The History of East Hatley

Back to Hatley map

Victoria County History, Cambs. (1979) pp.43-48 transcribed and annotated by Bernard O’Connor, Gamlingay, September 2006.

Any additions welcomed – i.e. the last thirty years


The parish of East Hatley lay 19 km. west of Cambridge, and was of irregular shape, 4 km. long by 2 km. wide, narrowing towards the northern end. Its boundaries mostly followed old field divisions. It was one fragment of the scattered settlement established by the late 10th century and named Hatley from its position in the woods along the Cambridgeshire-Bedfordshire border. By 1066 Hatley was already divided, perhaps according to tenurial dependence (who the tenant was), into three vills (hamlets - small collections of houses) shared between two counties and three hundreds (Saxon system of land division) (Hart, Early Charters of E. England, pp.45-6: V.C.H. Cambs. 394, 415-6; V.C.H. Beds. i, 259, 261). Until the 15th century East Hatley, so called by 1200 (P.N. Cambs. (E.P.N.S.), 54-5), was usually grouped with its southern neighbour Clopton for public administration, including taxation (e.g. Palmer, Hist. Clopton, 57-9; East Anglian, N.S. viii, 286; xii. 239). It remained, however, a distinct ecclesiastical and civil parish, covering 1,189 acres (Census, 1891. For the parish see O.S. Maps, 6” Cambs. XLV, SE; LII. NE (1890-1 and later edns.); O.S. Maps, 1/25,000, TL 24,34 (1960 edn.)) until 1957 when it was united with its western neighbour Hatley St George to form the new civil parish of Hatley, covering 692 hectares (ha.) (2,377 a.) (Census, 1961-71).


East Hatley belongs to the West Cambridgeshire upland, and consists mostly of nearly level ground lying at over 75 metres. The soil, on heavy boulder clays overlying gault, is mostly poorly drained, although in the south a watercourse runs down a valley sloping south-west towards Tadlow. The clays were probably once heavily wooded. In the late 16th century the manorial estate included woodland in the south-west corner of the parish (P.R.O. C142/122, no.20; WARD 7/80, no.12). From the 17th century there were 40 a. of wood just west of the village site, called in 1683 Lordship, Nobles, and Rigsbys woods (Downing Coll, Mun. V 1a, settlement 1683), by 1750 Hatley wood (Ibid. estate maps, 1750 (hereafter cited as Downing maps, 1750); V IE, val.1801), and by 1742 Buff wood (C.U.L., E.D.R., G, tithe award 1842). Ashes and elms were sold from it in the late 19th century (e.g. C.R.O., 296/SP 104, 133). Those 40 a. of wood were sold in 1947 to Cambridge University for use for botanical studies (Cambs. Ind. Press, 1st Dec. 1961). The parish was formerly cultivated in open fields. Inclosure for pasture (fencing off, hedging or walling field boundaries) began c.1500 and was completed after 1670, but from 1800 Hatley reverted largely to arable farming.


In 1086 the vill had 21 peasants and 3 servi (? slaves) (V.C.H. Cambs. v. 415-16). There were probably 19 taxpayers in 1327 (Cambs. Lay Subsidy,  1327, 47) and 23 for the wool levy in 1347 (Palmer, Hist. Clopton, 58-9. For 1377 population, cf. above, Croydon intro.). By the 16th century the population had shrunk. There were 10 taxpayers in 1524 (P.R.O., E 179/81/129, m.2) and 9 households in 1563 (B.L. Harl, MS. 594, f. 198). The 10 or 11 houses of 1662 were reduced to 8 by 1674 (P.R.O. E 179/84/437, rot. 49; E 179/244/23, rot. 47). There were 50 adults by 1676 (Compton Census), and 75 people in 17 families in 1728 (B.L. Add. MS. 5828, f. 90). Numbers were probably even lower c.1750 (C.R.O., par. Reg. TS). From 1801 to 1841 the population varied around 100, suddenly rising to 146 by 1846 by 1851. from a peak of 155 in 1871 it fell to 124 by 1891, fluctuating thereafter between 70 and 100 until the 1950s (Census, 1801 – 1971).


Find 19th and 20th century population figures?


The medieval village lay around a triangular green, widening slightly from its south-eastern apex, by which stood the church, parsonage and principal manor house. The green lay where a track running north-east from Pincote hamlet in Tadlow divided to lead north-north-east towards Hayley wood in Little Gransden, and north-east along Long, or Croydon Old, Lane towards Longstowe. Along the two longer sides of the green lay many small tofts (Viking word for house with building and land) within moats often still wet, from which crofts (small farms) stretched back (R.C.H.M. Cambs. i. 149-52). After the final inclosure c. 1670 the village was largely cleared away (to create sheep pasture). For some time the only dwellings in the parish were eight farmhouses scattered through the fields, such as the surviving timber framed Long Lane Farm, and Hatley Wilds Farm, partly of brick, in the far north, and their dependent cottages (Ibid. 150; all illustrated on Downing maps 1750).By 1750 there survived at the site of the village, then called Town closes, only the parsonage and a farmhouse at each end of the green, incorporated as Walnut Tree close into the Downing family estate (Downing maps 1750). The area round the green was almost equally empty in 1842 (C.U.L.,E.D.R., G, tithe map 1842). Small houses began to be built actually on the old green from the 1850s, and by 1871 the parish contained 6 farmhouses, c. 12 cottages at the green, and the ‘Palace’, a high, gaunt house at its south-west end, erected for members of Downing College to occupy while supervising the College estate (P.R.O., RG 10/1577; Cambs. Ind. Press, 1st Dec. 1961). Carter’s, later Holben’s Farm east of the village was given a large white brick farmhouse in the 1840s, and Parker’s Farm at the north-east end of the village a tall red brick one in the late 19th century. In the 1970s c. 14 new houses filled a wide gap between the 19th century housing at each end of the green (cf. Cambs. Evening News, 17th Oct. 1974; 4th Feb. 1977).


After 1830 East Hatley’s communications were realigned to follow a new road north-west from Croydon across the north-east end of the green towards Gamlingay (cf. above Croydon, intro.) (The old route is thought to have ran alongside the front of the mansion at Hatley Park.) The village had no public house in the 19th century or later. At times it shared the village institute at Hatley St George (C.R.O., P 87/24/3).


MANORS. The 8 sokemen (men who had the privilege of holding court, usually connected with the feudal rights of lordship) who had held 2 hides (area of land between 120 and 240 acres, 48 to 98 ha.) in 1066 still occupied them in 1086 under Picot the sheriff, who had obtained the land by exchange (V.C.H. Cambs. i.392-3). His lordship descended the cadet line (?) of Picots established at Quy (Cambs.), who probably subinfeudated (in the feudal system, the leasing of a portion of the land held by a feudal lord's servant vassal (who owed a service in return) to somebody else who became the servant's servant in turn) the Hatley fee before 1185 (cf. Rot. De. Dom. (Pipe R. Soc. xxxv), 86; Red Bk. Exch. (Rolls Ser.) i.363,370). (Under the system of feudalism, a fiefdom, fief, feud, feoff, or fee, often consisted of heritable lands or revenue-producing property granted by a liege lord in return for a form of allegiance, originally often to give him the means to fulfil his military duties when called upon. However anything of value could be held in fief, such as an office, a right of exploitation (e.g., hunting, fishing) or a revenue rather than the land it comes from.) Their overlordship passed with Quy manor (in south-eastern part of Buff Wood) after 1220 through two successive heiresses to the Traillys (Farrer, Feud. Cambs. 124-6. There was a Geoffrey de Trailly, thought to be from Trelly, near Coutenance, France, mentioned in the Domesday Book for Chellington, near Odell, Bedfordshire and a Nicholas de Trailly in Old Warden in Bedfordshire in 1199), whose rights over Hatley were still recorded in the 14th century (e.g. P.R.O. SC 5/Cambs. Tower ser. No. 16. rot. 15; Cal. Close, 1288-96, 159; Bk. of Fees, ii. 922). In the early 13th century EAST HATLEY manor had been held of them (the Traillys) with land at Quy as ½ knight’s fee. William (fl.1205), son of Geoffrey of Quy (Cur. Reg. R.. ii. 272; iii. 310), was perhaps the William of Quy who held ½ hide at Hatley in 1235 and 1242 (Liber de Bernewelle, 246-7; Bk. of Fees, ii. 922; P.R.O., CP 25(1)/24/16, no.22). Sir William of Quy held land there c.1260 (B.L. Add. Ch. 6293; B.L. Lansd. MS. 863, f.61v). John, son of William of Quy, was tenant of the Traillys between 1267 and 1290, when his land in Hatley was ¼ fee. By 1279 he also held of Beatrice de Andeville (There was a Beatrice de Andeville b.1245, of Clopton Manor, Stratford upon Avon. She married Sir Robert Hoo of Luton.)  60 a. (Cal. Pat. 1266-72, 149; P.R.O., SC 5/Cambs. Tower ser. No. 16, rot. 15; Feud. Aids. i. 136; Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, p.483) which the Andevilles had still held in demesne (land, often in the country, kept for owner’s own use) c. 1235 (cf. R.R.O., CP 25(1)/24/16, no. 22). It probably represented the demesne of 1 ¼ hide at Hatley held in 1086 of Eudo the steward by Beatrices’s ancestor Humphrey de Andeville, lord of Clopton, with which it had descended (V.C.H. Cambs. i. 384). (It would be interesting to determine the link between Clopton, Warwickshire and Clopton, Cambs.) John’s son, John of Quy, was lord of Hatley between 1302  (Feud. Aids. i. 151, 156) and 1327 (Cambs. Lay Subsidy, 1327, 47), and he or a namesake held the manor in 1346 (Feud. Aids. i. 172; Palmer, Hist. Clopton, 59; Cal. Pat. 1345-8, 229). The family has not been traced later. A fraction of the Trailly fee, styled 1/8th fee, acquired in or before 1300 by Hugh Clopton, passed with his manor of Rowes in Clopton (Cal. Inq. p.m. iv, p.250; Feud. Aids. i. 151, 172, 190). In 1428 the former ¼ fee of the Quys was divided equally between John Clopton and John Hoo (Feud. Aids. i. 190).


Another manor derived from 1 ¾ hide held by Almar of Bourn (In 1086 an Almar held land in Caldecote, Cambs. from Count Alan.), in 1066 of Eddeva (Eddeva or Edith the Fair was Harold Godwineon’s wife who is claimed to have brought his body back from Hastings to be buried at Bishop’s Stortford. According to the Domesday Book, her land in Caldecote, Ely, Cambs. and Cheveley, Suffolk and elsewhere, was “taken over” by Count Alan.) and in 1086 of Count Alan, lord of Richmond, Yorkshire (V.C.H. Cambs. i. 415-16). (After the Norman Conquest, Count Alan the Red of Brittany, who married King William I’s daughter, Constance, was rewarded with huge tracts of land in Yorkshire and eleven other counties, including numerous parishes in Cambridgeshire) Its overlordship descended with the honour of Richmond. In the 16th century a mesne lordship (lord who holds land of a superior, but grants a part of it to another person, in which case he is a tenant to the superior, but lord or superior to the second grantee, and hence is called the mesne lord) over part of the manor, held in socage (land tenure by agricultural service or payment of rent; not burdened with military service), was attached to Sudbury’s manor in Bourn (e.g. P.R.O., E 150/88 no.3; C 142/122, no. 19; WARD 7/80, no.12; cf. V.C.H. Cambs. v.5-6).  Lordship over the ‘7 yardlands’, styled ¼ fee, was claimed for the Crown from the 1560s when Robert Castell, heir to the manor, alleged that it was held thus of knight’s service, to escape his stepfather’s claim to wardship in socage (P.R.O., C 142/138, no.12; C 3/35/97; Cal. Pat. 1563-6, p.395).


The RICHMOND fee, held c.1235 as ¼ fee, was then already, perhaps through division among coheirs, shared by Walter of Hoo with the same parceners (coheirs to whom an estate of inheritance descends jointly, and by whom it is held as one estate.) as the advowson (Liber de Bernewelle, 247). In 1252 Simon of Bourn, perhaps by purchase from a parcener, held 1/3 of ¼ fee of Walter’s son Walter, lord by 1251 (P.R.O., CP 25(1)/24/25, no.19; CP 25(1)/24/27, no.11; cf. below, church). In 1305 William de la Hoo had land at East Hatley (East Anglian, N.S. viii. 234). The Hoos were not recorded as lords of that manor thereafter; from 1284 to 1346 it was held by un-named parceners, and in 1428 by Guy Horley and Richard of Bourn (Feud. Aids. i. 136, 151, 172, 190). In 1275 John of Quy was said to hold yardlands of the honour of Richmond (Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 51).


Both manors probably eventually passed largely to the St Georges (for the family, (V.C.H. Cambs., Tadlow, Manors). Baldwin St George (fl. 1215) acquired land at East Hatley from Thomas of Hoo, and Baldwin’s son William bought other land held of the Hoos (B.L. Lansd. MS. 863, f. 61v). Other land, descending in the Bourn family with the advowson and settled c.1329 by Simon son of John of Bourn on his son John, was Simon son of John of Bourn on his son John, was acquired c.1380 from John of Bourn by St Baldwin St George (d.1383), whose father William already had a manor house at East Hatley in 1346 (Ibid. f.261; E.D.R. (1892), 790). Sir Baldwin’s great-grandson Sir William probably acquired the Rowses manor fraction from Geoffrey Clopton c.1433, and included East Hatley manor in a settlement of 1455 (B.L. Lands. MS. 863, ff. 58v-59). He had no land there, however, at his death in 1471 (cf. P.R.O., C 140/38, no. 50), nor did his son Richard (d.1485 (cf. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII,  i. p.60).


Robert Castell, established in Cambridgeshire by 1483 (Cal. Fine R. 1471-85, 267; Cal. Pat. 1485-94, 240), probably held the manor by 1490 (cf. Trans. R.H.S. N.S. viii. 304). The 550 a. there settled on him in 1497 (P.R.O., CP 25(1)/30/30/101, no.20) passed, probably by 1505, to his son Thomas, to whose feoffees (People to whom land was granted) they and half the manor were released in 1514 (Trans. R.H.S. N.S. viii. 304; P.R.O., CP 25(2)/4/18, no.22; cf. Cal. Pat. 1494-1509, 403. The family pedigree gives Robert Castell, father of Robert at East Hatley in 1480; Visit. Cambs. (Harl. Soc.xli), 42-3). Thomas died holding it in 1539 from his son and heir Thomas (d.1558) (P.R.O., E 150/88, no.3). It descended to that Thomas’s son Robert, until whose majority (reaching the age of 21) in 1566 it was occupied by his mother Beatrice and her second husband Leonard Baker (Ibid. C 142/138, no.12; C 3/35/97). Robert Castell survived until 1630, and his son and heir, Robert, then aged 60, died soon after, probably before 1636. The latter’s sons Robert (Ibid. WARD 7/80, n.12; CP 25(2)/400/11  Chas. I Hil. No.4; Visit. Cambs.  42-3; cf. Ely Episc. Rec. ed. Gibbons, 314), a parliamentarian colonel (during the Civil War) (Cf. Hist. Mss. Com. 6, 7th Rep. pp.550,556; Char. Don. i.87; and for Edm., D.N.B.), and Dr. Edmund Castell, a Semitic philologist (knowledgeable about Jewish literature), joined in 1661 in selling East Hatley manor to the politician and diplomat, Sir George Downing, Bt. (P.R.O., CP 25(2)/632/12-13 Chas II Hil. No.17. For Downing, cf. J. M. Beresford,  Godfather of Downing St. 1925)


Downing, who made East Hatley his country seat (J. M. Beresford,  Godfather of Downing St. pp.127,129), left his West Cambridgeshire estate in 1684 to his son and namesake (d.1711) (P.R.O., PROB 11/377 (P.C.C. 139 Hoare). On the death of the latter’s son, the third Sir George, in 1749 (G.E.C. Baronetage, iii, 279-80; D.N.B.) the estates passed under his will of 1717 to his cousin Sir Jacob Garrard Downing. Sir Jacob, disregarding Sir George’s will, which devised a contingent reversion of his estates (should there no longer be a male heir) to found a college at Cambridge (S. French, Hist. Downing College, (1978), 34-6; P.R.O., PROB 11/770 (P.C.C 179 Lisle), on his death in 1764 all his lands to his wife Margaret. She unlawfully took possession, and at her death in 1778 devised them to her nephew, Capt. Jacob John Whittington (P.R.O., PROB 11/895 P.C.C. 42 Simpson; French, Hist. Downing College, 41-8; East Anglian, N.S. x. 328-30). Although Cambridge University had claimed them in 1764 and obtained a favourable judgement in 1769, legal delays and stratagems enabled Lady Downing and Whittington to retain East Hatley and the other estates until 1800, when they were handed over to the newly founded Downing College (French Hist. Downing College, 51-81; Ambler, Chancery Cases, 1737-83, 531-5; cf. Jones,  Hist. Laws of Charity, 1532-1827, 108-19). The college retained all of East Hatley until c.1920 when it sold two farms, c.472 a., in the north to the Briscoes of Longstowe, and in 1947 sold the other two farms, c. 740 a., mostly to the tenants (C.R.O., R54/1/4; 515/SP 1154; French, Hist. Downing College, 134; Camb. Ind. Press, 1st Dec. 1961).


The Richmond manor house perhaps stood within a moat, 60 by 30 metres, by the village green just south of the old church (R.C.H.M. Cambs. i.150). The Castell’s house, recorded from 1559, (P.R.O., C 142/122, no.19), was said in 1660 to be an ancient timber framed building (C.U.L., Doc.1445). Sir George Downing (d. 1684) probably remodelled it as a residence, but c. 1712 his grandson mostly demolished it, using the materials for his new house at Gamlingay Park (French, Hist. Downing College, 16; Lysons, Cambs. 109). The site is occupied by Manor Farm, externally 19th century but containing 16th or 17th century woodwork, perhaps derived from the manor house. Another trapezoid moat further southwest possibly represents the site of Quys ‘ manor house (R.C.H.M. Cambs. i.. 149-150).


ECONOMIC HISTORY. In 1086 the 7 plough-lands were being cultivated with 6 ½ ploughteams, of which, two manors had one each, while two villani (members of the settlement who held a fixed share of its resources, including a changing pattern of strips within the fields, and owed labour services to the lord of the manor's demesne) had probably 3, but the eight sokemen (men who had the privilege of holding court, usually connected with the feudal rights of lordship) only 1 ½ between them, and eleven boarders (who held less land but owed more services to the lord) only one. The yield of the manors had fallen since 1066 from £7 10s. to £5 (V.C.H. Cambs. i. .415-16).


  In 1279 John of Quy held in demesne c. 140 a. of arable; another 4 yardlands had probably been detached from his estate as dower (money or property brought by a woman to her husband at marriage). Of the other land recorded c. 125 a. were held freely, including tenements of 25 and 20 a.; one 30 a. freehold, dependent on manors in other parishes, included under-tenants. Four cottars (peasant farmers) were recorded on the Trailly fee (P.R.O., SC 5/Cambs. Tower ser. No. 16, rot 15 lower part missing). 


From the 13th century to the early 17th the arable lay in open fields, whose number is uncertain. Some furlongs (a unit of length equal to 220 yards) were recorded in 1235 (Ibid. CP/25(1)/24/16, no. 22), and a north field in 1559 (Ibid. C 142/122, no. 20). The glebe (land belonging to the church, often farmed by a tenant, with the rent going to the priest) was still dispersed among more than 7 furlongs in 1615 (C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/3(1615). South and east of the village the shapes of the modern fields (Description based on Downing maps 1750), mostly lying cross-wise to the length of the parish probably reflect those of furlongs that they succeeded. In the far north around Hatley Wilds a more angular field pattern suggests inclosure of common pasture (land all villagers were allowed to graze their animals on), perhaps the ‘Wolds’ mentioned c. 1307 (B.L. Lansd. MS. 863, f. 62; cf. P.N. Cambs. (E.P.N.S.), 55). A few furlong names, such as Hollow Dole and Redland, survived as field names in 1750. The village also had c. 60 a. of meadow along the water-course in the southern valley, which probably separated two double rows of furlongs.


One manor had 196 sheep in 1086 (V.C.H. Cambs.. i. .415). In 1347 the village probably produced 18 ½ stone (569.8 kg.) of wool, 2 ¼ stone (69.3 kg.) from John of Quy’s demesne flock, and c. 9 stone (277.2 kg.) from seven others rendering 1 – 2 stone each (30.8 to 61.6 kg.) (Palmer, Hist. Clopton, 59). In the 16th century the peasantry, still growing mainly wheat and barley, kept small flocks of 20 – 30 sheep and milking cattle (e.g. East Anglian, N.S. x, 309-11). In 1524 six substantial yeomen (local farmers) had over £41 of the £45 6s. 8d. assessed in the village; the wealthiest of them, taxed on 17 marks, probably occupied the manor farm (P.R.O., E 179/81/129, m. 2).


Inclosure began in the 15th century. About 1490 Robert Castell inclosed c. 40 a. of arable for (sheep) pasture. His son Thomas c. 1512 annexed and inclosed 100 a. once used as common pasture (Trans. R.H.S. N.S. viii, 304), probably those 105 a. closes (enclosed plots) said in 1683 to have once been part of the common (Downing Coll. Mun. V 1A, settlement 1683; cf. P.R.O., C 142/122, no. 20). After 1500 the Castell’s estate usually had 200 – 240 a. of arable, but over 300 a. of pasture. Some of their closes around the village were kept as leys (grassland for pasture)(e.g. P.R.O., CP 25(1)/30/101, no. 20; C 142/122, no. 20; WARD 7/80, no. 12). By 1615 they apparently owned the whole parish, except for the glebe (C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/3(1615). Some open field land nominally survived c. 1640  but the final inclosure had been accomplished by 1661. the 1,728 a. of the manor were then largely shared between ten farms, consisting mostly of pasture. Besides 158 a. farmed from the manor house, there were three of 140 – 150 a., two of 127 – 132 a., three of 80 a., and one of 48 a. The rector, Richard Kennitt, then occupied 94 a., and soon after had a lease of 236 a., including the manor farm. The extensive closes, such as Great close, 100 a. were probably intended for sheep farming. Other large ones had in 1683 only recently been subdivided (C.U.L. Doc. 144-5; Downing Coll. Mun. V 1A, settlement 1683. Possibly Kennitt had renounced the glebe at enclosure).


By 1750 there were eight farms, ranging from two of 100 a. to one of 213 a., the rest being of 130 – 160 a. One 158 a. farm in the south was entirely under grass and used for dairying. In all there were 846 a. of pasture. Of only 300 a. of arable 130 a. lay in the south-east by Croydon. Some 20 a. south of the former green had formerly been used for apple, pear, and cherry orchards (Downing maps 1750). By 1801, when there were six farmers, all but one with over 200 a., the arable area had recovered to c. 690 a., mainly under a triennial rotation (changed the crops every three-year). Some 193 a. were equally distributed between wheat and barley, 214 a. were sown with oats, and 28 a. with beans and peas, while 221 a. lay fallow (uncropped to allow the soil’s nutrients to build up) and 21 ½ a. grew clover and vetches. By 1807, however, on the 273 a. of Hatley Wilds farm there were 99 a. of clover and trefoil, and the farmer hired out 78 a., mostly grass seeds, to be fed off with sheep before a corn crop, suggesting a four-course rotation. Of the 450 a. of grass in 1801 only 138 a. were regularly mown for hay (Downing Coll. Mun., V. 1E, val. 1801; P.R.O., HO 67/9; Cambs. Chron. 27th June, 1867). The farms had been much neglected since the 1760s (when Downing had moved to Gamlingay). In 1817 Downing College was advised to dismantle most of the farmsteads and convert any reparable farmhouses to cottages (Downing Coll. Mun., V. 1E, val. 1817). In 1816 much of the arable was said to be out of cultivation (Agric. State of Kingdom, 1816, 34).


By 1842 a four-course rotation was generally observed. There were then six farms, two containing 265 a. and 230 a., the rest 155 – 175 a.. some 180 a. had been brought back under the plough, giving 865 a. of arable and 251 a. of grass (P.R.O., IR 18/13585; C.U.L., E.D.R., G, tithe award 1842). By the 1870s only four farms remained. To the south-east lay Carter’s, later Holben’s farm, c. 335 a., to the south-west Manor farm, 210 a. including 90 a. in Tadlow. To Parker’s farm, 230 a., just north of the village, was added Long Lane farm to the north 230a. from the 1860s. Hatley Wilds farm, 278 a. of poor, heavy land, beyond the latter, was from 1840 let to a Tadlow farmer (Rep. Com. Univ. Income, 503-4; P.R.O. HO 107/1758; RG 10/1577). The late 19th century (Agricultural Depression late-1870s – 90s) saw a rapid turnover of tenants. Some farms were thrown into the college’s hands and run by its bursar (Kelly’s Dir. Cambs. (1869-1922); C.R.O. 296/SP 317). From the 1860s the area of permanent grass trebled to 455 a. by 1905, when of c. 510 a. of arable only half was cropped. The number of sheep kept declined, however, from over 700 in the 1860s to under 300 by 1905, and sheep farming ceased after the 1920s. the main crop remained wheat, followed by barley. In the 1950s almost 100 a. of vegetables were grown. (P.R.O. MAF 68/7-8, 2113, 3232, 4489).


John of Quy owned a (wind) mill in 1279 (Ibid. SC 5/Cambs. Tower ser. No. 16 rot.15). a glover was recorded in 1682 (Ibid. PROB 11/370 (P.C.C. 57 Cottle, will of John Headin)). In the 19th century almost the only employment was on the farms. The labour force grew little from 1830, when the farmers employed all the 21 adult labourers available (Census, 1831; Rep. H. L. Cttee. on Poor Laws, 316-17). Between 1851 and 1871 there were c. 23 resident adult labourers, and the farmers had work for 25 men and 9 boys (P.R.O., HO 107/1758; RG 10/1577). By 1925 only 16 men, and by 1955 only 8, were regularly employed (Ibid. MAF 68/3232, 4489). Almost the only craftsmen were the successive village blacksmiths recorded from the 1860s (Ibid. RG 10/1577; Kelly’s Dir. Cambs. (1879-1916). The forge was disused by 1945 (C.R.O., 515/SP 1154).


LOCAL GOVERNMENT. In the 1270s and 1330s tenants of the Richmond fee owed suit (had to attend) to the local tourns (Sherrif’s Court) held for that honour. (Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 51; P.R.O., SC 6/155/71), whose leet (court sitting) jurisdiction perhaps inhibited the growth of manorial courts (held by the local lord of the manor); no court rolls (rolled up legal documents) have been traced. From the 1660s the churchwardens and constables managed a parish stock (punishment where feet locked between two planks) of £4 (C.R.O., P 87/1/2, at front). The cost of poor relief (tax on local businesses used to help widows, orphans, needy etc.), after rising from £19 in 1776 to almost £30 by 1785, more than doubled to £69 by 1803, when five adults received regular outside relief (Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 34-5). About 1815 six were thus supported, but the total cost of poor relief was £20 less than in 1813 because the number on temporary assistance had been halved to five (Ibid. 1818, 28-9). From 1816 poor relief cost on average £75 a year, and was c65 from 1827 to 1833 (Poor Rate Returns, 1816 – 21, 10; 1822-4, 38; 1825-9, 15; 1830-4, 15). About 1830 allowances were given to large families and coal was sold cheaply to the poor (Rep. H.L. Cttee. On Poor Laws, 316-7). East Hatley belonged to the Caxton and Arrington poor law union from 1835 (Poor Law Com. 1st Rep. 248), to the South Cambridgeshire R.D. (Rural District) from 1934 (Census, 1931), and from 1974 in the South Cambridgeshire district.


CHURCH. The church, recorded by 1217 (Val. Of Norwich, ed. Lunt, 537), probably belonged originally to the Richmond fee. In 1235 the advowson (right to nominate the rector) was shared by Walter of Hoo, Giles de Feugeres and Felise, daughter of Matthew. Walter refused to accept a clerk nominated by his coparceners (coheirs), holding him unfit (Cur. Reg. R., xv, pp.295-6). Later that year Felise released her interest and Walter and Giles agreed to present (the rector) alternately (P.R.O., CP 25(1)/24/16, nos. 22, 24). In 1251 Walter’s son Walter assured a moiety (agreed a half share) of the advowson to Simon the chamberlain (Ibid. CP 25(1)/24/25, no. 19). In 1341 the patronage belonged to John Engaine of Teversham and Joan (or John) of Bourn (E.D.R. 1890), 450; cf. ibid. (1892), 808); the latter’s family had claimed to have it c. 1329 (Above, manors; cf. B.L. Lansd. MS. 863, f. 61). John Grantchester (d. 1362), however, presented thrice between 1342 and 1349 (E.D.R. (1890), 450; (1893), 23). And his widow Joan in 1380 and 1384 (Ibid. (1895), 39; (1896), 14; cf. V.C.H. Cambs. V. 202-3). Two patrons, probably feoffees (people to whom land was granted), were named in 1390 and 1394 (E.D.R. (1897), 154, 236). About 1380, however, the Born’s interest had been acquired by Baldwin St George (of Hatley St George) (Above, manors). His son Baldwin was patron in 1398 (E.D.R. (1898), 56), and successive heads of that family regularly presented to the rectory, even after ceasing to own the manor, until 1517 (C.U.L., E.D.R., L 3/1, ff. 7v, 10, 35, 40v, 59; E.D.R. (1905), 21; (1906), 60; (1910), 217; cf. V.C.H. Cambs. Tadlow, manors). Thomas St George was still thought to have the advowson at his death in 1540 (P.R.O., E 150/88, no. 4).


The queen (Elizabeth I) presented in 1565 (E.D.R. (1914), 294). Richard Hendry of Worcester, who presented in 1568, required his candidate in return to lease the rectory to his patron who then sold the lease. Hendry was alleged to have induced that incumbent (resident rector) to resign in 1574, in order to void such a sub-lease of the rectory glebe, and presented again, perhaps repeating his simoniacal practices (buying or selling religious pardons or appointments in the church), in 1574 and 1575 (Ibid. 327, 361-2; P.R.O., REQ 2/141/33). In 1576 John Hacker presented. In 1577 Thomas Goode, a yeoman of Abington, presented his kinsman (relative) John Goode (E.D.R., (1914), 378), upon whose death in 1627 Francis Goode, fellow of King’s College, presented Thomas Goode (Lamb. Pal. Reg. Abbot II. f. 300v; cf. Alum. Cantab. To 1751, ii. 225, 233). When Thomas died in 1655 he left the advowson to his widow, Anne (P.R.O., PROB 11/249 (P.C.C. 329 Aylett). Marmaduke Goode, clerk, claimed the patronage in 1662, but Sir George Downing, as lord of the manor, presented in 1663, buying out Marmaduke’s interest in 1664 (B.L. Add. MS. 5847, f. 15; P.R.O., CP 25(2)/632/14-15 Chas. II Hil. No. 12). Thereafter the advowson passed with the Downing estates, being exercised in 1799 by J.J. Whittington (Lady Downing’s nephew?) (e.g. P.R.O., Inst. Bks. Ser. C, I, f. 442v). From 1800 it belonged to Downing College. After 1966 presentation was suspended (Crockford, (1896 and later edns.)).


The living, although it always remained a rectory, was not wealthy in the Middle Ages. It was worth only £5 or less in the 13th century (Val. of Norwich, ed. Lunt, 224, 537, 557; Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 266), and £7 16s. 6d. in 1535 (Valor. Eccl. (Rec. Com), iii, 503). By 1650 its value stood at £40 (Lamb. Pal. MS. COMM. XIIa/3, f. 291) and in 1728 at £64 (B.L. Add. MS. 5828, f. 90). The rectorial glebe, 7 a. of closes and 34 a. of arable in 1615 (C.U.L., E.D.R. H 1/3(1615), was apparently mostly absorbed after inclosure into the Downing estate. Only 5 a. around the former parsonage remained in 1842 (Ibid. G. tithe ward 1842). The rector’s net income was £175 c. 1830 (Rep. Comm. Eccl. Revenues, 348-9), and after all the tithes (10% of residents’ annual revenues) were commuted (cancelled) for a £210 rent charge in 1842 (C.U.L., E.D.R. G. tithe ward) was £169 in 1851 (P.R.O., HO 129/185, f. 27) and £156 in 1873 (C.U.L., E.D.R.. C 3/25).


The rectory house formerly stood within a moat just south of the manor house (Downing maps 1750). In the 1660s it had 4 hearths (P.R.O., E 179/244/22, f. 31v). it was dilapidated (falling down) in 1722 (C.R.O., P 151/1/2/, at end), and although inhabited by the rector in 1728 and 1775 (B.L. Add. MW 5828, f. 90; C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/1), was described in 1807 as a miserable cottage, unfit for a clergyman’s family (C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/4). It was burnt down in 1821 and not rebuilt (C.R.O., P 152/1/2, at end), the incumbents thereafter living in Tadlow. 


From the 14th century the parish proved too poor to keep incumbents long. Between 1340 and 1345 there were five rectors; the last was absent in 1347 in his patron’s services (Cal. Pat. 1340-3, 64; E.D.R. (1890), 428, 450; (1892), 808), in 1349 a fellow of Michaelhouse, Cambridge, held the cure (of souls) (E.D.R. (1893), 73; Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Camb. 496). One chaplain served in 1378 for the sometimes absentee rector (East Anglian, N.S. xiii, 174; E.D.R. (1895), 55). Another rector was licensed in 1384 to be away for 3 years, to study at Cambridge or attend his patroness (E.D.R. (1896), 14). Between 1390 and 1398 three more rectors quitted the parish by exchange (Ibid. (1897), 154, 236; (1896), 56), and another in 1435 left it for a London chantry (house where residents chanted prayers for their patron in return for free accommodation) (C.U.L., E.D.R., L 3/1, f. 10). The St Georges began to present graduates after 1500 (Ibid. ff. 59, 61v, 62). A cottage given for an obit (obituary – written record of someone after their death) was sold in 1550 and the church house c. 1577 (Cal. Pat. 1549-51, 275; Trans. C.H.A.S.  i, 389).


In 1561 the rector, another absentee, put in charge a servant not licensed to minister. No homilies, let alone sermons, were read, and no communions celebrated at all (C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/3, p. 143). By 1564, however, he had provided a curate (Ibid. B 2/4, p.39). Between 1565 and 1577 there were five rectors, including the Crown nominee, Thomas Drant, a translator of Latin poetry (E.D.R., (1914), 295, 327, 361-2, 378; Cooper,  Athenae Cantab, i. 384). John Goode, however, from a local family, retained the living (benefit of income from the glebe and collections) from 1577 to his death in 1627. in 1579, although he would not occupy the ruinous parsonage, he attended weekly to perform the services, even though there was no communion table, and few of the requisite books (Alum. Cantab. to 1751. ii, 233; C.U.L., E.D.R., D 2/10, f. 194). His kinsman and successor Thomas Goode, although apparently respected by his parishioners (e.g. East Anglian, N.S. x, 311-12), was stigmatized by puritans (the most austere Protestants) as a drunkard and upholder of ceremonies (possibly traditional Roman Catholic practices). He was sequestrated (removed from office) in 1643. His third successor (Walker Revised, ed. Matthews, 80), the ‘able, pious’ Presbyterian Richard Kennitt, himself in 1650 lately ejected from a Cambridge fellowship, resigned in 1662 (Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 305; B.L. Add. MS. 5820, f. 50).


From 1663 to 1796 East Hatley was, except when briefly occupied by a Hugenot refugee (French Protestant who escaped religious persecution) 1705-9, held with Tadlow vicarage (Cf. B.L. Add. MS. 58470, f. 15). The living became from 1689 to 1824 virtually hereditary in the Say family. Francis Say, rector 1689 – 1705, was followed by his elder son, William Cray Say, 1722-51, and he by Francis Say, probably his nephew, 1753 – 96, who also held Hatley St George and Whaddon. Lady Downing married him to her niece, and left him her interest in Downing Street (Whitehall) (Alum. Cantab to 1751, iv. 24-5; East Anglian, N.S. x. 310, 328-30). Francis’ younger son Henry Morgan Say succeeded to the rectory in 1799 upon coming of age (reaching 21) (Alum. Oxon. 1715-1866, 1259; C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/4). From the 1770s the Says provided their scanty congregation with one service every Sunday and the sacrament (Communion) thrice a year. About 1807 few children knew their catechisms (key Christian beliefs all children were expected to learn off by heart) (C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/1, 4).


Downing College removed H. M. Say, an unlicensed pluralist (probably prepared to accept other religious beliefs and practices), in 1824 for not rebuilding the burnt parsonage. Until the 1960s East Hatley continued to he held by the same incumbents, drawn from that college, as Tadlow (C.R.O., P152/1/2; P 87/2/1) In 1825 there were only 3 or 4 communicants. Sunday services continued by custom to be held alternately morning and evening until the 1850s. Forty-six adults attended in 1851 (C.U.L., E.D.R. C 1/6; P.R.O., HO 129/185, f. 27) When c.1854 the bishop insisted on two services weekly a resident curate was employed (C.R.O., P 87/2/3; P.R.O., RG 9/1017) In the 1860s c. 70 adults attended afternoon service in summer, only 50 in winter, the tracks from outlying cottages being so poor (C.R.O., P 87/1/14). In 1873 of c. 150 inhabitants 145 were claimed as church people. In the 1870s monthly communions were attended by c. 17 people, a figure halved by 1885; by then, as until after 1900, the vicar of Hatley St George was serving as a curate (C.U.L., E.D.R., C3/25,31,39; E.D.R. (1897), 55; (1922), 146). 

The ancient parish church was abandoned in 1961 because of the cost of repairs. A new one was built and consecrated the same year (Cambs. Ind. Press, 1st Dec. 1961). East Hatley was not included with Tadlow in the Shingay group after 1966, but was served from nearby livings (e.g. Gamlingay). In 1979 the rector of Gamlingay provided two services a month (Notice at church).


The old church, named after St DENIS by the 18th century (maybe as a result of the French Hugenot’s influence) (Ecton, Thesaurus (1763), 103) was built of field stones dressed with clunch (white chalk rock). It had only a short chancel and nave with south porch(Description based on B.L. Add. MS. 5280, ff. 47v-48; Parker, Eccl. Top. Cambs. no 121; Downing Coll. Mun., elevation of church. 1857; C.R.O., P152/6/2, pp.7-8) (report 1865); cf. above plate facing)  The church was probably built mainly late in the 13th century, although reconsecrated in 1352(E.D.R., (1984), 191). The western part of the nave had on each side a doorway between two foiled lancets. Near the east end were later inserted two tall two-light windows of the chancel with their geometrical tracery. The narrow chancel arch , with ogee-headed (double-curve with the shape of an elongated S) niches each side, and the north and south doorways were of the 14th century. Buttresses were built then at three of the angles, and also on each side of the lancet in the west wall of the nave to support a bellcot, probably the steeple which needed repair in 1638 (Cambs. Village Doc., 61). It had fallen by 1748 when the single cracked bell, the sole survivor of three recorded in 1552 and 1685, hung in the nave  (Cambs. Ch. Goods. Temp. Edw. VI, 43; B.L. Add. MS. 39814, f. 142; Add. MS. 5820, f. 48) Sir George Downing rebuilt the south porch in brick in 1673 (Arms and Inscr. over porch). By 1685 the north door was blocked, and the nave choked with large pews. The font, then consigned to a stable (B.L. Add. MS. 5820, f. 48; C.U.L., E.D.R., C1/4) had been replaced by 1748, when the rood screen (ornamental wooden structure separating nave from chancel) still survived; there were no communion rails then or in 1807 (B.L. Add. MS. 5820, f.48; C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/4). The Castell family monuments included an altar tomb to Constance (d. 1610), first wife of Robert Castell (d. 1630) (Mon. Inscr. Cambs. 43).


The church was restored in 1783-4 to designs by William Butterfield. The chancel was lengthened and largely rebuilt, the arch being widened. The bellcot and south porch were reconstructed, and a new pulpit, font, and stone reredos (A decorative screen or facing on the wall at the back of an altar) installed. When the new church, a small plain building in concrete, was opened, some Victorian woodwork and part of a 15th century brass were removed to it (C.R.O., P 152/6/2, pp. 2-5, 7-8; R.C.H.M. Cambs. i. 146). In 1979 the old church was derelict and almost concealed by a thick growth of ivy (Mon. Inscr. Cambs. 43).


In 1552, as c.1278, there was only one silver chalice (Vetus Liber Arch. Alien. (C.A.S. 8vo ser. xiviii), 104; Cambs. Ch. Goods temp. Edw. VI, 43). A silver gilt cup and paten (flat dish for communion wafers) were given in 1684 (R.C.H.M. Cambs. i, 146) No proper register was being kept in 1579 (C.U.L., E.D.R., D 2/10, f. 194). The first to survive runs from 1585 to 1617; a continuous series resumes only in 1667 (C.R.O., P 87/1-5; par. Reg. TS. There are bishop’s transcripts to 1643 and from 1661).


NONCONFORMITY. There was one Presbyterian family in 1728 (B.L. Add. MS. 5828, f. 90). No meeting house was ever established in the parish. In the early 19th century the few dissenters worshipped elsewhere, and some times came to church. In 1873 there were only four chapel goers (C.U.L., E.D.R., C 1/4, 6; C 3/25).


EDUCATION. East Hatley had no school before the 19th century (Cf. C.U.L. E.D.R., B 2/11, f. 18v; C 1/4). About 1819 the curate started a Sunday school, which supported by the incumbent and other subscribers, had c. 10-12 pupils from the 1830s to the 1850s (Educ. Of Poor Digest, 60; Educ. Enquiry Abstract,  57; Church School Inquiry, 1846-7, 4-5; P.R.O., HO 129/185, f. 27) and c. 25-30 in the 1860s and 1870s (C.R.O., P 87/1/14; C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/25) A church day school with 14 pupils, mostly girls, probably closed after 1851 (Church School Inquiry, 1846-7, 4-5; P.R.O. HO 107/1758) In the 1860s a farmer’s daughter taught a small dame school in her father’s kitchen (C.R.O., P 87/25/5, letter 1922) In 1872 Downing College agreed to help establish a single National school for East Hatley and Hatley St George. The school and schoolhouse were built by the main road just on the East Hatley side of the boundary. It had room for 88 pupils and was opened in 1874. Most of the yearly rent came from subscriptions (Ibid. Minutes 1872-5; P.R.O. ED 7/5) Of the first twelve pupils only one could read or write. The early teachers left in rapid succession, but one, returning in 1886, gradually tamed the unruly schoolboys, eventually persuading the older boys to attend the night school that she kept until after 1900 (C.R.O., P 87/25/5; Schs. in receipt of Parl. Grants, 1898-9 [C.9454], p.14, H.C. (1899), lxxiv). Attendance rose from under 20 in the late 1870s (Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1879-80 [C. 2562-I], p.557, H.C. (1880), xxii ) to about 55 from 1885 to 1895 (Ibid. 1889-90 [C. 6079-l], p.539, H.C. (1890), xxvii; 1894-5 [C. 7776-l], p. 793, H.C. (1895), xxvii), but fell again by 1905 to little over 20 (Public Elem. Schs. 1906 [Cd. 3510], p. 27, H.C. (1907), lxiii; cf. E.D.R. (1904), 67, 88). It stood at c. 35 by 1922 (Bd. of Educ. List 21, 1910, 23; 1922, 15). When the older children went to Gamlingay. The Hatley school, with c. 15 junior pupils, continued until 1965 when all the children went to Gamlingay (Ibid. 1927, 15; 1938, 19; Black, Cambs. Educ. Recs. 62).


CHARITIES FOR THE POOR. The 10s. a year given by Col. Robert Castell before 1660 for the poor on St. Valentine’s Day was paid by the Downings from 1705 but lost after 1733 (Char. Don.  I. 87; B.L. Add. MS. 5828, f. 90; 31st Rep. Com. Char., 31st Rep. Com. Char. 317) In 1920 George Longman left £29 in stock, from which £1 10s. a year should be given at Christmas to widows of East Hatley and Hatley St George. (Kelly’s Dir. Cambs. (1933))


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