Chesterton Hundred

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.

'Chesterton Hundred', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds, (London, 1989) pp. 3-4. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]


CHESTERTON hundred consisted from the 11th century of three separate blocks of land, intermingled with Northstowe hundred and by 1066 assessed at exactly 120 hides. In the south-east was the royal demesne vill of Chesterton (30 hides), in the north Histon (30 hides) and Cottenham with Westwick (30 hides), in the west Dry Drayton and the two Childerleys (30 hides). The hundred may have been created from a larger area, including the later Northstowe, by adding to the royal vill of Chesterton others in which the land belonged largely to major ecclesiastical lords, the bishop of Dorchester and the abbeys of Ely and Crowland, with their sokemen; not all the abbeys' possessions in the area were, however, included in Chesterton hundred. In 1086 every 30-hide block included one manor, styled a manerium, at which the king's geld was probably payable. (fn. 1) The hundred retained the same area and the same members until the 20th century. Westwick, though linked ecclesiastically with Oakington in Northstowe hundred from the 13th century, remained for civil purposes part of Chesterton hundred. The two depopulated vills of Great and Little Childerley were united for all purposes from the late 15th century. In 1966 the new planned village of Bar Hill in the north-west corner of Dry Drayton was created a separate civil parish.

Chesterton hundred remained in the king's hands in the 13th and 14th centuries and presumably later. It was managed by the same bailiff as Northstowe and Papworth hundreds. In the early 1270s the combined farm paid for them was raised by a third to £10. (fn. 2) In the 1230s eight suits were due to the county court from the vills of Chesterton hundred (fn. 3) but c. 1250 the lord of Richmond withdrew the suit of land held of that honor in Dry Drayton and Westwick, (fn. 4) and in the 1330s customary tenants of Richmond manors in those vills did suit at a tourn held for the honor's Cambridgeshire lands. (fn. 5) Other franchises claimed in the hundred, mostly by prescription, included the view of frankpledge, which the lords of eight manors, mostly ecclesiastics, held in 1279 and 1299; the view was claimed on at least one manor in each vill except Little Childerley. In the 1440s the sheriff apparently asserted jurisdiction over Dry Drayton through his tourn held at Lolworth, (fn. 6) which perhaps served all three hundreds. Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth hundreds were still associated for some administrative purposes in the early 17th century. (fn. 7) From 1836 all the parishes in Chesterton hundred belonged to Chesterton poor-law union, from 1894 to Chesterton rural district, and from 1974 to South Cambridgeshire district, except for Chesterton which had been included in the borough of Cambridge from 1912.

Figure 1:

Chesterton Hundred 1845


  • 1. Domesday Studies, ed. J. C. Holt, 150-1.
  • 2. e.g. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 51; ii. 456; Feud. Aids, i. 153; P.R.O., JUST 1/86, rot. 47d.
  • 3. Liber de Bernewelle, 242-3.
  • 4. Assizes at Camb. 1260, 5; Rot. Hund. ii. 407-8; cf. Cal. Inq. p. m. ii, p. 220.
  • 5. P.R.O., SC 6/155/71.
  • 6. Below, Dry Drayton, local govt.
  • 7. e. g. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1627-8, 386.