiff until 1362, and thereafter leased it. (fn. 91) The college remained lord of the manor in 1967.
Accumulated evidence from the earlier 14th century (fn. 92) reveals a complex of buildings which formed the administrative centre of the manor. The bailiffs' house or camera, newly built in 1328, had a solar, perhaps added ten years later, and a porch. There was also a house for the farm servants, and a kitchen, newly built in 1280. Near by, around a courtyard, stood a dairy, a buttery, a barn, and at least two granaries, one for the lord's grain and one for the tithes, together with a kiln, a dovecot, a steeping-house, sheds for stock, a sheepfold, and a vegetable garden. The whole complex was surrounded by a wall, pierced by one large and several small gates, and in turn surrounded by a moat.
In 1807 the farm buildings consisted of a brewhouse, a dovehouse, boarded and thatched stables, a granary of brick, board, and thatch, separate barns for wheat, barley, and rye, and other 'hovels' and houses for grain and stock. (fn. 93) The farm-house of Merton Manor farm that stands within the moated site comprises a timber-framed central range, possibly originally open to the roof, and a west cross- wing, both built in the late 15th or early 16th century. The east cross-wing is of the late 16th century. The buildings include the dovecot, a brick structure of the 17th or 18th century, and a thatched, aisled barn, on one post of which is inscribed 'TB 1660'. (fn. 94)
It is likely that the manor of AVENELS, like that of Mertonage, developed from a grant made by King Stephen. (fn. 95) William Avenel was holding half the church, and almost certainly, therefore, the manor, before 1180. (fn. 96) Walter Avenel may have held the fee c. 1195. (fn. 97) Before 1210 he had been succeeded by Richard Avenel, who held it in 1211–12 and in 1217–18. It was then valued at ten librates. (fn. 98) Richard's son Sir William Avenel, who had succeeded by 1229, died in 1237, leaving a minor son, (fn. 99) Robert, who as a knight witnessed a charter which could be as late as 1256, and was probably dead by 1260. (fn. 100) John Avenel was lord of the manor in 1276 (fn. 101) and 1279. (fn. 102) His son William had succeeded him by 1300, (fn. 103) and held the manor, described as ½ knight's fee, until his death in 1331. (fn. 104) Sir John, William's son and successor, died in 1359 (fn. 105) leaving a young son, also John, as his heir. That John died in 1383, (fn. 106) leaving as heir his son Robert, a minor.
Robert, married to Gillian, daughter of Sir Robert Bealknap, died without issue in 1387. (fn. 107) After his death the manor was disputed between, on one hand, Sir Peter Courtenay and Margaret his wife, claiming on her behalf as heir to John Droxford, from whom William Avenel had held the manor under settlements made in 1300 and 1302, (fn. 108) and, on the other, Bealknap, who claimed the manor in wardship through a grant for 15 years from 1383 (fn. 109) and by settlement on him and his wife failing issue from Robert Avenel. (fn. 110) After Bealknap's forfeiture in 1388 the Crown leased the manor in October 1388 to William Jouet and David Russell, and a month later to Thomas, duke of Gloucester. (fn. 111) The dispute seems to have been settled in favour of the Courtenays who in 1390 granted the manor and the advowson of half the church to feoffees, (fn. 112) who in turn granted the same to Sir William Argentine, John Potton, clerk, and Alexander Sawell. They made over the property before June 1400 to Sir Baldwin St. George. (fn. 113)
Baldwin died in 1425 (fn. 114) and by 1428 his lands were in the hands of his widow. (fn. 115) During his lifetime the manor had been granted to feoffees headed by Sir Edward de la Pole, who settled it on Baldwin's son, John. (fn. 116) It passed successively to John's son Sir William (d. 1472) (fn. 117) and William's son Sir Richard (d. 1485), subject, after William's death, to his widow's life-interest. (fn. 118) At Richard's death his son Thomas was a minor, and his lands were in the custody of Thomas Rotherham, archbishop of York. Thomas came of age in 1494, (fn. 119) and died in 1540. (fn. 120) His second son, Francis, sold the manor together with lands in Hatley to Henry Brograve in 1561. (fn. 121) John Gill, having acquired the manor at an unknown date, sold it to Merton College in 1599. (fn. 122) From 1608, if not earlier, the estate was continuously leased. (fn. 123) The college remained lord of the manor in 1967.
The manor-house of Avenels stood within a moat at Dutter End. (fn. 124) In 1807 the house was described as ancient, built of timber, plastered and tiled, and in tolerably good repair. A large thatched barn of stud and plaster stood near it, together with a stable, cowhouse, granary, and pigsties. By 1831 the house had been abandoned by the lessee of the farm and was let to two labourers and was in bad repair. (fn. 125) The house was still standing in 1844. (fn. 126)
The manor of WOODBURY or WESTHORPE originated in a grant of land made by Stephen's wife Queen Maud between 1136 and 1147 to Gervase of Cornhill as security for a loan, evidently unredeemed. (fn. 127) Through the first marriage of Gervase's son Henry (d. by 1193) to Alice de Courcy the property descended to Joan his granddaughter, wife of Hugh de Neville of Essex (d. 1234). It remained in that family until John de Neville (d. 1358) granted the estate, then described as 3 knights' fees, in the year of his death, to a group of feoffees. (fn. 128) Until 1474, when the property was held of John Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, as of his manor of Weston (Herts.), (fn. 129) the descent is obscure; a tenuous connexion between the two families is that the second wife of Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk (d. 1399), was a granddaughter of William de Bohun, earl of Northampton (d. 1360), on whom the reversion of the Neville of Essex estates had been settled in 1357. (fn. 130) The manor continued to be held of the lords of Weston, at a rent of 5d. a year, at least until 1628. (fn. 131)
By 1236 the property was held under the Nevilles by Gilbert son of Thomas, grandson of Sir Gilbert of Ilketshall (Suff.). (fn. 132) Gilbert was still holding the estate in 1248 when he was granted free warren on his demesne. (fn. 133) By 1265 he had been succeeded by his son James, whose land was briefly confiscated for his adherence to the Montfortians. (fn. 134) By 1279 James had sold the estate, comprising 275 a., to Sir Hugh Babington. (fn. 135) Hugh died in 1296 and was succeeded by his son Richard, who held ½ fee there c. 1302 and in 1316. (fn. 136) On his death in 1326 his heir was his son Hugh, who held Woodbury in 1346. (fn. 137) In 1352 it was occupied by Sir John Morice, lord of Everton (Beds.), perhaps during a minority. (fn. 138) By 1377 it had come to John Babington, said in 1421 to have been son of William son of Hugh Babington. (fn. 139) John probably held it until c. 1412. (fn. 140) His successor was his son Sir William Babington, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 1423–36, who was tenant in 1428 (fn. 141) and died in 1454, leaving Woodbury to his second son William (d. 1474). (fn. 142) The younger William's son and heir Sir John died without issue in 1501, when his heir was his sister Audrey Delves (d. 1504), on whose death the Babington estates, including the adjacent manor of Canons, in Tetworth (Hunts.), devolved to her daughter Ellen, wife of Sir Robert Sheffield, Speaker in 1512 (d. 1518). (fn. 143) Probably in 1522 Sheffield's son, also Sir Robert, added to the estate by acquiring a 99-year lease of 240 a. in Woodbury belonging to Sawtry Abbey (Hunts.). (fn. 144) Sir Robert died intestate in 1531 and the lands, having first been held by his widow Margaret and her second husband, John Caundish, passed in 1534 to Sir Robert's heir Edmund (created Lord Sheffield in 1547), who died in 1549. (fn. 145) At the Dissolution the reversion of the Sawtry property was granted to Richard Williams alias Cromwell. (fn. 146)
From Edmund, Lord Sheffield, Woodbury passed to his son John (d. 1568) and to his grandson Edmund, who sold it to John Manchell of Hackney (Mdx.) in 1591. (fn. 147) The estate, heavily mortgaged by Manchell, (fn. 148) descended to his grandson, also John, in 1628, (fn. 149) but by 1640 had been acquired by Sir John Jacob, already established in the parish. (fn. 150) At about that date John was obliged to mortgage the property to Robert Jacob, to raise money for Charles I, (fn. 151) and it remained in Robert's hands at least until 1672, though a prospective buyer had been prepared to pay £10,000 for it. By 1672 the estate was let in separate holdings at a rental of over £630. (fn. 152)
In 1674 the property was conveyed to William Mainstone, an East India merchant, who settled it on himself and his wife. (fn. 153) His nephew John was obliged to sell the much encumbered estate in 1696, (fn. 154) when it passed to Ralph Lane (d. 1732), a Turkey merchant. (fn. 155) His eldest daughter brought Woodbury to her husband George, earl of Macclesfield (d. 1764), whose grandson sold it in 1803 to the Revd. William Wilkieson. (fn. 156) Wilkieson still held it in 1837. (fn. 157) By 1844, however, the estate had been split: some 315 a. were in the hands of William Wilkieson. With lands on the Heath acquired by inclosure, (fn. 158) Wilkieson by 1858 held 457 a. in Gamlingay and Everton (Beds.), which he sold to a Mr. Beadell. (fn. 159) In 1844 Thomas Brown held 380 a. at the western end of Woodbury, and Sir Williamson Broth, Bt. (d. 1877), held 315 a. around Old Woodbury.
By 1871 Woodbury had been acquired by John Harvey Astell (d. 1887), second son of William Astell of Everton House. (fn. 160) He was succeeded by his son William Harvey Astell (d. 1895) and by his grandson Richard John Vereker Astell (b. 1890), the owner in 1970. (fn. 161)
The northern part of the estate, representing Canons manor and lying partly in the parish of Tetworth, became detached from Woodbury, probably at Mainstone's sale in 1696 or early in the 18th century. (fn. 162) It descended to the Pedleys, the Foleys, and the Duncombes of Waresley Park (Hunts.). (fn. 163) The effect of the division was to isolate the original manor-house, the site of which is occupied by Old Woodbury. The park within which Woodbury Hall was later built had been created by 1672, and the mansion house, then occupied by John Mainstone, was said to be two or three flightshots away. (fn. 164) That house, described c. 1635 as lately built, and as a 'very pretty gentleman like house', (fn. 165) continued to be the residence of the owner of the Woodbury estate until the early 19th century. In 1806, however, it was uninhabited, and the owner, William Wilkieson, had built Woodbury Hall in the park further south. (fn. 166) In 1833 Old Woodbury was let furnished for five years. (fn. 167) By 1851 Wilkieson was living in Old Woodbury himself, and Broth in Woodbury Hall. (fn. 168) Old Woodbury may have been rebuilt shortly afterwards, but it incorporates some older work. (fn. 169) Woodbury Hall, built between 1803 and 1806, was gutted by fire in 1944 but was later restored. (fn. 170)
Apart from the large holding of Eudes the sewer in Gamlingay at the time of the Domesday survey, there were two small holdings, each of 1 hide. The first was held in 1066 by Inguare the thegn, and twenty years later by Ranulph, brother of Ilger. (fn. 171) The holding became a serjeanty, charged with finding for the king a man-at-arms for 40 days at the tenant's own expense. (fn. 172) Before 1276 Henry Costentin, or Constantin, and his predecessors had held the estate, but by that date it had been divided and sold. (fn. 173) One half passed by 1279 to the Hospitallers' preceptory of Shingay, (fn. 174) which probably retained it until the order was dissolved in 1540. The estates of the preceptory were then granted to Sir Richard Longe and that half of the former serjeanty lands was probably comprised in his grant of, inter alia, lands in Tetworth and Canons (Hunts.). (fn. 175) The other half of the serjeanty lands had been sold by the Constantins to Sawtry Abbey by 1279. (fn. 176)
The second small holding at Domesday was that of Robert Fafiton. In 1066 it had been held by a man of Earl Alfgar, but in 1086 it was occupied by two under-tenants. (fn. 177) It seems to have come into the hands of the Dunning family by the mid 12th century, though between 1196 and 1200 it was the object of claims by the abbot of Sawtry and Martina Picot. (fn. 178) The abbot claimed that Gilbert Dunning had given the property, but Hervey, Gilbert's nephew and heir, successfully denied the claim. (fn. 179) It is not clear when the Dunnings lost their estate in Gamlingay, but it was probably during one of the financial crises of Eustace Dunning, Hervey's son, in the mid 13th century. (fn. 180) In 1279 the estate was represented by the holding of Richard de Edenesore, tenant by knight service of the honor of Gloucester, who did suit at the earl's court at Royston. (fn. 181)
The grange of SHAKELDON, later known as the GRANGE or GAMLINGAY PARK, the first estate to be alienated from the demesne lands of the honor of Boulogne in Gamlingay, originated in a grant of land late of Ralph Lafaited which King Stephen gave to Walchelin, his marshal. Walchelin's successor, Ilbert de Carency, gave it to the newly founded Sawtry Abbey before 1153. (fn. 182) The grant was confirmed by Stephen, (fn. 183) and by his son William, count of Boulogne, probably in 1154–5, (fn. 184) and by Pope Alexander III in 1164 and 1176. (fn. 185) Further gifts and grants were made to Sawtry during the 12th and early 13th centuries. (fn. 186) At least part of the property was leased to Simon of Bourn for life from 1316, (fn. 187) and it is probable that the estate remained on lease from that time until the Dissolution. Several small additions to the property were made early in the 15th century, some of which were in return for masses in the abbey church. (fn. 188) About 1450 the estate was let to William Yarker; 32 tenants then yielded a total rent of £4 2s. 11½d. (fn. 189) Sir Robert Sheffield held 240 a. of it on a 99-year lease from 1522. (fn. 190)
The reversion of the lands was granted at the Dissolution to Richard Williams alias Cromwell (fn. 191) who, in 1538, sold it to John Burgoyne and his son, Thomas. (fn. 192) Thomas died in 1546–7 and Robert Catlyn, husband of Thomas's widow, entered the property. (fn. 193) By 1601 it was held by John Burgoyne of Potton (Beds.), (fn. 194) possibly son of Thomas. John was succeeded by his kinsman Roger Burgoyne (d. 1636), (fn. 195) from whom it passed to his son, John (cr. Bt. 1641, d. 1657). (fn. 196) Sir George Downing (d. 1684) acquired the estate either from Sir John or from his son, Sir Roger (d. 1677). His grandson George Downing, the third baronet (d. 1749), in 1717 devised his property to four cousins in succession and their issue. If they had no issue it was to be used for the foundation of a college in Cambridge. Prolonged litigation followed the death of the last surviving legatee, Sir Jacob Garrard Downing, in 1764, and Downing College did not finally acquire the property until 1800. The college sold it in 1945. (fn. 197)
Part of the estate had been formed into an inclosed park by 1601, (fn. 198) and a house known as the old grange still stood within it c. 1635. (fn. 199) Sir George Downing built a new house in the park in 1712–13 and surrounded it with an ornamental garden with ponds, a lake, woodland walks, classical statuary, and a labyrinth, all enclosed within a brick wall pierced by several gates. (fn. 200) One gate, sometimes called the Full Moon gate, still stood in 1967. The house itself, consisting of a central block of three storeys with single-storeyed wings, all having pilasters rising to a heavy cornice crowned with urns, was demolished in 1776. (fn. 201)
Other religious houses acquired lands and rents in Gamlingay in the 12th and 13th centuries. By 1279 St. Neots Priory (Hunts.) had an estate of at least 82 a. together with rents which had been acquired piecemeal in the previous fifty years. (fn. 202) There were at least thirty separate grants to the priory, most of which were made during the years 1229–39, the largest being of 30 a. (fn. 203) In addition a further 12 a. were purchased after 1231 from the canons of Royston (Herts.), who had acquired them c. 1207 from Remphrey de Bruera. (fn. 204) Lesnes Abbey (Kent) had a rent of 20s. given by Richard Avenel before 1217. (fn. 205) On the dissolution of the abbey in 1525 its properties were transferred to Cardinal College, later Christ Church, Oxford. (fn. 206) The rent was exchanged for other lands with Sheen Priory (Surr.), and at the dissolution of that house was granted to two laymen. (fn. 207) Warden Abbey (Beds.) was given a messuage and 3 selions of land by Hugh son of William of Gamlingay c. 1200. (fn. 208) In 1390 the land was held in fee by William Fowler, (fn. 209) and it was still held of the abbey in 1535. (fn. 210) Remphrey de Bruera gave a rent of 20s. to the prior of Merton (Surr.) c. 1207. (fn. 211) In the mid 13th century Alan del Sap gave 3 a. and 9 selions of land to St. John's Hospital, Cambridge, for a rent of 2d. (fn. 212) The hospital soon after exchanged the lands for others in Cambridge. (fn. 213) Caldwell Priory (Beds.) had an income of 1s. from Gamlingay in 1291 (fn. 214) and 1342. (fn. 215)
In 1558 Elizabeth Worlych, widow of Walter Worlych of Potton (Beds.), left to Clare College, Cambridge, a messuage and lands in Gamlingay which she had bought, later known as College or Clare farm. (fn. 216) In 1815 the estate was 112 a. In 1898 most of the buildings were destroyed by fire. The college sold the farm in 1948 to the Cambridge County Council which had been the tenant since 1922. With the bequest of Dr. Samuel Blythe the college in 1718 bought c. 133 a. which had been accumulated during the early part of the previous century by John Apthorpe. Small additions were made, including cottages in the village, and by 1918 the total area was over 140 a. The farm buildings were burnt down in 1851; several of the cottages were said to be ruinous in 1911, but were enlarged and improved in 1927. The whole property, known as Blythe farm, was sold to Messrs. R. & H. Whale Ltd. in 1947. (fn. 217)
In 1086 there were three separate holdings in Gamlingay, one of 18 hides, the others of 1 hide each. In all there were 20 ploughs, 9 of which were on the demesne of the largest estate, that of Eudes the sewer. On the same estate were 30 villani and 12 bordars, and a tenant of ½ hide there, a Frenchman, had 12 cottars and 4 servi. On the hide of Robert Fafiton, shared between two tenants, were 3 cottars; the hide of Ranulph brother of Ilger was in demesne. There was meadow for 13 plough-teams, woodland for 10 pigs, and pasture for the cattle of the vill as part of Eudes's estate. Changes in tenure since 1066 had apparently involved only the largest estate, 4 hides of which, under Ulmer or Wulfmaer of Eaton, had been held by 9 sokemen. The large estate had increased in value from £10 to £18, the holding of Ranulph had not changed, and Fafiton's had fallen by half its value T.R.E. (fn. 218)
Between 1086 and 1279 the large estate of Eudes the sewer was divided into four holdings. (fn. 219) Of the several monastic holdings in Gamlingay the St. Neots Priory estate comprised a large number of very small holdings. (fn. 220) The estate of Shakeldon as early as c. 1155 contained three blocks of property, known as Scacresdenia, Grenelawa, and the Heath, probably the 100 a. given by King Stephen. (fn. 221) By 1279 it amounted to 220 a. in a single close. Sawtry Abbey's estate contained in addition over 140 a., held largely in free alms but also some small sections from Avenels, Mertonage, and land of the Crown representing half the serjeanty. (fn. 222) The serjeanty estate contained 128 a. in 1279 of which Shingay Hospital held the smaller portion. (fn. 223)
In 1279 the manors of Avenels, Mertonage, and Woodbury had demesnes of 204 a., 200 a., and 297 a. respectively. Free tenants held most of the parish; in Mertonage 43 held c. 340 a., in Woodbury 19 held c. 115 a., and in Avenels 43 held 260 a. Of these only six had holdings of over 20 a. and the average freehold was 6 a. or 10 a. There were 11 customary tenants holding c. 120 a. in Avenels and 8 holding c. 65 a. in Woodbury, and the manors supported 8 and 9 cottars respectively. There were apparently no customary tenants or cottars in Mertonage, although one tenant held at will. The pattern of landholding was complex and many freeholders had several under-tenants. (fn. 224)
The customary tenants generally owed labourservices and rent in kind and the cottars paid cash rents. One of the college's free tenants paid rent in kind and one of Avenel's free tenants paid scutage. (fn. 225) In 1288 three Merton villeins held land for rent rather than services, and in 1298 a rental of Merton lands recorded only one villein who was said to owe no work, (fn. 226) and one other who held in villeinage, paid 4s. rent, and did boon work. Twenty owed suit of view and 5 a yearly suit, and 30 out of 50 owed 'foreign services'. (fn. 227) In 1327 there were 12 villeins in Mertonage manor paying rents in money and it is clear that the apparent increase in villein tenures during the 14th century was an increase in the number paying rent rather than giving services. The rents showed a marked rise 1350–6. (fn. 228) At the same time some 30 free tenants performed boon services at any one time during the 14th century and in the labour crisis in 1350–1 as many as 42 were paid for ploughing. (fn. 229) About half the rent-paying tenants on Mertonage manor died during the plague and recovery was slow: as late as c. 1385 a tenant taking new land was given 20s. to build and maintain a house. (fn. 230) In 1431 there were 30 free tenants, and 11 villeins paid £3 3s. 7d. in rents; (fn. 231) in 1471 there were 26 free tenants, and 5 villeins paid £3 12s. 1d. (fn. 232)
The decline of the 14th century brought an end to bailiff farming on Mertonage. From 1352 the demesne estate was let to farm for 3 years, for only the second time in nearly a century. (fn. 233) After 1362 it was leased to a succession of farmers who, in the 15th century at least, were obliged to account to the college for their annual farm, for the repair of the chancel of the church, and for the expenses of the warden, fellows, and steward on their periodic visits to Gamlingay. (fn. 234) The farmers of Mertonage manor and rectory were often outsiders, though the Draper family was settled there by the end of the 13th century. (fn. 235) William Draper was bailiff and subsequently farmer of the manor from 1350 until 1355 and of the rectory 1388–9. (fn. 236) A John Draper farmed the manor from 1386 until 1389 and from 1390 at least until 1401. (fn. 237) In 1407 a John Draper the younger received custody of some lands in Gamlingay; one of his sureties was John Draper the elder, who was keeper of Huntingdon castle 1405–13 and 1414–23. (fn. 238)
After its purchase of Avenels manor in 1599 (fn. 239) Merton College became the biggest single landowner in the parish, with the lands of the two manors concentrated in the centre of the parish. In 1601, when the parish, excluding Woodbury and the Grange, comprised 3,255 a. of which 500 a. were waste, the college demesne was c. 600 a. together with 117 a. of wood. Mertonage manor demesne was c. 236 a. and had been since 1300. Twelve copyholds of the two manors comprised 77 a. (fn. 240)
Some freeholders acquired sizeable estates. Walter Taylard (d. 1466) had lands not only in Gamlingay, but in Doddington, Buckden, and Waresley (Hunts.), and Potton (Beds.). (fn. 241) He remodelled the north transeptal chapel in the parish church, where he was buried, left money to 12 local religious houses, and established an anniversary for 7 years in the church. (fn. 242) His widow, Margaret (d. 1475), was holding at her death over 260 a. of land of the three manors. (fn. 243) Her son and heir, William, was steward of Mertonage manor by 1488 (fn. 244) and was still in office in 1493. (fn. 245) The family holding in Gamlingay seems to have contracted during the next 30 years, though they still held of the manors of Avenels and Mertonage and were lessees of some of the St. Neots estate. (fn. 246) After two minorities, however, the interests of the Gamlingay branch of the family seem to have merged with those of the branch settled in Doddington (Hunts.). (fn. 247)
Like the Taylards the Russell family accumulated a freehold estate of some size. Between 1582 and 1587 Robert Russell acquired over 150 a. (fn. 248) Joan, widow of John Russell (d. c. 1588), owner of the Cock, (fn. 249) sold 180 a. to William Clarke of Renhold (Beds.). (fn. 250) Another successful family were the Jacobs. Richard Jacob, who had begun his purchases by 1557, (fn. 251) held at his death in 1578 c. 200 a., which then passed to his grandson Abraham. (fn. 252) Abraham acquired the Russell estate from William Clarke's heir, and at his death in 1629 held over 400 a. including parts of the former St. Neots land and the lease of Merton College property, together with land in Bromley-by-Bow (Mdx.). (fn. 253) Before 1640 his son and heir had become lord of Woodbury manor. (fn. 254)
Throughout the 17th century the Merton estates were let separately but often to the same people. Mertonage demesne had been held on long leases during the 16th century, Richard Clarke, for example, holding from 1522 until 1551. For much of the rest of the century only short leases were granted. (fn. 255) At least from 1608, however, until the beginning of the 18th century, all leases of the manor were for 21 years, entry fines varying from £20 to £100. In contrast the larger Avenels manor was held on three-life leases, entry fines varying from £60 to £100. Gamlingay wood, formerly divided between the two manors, was leased as one unit for periods of 21 years. Three families, the Jacobs, Kersleys, and Burtons, dominated these holdings throughout the century. Abraham Jacob held Avenels and Gamlingay wood from 1608 and Mertonage from 1617, presumably until his death in 1629; Henry Kersley held the whole estate from 1650 until he was succeeded by Thomas Kersley at Mertonage (1672–87) and at Avenels (1671–80); Philip Burton held Avenels and Mertonage from 1680, and other members of the same family retained the leases at least until 1708. (fn. 256)
Woodbury manor was probably completely separate from the rest of the parish by the end of the 16th century. Sir Robert Sheffield inclosed 300 a. of leys and 100 a. of arable in 1492–3 causing the removal of 10 or 12 people and the laying down of two ploughs. (fn. 257) This probably represented the inclosure of almost the whole estate evidently for the purpose of sheep-farming: one of the inclosed areas was called Lambescotehill, (fn. 258) and fields in Woodbury retained the names of Great and Little Sheepwalks. (fn. 259) The estate comprised 700 a. in 1528. (fn. 260) By 1672 the estate was divided into fourteen units; Great Farm, held by Thomas Luke for £45, and Great Dairy, held by John Thorneley for £100 were the largest sections. The estate included houses and closes in the village, and there was a well-stocked, timbered deer park. (fn. 261)
The emergence of separate farms in the inclosed Woodbury estate was paralleled by the appearance of engrossed holdings in the open fields of the parish. A property bought in 1718 by the Blythe Trust for Clare College, Cambridge, was part of a group which had come into the possession of Stephen Apthorpe between 1611 and 1652. The farm, known from 1718 as Blythe farm, was of 133 a., mostly arable but including foldage and a sheep-walk. A small part, enfranchised in 1845, was copyhold of Avenels manor. (fn. 262) By the middle of the 18th century a farm known as Adams farm had been formed on the estate of Sir Jacob Downing. (fn. 263) It was later known as Manton's, Holken's, Job's, and the Street farm. In 1752 it comprised just over 107 a., 95 a. of which were arable and were being farmed in the traditional three fields. (fn. 264) In 1818 the Park, which then belonged to Downing College, was enlarged by the addition of newly purchased land and was known thereafter as Park farm, then comprising over 233 a. (fn. 265)
The larger Avenels property was, at the end of the 18th century, divided into two holdings which, between 1793 and 1807, were united in the hands of one lessee, James Paine. (fn. 266) The estate was sub-let, the greater part, later known as Parsons farm, in one unit, the rest in small parcels, later consolidated as Arnolds farm. The main farm was of 380 a. and there were nearly 40 a. of wood in the lessee's own hands, and 80 a. of smallholdings. An area of 77 a. of the main farm was old inclosures, 13 a. was meadow, and 267 a. was arable in the open fields. The rest was intercommoned with Waresley (Hunts.). (fn. 267) In 1807 Mertonage manor farm was just over 274 a. in extent and the college owned several other small properties which by 1814 had been added to it to make a total of 287 a., including 192 a. of open-field arable scattered in 120 separate pieces. (fn. 268)
The development of the open fields in the parish is not clear, but the East field was certainly in existence in the early part of the 13th century (fn. 269) and Newton on the Heath may have had its own open fields. (fn. 270) By the beginning of the 17th century there were three fields, lying to the east of the village, and known as East, Middle, and South fields. (fn. 271) By 1844, though slightly smaller, they were virtually unchanged save in name, and were then called Shortwood, Middle, and Potton Wood fields. (fn. 272) The irregular furlongs were divided by tracks and small strips of pasture known variously as ways, deans, hadens, and slades. Occasionally there were balks. By the early 17th century Woodbury was already inclosed, and the Grange emparked. (fn. 273) Plots of up to 16 a. each, such as Milnecroft, could apparently be temporarily inclosed in the early 14th century, probably for grazing. (fn. 274) Later inclosure of a permanent nature probably contributed to an increase in decayed rents in the parish. In 1431–2 tithes from the Woodbury demesne were withheld because the land was not cultivated, (fn. 275) and decayed lands and rents were recorded c. 1525 on Avenels manor. (fn. 276) In neither case is inclosure mentioned as a contributory cause, but it is evident that it was taking place at the time. An inclosure made without licence was noted c. 1450 on the Merton manor, (fn. 277) and by 1470 44 a. of Merton demesne were inclosed. (fn. 278) The area had not changed by 1601, but by that time Avenels manor included 95 a. of inclosed pasture. (fn. 279) Shakeldon had been inclosed since the 12th century. (fn. 280) Inclosure continued in the 16th century (fn. 281) and there was some discontent as a result. In Henry VIII's reign about 40 inhabitants entered the manorial waste and cut down 400 trees, (fn. 282) and in 1593 several freeholders brought a case against John St. George, lord of Avenels manor, for ploughing common land. (fn. 283)
In 1844 1,926 a. out of a total of 4,375 a. were described as old inclosures. After inclosure in 1844 the pattern of landholding remained largely unchanged. There was some consolidation of smaller holdings: James Paine, lessee of Avenels Manor farm, owned Brook End farm, which was his residence, and Maypole farm in 1844. (fn. 284) By 1851 11 men were described as farmers (fn. 285) although 73 people had received allotments at inclosure. The number had risen to 14 by 1864, and to 16 by 1879. In 1922 only four men were said to hold over 150 a., and only three in 1926 and 1937. The decrease was partly the result of the consolidation of farms; in 1937 Messrs. Marshall and Masters occupied Manor, Merton, and Avenels farms, and Johnson Bros. occupied Castle and Grange farms. (fn. 286)
Farming has been generally mixed in Gamlingay with arable farming preferred. The Heath lying in the south-west corner of the parish was under cultivation in the early 13th century, (fn. 287) and in the late 13th arable land accounted for 190 a. of the 236 a. of the demesne of Mertonage manor. A high proportion of the demesne was cultivated each year, particularly in the 1280s. In 1281 c. 187 a. were harvested and the average from then until 1350 was 157 a. When the demesne was let the acreage under cultivation fell to an average of 97 a., (fn. 288) though whether parts went out of cultivation altogether is unclear. There was comparatively little pasture in Gamlingay although it had been extensive in 1086. (fn. 289) In 1279 there were 240 a. of common, Merton College had 16 a. of inclosed pasture and Avenels manor 4 a. (fn. 290) In the 14th century Merton College had 11–12 a., (fn. 291) while Avenels manor had 7 a. in 1331 (fn. 292) and 16 a. in 1359. (fn. 293) It was said in 1340 that there had been 1,200 sheep in the parish, all belonging to outsiders, but that, because of heavy taxation, they had been withdrawn. (fn. 294) In 1342, however, the parish contained the second largest number of sheep in the hundred, having to produce 128 stone of wool. The largest flock belonged to Merton College, assessed at 12½ stone, followed by that of Hugh Babington with 8 stone. (fn. 295) The flocks in the Merton manor were, however, never very large, and the college seems to have specialized at times only in buying sheep. (fn. 296) During the period 1290–1334 there were sometimes up to 200, but often only a handful. In 1333 there were apparently no sheep on the manor, 116 in the following year, 117 in 1335, and 120 in 1336. In the last year 252 lb. of wool were produced. (fn. 297) From 1334 there seems to have been a fairly consistent policy of buying, and selling again fairly quickly. The flock then averaged 100–150, often showing a good return from wool sold outside the manor. (fn. 298) There is evidence that the usual variety of stock was kept: horses, oxen, cows, pigs, geese, ducks, and chickens. (fn. 299) During the early 14th century dredge was the largest single crop in Mertonage manor, and was some 36 per cent of the total. Nearly half of the yield was used for seed. (fn. 300) Winter and spring wheat were sown in fairly equal quantities, amounting together to 54 per cent of the total. One-third was used for seed. Oats and barley sown separately were intermittent before 1300; during the 14th century oats, for fodder, was nearly always purchased from outside the manor, together with 'drasch', leftovers from brewing, for the pigs. (fn. 301) Peas, beans, rye, and vetches were regular, though much smaller, crops. The yield of these crops was not high, (fn. 302) though improvement seems to have occurred after 1340, during the regime of Richard of Bredon, evidently the most successful of the 14th-century bailiffs. The average yield of grain in the period 1340–8 was 196 quarters, compared with 168 quarters in the period 1317–40. The year 1345–6 was the best, producing 220½ quarters. Sales averaged about half the total receipts of the manor, the largest source being the sale of grain. Some 60 per cent of the grain receipts derived from the sale of tithes, but sales hardly covered the cost of cultivation. (fn. 303)
During the 16th century pasture increased, particularly on Woodbury manor where an expansion in sheep-rearing was probably the reason for inclosure. In 1528 of 700 a. in the estate there were 600 a. of meadow and pasture and no arable land. (fn. 304)
By 1601 large areas of the parish, including the Heath, were not cultivated, and waste accounted for 500 a. Merton College had 56 a. of pasture. (fn. 305) During the 17th century the manorial court was concerned with grazing rights and in 1611 ordered all tenants to keep their sheep in two flocks with only two folds. No one was to plough banks and lands' ends, none to cut turves except for beehives, and none to common on the Heath or the Cinques except between specified dates. (fn. 306) In 1672 not all the pasture in Woodbury could be let. (fn. 307)
In 1801 about one-third of the parish was under cultivation and wheat was the largest crop, followed by barley and oats. About 100 a. were devoted to beans and peas, and just under 100 a. were given over to turnips and rape. Some 44 a. of rye were sown and 56 a. of potatoes. (fn. 308) In 1804 Mertonage Manor farm comprised 37 a. of old inclosure, 57 a. of pasture, and 192 a. of open-field arable. (fn. 309) At inclosure in 1844 allotments were made for a large number of small freeholds, which were a characteristic of the parish; (fn. 310) there had been 40 in 1753. (fn. 311) By 1867 some of them had turned to market-gardening, (fn. 312) and by 1896 14 men described themselves as marketgardeners. By 1937 there were said to be 12 smallholders and 11 market-gardeners. (fn. 313) Early potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and peas were the main products in the 1940s. (fn. 314) There has been a more systematic exploitation of market-gardening by Gamlingay Smallholders Ltd.
In 1086 there was wood for fences and for pigrearing in the parish. (fn. 315) The wood on Mertonage manor was exploited commercially in the mid 14th century (fn. 316) and in the 15th century tenant-farmers were carefully circumscribed in their use of the college woods. (fn. 317) Gamlingay evidently supplied wood to other properties of the college. (fn. 318) In 1601 the college had 117 a. of woodland on its demesne. (fn. 319) At the end of the 17th century the timbered park at Woodbury was valued at £3,300 and the underwood at £50. (fn. 320)
In 1279 there were two windmills in Gamlingay, one on Mertonage manor, the other on the estate of Sawtry Abbey. (fn. 321) The Mertonage mill was rebuilt in 1341 and a mill-house added two years later. (fn. 322) By 1331 Avenels manor included a windmill, worth 10s. in 1359. (fn. 323) Two mills were rated in 1863. (fn. 324) Edgar Dew was evidently miller at Gamlingay by 1872 and remained at least until 1896. (fn. 325) The remaining mill was probably disused by 1922. (fn. 326) The building, which survives without sails or roof, is of the early 19th century (fn. 327) and evidently replaced earlier structures.
A water corn-mill at Woodbury Hall was described as newly erected in 1858. (fn. 328)
The owner of Avenels manor had a weekly market, held on Tuesdays, by 1279. (fn. 329) It is thought that the market continued until Gamlingay was burnt in 1600, when it was transferred to Potton (Beds.). (fn. 330) In the Middle Ages markets for the produce of Gamlingay were mainly local. Grain was sold at Cambridge, or St. Ives or Stourbridge fairs. Malt was taken to Royston and pigs to Baldock. Purchases were often made at Stourbridge, but also at St. Ives, Elstow (Beds.), and Bedford. (fn. 331) Crafts which usually occur in support of an agricultural economy were to be found in Gamlingay in 1299: baker, thatcher, weaver, and miller. Less common were the skinner and draper, (fn. 332) and by the 15th century additional occupations occur, those of a smith, glover, (fn. 333) dyer, (fn. 334) and, in the 16th century, silkman. (fn. 335)
Ampthill clay and sand at Gamlingay lay mostly under the common, and orders of the manorial court are witness to illegal clay-digging in the 17th century. (fn. 336) Bricks were evidently made legally in other parts of the parish: Brick Clamp close lies west of Old Woodbury, (fn. 337) and in 1601 there was a brick-kiln just south of Millbridge brook at the eastern edge of the parish. (fn. 338) Edward Dart, one of the teachers in the dissenting conventicle in 1669, apparently made bricks. (fn. 339) These sources probably served for all local needs, but after the inclosure of the commons in 1844 the larger beds became available for commercial exploitation. Three brick- and tile-yards were first rated in 1864; two were on the Heath, the third on Broad Leys. The last, owned by Octavius Wedd, ceased production early in 1866 (fn. 340) but may have been taken over by Messrs. Coates and Rutley, who produced bricks and tiles in Gamlingay at least until 1908. (fn. 341) One brick-bed on the Heath, owned by Col. Duncombe and occupied by David Paine, had apparently been taken over by 1872 by G.S. Plowman, and was still in production in 1908. Probably the largest bed, also on the Heath, was that which James Roberts owned in 1864, and which, by 1872, was known as the Bellevue Brickworks. By 1879 it was owned by Capt. W.W. Dennis. (fn. 342) In 1912 it consisted of an area of over 31 a., and the plant included six down-draught kilns, six Scotch kilns, and a lime-kiln, and extensive sheds with a capacity of half a million bricks. The upper clay was said to be suitable for making first-rate red facing bricks, roofing tiles, and drainpipes. The gault clay, when mixed with sand, produced sewer-bricks and fancy bricks. (fn. 343) The brick-works were sold in 1920, (fn. 344) but had apparently ceased production by 1922. (fn. 345) The building of 80 council houses in the village offered employment 1945–60 (fn. 346) and in 1967 there were two factories in the village, one drawing outside labour, for woodworking and packaging.
By 1279 the bailiff of the honor of Boulogne held a view of frankpledge annually at Gamlingay and levied half a mark on the vill. (fn. 347) The sum was still paid in 1333. (fn. 348) It seems that the bailiff attended the court of Mertonage manor in the earlier 14th century, and was holding his court on the same day and immediately after the Mertonage court in the later 15th century. (fn. 349) Records of the honor court have survived from as late as 1485. In 1483 eleven chief pledges were taken, answering for a payment of 6s. for Gamlingay and 2s. for Westhorpe (Woodbury). Only one presentment was made against the peace. In the following year twelve pledges appeared for Gamlingay and one for Woodbury. (fn. 350)
By 1279 the owners of the three manors in Gamlingay each exercised separate jurisdictions. John Avenel had pillory and tumbrel and the assizes of bread, ale, and measures, together with a view of frankpledge. (fn. 351) Merton College had tumbrel, assizes of bread and ale, and a view of frankpledge without the king's bailiff. (fn. 352) The college in 1334 provided three trees for the repair of the tumbrel and pillory, which suggests that it had that right in addition. (fn. 353) The owner of the manor of Woodbury, similarly, had the assizes of bread and ale, and view of frankpledge without the king's bailiff. (fn. 354) Sawtry Abbey had a court for all its lands in the county, though it is not known where it was held. (fn. 355)
Court rolls have survived from the Middle Ages only for Mertonage manor. (fn. 356) Courts were, apparently, held somewhat irregularly: during the 14th century three were normally held each year, but there were five in 1287–8. (fn. 357) Courts were held at Michaelmas and Hockday and a third either near Whitsun or early in the year. (fn. 358) The distinction between courts leet and courts baron was not clear: most were called 'leta cum curia', (fn. 359) but after 1385 all were views of frankpledge. (fn. 360) By the 15th century the courts were more usually annual. (fn. 361) The court was conducted by a steward; other officers included an ale-taster, found by 1353, (fn. 362) a herdman, by 1475, (fn. 363) and a constable, first mentioned in 1333. (fn. 364) Four constables, three apparently specially elected for the purpose, collected a subsidy in the parish in 1508 and drew up accounts of their activities. (fn. 365) Only one was elected in the following year.
The business of the courts included fines for infringements of assizes, pleas of debt and trespass, fines for such minor offenders as eavesdroppers and night prowlers. (fn. 366) General orders were occasionally issued in the court to regulate farming practice in line with the other estates in the parish: in 1475 instructions for grazing sheep were said to be in the same terms as an order already made in the Woodbury court. (fn. 367)
Surviving records of manorial courts after 1511 span the period 1604–1846 sporadically, (fn. 368) and cover only the two manors then owned by Merton College. By the late 17th century, however, it is clear that the Mertonage court was making orders for the whole of the parish, and had probably done so at least since the beginning of that century. (fn. 369) The frequency of the courts is impossible to determine, though sessions for each manor were held on the same day. (fn. 370) Courts were described as views of frankpledge and courts baron when orders were issued and officials elected, and courts baron alone when admissions constituted the sole items of business. Enfranchisement of copyhold tenures in the manors by the end of the 19th century finally ended the activities of the courts which had largely ceased to issue general orders for the parish after the end of the 17th century. (fn. 371)
Manorial officers, elected only in the Mertonage court, continued to appear until the 18th century. Two constables, rather than one a century earlier, were elected regularly until 1720, (fn. 372) but only one was chosen in 1727. (fn. 373) By 1698 they were responsible for collecting a regular rate from certain types of road traffic. (fn. 374) More important than the constables was a body known as 'the six men' in 1611, (fn. 375) the 'overseers of the order' in 1612, (fn. 376) and the 'field reeves' by 1675. (fn. 377) The limitation of the general powers of the manorial courts in the face of the growing activity of the vestry is reflected in the replacement of the field reeves before 1681 by one keeper of the fields and one toll-gatherer, (fn. 378) the latter replaced, by 1699, by a hayward. (fn. 379) A pinder was recorded in 1706. (fn. 380)
A parish clerk was appointed by 1623; (fn. 381) in 1836 the then clerk was said to be a person of sober mind and conversation, duly qualified for office. (fn. 382) Apart from their usual functions the two churchwardens systematically distributed collections made at communion services to the poor of the parish at least during the period 1595 to 1616. (fn. 383) In 1613 they supervised a special rate to purchase a Bible and Jewel's Apologies, and for 'other necessary charges'. (fn. 384) The activities of the overseers are recorded in an incomplete set of rate books and accounts dating from 1682 until 1879; surveyors' rates and accounts date from 1850 to 1870. The overseers by the later 17th century administered a dual system of regular weekly payments and irregular provision of money for clothing and food, and work for the unemployed. They were also responsible for repairs to the almshouses and, on one occasion, to the town house. (fn. 385) Between April 1682 and April 1683, for example, small regular weekly payments were made to between 16 and 20 paupers, but the whole charge for the year was over £63, or just over £5 each month. By 1717 there were few incidental charges, though there were between 22 and 24 paupers. There were slightly fewer in 1731, and to support them during that year three rates were levied, two of 4d. and one of 2d., making a total of £66 1s. By 1792–3 the number of paupers had doubled, though the same system for their support, regular weekly payments (averaging about £3 5s.) and incidental expenses for clothing, nursing, food, and funerals, continued to be used. The number of paupers fell during the 1790s (29 from October 1798 to April 1799), but then rose again, averaging 49 between November 1801 and April 1802. By November 1800 regular payments were also being made to labourers' children. This system of supporting paupers in their own homes was presumably continued even though the cost rose, reaching peaks in 1820, 1821, and 1824 when the charge was over £900. (fn. 386) In 1830 there were said to be 150 labourers over 20 years of age in the parish, and the same number of youths and boys. Seventy of these were generally unemployed during the winter and 50 in summer, but were maintained by the overseers on roads and other parish work. The poor-rate in 1830 had reached a total of £1,300, about the same as for the three preceding years. (fn. 387)
In 1834 the administration of the poor law in Gamlingay was said to be one of the worst in Cambridgeshire. Poor from neighbouring parishes had erected cottages on 700 a. of waste in the parish and the number of unemployed consequently rose. Instead of being employed on road maintenance or land drainage they were paid, at a rate regulated to a bread-scale, at gathering stones, of which some at least were returned to the fields, evidently to ensure that the work did not run out. The result was 'an impoverished race of farmers . . . screwing down a miserable, ill lodged, and ill fed population to the very letter of the bread-scale'. (fn. 388) In 1835 Gamlingay became part of the Caxton and Arrington poor law union. (fn. 389) A burial board was formed in 1890. (fn. 390) The parish was transferred from the Caxton and Arrington R.D. to the South Cambridgeshire R.D. in 1934. (fn. 391)
A church existed at Gamlingay before 1120, for Eudes the sewer, who died in that year, gave two-thirds of the tithes to the abbey of St. John, Colchester. (fn. 392) Eudes's successors in Gamlingay, Stephen and Maud, granted the church, with its land and the remaining tithes, between 1123 and 1131 to the Augustinian priory of St. Botolph, Colchester, where, by the early 13th century, the income was used to support the infirmary. (fn. 393) Hervey, bishop of Ely 1109–31, three bishops in a general synod between 1164 and 1167, and Richard I confirmed the grant. (fn. 394) The canons early appointed secular clerks to the church, a practice which, as elsewhere, (fn. 395) eventually resulted in weakened links with their house and finally in complete loss of the church. Before 1169 they conceded to the incumbent their land and their share of the tithes, in return for a pension of 8 marks. (fn. 396) A further weakening of their title appeared in an agreement with Roger son of Remphrey and William Avenel of 1175–80, by which they conceded to the owners of the two important manors in Gamlingay the immediate patronage of a benefice which in future was to be equally divided. The then incumbent, Gerard, who had been appointed solely by the canons, was to hold the church as though presented by Roger and William. After him the church was to be served by two vicars, each paying a pension of 4 marks to the canons, and each presumably holding a half share in the glebe and tithes originally granted to their predecessors. Probably in confirmation of the agreement Roger and William granted to the canons 'whatever belongs to the advowson of Gamlingay', saving to themselves and to their heirs the right to present vicars for each moiety of the church to the canons, who undertook to present them to the bishop for institution. (fn. 397) The arrangement obtained at least until the mid 13th century, (fn. 398) the presentee in practice receiving his moiety from the patron and from the canons in separate grants. (fn. 399) At least two appointments were made for life, (fn. 400) which factor further tended towards the eventual exclusion of the canons, and the establishment of separate rectories.
The exclusion was complete by the end of the 13th century. Hitherto the clerks themselves had been directly responsible for the payment of the canons' pensions, but in 1278 Sir John Avenel, patron of one of the moieties, was adjudged responsible for payment, a fact which strongly suggests that the secular landowners were by that time sole owners of the advowsons of their respective moieties. (fn. 401) Already, in 1268, William of Leicester referred to his part as half the advowson, with no suggestion that the canons also had an interest. (fn. 402) The pension for that moiety, however, was continued until c. 1310, (fn. 403) and payments from the other probably ceased about the same time. A century later the canons revived their claim, but not to the advowson. They afterwards agreed to release the pension, but still received small payments from the farmer of the rectory between 1433 and 1437. (fn. 404)
A change in the status of the benefice also occurred in the later 13th century. The incumbents were called vicars before the end of the 12th century (fn. 405) and at least until 1233. (fn. 406) St. John's, Colchester, retained its two-thirds share of the tithes at least until 1254, (fn. 407) but by 1268 the incumbents were evidently in receipt of all the tithes. The moieties were certainly called rectories about 1278, (fn. 408) and the ordination of a vicarage in one moiety in 1292 (fn. 409) clearly indicates that that moiety at least had become a rectory.
The moiety of the church which Roger son of Remphrey held before 1180 (fn. 410) and which descended with his estate (fn. 411) to Richard of Leicester in 1246 (fn. 412) was given in 1268 by William of Leicester to Walter of Merton. (fn. 413) Walter immediately transferred it to his scholars at Malden (Surr.), later Merton College, Oxford, who appropriated it later in the same year. (fn. 414) A vicarage was ordained in 1292; (fn. 415) the rectorial property remained in the hands of Merton College. (fn. 416)
The patronage of the other moiety descended from William Avenel, the holder in 1180, with the manor of Avenels until the death of Robert Avenel, in 1387, (fn. 417) though Hugh le Rous unsuccessfully attempted to present in 1333, Walter Langton presented during a minority in the early 14th century, (fn. 418) and the Crown in 1360 when the property was in its hands for debt. (fn. 419) By 1388 John Astyn of Pensthorpe (Yorks. E.R.) had acquired the advowson and glebe, and in that year released the same to Henry Malpas (rector 1405–6), William Asthill (rector 1406–42), and William Chastelet of Chesterton. (fn. 420) During the dispute over the manor in the following year the Crown exercised patronage, (fn. 421) but in 1390 the manor and advowson passed successively to two groups of feoffees; the second group, headed by Sir William Argentine, presented in 1396. (fn. 422) In 1398 and 1399 the Crown intruded clerks, (fn. 423) but at a second vacancy in 1399 the patronage was exercised by a further group of feoffees, headed by Sir Baldwin St. George. (fn. 424) Both the manor and the advowson were settled on Baldwin in 1400, (fn. 425) and on the same day he granted the glebe and advowson to James Hoton of Weeton (Yorks. E.R.), John Astyn, and John Wormeston of Patrington (Yorks. E.R.), who presented in 1400 and 1401. (fn. 426) Astyn acquired sole rights in the patronage and glebe in 1403, (fn. 427) and, although challenged in 1405, (fn. 428) presented again in the following year. (fn. 429) In 1408 he granted the patronage and glebe to William atte Chapel of Gamlingay, William Chastelet of Chesterton, Henry Malpas, and William Asthill (fn. 430) (the last three being the feoffees twenty years earlier), who in 1409 were licensed to grant the advowson, a messuage, and a small piece of land to Sawtry Abbey. (fn. 431) In the event, only the land passed to Sawtry, in 1412, in return for prayers for the souls of William atte Chapel and his family. (fn. 432) In 1413 the three surviving feoffees granted the advowson and 1 a. of land to Merton College, appropriators of the other moiety. (fn. 433)
In 1504 Thomas St. George unsuccessfully claimed patronage of the rectory in right of his manor of Avenels, (fn. 434) but the college continued to present to the benefice. (fn. 435) There were two exceptions: in 1545 the king presented Henry Tindall, himself warden of Merton College, (fn. 436) and Philip Stringer exercised the patronage in 1587. (fn. 437)
A vicarage was ordained in 1292 in the moiety of the rectory appropriated to Merton College, and the patronage was reserved to the bishop of Ely. (fn. 438) Until 1587 the rectory of one moiety and vicarage of the other were always held by different individuals, but in that year the vicar, Henry Baldwin, was also presented to the rectory, the union being made on account of the poverty of the benefices, particularly the vicarage. (fn. 439) His successor, John Clavering (d. 1612), was also appointed to both benefices in 1590 and held both at least until 1604. (fn. 440) The practice was again revived during the Commonwealth, when Edward Roode held both benefices in 1656. (fn. 441) Edward Sclater followed him and held both until his death in 1710. (fn. 442) The benefices were in separate hands for the rest of the 18th century, the rectory becoming a sinecure; (fn. 443) they were united again in 1849, when J.B. James, vicar since 1847, was instituted also to the rectory. (fn. 444) From that time the benefice, described as a rectory and vicarage, was in the joint patronage of Merton College and the bishop of Ely. (fn. 445) Between 1947 and 1951 the bishop and the college became alternate patrons, but by 1955 the bishop was sole patron. (fn. 446)
In 1254 the value of the whole church was assessed at £21 6s. 8d. (fn. 447) and in 1276 at £33 6s. 8d., (fn. 448) but c. 1278 it was said to be only £20. (fn. 449) In 1291 the net value was £18. (fn. 450) The average net receipts from the moiety of the rectory appropriated to Merton College were only just over £8 during the period 1290 to 1350, (fn. 451) but when the property was farmed from the later 14th century the lessee's annual payment varied from £13 6s. 8d. in 1362 (fn. 452) to £10 13s. 4d. in 1431–2, (fn. 453) £9 6s. 8d. in 1469, (fn. 454) and £10 10s. from 1483. (fn. 455) The value of the other moiety was given in 1535 as £15 14s. 3d., making the total value of the rectory at that date £26 4s. 3d. (fn. 456) The value of the combined rectory and vicarage was said to be £80 in 1650. (fn. 457) In 1851, just after the final merging of the benefices, the rectory was valued at £256, (fn. 458) and in 1859 at the same sum. (fn. 459) Under the ordination of the vicarage in 1292 the vicar's income was to be derived from certain specified tithes, oblations, and obventions. (fn. 460) The ordination provided that if the patron and rector of the other moiety could be induced to agree to the consolidation of the entire altarage, allowing the vicar to have all obventions, then the vicar would allow certain tithes to revert to Merton College. In addition, by 1377, the vicar was receiving from the farmer of the manor every other year ten bushels of wheat and ten of rye 'pro expensis officialibus', together with synodals and procurations amounting to 23d. (fn. 461) These payments continued at least until 1436. (fn. 462) In 1535 the vicarage was valued at £5, (fn. 463) and in 1728 at £60. (fn. 464) In 1847 it was worth £188 (fn. 465) and in 1859 £288. The value of the joint benefice was given as £466 in 1892 but fluctuated considerably in the next two decades. (fn. 466)
The tithes of the whole church of Gamlingay in 1254 were valued at £6, two-thirds of which were then in the hands of the abbey of St. John, Colchester, and the remainder held jointly by the rectors of the two moieties of the church. (fn. 467) By 1292 St. John's had relinquished its claims to the rectory, and, when the vicarage was ordained in that year, Merton College received the tithe of sheaves, together with certain rents. (fn. 468) During the 14th and 15th centuries Merton College farmed out its tithes, usually to the farmer of its manor for sums varying between £1 15s. and £17 1s. (fn. 469) In the period 1389–98, when the ownership of the other moiety of the rectory was in dispute, (fn. 470) John Gamlingay and John Draper, successively farmers of the manor, also bought the tithes of that moiety for annual sums ranging between £12 and £14. (fn. 471) Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries Merton's tithes were evidently let with the moiety of the rectory, of which they formed the major source of income. (fn. 472)
In 1292 the vicarage was endowed with the tithes of hay and meadow land, of curtilages and crofts inclosed at that time, and all other tithes not attached to the rectory. (fn. 473) At the same time the impropriators, Merton College, were freed of all tithe, the vicar receiving, in compensation, the tithe of a cultura called 'the stokying' and 3 a. of land. (fn. 474)
In 1850 the tithes were commuted for tithe-rentcharges of £806, £259 being awarded to Merton College, the same to the rector, and £288 to the vicar. (fn. 475) Merton's tithe-rent-charge was leased in 1872 to the rector of Lapworth (Warws.), a college living, for £46 to augment his benefice. (fn. 476) It was still leased for the same purpose in 1900. (fn. 477)
By 1279 rents from a messuage and 28 a. of land, amounting to 18s. 4d., were payable to the church. (fn. 478) By the end of the 15th century the moiety of the rectorial estate belonging to Merton College, apart from the tithes, consisted of a tithe barn to the east of the church and associated buildings, together with certain rents, and a croft between the barn and the churchyard. (fn. 479) In 1844 the rectorial glebe of the other moiety consisted of the churchyard, the rectory house and a homestead, and Home Close, amounting to nearly 4 a. A further acre was awarded at inclosure. (fn. 480) By the ordination of the vicarage in 1292 the vicar received 3 a. near the church and a vicarage house. (fn. 481) In 1844 the vicar had just over 2½ a. of old inclosure, and was awarded a further 2 a. for open-field rights. (fn. 482) By 1900 the incumbent of the joint benefice had only 2 a. of glebe. (fn. 483)
The rectory house in 1292 lay to the east of the church, and the vicarage house to the west. (fn. 484) Both were still standing in 1665, but were in need of repair, (fn. 485) as in 1678. (fn. 486) By 1783 the rectory house had been thoroughly repaired by the then rector and, because he was away, the vicar occupied the house, his own being small 'and not very fit for a family'. (fn. 487) The vicar, Robert Hepworth, rebuilt part of the vicarage house shortly before 1836. (fn. 488) It is a house of two storeys of white brick, partly stuccoed, 'built in the Elizabethan style of architecture . . . a great ornament to the village'. (fn. 489)
The church at Gamlingay in medieval times had not only a rector and a vicar but also a number of chaplains. John and Richard, chaplains of Gamlingay, occur 1229–33. (fn. 490) Protection was given in 1271 to brother William, hermit of Gamlingay. (fn. 491) In 1406 four chaplains and chantry priests were named (fn. 492) though nothing is known of any particular chantries in the church. In 1464 a priest, John Crouch, was celebrating in the church for the good estate of Walter Taylard, and money was left to employ him for seven years after Taylard's death in 1466. (fn. 493) Crouch and three other chaplains, one described as a parochial priest, were serving in the church in 1475. (fn. 494) Three priests and a clerk were to say obits on the death of the rector, Nicholas Consaunt, in 1519. (fn. 495)
At least by 1505 a guild dedicated to the Holy Trinity was active in the parish, receiving endowments which later comprised a guildhall, a malt-mill, messuages, crofts, and more than 60 a. of land. (fn. 496) Robert Norman was brotherhood priest there in 1518 (fn. 497) and Robert Persone in 1545, the parishioners then finding his wages. (fn. 498) At the dissolution of the guild the priest received a pension of 96s. (fn. 499) The church possessed a small amount of property for the celebration of anniversaries. (fn. 500)
From the early 15th century until the mid 19th century the unappropriated moiety of the rectory, being in the gift of Merton College, was usually held by former fellows, and in the 15th and 16th centuries they were usually non-resident. John Sutton, rector 1444–70, was a member of the archbishop of York's household and held other benefices. (fn. 501) John Holder, D.D., rector 1519–35 or later, was licensed to be absent from 1531. (fn. 502) John Stoyte, rector 1545–87, who was temporarily deprived in 1554 in favour of another fellow of Merton, held other benefices. (fn. 503) The vicars of the other moiety included William Robinson, 1487–90, who was the bishop of Ely's official and probably non-resident. (fn. 504) In 1562 the bishop found that neither rector nor curate resided, so that the parishioners did not receive the sacrament three times a year. (fn. 505) In 1582 one of the benefices was sequestrated and the church was served by a curate in deacon's orders. (fn. 506) John Clavering, rector 1590–1612 and also vicar, was vice-provost of Eton College from 1597, (fn. 507) and employed a Mr. Braban as curate and schoolmaster. (fn. 508) In 1608 and 1610 John Jackson was described as vicar, preacher, and schoolmaster. (fn. 509)
After Griffin Higgs, rector 1625–30, who was in Holland from 1627 as the Queen of Bohemia's chaplain, (fn. 510) the rectors appear to have resided. They included James Marsh, D.D., 1630–2, who later became chancellor and archdeacon of Chichester, (fn. 511) John Earle, D.D., 1632–7, chaplain and tutor to Prince Charles, who later became bishop of Worcester and of Salisbury, (fn. 512) Charles Gibbs, 1637–47, an eminent dialectician and preacher who, having suffered much in the Civil War, and fearing worse, resigned the living, and set up a school in Canterbury, (fn. 513) Esdras Marshall, rector in 1650, 'an honest and painful man for his ministry', (fn. 514) and Edward Roode, D.D., who was already vicar of Gamlingay when he became rector also in 1656. (fn. 515) Earlier vicars in the 16th and 17th centuries appear to have been non-graduates, except for John Woolridge, instituted in 1629, ousted by 1645, but reinstated by 1662, who was a Cambridge man. (fn. 516)
The religious upheavals of the mid 17th century are reflected in successive orders, first by Bishop Wren in 1638 to turn the minister's desk and cut the seats lower; (fn. 517) then by William Dowsing to remove superstitious pictures and a cross in 1644; (fn. 518) and in 1665 to restore the communion rails, then standing at the west end of the church, to their proper place. (fn. 519) The last order was evidently ignored, and had to be repeated in 1678, when the churchwardens were also instructed to carry out general repairs. (fn. 520)
By the 18th century the unappropriated moiety of the rectory had come to be regarded as a sinecure. During that century the vicars were Cambridge graduates, of whom the most distinguished was John Jebb, 1764–75, a fellow of Peterhouse and lecturer in mathematics and the Greek Testament, who resigned because of his Unitarian views, studied medicine, and became an F.R.S. (fn. 521) The parish was poorly served in the 18th century. (fn. 522) In 1728 the vicar lived at his other cure at Great Gransden (Hunts.), and employed a curate for Gamlingay. (fn. 523) The curate held public services twice each week, catechized in Lent, and gave sacrament at the great festivals. (fn. 524) In the late 18th century the rector and vicar jointly employed a curate. (fn. 525)
In 1802 Robert Hepworth began his 43-year incumbency as vicar. (fn. 526) In 1807 he said that most families in the parish were dissenters. He was then resident, held services on alternate Sundays with Sutton (Beds.), and gave the sacrament three times a year to 12 or 13 people. (fn. 527) By 1825 services were held each Sunday though the number of communicants remained low; the number of Baptists was said to be increasing. (fn. 528) In 1836 the vicar's health obliged him to employ the curate of Hatley St. George to help. (fn. 529)
In 1851 two services were held each Sunday, with congregations of about 45 in the morning and 130 in the afternoon. (fn. 530) In 1881 the incumbent found that, although most people in the parish professed to be dissenters, many attended no church or chapel. Successive incumbents made efforts to improve the situation. A mission church was built on Gamlingay Heath in 1879 to serve some sixty homes there, and cottage lectures were held for six months of the year. By 1881 the incumbent and a curate held full services on Sundays at the parish church, daily morning and evening prayers, Holy Communion on Sundays and Holy Days, and special services during Lent and August. Three services were held on Sundays at the chapel of ease and one on weekdays. The number of communicants was said to be increasing slowly. (fn. 531) A monthly parish magazine had been started by 1887, church societies were supported, (fn. 532) and a mission was held in the following year. (fn. 533) A choral festival was established by the incumbent in 1896 which survived at least until 1904. (fn. 534) In 1897, however, indifference and selfishness were said to prevail. (fn. 535) In 1901 a service in the church was the occasion for a disturbance by the extreme Protestant group, the 'Wycliffe' preachers, who had the support of the Baptist minister. Counsel at the subsequent legal proceedings emphasized the very strong feeling between Church and Chapel in the parish, and it was stated that the offender was prosecuted in order to clarify the position of the vicar in the eyes of his many opponents. (fn. 536)
Before 1727 3 a. of meadow had been given for the repair of the church, (fn. 537) and before 1783 a further small close was given for the church. (fn. 538) By 1837 it was the practice to sell the crop, usually for about £9, and then to allow the poor to graze their cattle there. (fn. 539) By 1952 the church lands consisted of 3 a. of arable in Long Lane, let for £6, and 1 a. of arable known as Clock close, let for £2 10s., given at an unknown date for the maintenance of the church clock. (fn. 540) In 1952 the old National school was acquired for use as a parish room. (fn. 541)
The church of ST. MARY is mostly built of field stones and local ironstone, and has a chancel with north vestry, aisled and clerestoried nave with transeptal chapels and porches, and west tower with spire. The existing building does not show any evidence for the form of the church before 1200, but the 13th century was a period of considerable building activity. The nave and south arcade were built first, then the north aisle followed by the south aisle and chapel c. 1300, the former probably a rebuilding of an only slightly earlier structure. The chancel was probably rebuilt to its present plan during the century but later reconstruction has removed all the 13th-century features. The building of the tower, porches, and north chapel in the 14th century virtually completed the plan of the church, but many features were replaced in the 15th and early 16th centuries. The chancel was rebuilt and the vestry added, the aisle and chapel windows were remade, the clerestory was raised and the nave roof put on, and the west doorway was put in the tower. The north chapel, St. Catherine's, was remodelled at the cost of Walter Taylard (d. 1466) during his lifetime. The surviving medieval fittings are from the same period and include the screen, six stalls in the chancel, and seating in the chapels. In 1490 the high altar and another altar in the north transept were reconsecrated and a large and a small bell were consecrated, perhaps marking the closing stages of the period of building.
In 1683 William Mainstone bequeathed money for new fittings, which do not appear to have been provided until c. 1780 when the pulpit and reredos from the chapel of Ely House, Holborn, were installed. About 1836 the chancel was renovated at the rector's expense, and the reredos was probably removed at that time, being subsequently reset in the school. There was a major restoration in 1880 under the direction of J. P. St. Aubyn. The vestry and south porch were rebuilt, the rood-stair was blocked, and a screen was removed from the opening between the north aisle and chapel. (fn. 542)
The church has six bells: three by Miles Gray the younger of Colchester, 1653, and three by Warner, two recast and one newly provided in 1897. A former bell was by Richard Chandler of Drayton Parslow (Bucks.). (fn. 543) The church had many service books in the late 13th century, (fn. 544) and valuable plate, ornaments, and vestments in 1552. (fn. 545) In 1783 the registers were said to begin in 1538; (fn. 546) by 1831, as in 1967, they began only in 1698, (fn. 547) with some loose sheets for an earlier period. (fn. 548) The plate included, in 1970, cups of 1602 and 1749, patens of 1604 and 1681, and a flagon of 1864.
The mission church of ST. SILVESTER, at Gamlingay Heath, was originally an iron structure, built in 1879. (fn. 549) A new red-brick building, having a nave, chancel, and porch, was built in 1885–6 to designs by J. P. St. Aubyn, (fn. 550) and was used for regular services in 1967.
Since the mid 17th century Gamlingay has had a strong tradition of protestant nonconformity. In 1669 there was a conventicle of about 40 dissenters who were mostly 'of poor and very mean condition', (fn. 551) and there were said to be 44 in 1676. (fn. 552) One of four preachers in 1669 was Luke Ashwood, apparently a Presbyterian. (fn. 553) John Bunyan applied for licence to use Ashwood's house as a place of worship, (fn. 554) and there was a local tradition that he preached in the parish. (fn. 555) Richard Freeman, an Independent, preached to a congregation of 250 in Gamlingay in 1715, (fn. 556) but in 1731 there were still only 40 dissenters in the parish, mostly Independents and Anabaptists. (fn. 557) During the 18th century the Baptists emerged as the strongest nonconformist group, (fn. 558) and by 1807 they were the largest religious group in the whole parish, though they had not increased in numbers in recent years. (fn. 559) By 1825, however, they were expanding again, (fn. 560) and in 1851 the parish was said to be filled with Baptist dissenters. (fn. 561) Methodism was represented after 1833 and contributed to the general predominance of nonconformists in the parish. The village supported four nonconformist chapels by 1881, and their members had prevented the closure of the churchyard although its overcrowding was a public scandal, (fn. 562) opposed the establishment of the National school, (fn. 563) and later proved obstructive on the school and burial boards. (fn. 564)
The first Baptist chapel, known as the Old Meeting House, was built in 1710. (fn. 565) It was rebuilt in 1840 (fn. 566) and restored in 1881. (fn. 567) A dwelling-house adjoining it, built in 1761, (fn. 568) was the old manse, later converted into cottages. (fn. 569) A new manse was erected in 1904. (fn. 570) It seems probable that a split occurred in the congregation in the late 18th century. Those at the Old Meeting House, styling themselves disciples of John Bunyan in 1783, (fn. 571) later became known as General Baptists. In 1851 the Old Meeting House had an average congregation of over 550 for three services each Sunday. (fn. 572) It remained in regular use in 1967. Attached to the Old Meeting House is a charity for the benefit of the minister comprising the old and new manses, Hope Cottage, and the former British school. It originated in the will of Thomas Handley, proved in 1740. In 1952 the property, except for the new manse, was let, the rent being spent on repairs to the chapel. John Ulysses Paine, by will proved in 1893, left £80 to be invested for the benefit of the chapel. (fn. 573)
By the early 1790s there was a congregation of Particular Baptists in the parish. (fn. 574) They probably worshipped at a chapel erected before 1800 at Gamlingay Cinques. (fn. 575) In 1851 it had an average attendance of 70, with 40 Sunday school children, at the one evening service. (fn. 576) The chapel was probably replaced by the Zoar chapel, built for Particular Baptists, perhaps in 1866, enlarged in 1876, (fn. 577) and closed c. 1914. (fn. 578) In 1940 it became part of a charity to be used to support Particular Baptist chapels elsewhere in Cambridgeshire. (fn. 579) The chapel, of red brick with a slate roof, stood in 1963 but had been demolished by 1967.
A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in 1833. In 1851 it had an average afternoon attendance of 80 and an evening congregation of 120, and was served by a minister from St. Neots. (fn. 580) It had been closed by 1895. (fn. 581) A second Wesleyan chapel was opened at Gamlingay Heath in 1879 and had been closed by 1895. (fn. 582) A third was built on the Heath by Capt. W.W. Dennis in 1883 (fn. 583) and was registered in the following year. (fn. 584) Built in the Gothic style, the chapel is of red brick with stone dressings and a slate roof.
A Primitive Methodist chapel was built at Green End in 1855 and registered in the next year. (fn. 585) It is a plain yellow brick building. It was purchased by the county council in 1958 for use as a primary school and in 1963 it was being used as a school. (fn. 586)
In 1713 a house and malt-house were licensed for use by Quakers, but no later reference to them has been found. (fn. 587) A Salvation Army barracks was registered in 1887, but had closed by 1895. (fn. 588) By 1967 the chapel of the alms-houses was known as the Full Gospel Hall.
In 1599 the curate, and in 1608 and 1610 the vicar, were combining their duties with those of schoolmaster. (fn. 589) Cuthbert Pearson, ejected from Kingston in 1644, is said to have taught at Gamlingay, presumably after his ejection and before settling in Bedfordshire, where he died in 1652. (fn. 590) In 1713 a charity school was established in the parish, supported by Merton College and local subscribers. It was conducted in association with the S.P.C.K.; some of the children were provided with clothing, and agricultural work formed part of the curriculum. (fn. 591) In 1716 there were 28 boys at the school, and 20 in 1724. (fn. 592) By will dated 1769 John Mean gave £40 in trust to teach poor children to read. The income of £2 was used to educate four boys, but by c. 1807 had been halved through the insolvency of the holder of the capital. (fn. 593) It was still being applied in 1843, (fn. 594) though the school itself had closed between 1819 and 1825. (fn. 595)
Apart from a small school attached to the Independent meeting-house in 1727 (fn. 596) and a private school reported in 1787, (fn. 597) the rapidly rising population of the village was badly served. In 1818 only one in 225 children went to school in Gamlingay, compared with one in 11 for the rest of the county. (fn. 598) By 1833 some improvement had been made. There were four day-schools, at which 30 boys and 24 girls were educated at their parents' expense, and two Sunday schools supported by public subscription. (fn. 599) The day-schools were evidently small; two survived until 1847 but were attended only by infants and were 'hardly worthy to be called schools at all'. (fn. 600) The Anglican Sunday school was attended by 25 boys and 28 girls, the Baptist Sunday school by 78 boys and 82 girls. (fn. 601) By 1846–7 there was apparently only one Sunday school, meeting in part of the church, attended by 50 boys and 43 girls. It had existed only for a short time, supported by subscriptions and a grant from the National Society. There was great need for a day-school. (fn. 602)
In 1848, largely through the efforts of the vicar in face of strong opposition from the nonconformists, a National school was built on a site given by Merton College. It received a parliamentary grant, and money was also given by the Cambridge Board, the National Society, Merton, Clare, and Downing colleges, and private individuals. The building had accommodation for 160 pupils, and a school-house was attached for a master and a mistress. Apathy and active opposition to a Church school put it in financial difficulties from the beginning (fn. 603) and in 1861 it was described as a 'dilapidated old place'. (fn. 604) The building was closed in 1868, but the school continued elsewhere until a school board was formed in 1874. (fn. 605) The parish purchased the building in 1952. (fn. 606)
The nonconformists of the parish, also in 1848, built their own school, which was affiliated to the British and Foreign Schools Society. (fn. 607) It had probably closed by 1873. (fn. 608) The school-house later formed part of the Baptist minister's charity, (fn. 609) and in 1967 was used for a Sunday school. (fn. 610)
In 1867 the average attendance at the National school was 38 boys and 36 girls in summer and 46 boys and 38 girls in winter. The total attendance at the British school and a dame school was 161. Night schools were also conducted during the winter months, 35 pupils attending for two hours four times a week for reading, writing, and arithmetic. (fn. 611) Cottage lectures were still being delivered in 1881. (fn. 612)
From 1874 the secular board school, established in that year, (fn. 613) was the largest school in the parish, though in 1879 a lady's boarding school was also conducted there. (fn. 614) In 1878 there were three classrooms and three certified teachers at the board school. Attendance rose from 214 in 1880 to 323 in 1904. (fn. 615) Thereafter it declined sharply with the population, falling to 131 in 1938. (fn. 616) The school was taken over by the county council c. 1904 (fn. 617) and was reorganized in 1923. (fn. 618) In 1886 an inspector reported the order of the school to be good. The boys were thought to be below the average intelligence, the girls 'good on the whole', the infants 'may just deserve to be classed as good'. (fn. 619) The report of 1888 showed considerable improvement. The school board provided an opportunity for further rivalry between Anglicans and nonconformists over education: a motion by the vicar to introduce bible study in the school was vetoed in 1888. (fn. 620) In 1967 classes were held not only in the school but also in the former Methodist chapel near by, which was purchased by the county council in 1958. (fn. 621) A swimming pool was opened in 1960. (fn. 622)
In 1902 there was a technical college with 15 pupils, aided by parliamentary grants. (fn. 623) A village college, with accommodation for 150 pupils in the secondary school, was opened in 1965. (fn. 624)
Charities for the Poor.
There were evidently some alms-houses in Gamlingay by 1596, (fn. 625) which were probably destroyed in the fire of 1600. (fn. 626) By deed dated 1628 Abraham Jacob gave a house as a site for an alms-house. (fn. 627) It may have been the town house, referred to in 1666 and 1682. (fn. 628) In 1665 Sir John Jacob built ten houses on the south side of Church Street, (fn. 629) which form a terrace in red brick of two storeys, under a continuous tiled roof, each house having a single room on each floor. At the east end is a brick and tile chapel, probably dating from the early 18th century but replacing an earlier building. (fn. 630) The alms-houses were apparently not endowed and were originally maintained by the overseers. (fn. 631) By a codicil dated 1754 Elizabeth Lane left £2,000 stock in trust to provide for their support and repair, any surplus to maintain eight poor widows living in the alms-houses. (fn. 632) Apparently the interest lay dormant for some years at the end of the 18th century, and was later used 'to put the ruinous building in repair', but for some years before 1806 the widows were receiving £10 each. (fn. 633) By 1837 the widows shared the whole income, amounting to £7 10s. each, unless repairs were necessary. (fn. 634) Under a Scheme of 1958 the alms-houses were vested in the Official Trustee; the income, after defraying the cost of repairs, was to be invested. The alms-houses were to accommodate ten poor widows of good character. In 1960 the income was over £250. (fn. 635)
Catherine Dod, by will dated 1697, left a rentcharge of 15s., 4s. to provide bread for the poor and the rest for an annual sermon and the parish clerk. By 1837 the charity was distributed with Harris's; the payments lapsed in 1872. (fn. 636) Harris's charity originated at an unknown date to provide bread for the poor from a rent-charge. By 1786–8 it was valued at 6s. (fn. 637) The charge was still paid in 1837 (fn. 638) but lapsed after 1872. (fn. 639)
In 1861 a claim was made on behalf of the poor of the parish against Merton College and the rector for the right to get fuel, apparently from the Heath. The claim was said to rest on the will of Sir George Castile (d. 1394), and to have been exercised until inclosure. The will was not found, nor the claim proved. (fn. 640)