Landbeach: Economic history

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


'Landbeach: Economic history', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds, ed. A P M Wright, C P Lewis( London, 1989), British History Online [accessed 13 July 2024].

'Landbeach: Economic history', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Edited by A P M Wright, C P Lewis( London, 1989), British History Online, accessed July 13, 2024,

"Landbeach: Economic history". A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Ed. A P M Wright, C P Lewis(London, 1989), , British History Online. Web. 13 July 2024.


In 1086 there were 5½ ploughlands, on which the demesne had 3 ploughteams and the 9 villani only 2 ½ between them, with 4 bordars and 19 cottars. Since the vill was assessed at 11 hides, much of its wealth presumably came from pasturage. Its overall yield, though recovering, was in 1086 still £2 below the £7 10s. of 20 years earlier. (fn. 1) By 1300 the two manorial demesnes probably comprised a high proportion of that part of the parish, c. 1,000 a., devoted to arable farming. That of Chamberlains, of which 180 a. were under cultivation in 1345, though only c. 140 a. in 1353, (fn. 2) probably included at least 230 a. c. 1359, (fn. 3) and was reckoned as 306 a. altogether in 1404. (fn. 4) In 1316 Brays demesne included 187 a. of old arable and 63 a. of new. (fn. 5) In 1279 (fn. 6) c. 110 a., including the Knight family's 60 a. and Barnwell priory's 30 a., were held freely of Chamberlains manor and c. 55 a. of Brays. The customary holdings, of which the largest were reckoned in 1279 as 5 a., though in 1316 as 10 a., whether through reassessment or actual enlargement, numbered 13 on Chamberlains in 1279, besides two recently alienated, and 12 c. 1348. The 8 lesser holdings were reckoned as 2 ½ a. in 1279, later as 5 a. On Brays there were 9 greater and 5 lesser holdings in 1279, besides 7 cottages, but in 1316 there were 12 of 10 a., 3 cotmen with 2-3½ a. each, and only 2 cottagers.

The labour services due were heavy and virtually uniform on both manors. (fn. 7) Besides carrying services required on Brays every Saturday, to Ely, Wisbech, or King's Lynn, tenants of the larger holdings had to work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays throughout the year. The Fridays were reserved for ploughing, on Brays between Michaelmas and Easter. In harvest villeins must send two men every Thursday to a bedrip or boonwork, besides doing a day's haymaking. On Chamberlains manor such services were still largely exacted c. 1350. The harvest works, totalling c. 900 in 1348-9, were demanded in full, even though the lord also hired much labour, 40 men in 1348, 15 in 1353 on a smaller acreage, to reap most of his crops in one day. Of some 1,700 works owed outside harvest in 1348-9, almost 300 were used for ploughing, the rest mainly for relatively less skilled tasks such as spreading manure, breaking clods, hoeing, and cutting stubble. Even so 581 remained to be sold.

Chamberlains demesne was cultivated directly for its lord until the 1350s. (fn. 8) It was usually managed by reeves drawn from the tenants, who sometimes bought themselves out of the office, though exempt from works while holding it, and sometimes abused it. (fn. 9) The lord regularly employed a carter and two ploughmen, in charge of teams of 5 or 6 horses and 10 oxen, which in summer grazed on the marshes. He also had a permanent swineherd and cowherd, even though most of his milking cows were leased out. His demesne sheepflock, numbering c. 160 in 1346, and including 49 wethers and 40 ewes in 1352, was not kept permanently at Landbeach, only coming in spring and autumn to fold the arable.

Much of the wheat sown on the demesne arable (fn. 10) was delivered to the lord's bakery, though some was sold, in 1349 a third (61½s qr.). Similarly some of the peas fattened pigs for the lord's larder. Of the main spring crop, dredge, some was malted for the lord's household, but much was sold, 192 qr. out of 265 qr. between 1347 and 1349. Such sales brought in most of the cash profit from demesne cultivation, which in the 1340s averaged £15 out of receipts of £30 or more. The balance, usually 30s. to £3 a year, came from the exploitation of lordship, both through sales of works and from the manorial court. Such profits nominally rose to £15 in 1349, but the lord pardoned £11 arising from entry fines after deaths from the plague.

The manorial economy was shaken in the 1350s. In 1352 five of the 20 larger holdings were still vacant, while the profits from cultivating the demesne shrank to £7 out of £25 received. (fn. 11) In 1359 Sir Thomas Chamberlain leased the whole demesne, c. 230 a., for 13 years to 16 of his tenants in lots of 5-30 a., but mostly of 20 a. He also commuted their works for payments of 5- 10s. a year per holding. Whether because the rent was too high (fn. 12) or because Sir John de la Lee took back the land, the demesne was again in hand in 1362, when labour services were being demanded. (fn. 13) Lee had crops and cattle on it when he restored it to Corpus Christi College in 1367, (fn. 14) and it was probably still in hand in 1375, when it carried c. 30 cattle and 135 grown sheep. (fn. 15) Manorial discipline, however, was breaking down: refusal to perform services, seldom recorded before 1349, (fn. 16) became more common from the 1360s, all 13 resident tenants sometimes ignoring the summons to work in 1368. (fn. 17) By the late 1370s four neifs had quitted the manor without seeking leave. (fn. 18)

By 1378 the college had leased the demesne as a unit to a Cambridge burgess, still in possession in 1387. (fn. 19) Most of its customary tenements continued until c. 1400 to be granted hereditarily on the old terms, (fn. 20) and only occasionally for life instead, at high rents in place of works. Even then the lord reserved his haymaking and harvesting boonworks. (fn. 21) Brays demesne, probably in hand in 1356 and 1364, (fn. 22) was likewise leased by 1385. (fn. 23) Between 1396 and 1406 it was successively occupied by men from Cambridge and Willingham. (fn. 24) By 1414 it was divided among several villagers, who used its demesne flock to compost their own land as well. (fn. 25) The tenants of Chamberlains, who already occupied 100 a. of its demesne in 1404, (fn. 26) took it over entirely in the 1430s. In 1429 it was let to eight of them for 12 years at 8d. an acre, and in 1441 a committee of villagers headed by the rector was appointed to divide it among all the tenants for another 12 years at 9d. an acre. That arrangement was apparently made permanent after 1453. (fn. 27)

Those tenants had also from c. 1400 received their 'tenacre' and 'fiveacre' lands, latterly usually described as full and half yardlands, for terms mostly of 8-12 years, though sometimes for life, at rents, in lieu of all services, set from 1400 at a rate at £1 for 10 a. (fn. 28) On Brays manor, whose lord unsuccessfully arrested a man whom he claimed as a bondman in 1424, (fn. 29) similar rents were being paid by 1402. (fn. 30) Not until the 1460s were copyholds on Chamberlains manor again regularly granted as heritable. (fn. 31) Entry fines, sometimes equal to the yearly rents in the early 15th and mid 16th century, (fn. 32) were doubled by the 1570s, (fn. 33) and were later at the lord's will. (fn. 34)

The number of tenants on Chamberlains was reduced by the 1450s, when there were 9 or 10 holding 10 a. each, but only 2 with 5 a., besides 7 cottagers and crofters. The larger tenants then also shared c. 112 a. of demesne, called 'meneland' by 1430, probably the 100 a. of 1404, at 10d. an acre rent, in lots of 10-16 a. From the 1430s to 1461 the manorial farmstead with its 'Hallyard' and the adjacent Madecroft was occupied by Adam Clerk. (fn. 35) It was perhaps by absorbing other former demesne land that the total area of copyhold had increased to c. 255 a. by 1549, when the larger copyholders still occupied 120 a. of 'meneland' in lots of 5, 11, 15, and 22 a. Whereas on Brays manor the demesne had been enlarged to 420 a. by taking in customary land, (fn. 36) the college had apparently no demesne farm at all in 1549. (fn. 37) In 1589 it sought to re-establish one, leasing it to a gentleman and demanding the return of the meneland. The tenants alleged that that land had long been granted as part of their copyholds, and a manorial court verdict of 1592 confirmed them in possession of the 106 a. of meneland then recorded. (fn. 38) The college, however, had probably recovered it by 1615, (fn. 39) and in 1666 possessed 110 a. of farmland, (fn. 40) and at inclosure in 1808 a farm of 128 a. besides inclosed pasture. (fn. 41) Some 280 a. of arable and several meadow were then claimed as copyhold of Chamberlains manor, for which c. 450 a. were allotted, but barely 20 a., mostly for common rights, for copyhold of Brays, to which 11 freeholds and 6 copyholds then owed quitrents. (fn. 42)

Before inclosure Landbeach had four open fields. (fn. 43) Three west of the village were recorded from the mid 13th century. (fn. 44) To the south-west, covering c. 275 a., was Street field, so named until the 1330s, but after 1340 renamed Mill field, although the older name was sometimes used into the 1380s; (fn. 45) Dunstall field, 259 a., lay in the parish's south-western corner, while Scachbow field, 229 a., stretched across to their north. A smaller fourth field, Banworth, c. 120 a., east of the village, had been added by 1316, when much land in it was described as being common 'unless it is sown'. It had perhaps been recently taken in from the common to support an increasing population. The land so styled included almost a quarter of Brays manor's arable, 18 a. out of 38 a. in Banworth field, and 34 a. of 78 a. in Scachbow field. The latter field had probably also been extended north-westward at the expense of the common moor: (fn. 46) as late as 1549 arable along the north-west edge of Scachbow and Dunstall fields was called Moore under Dunstall and Scachbow in Morefield. In the 1340s land was also being sown in the 'Made' or 'Madefeld', (fn. 47) probably the land described in 1316 as the mowable meadow between Landbeach and Milton. (fn. 48) By the mid 15th century the area east of Banworth field had, as Banworth Meadow, been made a regular arable field, its divisions being reckoned as furlongs. (fn. 49) It was still probably arable in 1549, when it covered c. 116 a. Perhaps by 1600, certainly by the 1660s, it had reverted to permanent grassland. It was still then divided into furlongs, the strips within them held permanently in severalty, and probably accounted for most of the 150 a. of meadow leys recorded in 1666, besides 30 a. of mowing meadow. (fn. 50) There were then reckoned to be 894 a. of arable, compared with c. 1,000 a. recorded in 1549. In 1727 there were supposedly 1,060 a. of arable, (fn. 51) and in 1808 799 a. of open-field arable with 129 a. of Lammas meadow to the east, besides 20 a. of 'open and shut meadow'. (fn. 52)

North of the arable and meadow lay a wide belt of common pasture probably called the Moor in the 14th century, (fn. 53) and in 1439 styled the Fen. (fn. 54) Considered in 1604 as 'good sheep courses' (fn. 55) and called by 1609 the Sheepwalk, (fn. 56) it had by 1659 long been divided into four separate sheepwalks, apparently marked off by ditches. The flocks assigned to one were not allowed to enter any other, even in passage. One sheepwalk belonged to Chamberlains manor farm, another, perhaps mentioned in 1365, to its tenants, and two to Brays manor, possibly one for its demesne, the other for its annexed copyholds. (fn. 57) In 1808 the whole sheepwalk was reckoned to cover 744 a.: c. 290 a. east of the Ely road belonged to the Worts, formerly Brays, sheepwalk, the college farm's walk occupied almost 200 a. in the centre of the parish, and the Town walk, so named by the 1670s, lay along the western boundary. (fn. 58)

Beyond the sheepwalks and south-west of the Car Dyke lay Frith Fen, so named by c. 1330. (fn. 59) In 1316 it had probably contained the doles of mowable meadow in the moor, of which Brays manor then had c. 30 a. (fn. 60) Though reckoned only at 70 a. c. 1535, (fn. 61) it covered 128 a. in 1808 when it was mainly used as Midsummer meadow. (fn. 62) In the 15th century the tenants were repeatedly admonished to keep the surrounding ditches scoured. Each holding in it amounted by 1435 to a few roods or acres, (fn. 63) but by the 18th century was customarily reckoned in feet. The shares were allotted yearly, starting from a new point each time, in roods measured by poles of varying length (13 and 15 ft.) for different parts of the fen, until each tenant's portion was completed. (fn. 64)

In the long triangle beyond the Car Dyke was another common pasture called by the 1440s the High Fen, (fn. 65) and described c. 1604 as 'a long spong of marsh ground'. (fn. 66) In 1808 it covered c. 270 a. (fn. 67) That area had been intercommonable to Cottenham and Landbeach until 1235, when after a dispute the landowners of Cottenham ceded to those of Landbeach all rights of pasturage in that marshland east of a straight line running north-east to the junction of Cottenham and Beach lodes. (fn. 68) In the 14th century that fenland had probably yielded the villagers' main fuel supply: each tenant might take so many thousands of turves. The tenants frequently exceeded their shares, sometimes selling the turf outside the manor against custom. (fn. 69) When the demesne was leased in 1359, the villagers elected marsh reeves to supervise the management of High Fen, (fn. 70) and field and fen reeves were regularly appointed from the 1580s to enforce the necessary drainage works. (fn. 71) About 1620 High Fen was occasionally subject to flooding, although sometimes so dry in summer that the villagers had to dig ponds for their cattle. (fn. 72)

By the 1340s the three fields west of the village were under a regular triennial rotation of winter crops, wheat, maslin, and some barley, followed by spring crops, dredge and oats, and then a fallow, on which peas were sometimes sown. The smaller new fields to the east were apparently linked in the rotation with the older ones, Banworth field being in 1352-3 under winter crops with Scachbow. On Chamberlains demesne much wheat was grown, usually c. 34 a., besides 20-25 a. of maslin and 10-15 a. of winter barley. The largest single crop was dredge, amounting to 79 a. out of 181 a. sown in 1346, ********** though reduced to 42 a. of c. 150 a. in 1353. (fn. 73) The wheat or winter field was mentioned in the mid 15th century, along with winter fallowing. (fn. 74) By early modern times the largest single crop was barley. Some rye was still grown c. 1560. (fn. 75) About 1635 one farmer had 30 a. of wheat and 20 a. of maslin, but 80 a. of barley and 40 a. of oats and legumes. (fn. 76) In 1550, and perhaps c. 1625, some farmers still ploughed with oxen. (fn. 77) The same rotation continued into the 17th century, the tilth and break fields being mentioned in 1609. (fn. 78) About 1800, of the three fields, each nominally of 312 a., one was under wheat, one was sown half with barley, half with oats, peas, and beans, while the third was usually wholly fallow, although some turnips were grown there in 1801 and beans in 1807. (fn. 79) Hemp and flax had also been grown on Chamberlains demesne in 1348. (fn. 80)

In the late 14th century, besides demesne flocks, of which Brays numbered at least 200 in 1366, (fn. 81) many peasants kept flocks ranging from c. 50 to 200. (fn. 82) One man had 300 sheep in 1374, (fn. 83) others probably 520 and 600 in 1395. (fn. 84) In 1338 Henry Chamberlain gave his brother John, then rector, leave to fold 120 sheep on his own land. (fn. 85) The tenants of Chamberlains were expected to send their sheep to their lord's fold at Hock Day in 1358, (fn. 86) but at Martinmas in 1367. (fn. 87) From the 1340s many of them, 27 in 1347, failed to do so. (fn. 88) When they took the demesne on lease in 1358, four set up their own folds, (fn. 89) and others maintained such folds throughout the year, occasionally from the 1360s, (fn. 90) frequently after 1400. (fn. 91)

The fen commons were subject to occasional incursions by flocks from adjoining villages in the 14th century. (fn. 92) Agisting foreign cattle on them was sometimes allowed: in 1373 the manorial bailiffs did not know how many cattle might be agisted on the marsh. (fn. 93) By the late 15th century the fens were coming under increasing pressure from outsiders with no rights of common, (fn. 94) and limits were eventually imposed. Tenants of Chamberlains not dwelling in the village were forbidden in 1528 to keep cattle, and from 1531 also sheep, on the fens, while no inhabitant was to agist outsiders' beasts save for sheep and milking cattle taken 'to halves'. In 1548 a stint was fixed of 3 sheep for each acre held, but only 2 outsiders' sheep. (fn. 95)

The main target of those rules was probably Richard Kirkby, lord of Brays. In 1549 the villagers alleged that, whereas the lords and tenants of that manor had formerly kept 600- 700 sheep on the common, Kirkby, retaining for himself the common rights of tenements that he had rented out, had taken in 1,200 to 1,500 sheep belonging to outsiders, besides many great cattle. They so overcharged the common that too little grass was left to feed the villagers' own beasts, and the poor were deprived of the 'white meat' that was a staple of their diet. Kirkby also repeatedly impounded their cattle on the fens and even in the village returning from work, and demanded excessive fines before releasing them. He also encroached on the commons and ploughlands of others. Matters came to a head in May 1549, amid mutual accusations of violence. Kirkby presented an impounding of strangers' cattle by the villagers as a riot. They claimed that, besides personal assaults on their women and beasts, he had hired ruffians to waylay those driving cattle into the fens. Faced with an appeal by the villagers to Lord Protector Somerset, (fn. 96) Kirkby retreated, shortly leasing most of his land to his sons-in-law, (fn. 97) and the dispute subsided. Agisting strangers' sheep was still occasionally prohibited from the 1590s. (fn. 98) By 1565, too, sheep were excluded from High Fen in February and March, and between 1593 and the 1660s until Christmas and after Candlemas. (fn. 99)

In 1665 the total number of sheepgates nominally permitted was over 3,000. Three manorial lessees could keep 600 each, probably in long hundreds, Knights estate had 200, while holdings of 20-25 a. could mostly keep over 80 and those of 15-20 a. 60 each. Messuages with little or no land had 10-20 sheepgates. (fn. 100) In 1808 two sheepwalks of 960 were claimed for each of Brays manor's two larger farms and 180 for a smaller one, probably once Knights. The Corpus Christi farm could put 720 on the College walk, with which the rector's 180 could also feed, (fn. 101) while it successfully claimed to keep another 120 on the Town walk. (fn. 102) It also held itself entitled to fold all the sheep of its walk, save the rector's, and all the copyholders' from the Town walk. (fn. 103) The claims of other owners entitled to use that walk amounted to 1,575 sheepgates. (fn. 104) Moreover the lord of Milton claimed a right of intercommon in Banworth meadow, which adjoined his parish, between Lammas and Lady Day: 240 cattle and 480 sheep for himself, and another 360 great cattle for his copyhold tenants. (fn. 105) Following disputes about overcharging the commons with cattle, an agreement of 1735 permitted the owners of 40-45 commonable houses to feed cattle on High Fen (250 a.) between 1 May and 2 February, and on Frith Fen and Banworth meadow (220 a.) between 1 August and 25 March. The stint fixed for each house, of 11 beasts (6-8 cows and 3-4 horses), still applied at inclosure. As the rector asserted in 1808, mere householders with no sheepgates were completely excluded from the Sheepwalk. The rules were to be administered and the commons managed by an annually elected committee of five. (fn. 106) Smallholders probably concentrated on dairying: many in the late 17th century used rooms that could have served as parlours for dairies. (fn. 107) The number of beasts kept was probably less than the total entitlement: the rector in 1727 expected tithe from 1,800 sheep, half lambing each year, and 400 milking cattle, (fn. 108) while his successor estimated c. 1790 that there were 2,600 sheep and over 300 cows. (fn. 109)

The extensive common rights meant that farmers could prosper with modest amounts of arable. Two heads of the Lane family, prominent in Landbeach between the 1430s (fn. 110) and the mid 16th century, (fn. 111) had in 1549 only 28 a. and 20 a. of the 120 a. of freehold arable. The five largest copyholds on Chamberlains manor then comprised 19-24 a. each, in all 109 a., while seven others had 11-15 a. each, altogether 112 a. Most villagers owned some arable: six others had 3- 8 a. each. (fn. 112) In 1524, when one man, perhaps leasing the College sheepwalk, was worth at least £60, perhaps £100, Edward Lane was taxed on £15, 14 others on £2-7, and only eight paid merely on their wages. (fn. 113) In 1533 the court ordered that the labourers must accept hirings by the day, if required, as well as by the week. (fn. 114)

The average copyhold still comprised 15-25 a. in the early 17th century. (fn. 115) Occasionally farmers accumulated holdings of up to 50 a., but at their deaths they usually divided them again into units of the traditional size. (fn. 116) By 1666, although one gentleman owned 66 a. of arable and another man 35 a., there were still five holdings of 20- 25 a., each with 3-5 a. of leys attached, and seven others of 10-18 a. with c. 2 a. of leys, while eight men occupied under 10 a. Only 11 out of 45 homesteads then recorded had no land attached to them. (fn. 117)

The largest farms were those derived from the Brays demesne, probably totalling 511 a. of arable and 105 a. of meadow. In 1666 its Manor farm comprised 144 a. of arable and 33 a. of meadow, while four other farms occupied by three men, apparently as under-lessees, covered in all c. 270 a. of arable and 64 a. of grass. (fn. 118) By 1700 that estate was divided into two large farms, (fn. 119) as in the later 18th century. About 1800 the college's farm of 128 a. (fn. 120) was still much smaller than those owned by the Worts trustees, who had the largest share of the arable, besides c. 55 a. of closes. Their Manor farm included 187 a. of arable and 46 ½ a. of meadow, Great farm 180 a. and 47 a., and Little farm, let with it, perhaps once Knights, 61 a. and 6 a. (fn. 121)

Among the lesser landowners there was also some concentration of occupation. About 1725 there had been 12 with 20-40 a. each, possessing in all 320 a., while smallholders had another 50 a. (fn. 122) By the late 18th century outside the manorial farms there were only five farmers in 1760 and three in 1806 whose farms were rated at £20 or more. (fn. 123) A 46-a. holding, mostly copyhold, once four separate estates, passed from the 1770s to successive lessees of Great farm, (fn. 124) while the Hemingtons of Denny Abbey in Waterbeach had bought up 212 a. formerly held by four men. (fn. 125) Six other landowners each possessed less than 20 a. in 1800. (fn. 126)

Inclosure was proposed in 1806 and the necessary Act was obtained in 1807, (fn. 127) with the support of the college, the rector, Worts trustees, and their lessees, although most of the middling and smaller landowners opposed it. (fn. 128) The land was divided in 1808, although the execution of the award, prepared in 1810, was delayed until 1813. (fn. 129) The award covered, besides 130 a. of old inclosures, 799 a. of open-field arable, 149 a. of meadow, 748 a. of sheepwalk, and 397 a. of fens. (fn. 130) The large amount of common land to be brought into private ownership produced a great change in the pattern of landholding, as allotments were made for the extensive rights of sheepwalk. Most of the larger owners received, however, besides their allotments in the old open fields and sheepwalk, smaller separate pieces of the former fens. Of the area allotted the Worts trustees emerged with 650 a., while the college's estate was enlarged to 283 a. The rector received 426 a., John Hemington 186 a., including 65 a. opposite Denny Abbey farm, and the Taylors, the largest resident landowners, 237 a. The larger allotments absorbed most of the south part of the parish, the smaller ones, usually for common rights, being placed beside the Cottenham road. They included four of 25- 55 a., c. 155 a. altogether, and 21 of under 15 a., mostly less than 5 a., in all c. 110 a. (fn. 131) In the south-eastern tongue of Banworth meadow 13 a. were allotted among 21 Milton landowners for their rights of intercommon. (fn. 132)

For a century after inclosure the parish was dominated by four or five large farms, (fn. 133) cultivated in the early 19th century on a four-course rotation. The Worts estate was from 1810 to the 1850s divided into two farms: the Headleys occupied Great farm, 430 a. in 1851, the Wilsons, the tenants since the 1770s, Manor farm, 324 a. By 1858 (fn. 134) those two had been combined into one farm of 600-700 a., which covered 615 a. in 1910. Corpus Christi's Manor farm, c. 300 a., was occupied until the 1870s by the Halls, who farmed 620 a. in all in 1851, 435-470 a. in the 1860s. The Rectory farm, divided until 1874 between three farmers, was thereafter all farmed together by the Moneys. William Money, also tenant of the college farm after 1880, occupied 722 a. in all in 1910. The other large farms were based on the Limes and the Acacias, substantial brick farmhouses on the village street. Limes farm covered 170-210 a. up to 1875, and in F. B. Money's hands 315 a. in 1910. (fn. 135) The Acacias farm had c. 155 a. in 1910. (fn. 136) There were also a few smaller farms: in 1871 six with under 100 a. each occupied altogether 212 a., while the five larger ones then covered over 880 a.

In 1831 out of 78 households in the parish 56 depended on farming for their livelihood. (fn. 137) In 1850 two of the larger farmers were threatened with arson after deciding to cut their labourers' wages by a shilling to 8s. a week, and fires on other farms were ascribed to arson. (fn. 138) In 1858 the rector let land off Cockfen Lane in 30 allotments for labourers, and 10 a. of the glebe was still thus let in 1910. (fn. 139) There had probably been little unemployment among the labourers in the mid 19th century, when they usually numbered 55-65 men and 10-15 boys, and the farmers had work for 65-75 men and c. 20 boys. (fn. 140)

Substantial changes in the economic structure of the parish followed the purchase of four of the large farms between 1910 and 1920 by the county council, which was dividing them by 1921 into smallholdings. (fn. 141) Only the college farm survived as a large unit: there were 38 occupiers with under 100 a. by 1915, and 75 by 1925. Thereafter some holdings were consolidated, and in 1955, when 32 people occupied 810 a. between them, five larger farms comprised 957 a. The number of labourers, c. 55 in the 1920s and 1930s, had fallen to 8 by 1980, when there were still some 30 people farming there; 10 were parttime, but only five had under 25 a. (fn. 142)

The area regularly cultivated as arable was permanently increased after inclosure: (fn. 143) the amount of grassland, of which 489 a. was reported in 1865, mostly in the former fens, fell to c. 130 a. by the 1880s and thereafter rose again only to c. 450 a. until the 1930s. On the large farms sold in the 1910s, covering 810 a., almost all the 615 a. close to the village was arable, (fn. 144) but the arable immediately to the north was described in 1919 as heavy and expensive to work. (fn. 145) The number of grown sheep fell steadily to barely 900 in the 1870s and 1880s and 350 later. By 1980 the milking cattle, which had previously numbered 75-125, had also disappeared. Some fruit was grown, orchards covering 32 a. in 1905, 18 a. in 1925, mostly apples and plums, besides c. 28 a. of berries, and 31 a. in 1955. The parish remained predominantly arable, growing wheat and barley: 450-550 a. of wheat were often sown, and 346 ha. out of 715 ha. reported as cropped c. 1980. Barley declined after 1900. Poultry farming was reported c. 1910, (fn. 146) and c. 1930 3,500-4,000 fowls were kept.

A mill was recorded in 1291. (fn. 147) A windmill belonged to Brays manor in 1316. (fn. 148) Another attached to Chamberlains in the 1340s and 1350s was usually at farm. (fn. 119) Chamberlains mill was mentioned in 1444, but not in the 1450s. (fn. 150) One of the mills gave its name to Mill field southwest of the village. By 1600 a windmill stood on 1 a. in Banworth meadow, its removal being twice proposed. (fn. 151) Its possible successor, the tower windmill close to the turnpike road, worked from the 1850s to c. 1900 by the Froments, had closed by 1910. (fn. 152)

Chamberlains manor had a smith in the 1340s and 1350s. (fn. 153) A baker was mentioned in the 1510s, (fn. 154) a tailor in 1594, (fn. 155) and a weaver in 1658. (fn. 156) A smithy standing by the village's southern crossroads belonged to the Worts estate by 1829, (fn. 157) and was still open in the 1930s. (fn. 158) Other craftsmen recorded in the mid and late 19th century usually included two carpenters and a wheelwright, two shoemakers, and until the 1880s a tailor, a butcher, and two or three bakers. Landbeach normally had two or three shops until the 1920s, one later. The Unwin family ran a small builder's business from the 1860s to c. 1925. By the 1950s much land in the former High Fen by the Ely road was being dug for gravel by the Landbeach Sand and Gravel Co. (fn. 159) By the 1980s the excavations covered at least 210 a. (fn. 160)


  • 1. V.C.H. Cambs. i. 396, 398.
  • 2. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/181A, 181B, 182A, 182B.
  • 3. Ibid. XXXV/121, 32 Edw. III; cf. ibid. XXXV/146A, no. 4.
  • 4. Ibid. XXXV/146A, extent 5 Hen. IV.
  • 5. Ibid. XXXV/145.
  • 6. Rest of para. based on Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 453- 4, for 1279; C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/146B, Chamberlains manor custumal, late 13th cent.; XXXV/145, Brays manor extent 1316 (summarized, Ravensdale, Domesday Inheritance, 38-9, 47-9); XXXV/181B, 182B, work accts. c. 1348- 9, 1353.
  • 7. Para. based on sources cited in last note.
  • 8. Para. based mainly on C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/181A, 181B, 182A, 182B (accts. 19-20, 21-23, 26-27 Edw. III). Extracts in Ravensdale, Domesday Inheritance, 50-5.
  • 9. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/121, 5, 18, 21 Edw. III. Part printed in Ravensdale, op. cit. 34.
  • 10. Para. based on accts. cited above.
  • 11. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/181B.
  • 12. Ibid. XXXV/121, 32 Edw. III; XXXV/146A, no. 4 (rental 32 Edw. III) gives different acreages.
  • 13. Ibid. XXXV/121, 35 Edw. III.
  • 14. Ibid. XXXV/60.
  • 15. Ibid. XXXV/145A, bestiary 48 Edw. III.
  • 16. Cf. ibid. XXXV/121, 23 Edw. III.
  • 17. Ibid. XXXV/121, 39, 41 Edw. III.
  • 18. Ibid. XXXV/121, 40, 44 Edw. III.
  • 19. Ibid. XXXV/96; cf. ibid. XXXV/122, 4, 6 Ric. II.
  • 20. e.g. ibid. XXXV/121, 45, 49 Edw. III.
  • 21. Ibid. XXXV/121, 45 Edw. III; XXXV/122, 6, 7, 22 Ric. II.
  • 22. Ibid. XXXV/121, 29, 38 Edw. III.
  • 23. Ibid. XXXV/122, 9 Ric. II.
  • 24. Ibid. XXXV/124, 4, 6, 8 Hen. IV.
  • 25. Ibid. 2, 7 Hen. V.
  • 26. Ibid. XXXV/146A, extent 5 Hen. IV.
  • 27. Ibid. XXXV/125, 7, 19, 32 Hen. VI.
  • 28. e.g. ibid. XXXV/123, 2, 7, 12 Hen. IV; XXXV/125, 2, 8 Hen. V; XXXV/126, 2, 5 Hen. VI; cf. ibid. XXXV/93-4.
  • 29. P.R.O., C 260/134, no. 17.
  • 30. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/124, 3, 8 Hen. IV.
  • 31. e.g. ibid. XXXV/126, 38 Hen. VI; XXXV/127, 6, 8, 11 Edw. IV.
  • 32. e.g. ibid. XXXV/125, 8 Hen. V; XXXV/127, 18 Edw. IV; XXXV/134, 5 Edw. VI; XXXV/135, 14 Eliz. I.
  • 33. Ibid. XXXV/135, 16, 29 Eliz. I.
  • 34. Ibid. 35 Eliz. I; XXXV/140, 11 Chas. I.
  • 35. Ibid. XXXV/150, rentals 22, 35 Hen. VI; cf. ibid. XXXV/110.
  • 36. Ibid. XXXV/174, tabular terrier 1549.
  • 37. Compare rents and farms paid c. 1545, £24: Camb. Univ. Doc. (1852), i. 197, and assize rent due in 1460, c. £25: C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/186.
  • 38. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/176; cf. ibid. XXXV/135, 34 Eliz. I; P.R.O., C 2/Eliz. I/C 24/38.
  • 39. Cf. C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/Landbeach 1615.
  • 40. Par. rec., Frith Fen Bk.
  • 41. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 44.
  • 42. Ibid. nos. 17-52; C.R.O., Q/RDz 7, pp. 46-73.
  • 43. For fields in 1316, C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/145; for openfield layout and field and furlong names after 1400, ibid. XXXV/164 (field bk. c. 1450); XXXV/170 (field bk. 1549); discussed, Ravensdale, Liable to Floods, 99-108. Areas quoted for fields are in customary acres as in 1549 bk.
  • 44. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/4, 10.
  • 45. Ibid. XXXV/181-2; cf. ibid. XXXV/91-3.
  • 46. Ibid. XXXV/145.
  • 47. Ibid. XXXV/181-2.
  • 48. Ibid. XXXV/145.
  • 49. Cf. ibid. XXXV/164, 166.
  • 50. Par. rec., Frith Fen Bk. s.a. 1666. Areas in it were styled meadow in East Anglian, n.s. xiii. 293-4 (1594), but still as arable in C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/Landbeach 1615.
  • 51. Clay, Landbeach, 60.
  • 52. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 260. Presumably statute acres.
  • 53. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/121, 2, 50 Edw. III.
  • 54. C.R.O., P 104½, at no. 1.
  • 55. B.L. Harl. MS. 5011, f. 40v.
  • 56. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/137, 7 Jas. I.
  • 57. Ibid. XXXV/201; cf. ibid. XXXV/121, 38 Edw. III.
  • 58. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 260. Layout deduced from incl. map and award: C.R.O., Q/RDc 18; Q/RDz 7, pp. 41 sqq.
  • 59. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/121, 6, 10, 12 Edw. III.
  • 60. Ibid. XXXV/145.
  • 61. Clay, Landbeach, 63.
  • 62. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 260.
  • 63. e.g. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/43; XXXV/123A, 12 Hen. IV; XXXV/125, 1, 6 Hen. V; XXXV/126, 18 Hen. VI; XXXV/127, 9 Edw. IV; XXXV/130, 12 Hen. VII; XXXV/135, 40 Eliz. I.
  • 64. System as in force c. 1650 described, par. rec., Frith Fen Bk.; cf. Clay, Landbeach, 45-6; C.U.L., Doc. 642, nos. 26 sqq.
  • 65. e.g. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/125,23 Hen. VI; XXXV/127, 12 Edw. IV.
  • 66. B.L. Harl. MS. 5011, f. 40v.
  • 67. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 260.
  • 68. P.R.O., CP 25(1)/24/17, no. 17; cf. Close R. 1234-7, 177.
  • 69. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/121, 5, 21, 29-30, 32, 36, 38, 41 Edw. III; XXXV/130, 2 Hen. VII.
  • 70. Ibid. XXXV/121, 33-4 Edw. III.
  • 71. e.g. ibid. XXXV/135, 25, 35-8 Eliz. I; XXXV/137, 7, 10 Jas. I.
  • 72. B.L. Add. MS. 33466, f. 157.
  • 73. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/181-2.
  • 74. Ibid. XXXV/126, 7, 32, 35 Hen. VI.
  • 75. e.g. P.R.O., PROB 11/3;, f. 376; PROB 1½60, f. 294.
  • 76. C.R.O., P 104/3/2.
  • 77. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/194, articles 1549; XXXV/143, 22 Jas. 1.
  • 78. Ibid. XXXV/143, 7 Jas. I.
  • 79. List & Index Soc. vol. 189, pp. 59, 64-5; cf. Vancouver, Agric. in Cambs. 131; C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 11.
  • 80. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/182B.
  • 81. Ibid. XXXV/121, 40 Edw. III.
  • 82. Ibid. 21-2, 37, 40 Edw. III.
  • 83. Ibid. 47 Edw. III.
  • 84. Ibid. XXXV/122, 19 Ric. II.
  • 85. Ibid. XXXV/36.
  • 86. Ibid. XXXV/121, 31-2 Edw. III.
  • 87. Ibid. 41 Edw. III.
  • 88. Ibid. 16, 20-1, 29 Edw. III.
  • 89. Ibid. 33 Edw. III.
  • 90. Ibid. 37, 42 Edw. III.
  • 91. Ibid. XXXV/123, 4 Hen. IV; XXXV/125, 6 Hen. V.
  • 92. e.g. ibid. XXXV/121, 40 Edw. III.
  • 93. Ibid. 47 Edw. III.
  • 94. e.g. ibid. XXXV/127, 9 Edw. IV.
  • 95. Ibid. XXXV/132, 20, 23-4 Hen. VIII; XXXV/134, 2 Edw. VI.
  • 96. Ibid. XXXV/194, articles and papers 1549; P.R.O., STAC 3/6/17; STAC 2/24/250. Fully discussed, Ravensdale, in East Anglian Studies, ed. L. M. Munby, 99-116; Ravensdale, Domesday Inheritance, 71-6.
  • 97. Above, manors.
  • 98. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/135, 39 Eliz. I.
  • 99. Ibid. 7, 35, 40 Eliz. I; XXXV/143, 22 Jas. I.
  • 100. Par. rec., Frith Fen Bk.
  • 101. C.U.L., Doc. 642, nos. 23, 41, 55, 60; cf. Clay, Landbeach, 56.
  • 102. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 44; cf. C.R.O., Q/RDz 7, p. 46.
  • 103. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 60.
  • 104. Ibid. nos. 21-67; cf. Clay, Landbeach, 29.
  • 105. C.U.L., Doc. 642, nos. 17-20, 141-4, 202; cf. ibid. no. 257.
  • 106. Par. rec., Masters's Collectanea, pp. 63-5, 73-6; cf. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 63.
  • 107. Ravensdale, Domesday Inheritance, 118.
  • 108. Clay, Landbeach, 60.
  • 109. Ibid. 29-30.
  • 110. e.g. Cal. Pat. 1429-36, 386.
  • 111. Clay, Landbeach, 41-2, 86; B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 16v.-17, 62v., 67v., 96v., 109; C.U.L., Doc. 3974, no. 3.
  • 112. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/174.
  • 113. P.R.O., E 179/81/146, m. 4; cf. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iii (2), p. 1117.
  • 114. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/132, 24 Hen. VIII.
  • 115. Ibid. XXXV/135-41, passim.
  • 116. Ibid. XXXV/140, 11 Chas. I.
  • 117. Par. rec., Frith Fen Bk.
  • 118. Ibid.; cf. abuttals in C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/Landbeach 1615.
  • 119. P.R.O., PROB 1 1/3 77, f. 59; B.L. Add. MS. 5810, f. 169v.
  • 120. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 44.
  • 121. Ibid. no. 55; cf. C.U.L., C.U.A., D XXI/10. Areas quoted include several meadow, but not shares in Frith Fen.
  • 122. C.C.C., Parker Libr., Collectanea, vol. ii, pp. 39-41, analysis of field bk. 1727.
  • 123. Par. rec., Masters's Collectanea, pp. 45, 75, rates 1760, 1806.
  • 124. C.U.L., Doc. 642, nos. 37, 45; cf. C.R.O., R 58/20/28- 32.
  • 125. C.U.L., Doc. 642, no. 49.
  • 126. Ibid. nos. 12, 21 sqq., 238 sqq., 259.
  • 127. Ibid. no. 1; C.J. lxii. 182-3, 582, 821; Landbeach Incl. Act, 47 Geo. III, c. 155 (Local and Personal, not printed).
  • 128. C.U.L., Doc. 642, nos. 4, 257-9.
  • 129. Ibid. no. 18; ibid. Add. MS. 6051, ff. 37-40, 48-53v.
  • 130. Ibid. Doc. 642, nos. 44, 55, 260.
  • 131. C.R.O., Q/RDz 7, ff. 41-76. Figures quoted exclude old inclosures. For the rectory, also ibid. P 104/3/10-17, 29.
  • 132. Ibid. Q/RDz 7, pp. 59, 76-82.
  • 133. For farms and farmers, c. 1810-1910, ibid. P 104/8/1- 2; P 104/20/1; ibid. 470/O 88 (for 1910); Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1858-1912); P.R.O., HO 107/69; HO 107/1759; ibid. RG 9/1018; RG 10/1578; RG 11/1657; for the Worts estate, C.U.L., C.U.A., D XXI/13; cf. ibid. D XXI/6, 14.
  • 134. Camb. Chron. 19 June 1858.
  • 135. C.R.O., 296/SP 106.
  • 136. Ibid. 296/SP 512, 526.
  • 137. Census, 1831.
  • 138. Camb. Chron. 16, 23 Feb., 20 Apr. 1850; cf. ibid. 21 Aug. 1851.
  • 139. C.R.O., P 104/3/16, 30; cf. ibid. 470/O 88; ibid. R 57/11/3;, p. 185.
  • 140. P.R.O., HO 107/1759; ibid. RG 9/1018; RG 10/1578; RG 11/1657.
  • 141. Above, manors; cf. C.R.O., R 57/17/3, pp. 182, 186.
  • 142. P.R.O., MAF 68/2683, 3232, 3752, 4489; Cambs. Agric. Returns, 1980.
  • 143. Para. based on P.R.O., MAF 68/7-8, 403, 973, 1543, 2213, 2683, 3232, 4489; Cambs. Agric. Returns, 1980.
  • 144. e.g. C.R.O., 296/SP 1061; C.U.L., Maps PSQ x 19/59; PSQ y 19/147.
  • 145. Church Com. files, rep. 1919.
  • 146. Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1908-12).
  • 147. P.R.O., JUST 1/95, rot. 57.
  • 148. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/145.
  • 149. Ibid. XXXV/181-2; cf. ibid. XXXV/121, 24 Edw. III.
  • 150. Ibid. XXXV/150A, rentals 22, 35 Hen. VI.
  • 151. Ibid. XXXV/137, 2, 10 Jas. I.
  • 152. P.R.O., HO 107/1759; ibid. RG 9/1018; RG 11/1657; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1858-1912); cf. Camb. Chron. 28 May 1870; O.S. Map 6", Cambs. XL. NE. (1889 edn.).
  • 153. C.C.C. Mun., XXXV/181-2; cf. ibid. XXXV/121, 12 Edw. III.
  • 154. Ibid. XXXV/132, 2, 8 Hen. VIII.
  • 155. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/13, f. 94.
  • 156. P.R.O., PROB 1½85, f. 222v.
  • 157. C.U.L., C.U.A., D XXI/14.
  • 158. For 19th- and 20th-cent. trades and crafts, P.R.O., HO 107/1759; ibid. RG 10/1018; RG 11/1657; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1858-1937).
  • 159. Camb. Ind. Press, 21 Oct. 1960; Camb. Evening News, 13 Aug. 1965.
  • 160. Camb. Evening News, 5 Apr., 13 June 1975; 27 Sept. 1980; 19 Feb. 1981.