The History of Spaldwick in Cambridgeshire

Historical notes about the town of Spaldwick in Cambridgehsire.

The parish of Spaldwick comprises 1,552 acres of clay land, most of which is pasture. The Ellington Brook flows through it from west to east to the north of the village, and the land rises from the brook, where it is about 73 ft. above Ordnance datum, to about 180 ft. to the north, and undulates upwards to about 218 ft. to the south. We have reference in the 12th century to the ' Forest of Spaldwick,' and in 1185 the Bishop of Lincoln owed 35s. 3d. for assarts there and at Buckden. In 1215 the bishop had permission to inclose and impark his wood at Spaldwick, (fn. 3) and in 1227 he was granted deer-leaps there. The bishop and the dean and chapter continued to obtain confirmations of their assets into the 15th century. Nothing now remains of the park.

The village lies along the road from Huntingdon to Thrapston, from which former place it is about seven miles. This road forms the village High Street, and at the extreme west end passes over the brook by a 15th-century stone bridge of three arches, which has been widened with brickwork on the north side at a later date. On the south side the bridge retains its ancient features, the centre arch being of two chamfered orders, while the side arches are of single chamfered orders; the cutwaters remain on the south side. At the west end of the High Street is the village green, where there is a stone which was probably the base of the village cross; and in the garden of a house on the south side is a stone that may have been a portion of the cross. The street widens out at the west end, and here probably were held the Wednesday market and possibly the yearly fairs held on the feast of St. Philip and St. James (1 May) and the feast of St. Hugh of Lincoln (17 November), which were granted to the Bishop of Lincoln in 1441. In 1682 a fair on Wednesday before Whit Sunday was granted, and this and the fair of St. Hugh (which became 28 November by the addition of 11 days for the New Style) were held as cattle fairs in the 19th century. Both market and fairs are now discontinued.

Spaldwick in 1911

Spaldwick High Street (circa 1911)

Spaldwick High Street (circa 1911)

 

The High Street has some interesting 17th-century houses. The George Inn, at the west end on the north side, is a timber-framed and tiled house with projecting upper story. It was built in the early part of the 17th century, but was much altered about a hundred years later. On the same side, in about the middle of the street, is the Manor Farm, a timber-framed and tiled house with projecting upper story along the street front. It was probably built about 1628, when the manor was granted to Henry, Earl of Manchester. Eastward of the Manor Farm is a late 17th-century red brick house with projecting porch and brick pilasters. This house, known as ' The Limes,' goes with West Lodge Farm and was owned and occupied by the Day family who figured in the two famous trials for ejectment in 1784 and 1797 which raised the question of legitimacy of the defendant. Opposite this house is another red brick house with the initials P D and the date 1688 over the front door. This house was occupied by William Ladds early in the 19th century and later by the Ashton family. Somewhat westward is a timber-framed 17th-century house called ' Beech House,' in which the Mann family lived early in the 19th century and which was later the home of the Browns. There is a Baptist chapel at the east end of the village which was built in 1844. A Baptist meeting house was registered for solemnisation of marriages in 1838.

Long Lane leads from the High Street southward to Upthorpe (Opthorpe, xiii cent.; Ugthorpe, xviii cent.), where there was formerly a hamlet  now marked by irregularity of the ground. A Presbyterian meeting house was licensed here in 1672. At the south-west corner of the High Street a branch road runs to Stow Longa and Kimbolton. At Belton's Hill, half a mile to the north of the village, there is a windmill. There was also a windmill south of the village.

The church stood in a large area inclosed with a ditch and bank at the west end of the village. This inclosure, known as Bury Close, was probably the site of the Bishop of Lincoln's manor house or grange, but there has not been a house here for many years. There was formerly a windmill here, which was perhaps the mill granted in 1609 to Edward Ferrers and Frank Phillips.

There was an Inclosure Award for Spaldwick cum Upthorpe in 1777.

Owen Evans, a royalist, who became vicar of Spaldwick in 1613, was made prebendary of the prebend of Sanctae Crucis otherwise Spaldwick in 1640–1, but was ejected during the Rebellion, the living being sequestrated in 1651. Evans returned at the Restoration, but died in 1662 a very old man. John Mason (1677–1723), son of John Mason, the hymn-writer, was a non-conformist divine at Spaldwick, and his son, another John Mason (1706–63), an author, was also an Independent minister at Spaldwick.

Victoria County History: Huntingdonshire ~ Printed 1932