Bridleway 10 Hatley St George

Direction N – S; Distance c.2,400 m.                          Back to map


This bridleway starts on the south side of the Hatley Road in Hatley St George, opposite Newlands Buildings (269514). At 70 metres above sea level you have commanding views to the north towards Little Gransden and west towards St Neots.  The signpost on the northern side of the road says Cockayne Hatley 2½ and Tadlow 3 miles.


Once through the field gate you enter Hatley Park. Hatley is said to come from the Old English word Hattenleia, which may mean Hætta's wood or clearing. Who or what Hætta was is unknown. Maybe it was the name of the hill or, more likely, the name of the family that first cleared the trees to make a settlement. It was a good site on the flat land on top of the Cambridgeshire Greensand  overlooking the valley of the River Rhee to the south and the gentle rolling land to the north. There are numerous springs nearby where fresh water could be found.


It has been suggested that the original settlement of the Hatleys developed close to the line of an ancient route which ran from the fens north of St Ives through Eltisley to Baldock (Herts.). This bridleway survives as part of this routeway, known as Bar or Burr Lane (R.C.H.M. Cambs. Vol. I p.145). In the Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire it pointed out that


it may be significant that in 1279 the villains of Hatley St George were said to owe an annual carrying-service to St Ives (Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.) Vol. 2, p.539). Park Farm, perhaps the original site of the manor house of the St Georges, stands near Bar Lane (R.C.H.M. Cambs. Vol. I p.148-9). The ways to Cambridge and Royston were mentioned in 1639. The Royston way may have followed the course of the modern road, but the Cambridge way perhaps ran north-eastwards across the parish to join the Cambridge way in Longstowe and continue on to the county town as Port Way. (C.U.L. Ely Dioc. Recs. H1/3). A drift way running north-eastwards went out of use after 1839, and the principal drives to Hatley Park were made after 1841 (C.R.O. P88/27).

(V.C.H.  Cambs, i, p. )

Who the Saxon landowners of Hatley were is unknown. The Domesday Book of 1086 refers to a Robert, son of Wymarc. Wymark was a Breton name, `we o march,' meaning ‘worthy of a horse’. Brittany was then independent of France and those Breton mercenaries who accompanied William, Duke of Normandy in his conquest of England, were given land in return for their assistance. The Saxon’s land in this parish was confiscated and given to Count Alain, Eudo, son of Hubert, and Picot of Cambridge. They then rented the fields out to the ‘paysans’, country people, from which we get the English word peasants.


In HATELAI Ælmer holds 1 virgate from the Count. Land for 2 oxen. The value is and always was 2s 4d.


In HATELAI Eudo holds 1 hide. Land for 1 plough; but it is not recorded there. In lordship 3 virgates and 10 acres, with 3 smallholders with 20 acres. Wood for fences. Value 5s; when acquired 10s; before 1066, 20s.2 Freemen of Robert son of Wymarc held this land and could sell.


In HATELAI Roger holds 2 hides from Picot. Land for 2 ploughs. In lordship 1; 4 smallholders with 6 cottagers and 1 villager have ¼ plough; [another] ¼ possible. Wood for fences and houses. Value 20s; when acquired 60s; before 1066, 100s. lfward, Robert son of Wymarc's man, held this land and could sell.

In the same village Picot holds 1 hide. Land for 1 plough; ¼ plough there; [another] ¼ possible. Wood for fences and houses. 3 villagers. Value 10s; when acquired 20s; before 1066, 40s.
3 Freemen of King Edward's held this land; they found 1 cartage for the Sheriff.
Picot states he had this is exchange for Rushden, which Sigar holds. [Sigar of Chocques, but this exchange is not mentioned there.]


In LONGSTOW Hundred swore

·             William, Picot the Sheriff's man

·             Tihel, the Abbot of Ely's reeve

·             Warin the priest

·             Guy, the Abbot of Ramsey's man

·             Godric od Croxton

·             Ælfric, Eudo's reeve

·             Wulfwy of Hatley

·             Young Ælmer

During the reign of King Henry III (1207 – 72) land in Hatley was awarded to St George. A James of St George, Savoy, who died in 1308 was a military architect. From 1278 he was responsible for designing King Edward I’s castles in Scotland and Wales. They included Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech, Beaumaris, Flint and Rhuddlan.  He probably lived in a fine manor house on the estate.


On Thomas Langdon’s map of Gamlingay in 1601 the Bridleway was marked as a continuation of Seaslade, Porte Deane or Hatley Deane, a trackway which ran north to south through Southe Fielde from Pightle Greene, the meadow on both sides of what became known as Millbridge Brook. The fields on the west were called Awsten’s Land. It crossed Hatley Waye  and continued south an a track called Shovell broade or sheep broade, indicating the land’s agricultural use.The field to the east called Prestons graice furl(ong) was divided into the long strips commonly termed ridge and furrow. It crossed Narrow waye or sheep broade which ran to the southeast and continued to the county boundary. The land to the southwest was marked as Parte of Stocking in Hatley Parte, the land to the southeast as Parte of Porche in Hatley Porte to the west. On other maps this latter area was called Hungrye Hatleye.


It was stated that the Hall at Hatley St George was built in 1640 for Sir Henry St George on the site of Park Farm (TL281506). John Layer (d.1640) wrote that the ‘ancient seat is decayed, a fine site of an old house, and a pretty gentlemanlike seat now there built’ (John Layer C.A.S. 8vo ser.liii, 106). The early 17th century building appears to have formed the nucleus of the present manor house called Hatley Park standing south-east of Park Farm. According to the Royal Commission of Historic Monuments


PARK FARM, 80 yds. E. of Bar Lane, L-shaped, two-storeyed, framed, with tiled roof, though considerably altered and with modern infilling in the angle, is probably of 16th century origin; it may have been the house of the manor of the St George family, the seat of which was transferred to its present site c. 1635.


The main N. and S. range has been cased in modern brick and has two added window bays on the E. side and one at either end. The W. part of the long E. and W. wing, which is plastered, was originally lower than the rest and open to the roof, but has been heightened. Over the rest of the house the roof, largely original though of rough construction, is based on tie-beam and collar trusses; two plain cambered tie beams are partly exposed in the E. part of the wing.


The S. ground-floor room of the main range is lined with 17th century run-through paneling, for the most part in situ, including a length of frieze with incised fan ornament; from the arrangement of the paneling a door in the centre of the N. wall of the room and another opening in the S. wall can be inferred. This room has a chamfered brick fireplace surround with segmental head, also 17th century.


HATLEY PARK, house with service buildings and grounds, stand on upland sloping gently N. to Millbridge Brook.

The House, two-storeyed, partly with cellars and attics, of local red brick (from Gamlingay brickworks?) with roofs of Westmorland and other slate, is the product of at least three building phases, not counting changes within the last hundred years. Though predominantly an 18th century structure it incorporates a 17th century nucleus John Layer in his History of Cambridgeshire (C.A.S. 8vo. Publs. Liii, (1933), 106) remarks ‘the ancient seat is decaied and a pretty gentlemanlike seate now there built’. Attached to the 1601 maps of Gamlingay, by T. Langdon, at Merton College, Oxford, is a comparatively crudely drawn supplement showing the W. part of Hatley and depicting ‘Mr St Georg his house’ apparently in the position of Park Farm (Monument (4)). Layer’s words imply  recent rebuilding on a fresh site and this is most likely to have been done by Sir Henry St George, garter King of Arms, between his father’s death in 1635 and Layer’s own demise in January 1641. an engraving by Johannes Kip (Britannia Illustrata (1707), Plate 58) purports to show the house as it was after a rebuilding attributed to the Lysons  (Cambridgeshire, 210) to Sir Robert Cotton (of the Connington Cottons), who came into the property while still a minor (under 21), perhaps as early as 1682 (See PARISH CHURCH OF ST GEORGE, Monument (2), Bells). After Sir Robert Cotton’s death in 1749 the property passed by a series of marriages to Margaret Cotton (of the Madingley family); she had already enlarged the house by 1753 (E. Carter, Cambridgeshire, (1753), 199), adding wings on either side of the house as left by her predecessor, although the wings as they now stand may not have been completed until after that date. During the second half of the century the house belonged to the Pearse family; a Mr. Pearse was offering the materials of the house for sale in 1782 (Cambridge Chronicle, 16 Nov. 1782); it was purchased by Thomas Quintin but was not demolished, although it may have then been stripped of its fittings. The Quintins may have refaced part or all of the N. front.


The house was again enlarged and lavishly refitted in reproduction Georgian style late in the 19th or early in the present century. Some genuine 18th-century chimney pieces and other embellishments have also been imported within the last hundred years. Modern additions at the E. and W. ends have recently been demolished (pre-1977).


The N. or principal elevation is in thirteen bays with late 18th or 19th-century sash windows on both floors; seven bays are those of the middle block, being Sir Robert Cotton’s house of c. 1700; the remaining six, three and three, are those of the wings added c. 1750. The uniformity of the brickwork may be attributable to re-facing of the middle block about the time that the wings were added. The middle block consists of a three-bay centre piece and side pieces of two bays each and has a stone cornice and parapet with stone coping (slanted bricks to all rain run-off); this parapet is broken by a central pediment framing a small round window. The quoins of the centre and side pieces, as well as those of the wings, are of rusticated stone; the front is embellished with six stone urns. The central front door is modern, the Palladian windows in the middle of the ground floor of the wings are 18th century but appear to have been improved.


The S. elevation is irregular, owing to the incorporation of the original 17th century house. This is reflected by five closely spaced bays occupying most of the middle block, which are supplemented by two bays towards its east end; these and the uniform red-brick facing of the middle block on this side are of c. 1700. For the rest, the elevation is symmetrical, with a stone-capped parapet extending its entire length surmounted by six stone urns. The side pieces, apparently a somewhat later elaboration of the mid 18th century wings of the N. front, were at first built with two bays, each deeply recesses, and the third, at the ends, breaking forward again as turriform projections (in the shape of turrets); but the effect has been weakened by modern ground-floor infilling with flat roof and cast-iron balustrade, the last perhaps reused. All the windows on the S. side are late 18th or 19th-century sashes with stucco (durable, exterior wall coating of cement, sand and lime) surrounds except for three dormers in the centre block. Two rainwater heads of the late 18th century survive. The glazed and pedimented (stones at base) doors at either end are modern.


The inside of the house has been rearranged and is almost devoid of original features, but some paneled doors and shutters, also one or two wooden fireplace surrounds in the attics, are old. Irregularities in the modern plaster ceiling of the drawing rooms probably result from the removal of a through passage bisecting the original house.  The growth of the house may also be reflected in the irregular lay-out of the cellars. The roof of the middle block, which is hipped and rises to a central valley, is framed with staggered purlins (horizontal timbers supporting the rafters); its members, partly of oak and partly of softwood are of variable scantling (upright in house frame); the oak may well be reused timber from the roof of the original house (at Park Farm, now the Dower House).


W. of the house predominantly modern. Service Buildings include three or four of those illustrated by Kip, all in red brick of c.1700 but much altered. The most considerable of these fronts to the N. and retains most of its symmetrically disposed windows with flat arches and a central doorway with rusticated quoins (roughly finished, unsophisticated, exterior corner stones) and head in stuccoed brick. The Grounds include gardens on the N. bearing no relation to those delineated by Kip; these are diversified by adventitious statuary and urnage in marble, freestone and composition of the 17th to 19th centuries. The large and pleasant park seems to have been created about the middle of the 19th century.



The RCHM also includes details of numerous earthworks in the gardens:


(13) GARDEN REMAINS (mostly on O.S. at Hatley Park (Monument 3)). The park was mostly arable until the 17th and 18th centuries. Three features shown on some O.S. maps as ‘moats’ are remnants of a garden lay-out of that period. That to the S. of the house (N.G. TL 27055081) is an E. and W. wet ditch 325 ft. long, 15 ft. wide and 2 ft. deep separating the gardens from the park (possibly a ha-ha – a ditch to stop cattle and sheep getting onto the lawns and flower beds in front of the mansion); a causeway 15 ft. wide, revetted with 18th century brick, crosses it on the axis of the house, a rectangular pond (N.G. TL 27555094), has been destroyed. The third, E. of the house, is merely a curving N.W. and S.W. ditch, 12 ft. wide and 1 ½ ft. deep, with a bank 15 ft. wide and 2 ½ ft. high within it.


Other earthworks in the park do not appear on the tithe map of 1839 and were presumably made after that date. The most prominent are a bank along the S. side of the road, 600 ft. long, 25 to 40 ft. wide and 2 ft. to 4 ft. high (possibly a ha-ha), and an irregular mound (N.G. TL 27315140) 90 ft. across and 3 ft. high...


(20) CULTIVATION REMAINS in the former parish of Hatley St. George (not on O.S.). Ridge and furrow survives over much of the former parish, especially in the park. The remains are mostly curved with ridges 100 yds to 270 yds. long, 5 yds. to 13 yds. wide and 1 ft. to 1 ½ ft. high with headlands of 7 yds. to 12 yds.


Around N.G. TL 276507 ridge and furrow running N.E. and S.W. is bounded by a winding hollow-way 40 ft. wide, 1 ft. to 3 ft. deep and 25 ft. across the bottom, perhaps an old route to Tadlow. To the E. of this are three small blocks of ridge and furrow running N. to S. with an access way, 30 ft. wide and 9 ins. deep, running E. from the main hollow-way for 80 yds. between the two blocks further N. Traces on air photographs complement these remains and much of the former open-field pattern can be seen, with field boundaries fitting curving furlongs. The parish was probably enclosed by the 17th century. (Ref: tithe map 1839 (T.R.C.); air photographs: 1060/UK/1635/1465-8; CPE/UK/2024/3020, 3060-3)

(R.C.H.M. Cambs. i, 148-9, 151).


St George’s descendants owned most of Hatley until the English Civil War which broke out in 1642. John St George supported the Royalists, as did his neighbour, Robert Castell of East Hetley. Following the defeat of Charles I, Parliament fined them both. In 1658 Richard St George was forced to sell the manor to the wealthy Sir Thomas Cotton of Madingley, near Cambridge, who altered the house out of all recognition. Follow the link for details of the Cotton Family tree.


When Sir Thomas Cotton died in 1662 the estate passed to Sir John Cotton, who owned Landwade Hall, Cambs. He had been knighted in 1641 for ‘spiriting away some college plate from Cambridge’ and giving it to King Charles I at Oxford. He died in 1689 and the following year it passed to his half-brother Sir Robert Cotton. Between 1662 and 1674 the mansion was extensively rebuilt by Sir Robert (E179/84/436; E179/244/13) and there were further additions until 1715.


It was contemporary with the construction of Everton House by Mr Astell, a director of the East India Company, Gamlingay Park built by Sir George Downing and Tetworth Hall by John Pedley, the  MP for Huntingdonshire. This was a time when wealthy merchants and politicians were building fine country mansions and developing parklands in which to escape the city life with its noise, dirt, disease and pollution and entertain their guests in style.


Sir Robert Cotton’s daughter, Alice, inherited the hall on her father’s death. She married Robert Trefusis in 1702. On her death, Robert married Margaret (d. 1734) who also enlarged the house (Carter, Hist. Cambs. 199-200). Following Robert Trefusis’ death, Margaret married Sir John Hinde Cotton (d.1752).  Alice’s son Robert Trefusis sold the house to Commissioner Pearse in 1732. His son, Best Pearse (d.1796), sold it in 1882 to Thomas Quinton, a wealthy glass manufacturer. In 1806 it was in the possession of John Whitby St Quentin (Lyson’s Cambs. 1808). Thomas St Quentin owned it in 1833 and he sold it in 1875 to Alexander McKenzie (Kelly’s Directory 1868). By 1883 it was in the possession of John Carbery Evans, Justice of the Peace. In 1896 it was owned by Ernest Terah Hooley, a financier and fraudster with a colourful history.


Hatley Park comprised 115a. in 1868, but had been enlarged by 1895 to 256a. including pleasure grounds and plantations. It was intended as a small scale sporting estate (C.U.L.  Maps 53(1)/95/11), In 1905 work on the estate was provided to avoid unemployment (E.D.R. (1905),12). In 1916 it was occupied by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Charles Edward Hamilton DL, JP. Between 1922 and 1929 it was lived in by Ernest Ridgill.


According to the Kelly’s Post Office Directory of 1929 "Hatley Park is the seat of Ernest Ridgill esq. who is lord of the manor and the principal landowner; the mansion is of brick with stone dressings in the Italian style of the early 18th century, and stands in a well-wooded park of 300 acres. The soil is clay subsoil, boulder clay. The chief crops are wheat, oats and barley. The area is 1,011 acres of laud and inland water; the population in 1921 was 67."


Between 1935 and 1937 it was occupied by Herman Andrew Harris Lebus, CBE, JP,  a furniture manufacturer from London. During the Second World War it was occupied by the military and one of the men stationed there, John Jacob Astor, bought the estate in 1947. He was the youngest son of Lady Astor, the first female MP, and developed the estate for his race horses, building a stud farm. His horses were trained along the gallop, a several mile run along the northern bank of Millbridge Brook, which ran parallel to the Cambridge to Bedford Railway. In 1961 it was said that most of the inhabitants were employed on the estate, which included Major Astor’s stud farm (Cambs. Chron. 1 Dec. 1961). Astor was knighted in 1978.


Hatley Park is now in the possession of his son, Michael Astor. The additions made to the house in the late 19th and early 20th century were demolished in the 1960s (R.C.H.M. Cambs. i,149; Notes by Ishbel Beatty, East Hatley)


Walking through the park you can now better understand its history. When you cross the cattle grid, an avenue leads southeast towards Hatley Park house. Carrying on south you pass through the remains of the early formal gardens, described as about 1.5 hectares of pleasure grounds and about 130 hectares of landscaped park.


You pass some of the estate buildings, Stud Bungalow, Stud Cottage and the Dower House (TL 271512). This house used to be called Park Farm, thought to have been the site of the original manor house of the St George family. Bar Lane  continues south for about 500 metres past more stables and paddocks until it crosses the European Constituency & County Constituency Boundary (TL271505) into Bedfordshire. It then continues south as Bridleway 1.


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Other Hatley stories:

The History of Hatley St George in Victoria County History

The Hatley Village Website

The History of East Hatley in Victoria County History

The Royal Commission of Historic Monuments account of East Hatley

Downing College’s 1978 pilgrimage to East Hatley


Hatley articles written by Ishbel Beatty

Rent Day at the Cat

Local epitaphs

The Irish Hatley

The Man who lived in the Palace