A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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Charities for the poor
In the 1690s successive tenants of the Town Acre, 1½ a. in the north part of Beacon field, failed to pay the rent due from it by immemorial custom for the poor, but after an inquiry in 1700 the land was recovered. The rent, then 13s. 4d., (fn. 1) had increased from 1783 to £2 10s., which from the 1770s to the 1830s was distributed by a senior labourer to his fellows. (fn. 2) At inclosure in 1844 that land was exchanged for 2 frac3/4; a. of the green and adjoining closes, (fn. 3) which until the 1940s or later (fn. 4) was let as allotments. The rent was by 1894 used for the poor with money received from letting the herbage of the green and roadsides. (fn. 5) In the 1890s £2 or more a year was given in bread. By 1894 it was shared equally among cottagers in want at Christmas. (fn. 6) From the late 1940s it was partly accumulated although some was used to repair the parish houses. (fn. 7)
About 1700 the parish had put up a threeroom almshouse, (fn. 8) replaced by 1785 by the poorhouse, comprising four small dwellings, still occupied by labourers in 1841. (fn. 9) Said to have been rebuilt in the 1840s, (fn. 10) they needed substantial repair in 1895, and were empty from the 1920s and nearly derelict by 1940. About 1960 they were demolished and replaced with old people's bungalows. (fn. 11)
Francis Cotton by will proved 1804 left £20, whose interest his son was to give to the poor in bread. After the son died in 1852 his daughter Anne added another £50. The money was still given in bread in the 1940s. (fn. 12)