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Local Towns and Villages

Newmarket Local History Society – A copyright extract from Volume II of the Newmarket Local History Society’s two-volume publication, ‘The History of Newmarket and its Surrounding Area’, edited by Sandra Easom and published in 2000 Early life in Towns and Villages Around Newmarket.

Click on the place name at the start of each section to go to that place’s own website, if they have one.

Life has changed over the years, not only in Newmarket but in the many villages which surround it and also the towns within easy travelling distance. These communities have necessarily had a dynamic effect on each other and on the lives of each other’s inhabitants.

Therefore, it is necessary to look at major features of each community and some important events in order to obtain a fuller picture and understanding of Newmarket’s past.A Slice of Life…… The NLHS Two Volumes has entries from some late 19th/early 20th century trade directories. These directories were widely used to obtain information, particularly trade information, in the days before telephone directories or other forms of address listings existed.

Such directories are a valuable source for local and social history. They are a relatively complete record of a town at a particular time, its residents (only those of any social standing are mentioned in detail), buildings, shops, professions and tradesmen. Such directories can also be a record of the justice and education systems of the time as they list courts, schools, numbers of pupils, etc.

Newmarket Local History Society has not attempted to edit these directory entries in any way – believing that all the information in them is of value- except to condense them by restricting entries to those concerning Newmarket and its surrounding towns and villages. In this sense, these documents are truly a slice through the life of the community at the time.


Ashley was first recorded as Esselie manor. In 1066 it belonged to Thane Wluin. By 1086 it was the property of Evrard (Everard, son of Brientius). In 1166 it was recorded that ‘Ralph de Gines (Guisnes) holds 1 fee of the barony of Earl Aubrey (de Ver)’. In 1228 the manor is first called Ashley. In 1243, a member of the de Gisnes family, Robert, still ‘holds in Ashley 1 fee of the barony of Hugh de Ver, Earl of Oxford’.

In 1276, records state that ‘The master of the hospital of Chippeham holds view of frankpledge in the vill of Asle and Wilnesle: the master of the Templars has 33 acres of land in these vills’.

Ownership got more complicated in 1284-86; ‘John de Gymes holds Assele of William de Laneham and John de Beauchamp for 1 fee and they hold it of the Earl of Oxford’. Also, Robert de Ver, Earl of Oxford, gave to the Hospitallers 2 fees in Assele and Silverle which the heir of Geoffrey Arsic holds. 1302-3, ‘The prior of the hospitallers holds half fee in Assele of Hugh de Ver and John de Beauchamp; John de Gynes, Henry Honeman and their partners hold half fee there of the same Hugh and John’.

The de Vere family gave the manor to the Knights Hospitallers and in 1540, as their possessions were dispersed, it passed into the hands of Sir Edward North. The manor of Silverley was held by tenants of the de Veres and it too passed to Sir Edward North. Only the tower of the church remains there now.


Barrow stands on a hill which invited the settlement of people from early times. The hill is naturally shaped to collect rainwater, adding to its attraction. The earliest known record of Barrow comes from 950 A.D., when the village was known as Barewe. It has also been known as Barou.

It belonged to Edward the Confessor. Picot, Sheriff of Cambridge, held the village for the King. The village then consisted of: 6 villeins, 4 smallholders, 2 slaves, 2 ploughs (men), 1 freeman who had 30 acres of freeland together with 60 goats, 40 sheep and 16 pigs. A church with 17 acres of freeland was included in the manor (see below). The value of the manor was reckoned to be Ł10, which meant a taxable value of 7d.

By the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, the population and the size of the village (area 1 league by 8 furlongs) had increased: 15 villeins, 10 smallholders, 1 slave, 3 ploughs, 1 mill, 1 freeman with 30 acres of freeland together with 60 goats, 100 sheep and 40 pigs. The church still had 17 acres of freeland but the value of the manor had grown to Ł20.

Ownership of the manor passed from the Crown to William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, when he married Isabella, daughter of Richard de Clare, Earl of Strigul. It was given to him by King Richard I. Before he died, William tried to make provision for his soul by giving Barew’s tithes to the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds.

Abbot Sampson of St Edmund’s Abbey appointed one Thomas Barewe to adminster the manor and to collect its taxes. Thomas’s daughter Maud married Hamond de Passelwe (descendant of Ralph de Paselwe, the Sheriff of Suffolk who built Barewe church). In 1242, their daughter Katherine married Sir William Gifford. The couple were given a part of Barewe known as Alderfield. William died in 1310 and Katherine inherited the entire estate by 1318. At this time, Barewe was about 2550 acres. Katherine sold the estate to Bartholomew Badlesmere.

He owned it for one year until his execution for his part in a revolt against King Edward II in 1322.
At this time, the King granted the manor to Hugh Despenser. He held the manor for 4 years until his execution in 1326. The manor reverted to Elizabeth, widow of Bartholomew Badlesmere. Elizabeth’s son, Giles, had no children, so the manor passed to one of his sisters, Margaret, who was married to John Tibelot. Their granddaughter, Elizabeth, married Sir Rodger Wentworth. The manor remained in the Wentworth family until it was sold to Sir Clements Heigham in 1540.

His family name originated from the nearby village of Higham.The village probably had a wooden Saxon church in 950 but the present stone, parish church of All Saints dates, in part, from the Norman period. Its initial construction was begun by Sir Ralph Passelewe around 1100. It was continued by Sir William Gifford, both of whom were lords of the manor from 1189 and the building saw continued improvements over the centuries. The church is probably at a distance from the village because of relocation of villagers to houses elsewhere in the manor at the time of the Black Death in the mid-14th century. Barewe was granted a weekly, Saturday market and an annual fair in 1267. The fair was to be held on the 3 days before the feast of St John the Baptist (24th June).

Sir William Gifford built a moated hall in 1286. This was probably a stone building. Also, it was just at this time that it became fashionable to have fireplaces set into the wall of the building rather than in the middle of the hall. It would possibly have been a 2 storey building with exterior buttresses for strength. The remains of Barewe Hall were to be found in the village until the late 18th century. Prior to this, the family had lived in a manor house which came to be known as Feltons when it was leased out in 1274.

Feltons was sold to a successful merchant, Sir Thomas Kytson in 1538. He became Sheriff of London. When the Abbey at Bury was dissolved, Kytson acquired Hengrave, Saxham and Risby, together with the Priory of Fornham St Genevieve, ox pastures in Great Barton and the Closes of Fresnel, Le Comping and the Slade. So, in this way, in 1525 Kytson came to commence the building of Hengrave Hall. It was built with stone from the dissolved abbeys of Bury, Ixworth and Burwell. The hall was finished in 1538 – the same year that he bought Feltons. Sir Thomas died at Hengrave in 1540. His family sold Feltons to John Heigham, son of Sir Clements Heigham in 1565.

Sir Clements probably often had the Roman Catholic Queen Mary Tudor to stay at Barewe Hall as she was frequently in Bury St Edmunds. Sir Clements was made Speaker of the House of Commons. His son John was a supporter of Queen Elizabeth I when she ascended the throne.

The village has a large green with a variety of old and new houses arranged around it.

Barton Mills

Barton Mills is a very old site of human habitation. There is a Bronze Age barrow on Chalk Hill on the Newmarket Road, 1˝ miles south-west of the village. It was excavated and reconstructed in 1923. There was a central cremation and three burials within it. The cremation had food vessels and cinerary urn pottery and a necklace made of bone. Originally, there were four barrows in a row. Two were excavated in 1869 and yielded two burials and a cremation and some Beaker pottery.

In old texts, the village appears as Barton Togrynd (two grind) and takes its name from a watermill which was located in front of the Bull Inn on the Lark River. The other was a windmill which ceased use before the water mill. There was also a fuller’s mill and this, together with the other mills, were once owned by the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.

The Bull was an old coaching inn, which may be seen from the modern A11 road. The inn stands at the edge of the village. It was of particular importance to the travellers of the 18th century. Queen Victoria stayed there just before she succeeded to the Throne. The Bull said of itself that it was ‘the annual resort of the Nobility and Gentry in the sporting season’.

The diary of Parson Woodford records that he stayed at the Bull on April 13th 1775. He was travelling from London to his home in Norfolk. He had set off from the Turks Head in the Strand in the early morning; his transport was a coach and four horses. At the Bull-faced Staff in Epping Forest, the horses were quickly changed, and he continued to Harlow. He then caught a chaise, with fresh horses, to Newmarket. There he paused for dinner. Another chaise took him to the Bull at Barton Mills, yet another to Thetford and then he went to Attelborough, where he arrived at 11 p.m. He recorded not only his thanks to God but that ‘these are the best roads I ever travelled’!

The High Street contains some very old houses. One of them is ‘Lord Mayor’s Cottage’, which is named for a man who became Lord Mayor of London. Another property in the village, ‘The Dhoon’, was once the home of Sir Alexander Fleming.

Barton Mills, or Little Barton, stands on the River Lark and barges unloaded near there in the 18th century. This, and the coaching traffic on the Newmarket to Norwich road, combined to make Barton Mills a busy village. Even in 1920 boats still navigated Barton Lock.

The parish church of St Mary dates from 13th-14th century. There was also a Baptist chapel which held its baptismal services in the River Lark in the mid-19th century. Crowds of people gathered for these from all around the area; one of these was the Squire of Herringswell, Squire Hale.


Bottisham village appears in old records in a variety of different spellings: Bodekesham, Bodichessham, Bodegesham., Bottlesham, Botlesham, Bodkysham, Botkysham, Bottesham, Botesham, Botsham and Botsam. The earliest spelling is probably Bodeke, relating to the name of the Saxon lord.

Groups of Saxon homesteads were located in the Bottisham area, the geography of which varied from Fen edge to arable farming land and marshy summer grazing. Before the Norman Conquest, the land belonged to Earl Harold and Bottisham residents were freeholders living in homesteads grouped into hamlets. Abbot Athelstan of Ramsey Abbey licensed a farm of about 400 acres in Bottisham in 1047 to the monk Ailric (a relation). After the Conquest, the manor passed to Walter Giffard who ‘gave a tithe of this demesne and one tenant at Bothingesham to the priory of Longueville’ around 1150.

An ‘ADVOWSON’ held by a patron, and subject to civil law, gives the right to nominate, or present, the ecclesiastical benefits of the parish. The advowson of Holy Trinity Church, Bottisham, must have been worth a great deal because it was the cause of a lot of dispute between Walter Giffard and his wife Ermengarde, and Richard de Clare.

‘At Michaelmas 1164, the honor of Giffard was taken into the King’s hands.’ In other words, a charter was granted to Giffard by King Henry I. It was confirmed by his son, King John, and was later overturned in favour of De Clare by John’s son, King Henry II, in 1222. In 1179-80, Henry II confirmed to the canons of the Park of Crandon (Nutley) the church of Bodingesham (given by Walter Giffard). The Augustinian Priory and its church, St Mary of Anglesey, later earned the right to the advowson and appurtenances of Bottisham. However, the prior of Anglesey was required to make an annual payment in silver to St Mary of Nutley in keeping with the earlier agreement.

Further proof of the importance of Bottisham is found in the church. Several dignitaries from the Abbey were buried in the Nave. When a new Nave was constructed in 1307, the tombs were moved and laid in a straight line beneath the new foundation of the south wall of the new aisle.

During the Middle Ages, there was a Jewish quarter in Bottisham. The Jews lived behind the Plough Inn. There is no known record of whether the Jewish quarter was destroyed in the racial riots of the early 13th century (such as the one in Bury St Edmunds).

Before the draining of the Fens, Bottisham Lode lay to the north of the village. Bottisham had a camping ground for playing the early version of football. It was located next to the church chancel and later became the playing field of Bottisham Primary School.

In 1389, Bottisham had a strong guild system. There were seven guilds in the village. Six of these contributed to the repair of the church roof and chaplains were employed by the gilds. Guild members acted as officers, church wardens, manorial officers, jurors and taxation officials. A warden and stockholder had goods for use of the guild members.

Records show payment in kind to the guilds, e.g. 4 bushels of barley, 2 pounds of wax and contributions to the street light. During the reign of Richard II, twenty-eight men and one woman were named as wardens or stock holders. There were 300-400 taxpayers in Bottisham at this time. Of these, 392 paid poll tax in 1377. Members of the Bishop of Ely’s household also lived in Bottisham.

William de Bottlesham (prior of Anglesey and later Bishop of Rochester), was born in Bottisham (died 1399). John de Bottlesham (Master of St Peter’s College, Cambridge, and Bishop of Rochester) was a benefactor of Cambridge University who died in 1404. Also born in Bottisham was Nicholas of Bottlesham (Carmelite doctor of ‘Ye Sorbon’ and Prior of Carmelites in Cambridge on his return from Paris). He died in 1435.

These ‘worthies’ were mentioned in Fuller’s 1880 ‘Worthies of Cambridgeshire’: ‘Bottisham is a small village . pleasantly seated in pure air, having rich arable on the one, and ye fair heath of Newmarket on the other side thereof. It hath been the nursery of refined Wits . Let all England shew me if you like three eminent men which one pretty village did produce. Let Bottisham hereafter be no more famed for its single Becon, but for these 3 Lights it afforded’.

The Alington family (also spelt Allington or Alyngton) who played a part in the history of Newmarket also founded St Mary and St Martin chantry, which was at the east end of the north aisle of Bottisham Church. The Alingtons were benefactors of Anglesey Abbey. Chaplains came from the Abbey to perform services and to pray.

William Alington was described as ‘Lord of Bottisham Hall’. Several members of the family were buried at Bottisham. The family connection remained until the title became extinct in 1705. Two members of the Alington family, a father and son, both named William, both became Speaker of the House of Commons. William the elder was elected in 1429 during the reign of King Edward IV.

The Argentine family were also important to Newmarket history. A member of the Argentine family, Elizabeth, who was to become sole heir to all the family’s property, married an Alington. John Argentine was born in Bottisham in 1443. He was physician to the king and cultivated a close friendship with Edward IV. He was the last attendant of the young princes in the Tower of London, who were murdered in 1483.

The Argentine Arms may be seen in Bottisham Church (3 silver cups on a red shield). These relate to Sir John Argentine presenting a cup of wine to King Richard II at his coronation in 1377. He later became physician to Henry VII’s elder son, Prince Arthur, who died before he inherited the Throne (his brother Henry VIII succeeded him). John influenced Henry VII in putting finances into the completion of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge.

During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Bottisham lands went to the ownership of the King. The Advowson of Holy Trinity Church, Bottisham, was given by the King to Trinity College, Cambridge. Anglesey Abbey became the property of John Hynde, who became a chief justice of the King’s bench in 1546.

When King Charles I escaped from his captors in 1646, he apparently cut off his hair and beard and disguised himself as a servant to John Ashburnham, who was Groom to the King’s Bedchamber. They escaped through Royston and stayed for the Tuesday night at ‘a common inn in Botsham’ (the George Inn, Bottisham Place?).
A John Salisbury from Bottisham, who died in 1639, ‘did some time before his death give Ten Pounds to the Towne of Bottsham for ever’. The money was to be used for teaching three poor children in the village.

The Jenyns family were also important to the history of the village. Dame Elizabeth died in 1728 and her husband, Sir Roger, ‘by her desire settled the schooling of 20 poor children; and as his addition, the clothing of them and a school to teach them and others in forever’. This is commemorated in the church by a wall tablet depicting a child in the distinctive uniform of the school which was built in 1730. It became the village reading room in 1839.

In the same year, the Bottisham National Church School was built for 150 children. (It later became a Community and Youth Centre in the 20th century.) There were 3 classes, one of which was for infants. Discipline was strict and the vicar had a great influence in the school and in the church Sunday school. There are stories of the church verger who had 3 rods of different lengths which he used to keep order among the children in the small gallery, now the organ loft, of the church. (Thus no-one was out of his reach!)

There was a schoolhouse which was demolished in 1914. There was also a private school, which was run by Miss Hollins in Bleak House. Her sister, Mrs Hinton, taught at another school near the former toll on the Newmarket Road. The Church School closed in 1937, when Bottisham Village College opened on May 6th of that year. Miss Hollins’ school closed in 1947.A census of 1801 recorded that Bottisham parish had 179 houses with a population of 864. In 1831 there

were 1302 people there. The Act of Inclosure (Enclosure) for Bottisham in the early 1800’s changed the life and appearance of the village. The Act itself was passed on 1st August 1801. Many land workers who did not own land lost the right to farm to support their families. A number of people were forced to emigrate. On 1st November 1802, Common Rights tenures ceased. The final Act was hung on the church door in 1808.


Brandon is another site of ancient habitation. It was, for many centuries, the centre of the East Anglian flint-knapping industry. Apart from flint for building, Brandon produced gun flints. A load transported to London in 1824 contained 269,100 flints. Flints were also used for fire-lighting.

Brandon stands on the Little Ouse river which used to be a vital trade link for the town before the advent of the railway. In bad weather, or on festival days, a light was put on top of Brandon Church to guide boats and barges on the river. It was possible to sail to Thetford in the 17th century. The river has also been called ‘Rebech River’, ‘Brandon Creek’ and ‘Brandon River’.

Fire broke out on 14th May 1789 and many dwellings were burned down. Appeals for help went to other parishes. Names of those who lost their houses were published, together with the value of the house and goods they had lost. For example: Francis Diggon, Saddler, loss of Ł381 . John Neal, cordwainer – Ł11 . Mary Richards, widow, Ł8 . William Eagle, servant, Ł4.

Archaeological excavations at Fenhouse Farm yielded evidence of large Roman buildings. Terra sigillata of the 1st and 2nd centuries has been found in the area.

St Peter’s parish church dates from the 13th/14th century. The town originally grew up along the main road, but underwent development and growth in the latter part of the 20th century.


Brinkley village was originally part of a manor comprising Carlton with Willingham and Brinkley. It was called Carlentone. Before 1066, different parts of the manor were held by Thane Tochi, Earl Algar and Earl Herald and various sochmen. By 1086, the major landowners were Count Alan de Ver, William de Warene and Hardwin de Scalers. Those who held land from them were Wilhomarc, dapifer of Count Alan, Walter de Grantcurt, the Abbot of Cluny and two knights. Three hides of Carletone, originally owned by Earl Herald, appear to be what is now known as Brinkley. By 1086 these were the property of the Countess Judith, who also owned Kirtling.

Walter de Grantcurt probably gave his land in Carlton to the Abbey of Cluny. After 1130, King Stephen confirmed to the Abbey of Cluny 40 acres of land at Welingham of the gift of Fredebart; land by Carleton which Roger Suriz held and land which Walernus held, given by Richard son of Hardwin de Scalariis. Also, during the reign of King Stephen, William de Mohun III married ‘a lady named Godehold (who may have been the sister of Roger de Toeni. Brinkley may have been her maritagium or dowry) who brought to him as her inheritance or portion the manor of Brinkley in Cambridgeshire’.

In 1202, ‘John de Moun proffers 20 marks for seisin of his land of Brinkele which his brother William gave him but had been seized into the King’s hands. In 1205, Seisin to be made to Walter de Evermeu of his land of Brinkele, which Harbert, the King’s Chamberlain, gave to him’.

A jury declared in 1208 that ‘Godehold de Moion was seized in her demesne as of fee of the vill of Brinkley and that Reginald de Moiun is her next heir’. A dispute arose in 1234 between William de Mohun and William le Breton touching customs and services claimed by the former against William le Breton in Brinkele and Wivilingham.

An important event in 1253: ‘Grant to William de Mohun of market and fair at Brinkele’. The market was on a Wednesday and the fair took place at Michaelmas for 3 days. This was followed by ‘Grant to William de Mohun of market on a different day and fair at Brinkele’ in 1261, when market day became a Tuesday. In the same year, ‘William le Breton held at his death 56 acres in the fields of Brinkele of William de Moun; and other land in the fields of Willingham and Karleton held of the same William and Lawrence de Willingham. John his son, aged 28, is his heir’.

In 1285, ‘John de Mohun held at his death inter alia, 1 fee in Brynkelegh which Andrew de Mohun held of him’. In 1339, the Ely Register records the name of the village as Brynkeleye. The name of the village betrays its antiquity. It is probably Scandinavian in origin and means ‘a field or meadow on the edge of a hill’.

Burrough Green

Burrough Green was before 1066, the land known as Burch and, later, Burg, belonged to Lady Eddeva. By 1086 it was held by Count Alan de Ver and nineteen persons were listed as living there. In 1163, Henry II ‘confirmed to the monks of Sibton land of the fee of Philip de Bruc in the heath of Sudhed and land in the county of Suffolk’. By 1166, Thomas de Burc or Burg appears in the records. He also held land in the Swaffhams. Between 1189-1199, Richard I granted to the monks of Wardon view of frankpledge in Bury and Dullingham.

We learn in 1194 that Thomas de Burg is the seneschal of the Countess of Richmond. In 1201, the same Thomas was pardoned Ł133 which an English Jew was demanding under a charter of Robert de Cokesfield ‘and Adam his son, whose heir Thomas has’.

Thomas de Burg ‘held 2 fees in Bureg and Swafham of the honour of Richmond’ by 1212. An entry of 1235 records that ‘The custody of the son and daughter of Philip de Burg, brother of Thomas de Burg which son is heir of Thomas, with his marriage and custody of his land, was delivered to John de Kirkby for 700 marks’.

In 1282, the Prior of the Hospital of Jerusalem was among the land holders in Burg. Thomas de Burg died without having had children of his own, before 1287. His heir, Thomas, became the ward of Henry, Earl of Lincoln, in 1288. In 1302-03, this second Thoms held land in Burg for the Earl of Brittany. Apart from the de Burghs, the other family which was important in the village’s history was the Ingoldesthorpes. The tombs of both families are found in the Parish church.

By 1377, 29 people were listed as paying tax. Over the centuries, the population continued to rise and there were 34 households in Burrough Green by the mid-16th century. The name of the village was recorded as Burrowe in Ely Registers of 1606. By 1728, a census recorded 200 residents. This figure remained relatively stable and in 1971 268 inhabitants appear on records.

About an extra 50 acres of land became part of Burrough Green because of the Dullingham Enclosure Award of 1810. Enclosure seems to have taken place privately as the Confirmatory Act was passed in 1815.
Remains of an ancient earthwork still exist in Parkwood. (The old name of Burc, Burk or Burg designates a fort.) The land here is somewhat higher than much of the surrounding countryside – up to 300 feet above sea level.

There is old woodland recorded from the early 15th century which includes Parkwood and Oakwood. A site of Special Scientific Interest is a chalk pit found near Underwood Hall, which is rich in fossils.


Village life has existed here for thousands of years, at least from the Bronze Age. The Domesday Survey recorded a number of names for the village; Buruelle, Buruella and Burewell among them. A 13th century document records it as Borewelle. Old maps often show the village as Burwells. This may be because the village existed in two sections known as High Town and Low Town; these are joined by The Causeway – an ancient avenue of trees.  This is said to have been a walk taken by monks living in a cell at Newnham (an area south of Hythe Lane) to the churches of St Mary and St Andrew (now gone) nearby, slightly to the north-east.

The terms ‘Hythe’ and ‘Causeway’ tell us of how Burwell used to be – a hythe being a place where boats were loaded. A causeway is a dry path across a wet or marshy area. The Fen came up to Burwell and waterborne traffic came to the village. The Burwell Fen Drainage Act in 1846 permitted the drainage of the boggy land to the west of Burwell.

The chronicles of Ramsey Abbey record that at the end of the 10th century ‘Alfgar, the patron of Burwell living, gave the Abbey land at Burwell and added it to his gift of the church’. Apparently, in 1077 William the Conqueror confirmed that the possessions of the Abbey included Burwell. The Abbey provided chaplains for the parish until 1305, when the first priest was appointed. St Andrew’s Church was under the jurisdiction of Fordham Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Abbey estates passed to the King at the Dissolution. These, along with the Abbot’s manor house, now the Old Priory (which still has its tithe barn) were sold to Sir Edward North and then to Cambridge University. St Andrew’s Church fell into disrepair in 1646 after the two parishes were united and was demolished in the early 19th century. A school was built on the site around 1864. A mission chapel in the village kept the name of St Andrew. An earlier Saxon church stood somewhere on the churchyard of the present St Mary’s Church. The present Church was completed in 1464.

Burwell Castle is discussed in the earlier chapter on the Normans and the name of Geoffrey de Mandeville is remembered in the names of some nearby houses. The remnants of the castle site and its spring are near Springclose.

Although Burwell’s primary industry has been agriculture, over the centuries other industries, which have died out now, have been important. Peat was dug from the Fen and chemical fertiliser was made from phosphatic nodules found beneath the surface of parts of the Fen soil. These have been used up. Cement was made from chalk on the east side of the parish. Burwell brick has a characteristic pale yellowish colour. It can be seen in many buildings in and around Newmarket. The local soft stone, CLUNCH, was quarried for building. The quarrying stopped around 1955.

Bury St. Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds was formerly called Beodricsworth by the Anglo-Saxons and, from 1065, St Edmundsbury or St Edmundsburgh. The town lies at the confluence of 2 small rivers, the Linnet and the Lark. There is a wealth of Roman remains in the countryside around Bury, but no direct evidence of a Roman settlement there has ever been found. However, the rivers provide one of the few steep hillsides in the area, which would have been a good site for a vineyard, with shelter from the north and the east. There is ample evidence of occupation in Anglo-Saxon times.

Around 902 A.D., the remains of the martyred King Edmund were taken to the monastery at Beodricsworth, which had once been home to King Sigebert when he abdicated in favour of a monastic life (see the Impact of Christianity). The body was placed in a wooden church of split oak beams. The area of sanctuary around the shrine, called the BANLEUCA, remained the town boundary until 1934.

The link here will take you to just one of the many sites dealing with the history of one of Newmarket’s bigger neighbours.


The history of our largest neighbour is heavily recorded online.


N 989 Alfhelm Poga left land at Carlton to his wife and in 1066 4 hides belonged to Earl Alfgar and 2 hides at Willingham to King Edward’s thain Tochi.

1227 Henry III granted his wood at Carlton called the King.s Wood, to the Knights Templars.In 1372 the manor of Little Carlton came to John Lopham, whose son was appointed serjeant at law in 1415 (he died in 1416).

At the priory’s surrender in 1536, all lands were granted to Oliver Cromwell, who sold Carlton Manor to Sir Thomas Elyot, who died in 1546 and is buried in Carlton Church


Cheveley was originally King’s Land. Its early Mediaeval name was Cavelai or Chavelai (1086). By 1186 it is recorded as ‘the king’s demesne of Chalvelega. During the reign of Henry II, the manor was the property of one Roland de Dina. He gave the manor to Robert de Vitre on his marriage to Roland’s sister, Emma.

The manor passed through different hands, but by 1287 the records show the manor to be the property of Roger le Bygod, Earl of Norfolk and Marshal of England.


Chipeham or Cypeham manor was held for King Edward by Orgar the Sheriff until 1066. By 1086 the manor was in demesne. It came into the possession of Geoffrey de Manneville (Mandeville) and he and Rohaise, his wife, gave the church of Chippenham to the Abbot of Walden around 1135.

During the reign of King Stephen, Pain de Beauchamp and (or) Rohaise, his wife, gave Brend manor in Chippenham to the nuns of Chicksand. In 1163, Henry II confirmed to the monks of Sibton 13 cartloads of peat annually ‘in the marsh of Ciepham, given by the Countess Raheis’.

By 1184, the manor was owned by William de Mandeville, the Earl of Essex, who gave the manor to the Hospitallers. King John confirmed this in 1199. The church still belonged to the monks of Walden and the land given to the nuns of Chicksand remained their property. In 1205, Simon Norman de Clipshale granted land in Cipeham to Robert, Prior of the Hospitallers, and the Prior, in turn, rented the land to William de Brinchele for 1 mark a year. A weekly market was granted to the Hospitallers in 1226. The master of the Hospitallers installed a gallows in Chippenham in 1279.


Dalham village contains many old and interesting buildings, many of which are thatched. The parish church of St Mary in part dates from the 14th century. It is approached from the village by a steep wooded road or by a footpath which crosses a field under a mature avenue of tress. In the churchyard there is an obelisk to General Sir James Affleck, 1833.

Beside the church is Dalham Hall, which is a red brick building built in 1704-5 by Bishop Patrick of Ely. It stands above most of the village, which is in a valley and borders both sides of the River Kennet running through it, which seems to be no more than a stream at this point.

Past residents of the Hall include the Rhodes brothers Cecil and Francis, whose grandfather once owned the Hall. Cecil is particularly well-known for his exploits in Africa.

Also raised above the other side of the village, to the south-west, is a white-painted smock mill, five storeys high, with sails. The mill has a pepper-pot cap with a gallery round it. This is no longer a working mill but, in the days that it was, it had a fantail and four patent sails which drove three pairs of stones. The Affleck Arms public house is named after the family which owned a lot of the parish.

Local legend makes note of the fact that the church spire and Oliver Cromwell both came to a sudden end on the same day.


Dullingham or Dullingeham or Dulingham or Dullingham was held in parts, before 1066, by Earl Algar, Lady Eddeva (Aediva), Earl Herald and sochmen of the king, together with ‘a man’ of Orgar and Wichinz, the man of Earl Harold and a number of other sochmen. By 1086, the land ownership had passed to Count Alan de Ver, the Abbot of St Wandregisil, Hardwin de Scalers and Countess Judith. Two knights were tenants of Count Alan.

Between 1150 and 1200, ‘Robert Malet released to the monastery of Thetford his right in the church of Dullingham; Alan son of Ralph de Burgo, Philip son of Roger to Burgo and Alice his wife, Richard son of Peter le Brun, Ralph and Philip le Brun and William son of Ralph son of Mathers gave lands in Dullingham; Theobald and Henry de Scalers confirmed the grant of Robert their Father; Baldwin de Segeni and Geoffrey son of Edwi also released lands in Dullingham to the same monastery’.

Between 1189 and 1199, Richard I granted to the monks of Wardon view of frankpledge in Burg and Dullingham.


Ely:Another of our near neighbours, to the north and well known for the Cathedral, the Ship of the Fens” dominating the landscape and clearly visible from Newmarket on most days. The early history is well documented by following the link here. As with Bury St. Edmnds and Cambridge the history is fat too well documented for it to be elaborated on here.


There seems to be no website for the village, not surprsing as it was until recent years a private estate. The link here my be of interest, or google Duleep Singh


Eriswell: The village shows evidence of the vanished Fen edge in the alignment of its buildings, which may be viewed from the churchyard. It was, until relatively recently, sandwiched between the Fen and Breckland, with its drifting sands which would often cover the road. Part of the parish church of St Laurence dates from the 13th century.

There is also a grey brick Methodist Chapel which was built in 1839. The flint-clad Old Church of St Peter became part of a farm building at Eriswell Hall Farm. During the Middle Ages, there were 2 settlements in the area now called Eriswell – Eriswell cum Chamberlains. In Domesday times, Chamberlains was called Cocklesworth.

There were extensive rabbit warrens in the village, and these supplied some 25,000 rabbits annually to London during the Napoleonic Wars. The warreners who tended them lived in a fortified stone tower to protect them from poachers.

In 1661, the SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL IN NEW ENGLAND received its Royal Charter and subsequently bought Eriswell. It has the distinction of being the first village in England to support missionary work abroad. Money from the rents went to support the work.

The NEW ENGLAND COMPANY (so-called because of its dealing with America) built the village school, which later became the village hall. The letters N.E.C are to be seen on a number of village buildings. The village also had visitors from other cultures long before many places. A Native American boy was brought there to be an apprentice carpenter, but he sadly died after only 2 years and was buried there.

The MAHARAJAH DULEEP SINGH was a more famous inhabitant. He had already bought the Elveden Estate (1863) when he acquired Eriswell from the New England Company. The Maharajah was a friend of Queen Victoria who, by her request, left his Sikh religion to become a Christian. He was also the friend of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). They shot game birds together on the Maharajah’s estates in Icklingham, Eriswell and Elveden and sometimes slaughtered as many as 1,500 pheasants in a day.

The Maharajah was badly treated by the India Office of the Civil Service and consequently reverted to his old religion and fled to Russia on a forged Irish passport. Whilst, there, he attempted to organise a Russian invasion of India via the Khyber Pass (intent on regaining his Kingdom).

Surprisingly, he maintained his friendship with the Queen throughout his life. Although he died in Paris, he is buried in Elveden. The older village cottages in Eriswell are mainly of flint with a yellow or red brick trim.


Exning is an ancient village, it was firstly King’s land, Esselinge manor. In 1066, seven sochmen of Aediva (Eddeva) the Beautiful held the manor. Then it passed to Godric. By 1086, Wilhomarc held it for Count Alan de Ver, Earl of Oxford.

In 1158, the Count of Flanders had Ł65 worth of land in Exning. Records state that, in 1162, ‘Danegeld of 36 shillings (13 hides) was pardoned on the king’s demesne of Exening, county of Cambridgeshire’. There is no evidence that any part of Exning was in Cambridgeshire after this date.

It was reported in 1189 that ‘Arnulf de Demeseke, Derekin de Acra and other knights of the County of Boulogne have Ł63 of land in Exning this year. In 1212 ‘the Sheriff of Suffolk is to deliver the manor of Ixning to Reginald de Dammartin, Count of Boulogne’.

Oddly, after so many years of history, Exning got a Parish Council for the first time in 1999. In 2000 it received the honour of being named as Village of the Year for the Forest Heath District Council area. The contest focussed on community involvement and activities rather than being a contest of appearances.


Fordham parish has been occupied for several thousand years; weapons and tools in both flint and metal have been found from the Early Bronze Age and Iron Age, as well as pottery and burials. Wall plaster and tiles have been found from the Roman era, indicating that villas may have been sited near to Biggin and Block Farms in the 2nd to 4th centuries A.D.

In the Middle Ages the village was home to Fordham Priory, a Gilbertine priory and cell to Sempringham Priory, that was founded in the reign of Henry III in the 13th century by Robert de Fordham.

Fordham Abbey, a Grade II* listed Georgian manor house was built on the site of the Priory in the eighteenth century. Though spelled Fordeham in the Domesday Book of 1086, the village’s spelling has remained unchanged since the 10th century. The name “Fordham” means “homestead or enclosure by a ford”.


Freckenham’s own website gives such a concise history of the village it seem pointless to repeat it here, just click on “Freckenham” here and read for yourself. Red Lodge hardly existed until post WW1, being virtually just an off-shoot of Freckenham, a few warreners and shepherds huts.


Gazeley: There were several Mediaeval manors in the Gazeley area, of which Desning Hall was one. The Domesday book records this as Deslingham. The Icknield Way crosses the village to the north-east, suggesting the village probably has ancient origins. There was once a huge common field stretching to the north and east of the village.

A tower mill stood to the west of the field (the remains of which are incorporated into a house) half a mile from the parish church in the Kentford direction. The parish registers date from 1544. However, it is known that during the Mediaeval uprising in Bury St Edmunds (see the entry for that place), two Gazeley men were involved in the kidnapping of the Abbey Prior and the Chief Justice, JOHN OF CAVENDISH. One of these, ROBERT TAVELL, was hanged for his crime in St Neots.

SIR ROBERT VERNON thought it his right, as lay rector of Gazeley, to claim the great tithes of Kentford, amounting to a value of Ł5 6s 8d. Sir Robert had resolved the matter to his own satisfaction by sending his servants armed with swords and staves (large sticks) to reclaim the tithe corn. Consequently, in 1619 MR. THOMAS HARCOCKE brought a court action against Sir Robert to reclaim the corn.


It would be pointless here to go into the history of Haverhill when they have an excellent history group, the link here will take you to them. Haverhill tends to be ignored by most Newmarket folk, being orientated always towards Bury or Cambridge. Sitting on the junction to three Counties as it does, Haverhill makes for interesting research.


Herringswell:was formerly a fishing village as its name implies. It must be remembered that the tidal Fen once lay to the north of the village. The herring fishery business strongly opposed the drainage of the Fen, rightly supposing the loss of its livelihood.

The lord of the manor was the Earl of Arundel. For some obscure reason it was the custom that, whenever he passed through the village, he was offered a gammon of bacon held on the tip of a lance.

1853 saw the birth of one of the village’s noted inhabitants, Aaron Frost. He lived to the then great age of 84. He started work at the age of 12. He was known as ‘The Whistling Shepherd’ because he could imitate the songs of many birds. Another hobby was carving walking sticks. He also memorised whole chapters of the Bible by heart.

In February 1869, Herringswell church burned down, but was later rebuilt.


Higham lies about 7 miles from Bury St Edmunds. The village has 3 greens, designated Lower, Middle and Upper. The church, which has a distinctive round tower, lies on Lower Green. Its appearance is reminiscent of much older Norfolk churches, but Higham Church was built in 1861.

Designed by the same architect responsible for the Albert Memorial and one time architect to Westminster Cathedral, Sir George Gilbert Scott, one might expect wonderful things inside, but in that you may well be disappointed. The only round tower church I think in Suffolk< p> The village grew after the opening of the Newmarket to Bury railway line in 1854 (closed 1967). It had its own station with a refreshment room called ‘The Seven Mile Tavern’.

Originally, Higham was a hamlet belonging to Gazeley. The manor was Higham Hall, the centre of which was the Upper Green. One of the manor’s previous owners was HORATIO TOWNSHEND, a Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk. He was one of the men sent to the Hague in the Netherlands to ask Prince Charles to return to England to become King Charles II.

A toll house lies at the junction of the slip road which is the main approach to the village from the main A14. A little further into the village is Higham Forge.

The BARCLAY family, who began Barclay’s Bank, have owned the farmland around the village for a considerable time. Robert Leatham Barclay was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1921.


The eastern boundary of Icklingham is the Icknield Way. Another Pilgrim’s Path runs across the area. The village is thought to have been the Roman settlement of Camboricum and many Roman remains have been discovered around there. The joint parishes of St James and All Saints’ which form Icklingham have made use, over the years, of the abundant Roman bricks and tiles. Apparently, the Roman settlement extended for about half a mile near the River Lark.

There is a visible 25-acre square called Kenfield, which may be a corruption of Campfield. A number of interesting artefacts have been discovered there such as coins, kitchen utensils and a lead cistern, which could have held 16 gallons of water.

Near the point where the village boundary meets those of Eriswell and Elveden, Lord Iveagh erected a memorial in 1921 to honour the Great War dead from the 3 parishes. The West Stow reconstructed Anglo-Saxon village is near Icklingham.


Isleham:- Until 1066, Gisleham manor was held for the King by Wlwin, his huntsman and 12 sochmen under Turbert. 1214 The land and marriage of William Fitz-Alan are granted to Thomas (de Erdington?) for the use of his daughter for 5,000 marks. Perhaps tragedy followed, for in 1218 ‘Grants to Rohaise de Cocfeld late the wife of Thomas de Erdington, of the dower of Mary, daughter of the said Thomas, who was the wife of William Fitz-Alan in Meleham.

By 1236, Walter de Donestanvill held two-thirds of the vill of Iselham by serjeanty of the honor of Meldham (Norfolk). Robert son of William holds ˝ fee for the Bishop of Rochester and has 1˝ hides; the prior of Ely holds 1 hide in alms. In the same year there is a mention of Little Isleham.

In 1279 it was recorded ‘Great Isleham: The vill of Isleham used to be in the King’s hands; it is not known how master Giles de Briddeport held it of the gift of Rosia de Dunstanewyll, who held of the heirs of William Fitz-Alan of the honor of Meleham by serjeanty .

The Bishop of Rochester holds the church of St Andrew of Great Isleham . the Abbot of St Jacut of the Isle in Brittany holds a messuage with the chapel of St Margaret and 5 score acres of land by the gift of the ancestor of Alan son of Ferlant in the vill of great Isleham and the tithes of the said manors of Isleham and of the demesnes of the Abbot of Shrewsbury there (96 acres). the Prior of Ely holds 6 score acres of land there. William de Sauston holds a messuage and 5 score acres of land etc there of Matilda de Someri.

In Little Isleham Matilda de Somery, Thomas de Burgh and Walter son of Robert have tenements which are held of the honor of Richmond.


Kennet: The manor of Chenet was, until 1066, held by Thane Tochil (Thobillus) and the sochman Godric. By 1086, the manor had passed to Nicol (Nicholas de Kenet).

In 1163, Henry II confirmed to the monks of Sibton land between the road of Kenet Ford and the road of Frekeham Ford; and on the other side of the water (of Kenet) land which was of the fee of Nicholas de Kenet which he gave in alms.

During 1200 and after, Nicholas de Kenet was a minister of King John in various affairs. We move on to 1243, when ‘Peter de Kenet holds 1˝ fee in Kenet of the barony of Warenne. In 1272 the ‘liberty of Hugh le Bigod of Kenet’ is mentioned.

The Earl Marshall is recorded as having ‘gallows etc’ in Kenet in 1276 and by 1279 it is recorded that ‘he holds the vill of Kenet with the advowson of the church and does one suit at the court at Castelhacre; he has tenements in the vill of Kentefayre’.

The 1299 it was recorded ‘Nicholas de Kenet held the manor of Kenet with certain liberties and enfeoffed Hugh Bigod, father of Roger Bigod, the now Earl of the said manor etc’.

We move on to 1302, when ‘Surrender to the King and regrant to Roger Bygod, late Earl of Norfok etc, and Alice his wife, by way of settlement of inter alia the manor of Kenet, county Cambridgeshire’. 1302-3 ‘Roger Bygod, Marshal of England, holds 2˝ fees in Keneth of the Earl of Warenne’.


Kentford: This settlement grew up because of the Icknield Way and the River Kennett which flows through the village. In 1182, ABBOT SAMPSON of Bury St Edmunds Abbey stayed in the village on his way back to town after his election as Abbot on Palm Sunday.

The TOWN BOOK is an ancient village record. Village land (called Town Lane) was leased out and records of this can be found in the book. An entry from 1738 records: ‘John Mullinger, yeoman of Kentford to hold, occupy and enjoy the Town Land’ . (the terms being for 3 years and a rent of Ł6 in two equal payments at the church feasts of the Annunciation and St Michael. John was not allowed to use wood except for fencing. The wood was for the use of the village) ‘and the said John Mullinger to oblige himself to lay every year upon the Town Land ten loads of stable muck or dung’.

It is believed that Kentford once had a packhorse bridge, similar to that in Moulton, which has now vanished.


Kirtling: In 1066, Earl Herald held Chertelinge manor. In 1086 the manor was recorded as Quetelinge. In 1177 ‘a fine of 40s was imposed on Kirtlinges but the amount was pardoned to Roger de Portes’. By 1236: ‘Ralph de Thoni holds Kertlinges (which he appears to have obtained in 1216 from Richard de Munfichet) by serjeanty of the King there are 10 hides and in that vill there is no suit of sheriff’s aid’. A mandate was delivered to the sheriffs of Essex, Hertford, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hereford, Worcester, Devon and Wiltshire ‘to Permit the serjeants which were of Ralph de Thoeny to plough and sow the lands late of the said Ralph’.

By the next year, a grant was made to Petronella, Ralph’s widow, to hold all of Ralph’s lands at farm until Ralph’s heir (presumably their son) came of age. In 1242 Queen Eleanor was granted custody of the land until the heir came of age. In 1251 the King ‘presents to the church of Kertling in his gift by reason of custody of the land and heir (died 1251) of Ralph de Thoeny’. In 1264 ‘The castle of Kertling, late of Roger de Tany is committed during pleasure to Henry de Hastinges’. Following Henry’s death, also in 1264, the manor passed to Matilda, Countess of Gloucester, in 1265.

In 1276 the manor passed back to the possession of the de Thoeny’s; ‘ Ralph de Tony holds the barony of Kertlynge of the King’. It is recorded in 1284-86 ‘Ralph de Thony holds Kertlynge of the King by socage;. As we move on to 1306, ‘Alice de Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick, is lady of the vill of Kertlinge’. Alice was the daughter of Ralph de Tony of Flamstead and the sister and co-heir of Robert de Tony.


In 1941 the RAF established an air base. The United States Air Force has had a base there for many years, but the base is still known as RAF Lakenheath. Of course, Lakenheath’s history goes much further back in time. Coins which were nearly 2,000 years old were discovered on the Lakenheath Hall Estate. There were 3 gold coins and 459 silver ones. Lakenheath Lode has been filled in, but it once allowed boats to reach the village. This connected with the Great Ouse River.

In the Middle Ages, there was a Lord of the Manor of Lakenheath. One of these lords was Alan of Walsingham, who designed the Octagon in Ely Cathedral. In 1341 Lakenheath was in the Fen. Alan owned 200 acres of wheat, 57 acres of oats, 27 acres of barley and 3 acres of peas. In another hamlet called Underley, he had 1,000 sheep and another 50 acres of wheat and barley. He was thus a wealthy man and these figures give some idea of the importance of various crops at the time.
John Wesley preached in Anchor Lane in the 18th century.


The link here goes to the archeology group in Lidgate which does a general history of the village and of course gives contact details of some folk who are interested in the history of the village


Mildenhall: The River Lark and the weekly market formed the basis of the town’s prosperity. In the days before road travel was easy or railways existed, river traffic passed through between Bury St Edmunds and Lynn.

The Riverside Hotel backs on to the mill stream. It was formerly the home of local solicitor Mr. Stutville Isaacson and later became a private school. The Parish Church is dedicated to St Mary and St Andrew and has some fine wooden carvings inside. The market cross still stands in the Market Square.

The obvious place to link to in this case is the Mildenhall Museum.


No suitable link has been found.

The village’s original name was Muletuna (meaning market town). It contains many old and interesting buildings, many of which are still thatched. The large village green borders the River Kennet, which was once a much-used waterway and vital to the transport of goods in the area.

The magnificent 15th century PACKHORSE BRIDGE has four arches with pointed tops, reminiscent of church arches. The bridge testifies to the former size and importance of the now-diminished river which flows through it. Strong packhorses were once a vital way of transporting goods overland. The walls of the bridge are low to allow clear passage for the packs on the horses’ backs. Up to 50 horses might travel together. They were led by a packman or SUMPTER astride the lead horse. There is another narrow, 15th century, flint bridge further south.

The earliest parts of the parish church of St Peter date from the Norman period. A solitary grave may be seen on the crossroads where the Moulton to Chippenham road crosses the Newmarket to Kentford road. This is the final resting place of a gypsy boy called Joseph. All that is known of him is that he was an orphan who tended sheep. He was accused of stealing a sheep and hung himself. Those who pass the spot regularly will notice that there are always different flowers on the grave. It is thought that those responsible for this kindness are passing gypsy folk.


Ousden, or Uusedana certainly dates from Anglo Saxon times.
The manor was owned by the Moseley family from 1567 until it was sold in 1800. The manor was bought in 1835 by the Ireland family and lived in until 1885, when it was acquired by the Mackworth-Praed family. The family remained in the Manor until 1955 when it was demolished.


Reach: Once on the edge of the Fen, this village was the opposite end of the Devil’s Dyke to Woodditton. Reach was one of Cambridge’s inland ports from Mediaeval times until the 19th century. Hythes and basins were dug out to accommodate the trade. Timber and iron from Baltic countries were main imports. Exports were corn and clunch, which was quarried in a wide local area. Later, by the 18th century, coal, wine and bricks had been added to the list of imports.

Reach was give a charter in 1201, although there may have been a market there before the Norman Conquest. The fair was held at Rogationtide (May Day) for three days. A Fair Green was made in the village by levelling part of the dyke. Horse trading was a traditional part of the fair. Reach fair is still a popular local event every May.

Saxon Street

Saxon Street was called Sextone manor and was owned by Thane Wlwin in 1066. In 1086, the manor was held by Evrard (Everard, son of Brientius). During 1155-62 ‘confirmation to Thetford (Abbey) of tithe of land in Cauelei (Cheveley), half the tithe which (Hubert de Montyecanesio?) has in Silvreslei (Silverley) 10s of land in Freeton (Foxton) and land which Richard, son of Osbert and Adelicia, his wife, and Hugh, their son, gave in Diton’.


There has not been found a site specific to Silverley, once called Severlai and, later, Selverlegh and Silverleye.

The land was the property of Thane Wlwin in 1066 but it was in demesne by 1086. Around 1135, Aubrey de Ver gave Silverley church to Hatfield Regis priory. It was recorded in 1279 that ‘Geoffrey Arssik is lord of Selvirle and hold of the Earl of Oxford for 2 fees; he has as free tenant the master of the hospital of Chipinham, who holds 12 score acres of land in alms by the gift of Geoffrey’s ancestor; the Prior of Spinney holds the same extent of land there and the Prioress of Teford; Alice relict of Reginald Arssik holds a messuage there; William Randulf holds lands there’. In 1302-3 ‘The prior of the Hospitallers holds 2 fees in Silverle of the Earl of Oxford.’


Snellewelle manor belonged to the demesne of the church of Ely but then Abbot Leofsi pledged it to Archbishop Stigand. It was held until 1066 by the Archbishop and 6 of his sochmen. By 1086 ‘Hugh holds of the fee of the Bishop of Bayeux’, that is, the manor.

During the reign of Henry I, Emma de Port gave 1 carucate of land in Sneileswelle to the monks of Whitby. The manor passed to the de Percys and in 1175, after the death of William de Percy, Sneleswell was ‘assigned to the pourparty of the Earl of Warwick and ˝ fee of the fee of Adam de Port with the service of Thomas’.

In 1195 ‘William de Coleville and Agatha his wife demanded against Aubrey de Capella, tenant, in a plea of warranty of charter the whole vill of Snelewell and all the land which Geoffrey de Capella held in Mildehale on the day he set forth for Jerusalem, to be held for Agatha’s life for her dower, rendering yearly to Aubrey 50 shillings. By fine in the King’s court Aubrey granted to William and Agatha for her life, a third part of Snellewelle with the chief messuage etc’.

In 1234 ‘William de St John demands from William de Percy the service of one knight for the land in Sneilwell which William de Percy holds of him, which service William de Percy does not acknowledge but he acknowledges service of ľ fee. William de St John releases his claim to Ľ fee’. Later, in 1230, there was another law suit between William de St John and William de Percy touching ˝ fee in Snailewelle.

We move on to 1268, when ‘Walter de Stivechworth lost his lands at the time of the disturbances in the Realm and the King gave his lands, except Papworth, to William la Zuche and John de Tybetot, namely a moiety to each. By the King’s licence William has surrendered his moiety in Sneylewell, Fordham and Hyselham, to the said Walter’.

By 1279, ‘Alice la Blunde holds 1 fee in Sneilwell. The rector of the church of St Andrew the Apostle in Sneilwell holds 4 score acres of land for parsonage by the gift of the Bishop of Ely; Alice la Blunde holds 1 fee there of John de St John and he of the heirs of Henry de Percy, who hold in chief of the King; William de Tuamhill holds a messuage there of the Master of the Hospital of Chippenham’.


This link deals with the ancient history of Soham but Soham Heritage and Tourism Group. can be a very useful contact.


The manor of Stwiceworde (Sticeworde, Stiuicesworde) belonged to the church of Ely before 1066. Goduin, the Abbot’s man appears to have had care of it. Seric de Odburevilla took some of the demesne farm of the Abbot and put it into the manor of St Wandrille. Records also indicate that Lady Eddeva had some of the land (and Grim took care of this for her). By 1086 the manor was valued at Ł12 and ownership had passed to Count Alan de Ver and Hardwin de Scalers.

It was recorded in 1185 that Agnes de Valuines, aged over 60, had a manor in the Radfield Hundred worth Ł15. This may have been the manor of Stetchworth. By 1236, ‘Henry son of William holds 1 hide in Steuchewrthe of the honour of Richmond by socage’. In 1252, ‘Grant of free warren to the Prior and convent of Ely in Steuechewurth’. Also 1282, ‘Philip de Patemere holds 1 hide in Steuchewrthe of the honour of Richmond’.

Swaffham Bulbeck

Swaffham Bulbeck and Swaffham Prior: ..In old records the name was spelt ‘Suafam’. It comes from the old English meaning the Swabian Home. The earliest document recording Swaffham dates from 907 A.D. There were probably two separate villages by 1086. Swaffham Bulbeck took its name from the de Bolebec family. Swaffham Prior probably refers to the priory of Benedictine nuns at Swaffham in the late 12th century.

Before and after the Conquest, there was a rather complicated multiple ownership of the land. Before 1066, land was in the possession of Ely church, Lady Eddeva, The King, and their servants and sochmen. By 1086 ownership had passed to Count Alan de Ver, Hardwin de Scalers, Walter Giffard and also Aubrey de Ver. There were a number of tenants.

In 1185, it was recorded that ‘The daughter of Walter de Bolebec is of the King’s gift; she is aged 10; the vill of Swafham is of the barony of Walter de Bolbec and his daughter is heir thereof; it has been given in dower to the wife of Gilbert Basset’. In 1185 the girl, Isabel, was a ward of Earl Aubrey, who married her to his elder son Aubrey, afterwards Earl of Oxford. She was descended from Hugh de Bolbech, who had held land of Walter Giffard in 1086.

In the records of 1207, there is a rather curious entry,. An Isabella de Bolebed ‘proffers 300 marks and 3 palfreys (horses) not to be constrained to marry and for royal warranty against all her lords that none of them should constrain her to marry’. The same Isabella ‘has licence to levy an aid from her tenants in county Buckingham, to levy the said fine of 300 marks’. Isabella was the sister of the Walter de Bolebec named in 1185, the father of Isabel.

In 1236, there is a reference to show more than one Swaffham; ‘Hugh de Crawdene holds 1 fee in the other Swaffham of the fee of Hamon Pecche’. In 1279, records show ‘The fee of Gilbert Pecche and the fee of William de Kyrketot in Swafham Prior; the fee of Reginald de Eylesham and that of John de Burthon in Swafham Bolebeck’. In the same year we read that ‘The Prioress of Swafham holds the church of Swafham Bolebek by the gift of the ancestors of the Earl of Oxford’.

Swaffham Prior

Near to the village of Swaffham Prior is Gallows Hill. This is the site of an excavated Anglo-Saxon cemetery (see chapter on the Anglo-Saxons) and is a prominent chalk hill which was set back from the, then, Fen edge. A skeleton and artefacts from the excavation may be seen at Burwell Museum.

To the north of the burial site, on the former Fen edge, are the remains of an Iron Age settlement. Several inhumations were found there. Within sight of the hill, near the Devil’s Dyke, there are the remains of 5 ring ditches, which may have been prehistoric burial mounds.

The name ‘Gallows Hill’ indicates that this may have been the site of a Mediaeval gibbet (where criminals were hanged); however, there are no written records to show this. The site and evidence of a Romano-British temple were also found near to Swaffham Prior.


This village once had a watermill, which is now redundant and has changed use. The mill stream was made navigable by Lord Bristol in the 1890’s. Originally, the village was sited between the River Lark and Herringswell Fen. In the Second World War, Tuddenham was an airfield.

Westley Waterless

Westley Waterless: Weslai, until 1066, was owned by the church in Ely and part was held by 7 siochmen of the Lady Eddeva and part by 2 sochmen of Earl Herold. By 1086, the owners were Count Alan de Ver, the Countess Judith and Hardwin de Scalers. Two knights also held land there.

In 1230, Gilbert Burnel and John le Waleys were parties to a suit respecting a small tenement in Westlegh, county of Cambridge.

During the time of Edward I, Walter de Crek purchased the manor of Westlegh Waterles from John de Burg. The Abbot of Wardon had land here. In 1299, ‘the liberties of John de Crek, son and heir of Walter de Crek, in Westlegh Waterles’ were recorded.


The parish of Wicken includes the hamlets of Upware and Padney. Wicken has a rare example of a fully operational smock windmill dating from 1813 which still grinds flour and is open to the public to explore on the first Saturday of each month and on many other village occasions throughout the years.


The village name means ‘wood by the ditch end’ because one end of the dyke which runs through Newmarket is to be found there. The area was King’s land (Ditone or Duntun Manor) prior to the Conquest, but was in the possession of the Church of St Aetheldreda of Ely by 1066. Then ‘Archbishop Stigand took it away, the men of the Hundred know not why’. The village was divided into two manors after the Norman conquest; there were known as Ditton Valens and Ditton Camoys.

In 1086 it was recorded that ‘William de Nouers (Nieuers, Noderes) holds it at farm from the King’.
In the time of King Stephen, Droard, son of Cade, was recorded as the lord of Ditton. He and his wife, Wimarc, gave the church of All Saints in Ditton to the monastery of Thetford ‘for the souls of Stephen, county of Brittany and William, Earl of Warenne’.

In 1194, the manor’s name was recorded as Dittune. It changed ownership over the years, but in 1284-86 it was recorded that ‘Robert de Valeynes holds Ditton Valoynes and a third part of Newmarket of John de Cameys for 3 fees and John holds of the Earl of Brittany’.

In 1400, the revenue from Ditton Valens alone was more than three times that of Newmarket for the respective lords of the manor. However, as Newmarket expanded and changed its economic role, Woodditton maintained agriculture as the basis of its economy. Surplus grain and produce were possibly sold off in Newmarket market and the town was also the place where justice was dispensed for the whole area.

Life continued much the same in Woodditton for many centuries. An 1881 census showed that out of 140 men able to work, 107 were agricultural labourers. Even at this time, the lord of the manor still directed many things. In the past, families tended to stay in the same place for generations and so some surnames came to be associated with places. Woodditton surnames are: Woollard, Cates, Swann and Symonds.

Woodditton gained a school, built by public subscription in 1847, which was later enlarged by Colonel Harry McCalmont, who owned the estate at the time, in 1900. It then had 200 pupils. The school closed in 1983, but it only had 5 pupils on the register at the time.

The First World War brought many changes, not the least of which was the loss of 36 Woodditton men – a large proportion of its men for a small community.

When Colonel McCalmont died, the estate was sold and dispersed. Many people found new employment in Newmarket as grooms, footmen or gardeners. Transport had improved and Newmarket had become more accessible for work and shopping. Prior to this, anyone wanting to get to town had had to walk or get a lift on a cart – perhaps the one carrying milk churns to the station.

Many old Woodditton cottages have been modernised. One group of 7 cottages once housed over 50 people. It was common to sleep 8 children to a room (families were larger in the past). The smallest child was next to the sloping roof rafters to minimise the risk of ‘head banging’. Today, these 7 cottages have become 3, which house just 8 people. In 1921, all the properties were valued at Ł£235. Today’s market value would be well in excess of £160,000.

The village is separated from its neighbour, Stetchworth, by the Devil’s Ditch earthwork.


The village lies a short distance from Mildenhall. It contains a number of very old buildings; at least one house dates, in part, from the 13th century. The train route once ran through it to Mildenhall and there was a halt in Worlington near The Royal Worlington and Newmarket Golf Club which opened in 1893.