Eynesbury Green


In medieval times Eynesbury green extended from the present green to Montague Square including all the land that is now Luke Street and Berkeley Street. 16th century buildings around it included St Mary’s Church, the Nags Head Inn  and a blacksmiths. The land towards Hen Brook was raised by about two feet to prevent the village from flooding.


It was the centre and heart of the village. Boys used to play football and girls played traditional rounds, skipping, and singing games. In the summer the adults used to meet and gossip leaning on the railings on the east side of the green.


In the autumns as late as the 1850s people used to bring their gleanings (heads of wheat they had picked up from the fields). They had been threshed at home with a short stick to separate the grains from the stalk. These were then sieved on the green and the wind used to separate the heavier wheat grains from the lighter chaff (seed coverings). Later the grains were taken to the windmill on Duloe Road or the watermill in Eaton Socon to be ground into flour. It could then be made into bread, cakes or biscuits. The miller kept the bran as payment.


When elections were held the candidates used to assemble on the green for meetings attracting large crowds of people. Many people in Eynesbury were very radical (wanting reforms – changes – in the laws). The wealthier residents of St Neots were very conservative – not wanting to change the old laws.


Communal buildings like the schoolhouse and parish workhouse were built on the edge of the green. There was also a pond on the northeast side near what is now Ferrars Avenue. A fence ran across the pond leaving half in Old Close and half on the green. Horses were taken to the pond to drink and on Mondays the villagers would collects buckets of soft pond water to clean their clothes and bed linen. It often used to freeze in the winter and people would skate on it.


The pound was a fenced in section of the green, where stray animals were kept until the owner paid the churchwardens a fine for them. Before the enclosure act cattle used to be driven to market past the green so the pinder,  (pound herder) had an important job rounding up strays. Even after enclosure a new pound was ordered in 1859. It was 15 feet square, had 6 feet high wooden walls and a strong oak gate with a lock.


(Source: Tebbutt, C.F. (1978), St Neots – History of a Huntingdonshire Town, Unwin Brothers, pp.349-350)