A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.
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The parish of Stapleford, (fn. 1) which in 1980 covered 743 ha. (1,835 a.), (fn. 2) lies about seven km. south-east of Cambridge. It stretches for some 1¼ km. between the line of the Roman road called Wool street (fn. 3) to the north and the river Granta to the south. Its north-western and south-eastern boundaries mostly follow old field and furlong divisions, and are fairly straight. North-west of the village Stapleford once shared with Great Shelford over 42 a. of intercommonable land called the Minglands. At its inclosure in 1812 they were divided, 23½ a. being allotted to landowners of Great Shelford and assigned to that parish. (fn. 4) The soil lies upon alluvium and river gravels along the low, flat ground near the river, at c. 25 metres. Further north a chalk down rises steadily from 30 metres to over 70 metres. At its highest points it is partly overlaid with glacial gravels.
The hill-fort called Wandlebury stands above a slope at the south-east edge of the northern hilltop. A timber faced rampart with a ditch 4 metres deep, enclosing 6 ha. (13½ a.) was constructed there in the third century B.C. Traces of habitation, including burials, have been found. After a period of decay the fort was strengthened, perhaps in the 1st century A.D. as a stronghold for the Iceni against the Belgae, with an inner rampart and ditch having a combined height of c. 10 metres. The inner bank and ditch were levelled in the 18th century, when Gogmagog House was built there. Two new entrances, supplementing the single ancient one, were then cut through the outer rampart, which is largely preserved, the ditch being still c. 1½ metres deep. (fn. 5)
From the 10th century to the 12th land pleas were occasionally held at Wandlebury. (fn. 6) By 1200 a legend about a ghostly warrior had become linked to the site. (fn. 7) By the 1570s the hills were named, as later, after the legendary giant Gogmagog. (fn. 8) The scholars of Cambridge were said in the 1620s to have been formerly accustomed to cut, or recut, on the turf the figure of a giant, perhaps when they visited the hills for sports prohibited to them in 1574. The figure, apparently lying within the ramparts, was still visible in the 1720s. (fn. 9) A tumulus survives at Wormwood Hill, formerly Wyrmelawe, 'the dragon's barrow', south-east of the fort. Another, near the Roman road, was destroyed in 1778. (fn. 10) In the mid 19th century extensive plantations were laid out round the hilltop. (fn. 11) Previously Stapleford had had little timber. The high ground in its northern part, comprising a quarter of the parish, had been open heath land since the Middle Ages. The land south of the main CambridgeHaverhill road, a turnpike between 1766 and 1876, (fn. 12) lay mostly in arable open fields, cultivated on a triennial rotation until inclosure.
The village grew up around a small patch of gravel in the south-west corner of the parish, close to a ford across the Granta, a post by which gave it its name. (fn. 13) There were 20 peasants in 1086, (fn. 14) 19 taxpayers in 1327, (fn. 15) and 62 adults in 1377. (fn. 16) In 1524 there were 30 taxpayers, (fn. 17) and in 1563 28 households. (fn. 18) Although the population probably increased to c. 190 in the early 17th century, (fn. 19) there were again only c. 30 dwellings c. 1666, (fn. 20) and 140 adults in 1676. (fn. 21) In 1728 37 families had 150 members. (fn. 22) By 1801 the population had grown to 235; there were c. 100 more inhabitants by 1821, and c. 450 in all in the 1830s. From a temporary peak of 594 in 1871 numbers fell, most rapidly in the 1890s, to 409 in 1901. By 1921, at 514, they had nearly recovered the level of 1891, and thereafter grew, more rapidly after the Second World War, mainly through immigration, to 636 in 1931, 831 in 1951, and 1,548 in 1961. After a pause in the 1960s, growth was resumed in the 1970s. (fn. 23)
The main village street (fn. 24) ran nearly parallel to the Granta, slightly south-eastward, but turning due east after a fork from which a branch led to a bridge over the river. The section between the Great Shelford boundary and the bridge, called latterly London Road, formed part of the CambridgeChesterford turnpike between 1724 and 1870. (fn. 25) From west of the fork the winding curves of Church Lane or Street and the back lane ran northward along the western edge of the village, past a small green near which stood the church, to meet eventually the straighter Bar Lane, leading north from the eastern part of the high street. Beside and between the street and lanes lay a compact mass of closes, irregularly disposed. East of Bar Lane lay the village green, c 30 a. until inclosure. (fn. 26) Part of the pond in it survived in 1980. South of the green was the principal manor house, later Bury Farm. At inclosure the Hills road, replacing an older green way to the hill, was laid out running north-east from Bury Farm towards the Haverhill turnpike; two parallel ways were stopped and the old way east beside the river towards Babraham was reduced to a footpath.
At the north end of Bar Lane stands the 17thcentury Stapleford Hall, once a farmhouse, timber framed and rethatched, with an original central fireplace and chimney stack, and two later wings. A few timber framed 17th- and 18th-century cottages survive, one being dated 1686. (fn. 27) Two mid 18th-century cottages on Church Street were restored c. 1977 by the Cambridgeshire Cottage Improvement Society. (fn. 28) In 1740 the village had 9 farmhouses, 10 other houses, and 14 cottages. (fn. 29) Eight cottages were destroyed by a fire in 1819. (fn. 30)
The 19th century saw much additional building, which, with subdivision of existing houses, (fn. 31) raised the number of dwellings in the parish from 58 in 1821, occupied by 82 families, to over 100 by 1851 and c. 125 in the 1870s. (fn. 32) Apart from the farmsteads built after inclosure beside the Haverhill turnpike for Heath and Gogmagog Farms, and usually inhabited by labourers until the 1860s, (fn. 33) there was little building away from the village before 1900. After the Great Eastern Railway had opened its London–Cambridge line in 1845, (fn. 34) there was, however, some middle-class immigration. In 1812 William Atkinson, a fellow at Cambridge, already occupied the Grove, at the fork near the bridge. (fn. 35) From the 1840s several large houses, some still classical in style, were built south of Mingle Lane, which led from the church towards Shelford station, and some fundholders and annuitants lived in the village. By 1861 there were 36 houses on the high street and a lane off it, 8 to the east along Bury End, 13 on Bar Lane, and 32 along Church Street, which included Mingle Lane. (fn. 36) Shortly after 1900 four Edwardian mansions were built in extensive gardens on rising ground a little north-east of the village known since the 13th century as Foxhill. (fn. 37) They included Middlefield, later Mount Blow, designed by Lutyens in 1908 for the legal scholar Henry Bond, and occupied in the 1930s by the antiquary T. C. Lethbridge. (fn. 38)
Infilling along the old streets raised the number of houses from 174 in 1931 to 254 by 1951; (fn. 39) council housing spread along Hills Road, from its junction with the back road, southwards to reach Bury Farm by the 1960s. The village was rapidly built up between 1950 and the early 1970s. By 1961 there were over 490 houses, and c. 140 were under construction in 1973. (fn. 40) By 1980 groups of privately developed houses along cul-de-sacs and crescents, often closely set together, one estate c. 1975 being planned to have 40 houses on 3 a., had covered almost all the ancient closes of the village. Stapleford village was thus virtually submerged in a single built-up area with Great Shelford. Only in the north-east quadrant, around Greenhedge Farm, was much empty land left there in 1980. (fn. 41)
The main village inns, both on Church Street, were the Rose and Crown, recorded from 1803, and the Three Horseshoes, opened by a blacksmith by 1840 and renamed the Longbow after rebuilding c. 1976. Both were still open in 1980, as was the Tree on Bar Lane, (fn. 42) recorded from 1895 and rebuilt in 1979. (fn. 43) The Dolphin on the high street flourished c. 1860–1920. (fn. 44) In the 1870s the village feast was held at the end of June. (fn. 45) About 1908 Dr. William Collier built on Bar Lane a village hall and reading room, which he gave to the parish in 1922. After it was sold to the county council in 1966, the villagers used for their social activities both the former church school given c. 1950 as the Johnson Memorial Hall, and rooms at the pavilion which the village hall trustees had built by 1973 on the recreation ground in the north-east of the village, acquired by the parish council in 1936. (fn. 46) In the late 20th century the growing population was well catered for by numerous societies, including sports, social, and youth clubs, a horticultural society, and an Umbrella club for music and drama. (fn. 47)
About 1900 most of the 230 a. west of Wandlebury were incorporated into the course of the Gogmagog Golf Club, formed in 1901, which still used the land in 1980. (fn. 48) The former parish gravel pit off the Hills road was in the 1970s controlled by the Cambridgeshire Naturalists' Trust as a small nature reserve. (fn. 49) In the late 1970s a former slaughterhouse was being converted for a museum of folk crafts. (fn. 50)
The monks of Ely claimed that King Edred had given the vill of Stapleford, c. 15 hides, to their church c. 955, well before the abbey was refounded; the actual grantee was perhaps Edred's thegn Wulfstan. (fn. 51) Probably a little later one Alfstan sold 2 hides at Stapleford to Ramsey abbey (Hunts.), which later gave them by exchange to Ealdorman Ethelwine's brother Alfwold. (fn. 52) Stapleford certainly belonged to Ely by the 1030s, (fn. 53) and the abbot held all the 10 hides there in 1066 and 1086. (fn. 54) About 1135 Bishop Niel assigned most of them to the prior and monks, (fn. 55) who were granted free warren there in 1252. (fn. 56) In 1257 the priory bought out John le Moyne of Shelford's claim to 1½ carucates there. (fn. 57) STAPLEFORD BURY remained a demesne manor of the priory until the dissolution, (fn. 58) and was included in 1541 in the endowment of the dean and chapter of Ely, (fn. 59) from whom it was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1870. (fn. 60)
From the late 16th century the Bury manor, together with the impropriate rectory, were held on a beneficial lease, which comprised not only the demesne and great tithes, but also the assize and copyhold rents and all royalties and court profits. The dean and chapter reserved only the timber and advowson. (fn. 61) From the 1630s even the courts were held in the lessees' names. (fn. 62) In the 1570s the lease was acquired by Edward Wood (d. 1599) of Fulbourn, (fn. 63) also lord of Sternes manor, with which it passed until the 1650s. (fn. 64) Sir William Halton, lessee from 1640, (fn. 65) bought the freehold shortly after 1650. He soon mortgaged it, and had assigned the lease by 1658 to William Wakefield, (fn. 66) who retained possession as lessee after 1660, in defiance of the mortgagee, under the restored dean and chapter. (fn. 67) By 1663 the lease had passed to Wakefield's widow Anne, lessee until 1668, and perhaps, as Anne, widow of John Wilkinson, one of the Six Clerks, in 1691. (fn. 68)
By 1697 the lease had been acquired by Arthur Joscelyn (fn. 69) (d. 1719), and passed to his son Arthur (d. s.p.m. 1740). (fn. 70) The latter's successors sold it to Francis Godolphin, earl of Godolphin, who retained it until 1757. (fn. 71) It was next given to Dr. William Collier, vicar since 1751 and son-in-law of John Peter Allix, dean of Ely (d. 1758). Upon Dr. Collier's death in 1787, (fn. 72) it descended to his daughter Sarah. She married her cousin John Peter Allix of Swaffham Prior (d. 1807) and retained it as a widow until she died in 1836. (fn. 73) Trustees then held it for her sons John Peter (d. s.p. 1848) and Col. Charles Allix (d. 1862) and the latter's son Charles Peter. In 1872 C. P. Allix agreed to surrender to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Bury farm (406 a.) in exchange for the lordship of the Stapleford manor and leaseholds at Swaffham. (fn. 74) The Stapleford manorial rights had come by 1881 to Sarah Francis of Quy Hall (d. 1897), widow of Clement Francis, a Cambridge solicitor, and descended to their sons T. M. Francis (d. s.p. 1931) and W. H. Francis (d. 1940), named as lord in the 1930s. (fn. 75) The Commissioners sold Bury farm in 1886 to W. S. Heffer, its tenant by 1883, (fn. 76) who died in 1907. (fn. 77) Probably in 1913 (fn. 78) it was sold to G. R. C. Foster of Trumpington, (fn. 79) and in 1936 to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, still the owner in 1980. (fn. 80)
The Ely manor had in 1650 a manor house within 13 a. of closes at the south-east corner of the village and a tithe barn by the church. The former, timber framed and tiled, included a hall and parlour and five chambers. In the 1660s it had 7 hearths. (fn. 81) The house was rebuilt in brick in 1851. (fn. 82) Following fires in 1879 and 1884 the farm buildings were replaced by model ranges in brick. (fn. 83)
Probably before 1135 a fraction of the Ely estate had been detached to form a manor held as ½ knight's fee of the bishop of Ely until after 1600. (fn. 84) In 1212 it was held by William son of Simon, (fn. 85) c. 1236 by William of Harston. (fn. 86) By 1258 it was held in demesne by William de Aubigny, later lord of Cainhoe (Beds.), (fn. 87) who died c. 1264. He left it to his son (fn. 88) Simon, who held 108 a. at Stapleford at his death in 1272. His heirs were his sisters, Isabel, Christine who married Peter de la Stane, and Joan. When 48 a. there were divided between them in 1273, the main undertenant, paying 10s. 6d. of 17s. rent, was again a William of Harston. (fn. 89) The sisters still held the fee jointly in 1302. (fn. 90) Lordship over land there rented at £2 belonged to William Saffrey, husband of Christine's daughter Margery, at his death in 1325. William's son Brian, then aged 14 (fn. 91) (d. 1349), held the fee in 1346 with Henry Steel, (fn. 92) who held his portion, 67 a., for life of Hugh Pouger. In 1347 Hugh assigned the reversion to his son John. (fn. 93)
That manor, thereafter called STERNES, probably belonged by 1417 to Walter Sterne (d. after 1434). (fn. 94) Margaret Sterne was tenant in 1428. (fn. 95) Robert Sterne (d. 1459) left two young sons Thomas (d. s.p. 1461) and Henry (1449–69), whose son Henry (b. 1468) (fn. 96) had his Stapleford lands in the bishop of Ely's wardship c. 1483. (fn. 97) Henry died c. 1507, and his son Thomas, of age c. 1520, in 1525, when his son Simon was aged two. Henry's widow Anne, then holding Sternes for life, died in 1536, when it passed to Thomas's widow Joan. (fn. 98) In 1575 Elizabeth and Thomas Sterne, perhaps Simon's widow and son, sold Sternes to Edward Wood, (fn. 99) who acquired two other Stapleford farms. Dying in 1599 he left them with the Bury lease to his son John, (fn. 100) a clerk of the signet, knighted in 1603. (fn. 101) Sir John Wood dispersed those lands by sale and mortgage. (fn. 102) In 1626 he sold Sternes to Henry North, who in 1631 resold it to Sir William Halton (fn. 103) (d. 1639). Halton's heir was his nephew William (cr. Bt. 1642, d. 1662), from whom Sternes descended to his sons Sir William (d. s.p. 1676) and Sir Thomas Halton (d. 1726). (fn. 104) Thomas's son Sir William sold it in 1734 to Francis, 2nd earl of Godolphin (fn. 105) (d. s.p.m. 1766).
The earl left his Stapleford estate, including Gogmagog House, to his cousin and heir male, Francis Godolphin, Lord Godolphin (d. s.p. 1785). (fn. 106) The latter devised the Gogmagog estate to Lord Francis Godolphin Osborne, son of the second earl's daughter Mary and Thomas Osborne, duke of Leeds. (fn. 107) Lord Francis, M.P. for Cambridgeshire 1810–31 and created in 1832 Lord Godolphin of Farnham Royal, died at Gogmagog House in 1850. His son and heir, Thomas Godolphin Osborne, who succeeded a cousin as 8th duke of Leeds in 1859, also died there in 1872. Thomas's son George, the next duke, died in 1895. His Stapleford land was sold the same year to W. G. and J. L. Lyster, (fn. 108) and bought in 1896 by S. G. S. Erskine, Lord Cardross, from 1898 earl of Buchan, who sold it c. 1903. (fn. 109) The next owner R. E. Alexander sold it in 1904. (fn. 110) The purchaser, Harold William Stannus Gray (K.B.E. 1938), made Gogmagog House his residence and died in 1951. His son T. J. Gray (fn. 111) sold it in 1954. The house and surrounding woodland (110 a.) were acquired, partly through his gift, by the Cambridge Preservation Society. (fn. 112)
Sternes manor house, reduced to a farmhouse, still stood in the village in 1740, (fn. 113) probably where Lord Francis's farmhouse stood at inclosure, slightly west of the Bury manor, but possibly in a 5-a. close in the north of the village later called Lordship Close. (fn. 114) The Godolphins and their successors, however, established their local seat within the ramparts of Wandlebury. About 1685 James II had had stables built there, of which part, of red brick, survived in 1980, in the centre of a longer range. In the mid 1720s the stables were leased from the dean and chapter by Tregonwell Frampton (d. 1727), keeper of the king's racehorses. They were then little used. (fn. 115) In 1729 Lord Godolphin began to build a large house there, completed by 1735. It had a plain nine-bay front in grey brick, facing north, with irregular offices to the south, where the approach was. The inner ramparts were levelled to make its gardens. (fn. 116) Perhaps c. 1752 (fn. 117) a new block, including stables and servants' quarters, was built south-west of the house. A pedimented archway, surmounted by a cupola and clock restored c. 1980, leads into a south-facing courtyard between two wings. Lord Godolphin's Arabian horse, the ancestor of most modern British racehorses, was buried, aged 29, under the archway in 1753. (fn. 118) The south range opposite was extended at both ends soon after. (fn. 119) In the 19th century the house, which was extended eastwards by six bays, was a frequent residence of the Osbornes until the 1890s. (fn. 120) It was demolished c. 1955, when the stables were converted for housing. (fn. 121)
The Colliers were established as landowners at Stapleford from 1736, when Richard Collier bought 80 a. of freehold, (fn. 122) part of 160 a. owned in the 16th century by the Drabbles of Flamstead (Herts.), and bought in 1584 by Edward Wood. (fn. 123) Richard died owning 115 a. in 1751. (fn. 124) His successors Richard and Tregonwell Collier, probably brothers, owned after inclosure 65 a. and 95 a. (fn. 125) Tregonwell left his land c. 1821 to Richard's sons, (fn. 126) who between 1825 and 1870 bought up 160 a. of the 240 a. allotted to lesser landowners at inclosure. (fn. 127) In 1865 Henry Collier, the last brother, bought Heath farm (231 a.), which he held on lease from the dean and chapter. (fn. 128) After he died in 1870 those lands were divided between his sons Henry, a clergyman (d. 1933) and Dr. William Collier, a successful physician (d. 1935). Heath farm was sold in 1896 to Caius College, Cambridge, still its owner in 1980. The other two Collier farms were for sale c. 1936. (fn. 129)
Of the ten hides in 1086 6½ belonged to the Ely demesne, upon which seven slaves, and probably the four bordars, were employed but which had only four ploughteams; those were assisted by the seven teams of the 16 villani. The manor was still worth £13, as in 1066. (fn. 130) By the early 13th century (fn. 131) there was much freehold land. The Stapleford family held at least 2 yardlands (c. 60 a.), until they were split up by sales in the mid 13th century, one purchaser taking 37 a., another 22 a. Much of that land was acquired c. 1300 (fn. 132) by the prior of Ely. His demesne was also augmented by other purchases of freehold, including three 15-a. half-yardlands (fn. 133) and 25 a. from the Helgeys. (fn. 134) He also bought up freemen's rights of common over the demesne, and of foldage (fn. 135) and in 1258 took a 12-year lease of the Aubigny demesne (108 a.). (fn. 136) Some freeholders then owed one-day harvest boons. (fn. 137)
The customary tenements included five full and eleven half-yardlands, besides seven cottars. By the 1410s, although some villeins were still personally bondmen, all those holdings were nominally in hand, (fn. 138) and in practice let out at rents of c. £22 8s. (fn. 139) In 1650 copyhold rents still came to £22 2s. (fn. 140) In the 18th century there were still 250 a. of freehold arable, besides the manors and glebes, and c. 450 a. of copyhold. (fn. 141) The latter was heritable and alienable, subject to fines at the lord's will, and could be leased for up to three years. The dean and chapter required their lessees, who actually received rents and fines, not to demand unreasonable ones: the just level was reckoned as one year's value of the land. (fn. 142)
The demesne, which in the 14th century had comprised c. 330–345 a. of arable, was perhaps still in hand in the 1390s, but at farm by 1410 for a rent of £70, including the copyhold rents, equal to the former income from direct management. By the 1470s the yield had fallen to £45–50. About 1530 the demesne rent by itself was £26. (fn. 143) The then lessee was Robert Goodman, by far the wealthiest villager, said to be worth £100 in 1522 and taxed on £50 in 1524. (fn. 144) At his death in 1532, when he bequeathed £700 among his children, he left both that lease and one of the Drabbles' 160 a. to his son John, who still held the Bury farm when he died c. 1562. (fn. 145) The next most prosperous farmer in 1524, taxed on £46 13s. 4d., was probably farmer of Sternes, whose demesne later comprised c. 185 a. By 1600 its lord also had the Drabbles' land and another farm, perhaps 70 a., formerly owned by the Reynolds family, who had been taxed on £12 in 1524. The other £30 10s. of goods assessed in 1524 had belonged to nine small yeomen, while 16 labourers paid on their wages. (fn. 146)
Besides the closes around the village, 86 a. in 1740, including Ely's Ancroft (14 a.) and Mill piece (20 a.) at the south-west corner, and the meadows, 36 a., and Lammas land, 68 a., mostly beside the river, Stapleford had arable fields stretching up to the Haverhill turnpike, traditionally reckoned as c. 1,245 a. (fn. 147) Numerous fields and furlongs were recorded in the 13th century, including Foxhill, Haukebarwe, and Church fields close to the Shelford border, and further east Coplowe and Wormelawe fields near the heath, and Easthill and Longland near the Babraham road. In 1340 100 a. of arable was lying uncultivated. (fn. 148) Although three fields were once mentioned in the 13th century, (fn. 149) few of the medieval names were recorded in the 17th century and later, and the arable was possibly re-arranged into three large fields after 1400. It was perhaps then also that 290 a. of the demesne's nominal 340 a. was concentrated, as was recorded in 1650, into a few large blocks, that ranged from one of 120 a., called the Hundred Acres, north of the village, and two of 60 a., down to 30 a. and 20 a. By the early 17th century (fn. 150) Church field (311 a.) stretched along the western border north from the village to the heath. Eastward the L-shaped Middle field (353 a.) running from the common green east to the Babraham border partly embraced Thistleburrow (by 1740 also Chalkpit, and c. 1810 Mill) field (366 a.) in the north-east. A triennial rotation was in force. In 1733 the demesne had nominally 110 a. (really 70–75 a.) in each field, and smaller holdings were likewise almost equally divided between them at inclosure. (fn. 151)
The 120 sown acres delivered to the lessee c. 1410 included 80 a. of wheat, but only 40 a. of barley. (fn. 152) The main peasant crop, however, was probably barley. (fn. 153) Saffron was grown by 1544, perhaps still in 1650. (fn. 154) In the 17th and 18th centuries the smaller landowners used their common rights over the arable mainly for cattle: only the manor farms apparently still then had sheepflocks. In 1697 only those with land worth under £4 a year were permitted to pasture cows on the balks, and then not over 3 each, reduced to 2 in 1707. Cattle not put in the common herd were not allowed on the meadows after haymaking, nor on other commons, apart from the village green, which was still being collectively fenced round in the 1750s. (fn. 155) Some 90 cattle were kept c. 1812, when there were still 32 commonable messuages, including 14 cottages. Turkeys were being raised by 1714: altogether c. 100 of them and 400 hens were kept c. 1812. (fn. 156)
The extensive heathland in the north until inclosure also included the hilltop south of the Haverhill road as far as the parish chalkpit. It was probably called the Moor in the 13th century, (fn. 157) and traditionally reckoned as 500 a. (fn. 158) and in 1740 as 547 a. (fn. 159) It enabled many sheep to be kept. In 1086 there was a flock of 120. (fn. 160) In the 13th century one large freeholder was entitled to a fold for 216, another to one of 100 with his 25 a. (fn. 161) The farmer John Reynolds bequeathed 400 sheep and 60 lambs in 1515. (fn. 162) About 1740 it was claimed that before 1500 there had been three folds for 216 sheep each, the priory then keeping 300. (fn. 163) After 1523 the Goodmans claimed to have a copyhold sheep walk for 300 animals. From the 1560s later Bury lessees opposed them, claiming that the Goodmans had procured the copyhold grant fraudulently, without the lord's authorization, and had only kept so large a flock in right of their demesne lease. Robert Goodman's grandson John, however, probably won his case, (fn. 164) for in 1740 the lords of Sternes had, besides their manor's sheep walk for 300, recorded from 1575, a copyhold one also for 300, attached to a half-yardland. (fn. 165) Both estates were in the same hands from the late 16th century, and in the early 18th century both were leased by the Joscelyns who sublet to the actual farmers but kept the whole sheep walk in hand; (fn. 166) so for long no occasion for dispute over their respective rights arose. In 1741, however, Lord Godolphin obliged the dean and chapter to accept a new settlement about the sheep walk and the heath, which Ely had previously considered to be in their sole ownership. They agreed to exercise sheep walk for only 300 beasts each, and to divide the heath equally between them, each taking 274 a. in severalty. The number of sheep kept was to be cut by one for each acre of heath inclosed. (fn. 167) Despite opposition from the dean and chapter, parts of it were occasionally ploughed up by farmers, both c. 1720, (fn. 168) and c. 1810 when the pretext was to improve the pasture by sowing grass seed. Rather more than 600 sheep were then kept. (fn. 169)
In the 1660s only 3 of c. 30 dwellings had more than four hearths, and 19 only one or two. (fn. 170) Several 18-a. and 30-a. half and full yardlands were then still separately owned. (fn. 171) The last to survive independently, gradually enlarged by its owners the Pamplyns from 18 a. to 40 a., was sold in 1810. (fn. 172) Landholding became more concentrated from the 1680s. Thus Branson Peter (d. 1697) who occupied the Bury farm and his son and namesake built up an estate including 198 a. of copyhold arable and 16 a. of grass by 1700, when following mortgages it passed to the Rumbolds. (fn. 173) Their heir Henry Hall owned 217 a. in all in 1740. Of the 782 customary acres then outside the manor farms and glebe 465 a. were included in three large holdings of 115–217 a., and 233 a. in four of 40–70 a., the other 84 a. belonging to eight smallholders. Of the seven larger farms only one of 115 a. was farmed by its owner; the rest were leased out by their non-resident landlords, each, however, to a different farmer. (fn. 174) About 1810 four owner-occupied farms comprised c. 230 a.; the other six larger ones were leased from outsiders. (fn. 175)
By 1800 innovations were being made in the open-field husbandry: 214 a. were in 1811 under grass and root crops, including 93 a. of turnips and 94 a., less than usual, of clover, trefoil, and coleseed, besides cabbages and potatoes. (fn. 176) By 1807 a man farming 120 a. was using threshing and chaff-cutting machines. (fn. 177) An inclosure Act was obtained in 1812. (fn. 178) The land was divided the same year, the award being executed in 1814. (fn. 179) Of the 1,662 a. of fields and commons involved, the dean and chapter, besides 222 a. for tithes, were allotted 435 a. for their manorial farm, and Sternes manor 405 a.: those allotments included the 231 a. and 237 a. in the west and east of the heath, which they already held in severalty. The vicar received 140 a. Of the remainder, five owners with 25–100 a. each shared 375 a., and six smaller ones 71 a., while 7 a. went to eight others solely for common rights. (fn. 180)
Thereafter (fn. 181) the dean and chapter's Bury farm comprised 406 a. east of the village, including in 1913 337 a. of arable. (fn. 182) By 1820 they had leased their Heath farm (231 a.) separately to Tregonwell and by 1845 to Henry Collier. (fn. 183) The Osbornes' Gogmagog farm to the north-east was long run mainly through farm bailiffs. By 1880 their 174 a. south of the Haverhill road was leased to farmers: one went bankrupt in 1892. (fn. 184) Of the 250 a. around the house, including 55½ a. of woodland and 114 a. of imparked grassland, still in hand in 1894, 166a. had been added to the farm by 1904. (fn. 185) The smaller holdings nearer the village, gradually consolidated by the Colliers, were later divided into Vine farm (175 a.) and Greenhedge farm (125 a.), west and east of the Hills road. (fn. 186) Only the Heffers kept their 82 a. separate, until it was linked to Bury farm from the 1880s. (fn. 187) In 1861 Henry Collier, farming 600 a., and William Baker of Bury farm, with 400 a., occupied over half the parish. (fn. 188) From the late 19th century Stapleford usually had four substantial farms. In 1955 four of 100–500 a. comprised together 1,307 a., while eleven men, with under 40 a. each, occupied 83 a. (fn. 189) Wheat and barley, and until the 1920s oats, remained the principal corn crops. The area under grass more than doubled from 176 a. in 1885 to 417 a. by 1905, partly perhaps through the partial conversion of Heath farm to a golf course, and was still over 380 a. in 1925. Sheep farming remained important until after 1900. In 1814 the Gogmagog farm had 200 Sussex sheep, in 1885 1,060 grown sheep were kept, in 1905 nearly 500, and even in 1977 one farmer still had 350. Vegetables, including mustard, were much grown from the 1920s, when 11 a. of orchards were covered with c. 3,250 apple trees. In 1955 there were 91 a. of sugar beet, by 1977 c. 200 a. (fn. 190)
In 1830 there were 55 adult labourers and 31 under 20. (fn. 191) In the mid 19th century, despite emigration, as in 1857 when up to 50 people left for Australia, (fn. 192) there were still 55–60 adults available for farmwork: the two largest farmers employed 35–40 men, the smaller ones 7 or more. (fn. 193) In 1873 30 such men's families were very poor, (fn. 194) and in 1893 nearly 30 labourers were out of work. (fn. 195) In 1925 c. 40 men were still employed in farming, but by 1977 full-time farmworkers, including the farmers, numbered only eleven. (fn. 196)
Stapleford had few resident craftsmen beyond those needed to assist farming. A tannery working there by 1712 probably closed c. 1796. (fn. 197) There was a cabinet maker in 1841. Such crafts as shoemaking and tailoring were no longer recorded after the 1880s. Of two smithies working in 1851, one in a forge built on the waste before 1760, only the Gumbleys' survived from the 1880s to the 1930s. Besides bakers and butchers the village usually had two or three shops in the 1850s as in 1960. In 1861 some women were working at the Sawston paper mill. A cycle maker's shop and taxidermist's, started by 1904, developed into a garage from the 1920s, and there was a small builder's business from 1912. (fn. 198) By 1895 English Fibre Industries had acquired a rope factory on land at the south-west corner of the parish; the works, stretching across the Great Shelford boundary, were still open in the 1960s. (fn. 199) By 1960 Stapleford was the headquarters of Shelford Building Supplies Ltd., (fn. 200) still open in 1980. An unfinished toy factory near the rope works, for sale in 1962, was perhaps occupied in 1976 by J. & H. Corrugated Cases, who made palletised packs. (fn. 201)
A mill was released to Ely priory in 1240. (fn. 202) About 1520 Thomas Sterne held of the priory by inheritance Milldam meadow and perhaps an adjacent water mill, (fn. 203) probably the copyhold water mill near Mill piece still attached to Sternes manor in 1740. (fn. 204) It had gone by 1812. Robert Willis, whose family were in business at Stapleford as millwrights from the 1790s to the 1870s, built a tower windmill on an open-field strip slightly north-east of the village in 1804. He had to promise that its turning sails should not frighten horses ploughing nearby. The mill was mostly run by the Rawlings family, the Willises' partners in business and marriage until 1884, when Dr. William Collier bought it. It had closed by 1905, perhaps c. 1890. The sails were stripped by 1939, the timber upper part mostly went for firewood during the Second World War, and the 10-ft. high brick base was removed in 1961. (fn. 205)
In 1299 the prior of Ely claimed to have view of frankpledge, the assize of bread and of ale, infangthief, and a prison in Stapleford. (fn. 206) A few court rolls survive for 1629–65, (fn. 207) and court books from 1661 to 1937. (fn. 208) The courts, still sometimes styled views of frankpledge, registered not only copyhold, but also, unusually, freehold property transfers. Aletasters were still appointed in the 1660s, constables from then to the 1720s, and haywards or pinders occasionally from the 1690s until inclosure. (fn. 209) The courts continued issuing agrarian bylaws until 1751, thereafter simply confirming those already in force. (fn. 210) The leet's power to make them with the lord's consent was noted in 1740. Then, (fn. 211) as in earlier conveyances, courts leet were claimed for Sternes manor. (fn. 212) No evidence survives of courts being held for it, however, and no copyhold was held of it at inclosure.
Expenditure on the poor doubled from £55 in 1776 to £109, nearly all on outside relief, in 1803, when 14 adults were regularly assisted. (fn. 213) About 1815 c. 18 people were permanently supported by the parish, at a cost of nearly £200. (fn. 214) Such expense rose to c. £325 c. 1820, and during the 1820s usually ranged between £240 and £270, only twice falling below £200. By 1834 it was again nearly £325. (fn. 215) About 1830 large families received help from the rates, and the labourers, of whom six were unemployed, were allotted among the farmers in proportion to the size of their farms. (fn. 216) From 1836 Stapleford was included in the Chesterton poor law union. (fn. 217) From the 1890s it belonged to the Chesterton R.D., and from 1974 to the South Cambridgeshire district. (fn. 218)
Stapleford had a church, presumably belonging to Ely priory, by the mid 12th century. (fn. 219) In the early 13th it was worth up to £15. (fn. 220) It was still served by a rector in 1258, (fn. 221) but, under a papal bull of 1255, (fn. 222) the priory had appropriated it by c. 1276, when there was a vicarage. (fn. 223) The advowson of it belonged to the prior and convent of Ely, (fn. 224) from whom it passed to the dean and chapter, (fn. 225) with whom it remained in the 1970s. (fn. 226) In 1544 Philip Parys of Linton had presented by grant of the prior. (fn. 227)
Besides the small tithes the vicar had a house, a 4-a. grass close, and c. 50 a. of fieldland. (fn. 228) In the 18th century his glebe comprised 8 a. of grass and 48½ a. of arable. (fn. 229) In 1291 the vicar was taxed on £4 3s. 4d. of the church's total income of £16 3s. 4d. (fn. 230) By the 1530s he was receiving also a pension from the rectory of 2 qr. each of wheat and barley, and £2. (fn. 231) The vicarage was worth nearly £8 in 1535, (fn. 232) and £40 in 1650, when the tithe of saffron was equally divided between rectory and vicarage. (fn. 233) By 1691 the cash pension had been increased to £22 a year, (fn. 234) so that the vicar had £70 yearly in 1728, (fn. 235) and £80 by 1740. Standard cash payments were then taken for most small tithes, £10 for those of wool and lambs, and the glebe yielded £15. (fn. 236) At inclosure the tithes were commuted for land: (fn. 237) 223 a. were allotted for the rectorial ones. The vicar received 26 a. for his glebe and 115 a. for his tithes and pensions. (fn. 238) By 1830 the living was worth £181 net, (fn. 239) and in the 1870s £300–325 net, mostly from the 142 a. of glebe. (fn. 240) By the 1910s it had fallen by over a third, below £200. (fn. 241)
The vicarage house stood in 1740 in a 1½-a. close slightly east of Bar Lane, by a lane between closes later called Vicarage Lane. (fn. 242) It had 5 hearths in 1666. (fn. 243) From the early 18th century it was seldom used by vicars, and, though kept in repair, was in the 19th century mostly rented to labourers. (fn. 244) Robert Hawthorn, vicar 1845–72, by 1851 had acquired, and inhabited, the large Stapleford Lodge south of Mingle Lane, which, however, his heirs sold in 1872. (fn. 245) Later vicars had to live at Great Shelford, or even Cambridge, until, after long delays, the old cottage was sold in 1905, and a new vicarage built with the proceeds in 1906 just west of the church. (fn. 246) It was still the glebe house in 1980.
The 13th-century clergy were often local men. One parson, Ralph, had probably two sons, to whom he left land in the parish. (fn. 247) His successor Osbert Helgey (fl. 1258) came from a prominent freeholding family. (fn. 248) Osbert's contemporary and probable assistant Peter the chaplain similarly was son of Stephen the priest, who had served in Ralph's time. (fn. 249) Vicars were recorded from the 1270s. One gave a cope in 1306. (fn. 250) Another in the 1370s spent some time in the bishop's prison as a convicted clerk, while a chaplain served the church. (fn. 251) That vicar resigned in 1381. There were nine incumbents, most of whom quitted Stapleford by exchanges, between 1390 and 1420. (fn. 252) In the late 15th century it was held by two canon lawyers. (fn. 253) Some early 16th-century villagers, including one vicar, left substantial sums for temporary chantries. There was a guild, probably in honour of St. Catherine; a tabernacle over her altar in the church, perhaps in the north chapel, was being made in 1503. (fn. 254) The Crown sold the guildhall, mentioned in 1532, in 1569. (fn. 255)
A former monk of Ely, vicar from 1550, was deprived in 1554 for having married. (fn. 256) A vicar sometimes absent in 1561 had a curate by 1564. (fn. 257) William Lee, 1577–1618, prospered enough to found a grammar school at his native Batley (Yorks. W.R.), besides benefactions to Stapleford, (fn. 258) where there is a brass to him. His successor Henry Taylor retained the vicarage through all changes until his death in 1661. (fn. 259) About 1680 the chancel east end probably still had seating behind the communion table, after the puritan manner. (fn. 260) Charles Beaumont, who succeeded a brother in 1687, served until 1727. (fn. 261) In 1728 his successor was employing a curate, paid a third of the vicarial income. (fn. 262) Thenceforth, until after 1800, the vicars, who included James Bentham, 1733–7, the future historian of Ely cathedral, were mostly non-resident. (fn. 263) William Collier, 1751–87, usually lived on his other Ely living of Swaffham Bulbeck, (fn. 264) and William Metcalf, 1788–1803, was also precentor of Ely. (fn. 265) Charles Mulis, 1803–45, also held Pampisford and c. 1810 retired to Devon from illness. (fn. 266) All therefore necessarily served Stapleford through curates, in Mulis's time shared with Pampisford, who usually were paid half the vicars' income. They occupied the vicarage, held two Sunday services, preaching at one, and administered the sacrament three or four times a year. (fn. 267) In 1836 there were 30–40 communicants. (fn. 268) In the late 19th century, of some 200 church people, enough to fill the 200 sittings, c. 40–50 were communicants: an average of 25 regularly attended the communions, held monthly by 1873. There was a choir of 44 in 1897, when an organ was presented. About 120 people were then neglecting all religious worship. (fn. 269)
The church of ST. ANDREW, so named by 1500, (fn. 270) consists of a chancel, nave and aisles under a single roof, with south porch and north chapel, and west tower. In 1980 the chancel had recently been refaced in Portland stone in place of clunch; the rest of the church is of flint and field stones, and the whole is heavily restored. The earliest surviving part is the Norman chancel arch. An originally short, squarish chancel was probably extended eastwards in the 13th century: the lancets to the east are wider than that to the west opposite the priest's door. In the south-east angle is an elaborately restored piscina. In the early 14th century two 2-light windows were inserted at the chancel west end. Within older nave outer walls, retaining 13thcentury doorways and one lancet at the south aisle west end, a five-bay arcade with double-chamfered arches on octagonal piers was also inserted in the early 14th century. There was perhaps a pause after building the first two bays on the south side before the rest was completed. The nave windows, mostly square-headed with two lights, are also 14th-century. Their much renewed tracery is more ogee-headed towards the west. The probably contemporary three-stage tower is buttressed and embattled, with a short spire. In the 15th century the chancel received a three-light east window, and a transeptal chapel was built at the north aisle east end.
Fragments of a carved Anglo-Saxon tombslab are preserved in the church. (fn. 271) The plain, octagonal font is probably 13th-century. The rood screen and an old wainscot pulpit survived in 1742, (fn. 272) and one medieval stall front is still in the chancel. By 1579 the chancel windows were greatly decayed through the default of the rectory lessee. (fn. 273) Parts of the roof were still covered with often leaking thatch in 1604, 1660, and probably 1685. (fn. 274) No medieval stained glass survived William Dowsing's destruction of 30 'superstitious pictures' in 1643. In 1742 Lord Godolphin took the north chapel for his servants' pew and erected one for himself across the chancel steps. (fn. 275) The next lord paid for renewing the other seating c. 1780, when the church was said to be in decent repair. (fn. 276) The tower was substantially repaired in 1803. (fn. 277) In 1866 W. M. Fawcett restored the nave: its roof, floor, and furnishings were completely renewed, and some windows reopened. The two-storey 14th-century south porch, which previously had a stepped gable, was entirely rebuilt. (fn. 278) The chancel, poorly repaired for the Allixes c. 1859, was carefully restored by Ewan Christian in 1873. (fn. 279) A vestry added north of the nave north door in 1925 (fn. 280) was extended northwards in the 1970s, when the tower was again restored, some mouldings being renewed in pink brick. (fn. 281)
The church had two chalices c. 1276, (fn. 282) and two of silver, one parcel gilt, in 1552. (fn. 283) A cup and paten by Thomas Buttell were obtained c. 1570, and two more patens were given in 1638 and, by the vicar, in 1718. (fn. 284) In 1524 60 lambs were bequeathed for making a bell frame. (fn. 285) The two bells in 1552 (fn. 286) were probably the two medieval ones recast in 1845. In 1783 the vicar still held 1 a. to find ropes for them. Two more were added in 1622, another in 1854. All five were restored in 1911, when a sixth was added. (fn. 287) The registers begin in 1557. (fn. 288)
The churchyard was closed in 1879, (fn. 289) whereupon Dr. William Collier gave ½ a. slightly north-west of the church for a cemetery, opened in 1880. (fn. 290) From the 17th century the churchwardens had for church repairs half, and from 1885 3/5, of the income of the feoffees' charity estate. In the 18th century their share came to £3, by the 1970s to c. £90. (fn. 291) The town clerk's cottage sold by the Crown in 1569 (fn. 292) was perhaps the cottage beside the church occupied ex officio by the parish clerk in 1783. (fn. 293) Its site was given in 1847 for building the National school, in exchange for a ½-a. plot by the bridge over the Granta, just across the Sawston boundary. The Clerk's Piece, yielding £1–2 yearly and reckoned a charity, was bought by the parish council in 1979 to preserve the village children's customary access to the river. (fn. 294)
In 1728 there was one Independent family. (fn. 295) The evangelist John Berridge, curate at Stapleford 1749–55, preached there in 1759, attracting a crowd of 1,500. (fn. 296) In 1783 a third of the inhabitants were Methodists or dissenters. (fn. 297) Barns were registered for their worship in 1808 and 1838, and a house in 1809, (fn. 298) but in 1825 the many dissenters mostly went to meeting houses elsewhere. (fn. 299)
About 1855 the Cambridge Particular Baptists established a congregation at Stapleford. In 1863 Richard Headley, whose namesake, a farmer, had provided the barn in 1808, conveyed to trustees the site on Church Street, where their small chapel had been built. (fn. 300) A grocer was perhaps its minister in 1871. (fn. 301) There were 50 dissenters in 1885, 200 in 1897. (fn. 302) The Providence Baptist chapel remained in use until the 1970s, being slightly extended in 1947. It had then no formal membership. In 1975, following disagreement over church rules between the small congregation which still worshipped there and the Midland Strict Baptist Association, the latter sold the chapel, which became a workshop c. 1979. (fn. 303)
No school was established before 1800, (fn. 304) although in 1783 a few poor children learnt to read. (fn. 305) A Sunday school at which the vicar catechised in 1807 (fn. 306) probably closed c. 1810, but was reopened in 1822, when it was maintained by subscriptions and held in the church. In 1833 58 pupils of both sexes learnt to read there. A clergyman, perhaps the curate, had kept a boarding school for 4 boys in 1815, as did the curate for 8 in 1833. By 1818 Lady Frances Osborne was supporting a small school for girls. It had then 12 pupils, and in 1833, after remodelling in 1827, 34 girls who received free teaching and clothing; 12 boys who also attended were paid for by their parents. (fn. 307) In 1846 as a private school it had 13 pupils, all but 2 being girls. (fn. 308)
About 1845 the vicar opened at the old vicarage a National day school supported by subscriptions with nearly 80 pupils; 30 boys came to evening classes. It was temporarily closed while the vicar raised the £400 needed to erect a new schoolroom for 102 built, with a teacher's house, with Gothic details. It stood slightly east of the church, and was opened in May 1847, with 110 children on the books. Of the £47 income in 1855, mostly used to pay the master, who also taught an evening school, 2/3 came from subscriptions, the rest from schoolpence, paid at a higher rate by tradesmen's children. (fn. 309) It was apparently enlarged c. 1860. (fn. 310) From the 1850s to the 1870s about 60 of the 70–80 pupils regularly attended. (fn. 311)
A school Board was formed in 1875. (fn. 312) When the vicar, who had failed to secure election to it, declined to let the National school to it at an acceptable rent, Dr. William Collier gave a site west of Bar Lane, upon which a board school was opened in 1878. Built of red brick, somewhat in the 'Queen Anne' style, it had separate mixed and infants' classrooms, for 120 children in all. Average attendance was then c. 60. (fn. 313) For a time the vicar struggled to carry on the National school at his own expense; but it languished, having by 1885 only 21 pupils, compared to the board school's 99, and finally closed c. 1890. The building was long used for a Sunday school. (fn. 314)
In the 1890s attendance at the board school rose to 75, thereafter declining gradually to c. 55 between 1914 and 1927. (fn. 315) Evening schools held there, teaching mainly handicrafts, flourished in the 1890s, c. 25 people receiving instruction. (fn. 316) From 1930 the older children went to Sawston village college, (fn. 317) but the primary school still had over 70 pupils by 1938. (fn. 318) By 1960 numbers had reached 100, taught by 5 teachers, (fn. 319) and the school was repeatedly enlarged in 1955, 1963, and 1975, (fn. 320) to allow for population growth and an overflow of children from Great Shelford. By 1978 there were 340 pupils. (fn. 321) The extensions gradually overran ½ a., given for the village children's playground by Dr. William Collier in 1930, and the county council had twice, in 1958 and 1973, to provide fresh sites for it further west. (fn. 322) In the 1970s the council converted the old village hall, just south of the school, into a centre for training teachers to teach mathematics. (fn. 323) In 1974 it also built just to the north Greenhedge school for 50 subnormal children. (fn. 324)
Charities for the Poor.
Edward Wood (d. 1599) built on the waste a cottage for poor widows. In his will he requested his successors as Bury lessees to maintain it, installing new widows to replace those who died. (fn. 325) It was probably the 8-hearth almshouse recorded in 1666, (fn. 326) and possibly the town house mentioned in 1733, near the road fork, ceded by the parish in 1812. (fn. 327)
The Stapleford Feoffees' charity estate probably derives from lands held for the parish from the 16th century. The 4 a. held with the town croft by the churchwardens in 1569, though then sold by the Crown, were probably recovered. Another 9 a., called the Task land, had been given mainly to relieve the poor of paying the king's taxes, and, when they were not levied, for the church and poor. The vicar William Lee (d. 1617) gave his house and land at Stapleford, half for the church, half for the godly, honest, and diligent poor, but not idlers, drunkards, and hedge breakers. The three charities, resettled in trust in 1619–20, were gradually amalgamated. (fn. 328) In 1740 the property yielded altogether £8 10s. The poor then received £7 in doles at Easter, besides 10s. and 7 loaves at Christmas from other bequests, in 1783 recently lost. (fn. 329)
The 16 a. allotted for the Church and Town land at inclosure, besides a cottage, (fn. 330) yielded by the 1830s £24 a year: by an agreement of 1825 2/5 was reserved for the church, 1/5 for the poor, while 2/5 might go to either; c. 10 a. of the land were let as allotments. In practice, c. 1837, the church received a third, and of the poor's share, c. £5 was given yearly in indiscriminate doles, the rest partly for apprenticeships. (fn. 331) About 1863 the churchwardens had £22 8s., the poor only £5 12s. in doles. (fn. 332) In the 1870s the land was let in ½-a. allotments, and 2/3 of the net income went to the church, only ⅓, £3 in 1884, to the poor. W. S. Heffer, who managed it, being a dissenter and Radical, the vicar and vestry questioned his stewardship in 1883. A Scheme of 1885 allotted 3/5 of the income to the Church Estate Fund, 2/5 to the poor, whose share was usually given until after 1910 in coal to up to 90 people. Although much was spent in repairing the cottage, (fn. 333) the total available income in the 1970s was c. £150, of which £60 was often given in cash to up to 12 people. (fn. 334)
A War Memorial Fund, collected by 1922, of £85 invested to yield £3 15s., was meant to support sick, poor villagers at a convalescent home at Hunstanton (Norf.), which was entitled to the income in years when no patients were sent there, as was usually the case after 1950. (fn. 335)