Towns, Cities, Villages and Hamlets

Harston

Samuel Lewis's Topographical Gazeetter 1831

HARSTON, a parish in the hundred of THRIPLOW, county of CAMBRIDGE, 5 miles (S. S.W.) from Cambridge, containing 529 inhabitants. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Ely, rated in the king's books at £5. 10. 2½., and in the patronage of the Bishop of Ely. The church is dedicated to All Saints. There is a place of worship for Baptists.

For the Family Historian details of available records can be found on the Harston page of GENUKI Cambridgeshire.

Harston Church

HARSTON is a parish on the bank of the River Cam and on the London road, with a station, half a mile distant, on the Cambridge and Hitchin line of the London and North Eastern railway, 52½ miles from London and 5 south-south-west from Cambridge, in the hundred of Triplow, petty sessional division of Arrington and Melbourn, union of Chesterton, county court district of Cambridge, rural deanery of Barton and archdeaconry and diocese of Ely. The village is well supplied with excellent water, derived from artesian wells.

The church of All Saints is a building of stone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of five bays, north transept or chapel, aisles (the south aisle being considerably narrower than the north), north porch and an embattled western tower containing 4 bells; the tenor bell, cast by Austen Bracker, bears an inscription to that effect, the lettering being oddly reversed: there is a piscina at the east end of each aisle and a rood screen and rood of picturesque design; the corbels in the church are quaint and of outstanding interest in the north transept are a few interesting remains of 15th century glass : the pulpit is of the Late Decorated period the interior of the church was restored and reseated in 1870 and an organ was placed in the church in 1883: there are 240 sittings. The register dates from the year 1686. There is a Baptist chapel here, founded in 1781, with 330 sittings. In this parish stands an obelisk, erected to Gregory Wale esq. of Little Shelford, and dated 1739, and close to the vicarage house is a spot called "the red field" where it is said an encounter took place between the Royalists and Parliamentary forces. Harston Manor House is the residence of William Taylor Rowley esq. There are two manors. W. T. flowley esq. who is lord of the manor of Tiptoff, Samuel Reuben Ginn esq. D.L., J,P. who is lord of the manor of Harston-Shadworth, and Arthur Hurrell esq. J.P. are the principal landowners.

The soil is chiefly of a chalky and gravelly character, and the subsoil is chiefly gravel. The chief crops are wheat and barley; a large quantity of fruit is also grown here. The area is 1,733 acres of land and 8 of water; the population in 1921 was 713.

[Extracts from Kelly's Directory - Cambridgeshire - 1929]

Domesday Book Entry

In HARSTON Picot holds 1½ hides from the Abbot by the King's command; it is assessed in Harston. A Freeman held this land under the Abbot of Ely before 1066; he could withdraw without his permission, but the jurisdiction remained with the Abbot.

In HARSTON Odo holds 5½ virgates of land from the Count. Land for 1½ ploughs; 1½ ploughs there, with 1 villager; 3 smallholders. Value 20s; when acquired 15[s]; before 1066, 30s. 4 Freemen held 4½ virgates of this land under Edeva; they found 2 escorts for the Sheriff; however, they could withdraw. A priest held 1 virgate under Ordgar; he found 1 escort and could withdraw.

In HARSTON Ranulf holds 1 hide and 1 virgate from Robert. Land for 1 plough and 2 oxen; they are there, with 3 smallholders; 1 cottager. Meadow for 1 plough. Value 30s; when acquired 20s; before 1066 30s. 1 Freeman held this land under King Edward and found 1 escort; he could sell his land, but the jurisdiction remained with the King.

In HARSTON Picot holds 7½ hides. Land for 9 ploughs. In lordship 3 hides; 2 ploughs there; a third possible. 6 villagers and 15 cottagers have 4 ploughs; a fifth possible. 1 mill at 30s; meadow for 5 ploughs; pasture for the livestock. Total value £8; when acquired £4 10s; before 1066 £10. €Picot holds 1½ hides himself from the King; it is assessed in this village. A Freeman held it under the Abbot of Ely, and could sell; but the jurisdiction remained with the Abbot€ Ordgar held 4 hides of this land from Earl Harold and could withdraw. 6 Freemen, King Edward's men, held 2 hides; they found 1 cartage and 5 escorts, and could withdraw with their land. Fridebert held 1½ hides from the Abbot of Ely, and could withdraw with his land; but the jurisdiction remained with the Church. Picot owes service from this 1½ hides to the Abbot; he holds it by order of the King.

War Memorial

The war memorial and the men on it have been documented on the Roll of Honour website for Cambridgeshire pages.

Maggot's Mount

This is a hill on the extreme edge of Harston parish exactly where it meets Little Shelford parish. The mount stands very well and commands a wonderful view of the surrounding country. The top is marked by an obelisk put up to the memory of Gregory Wale of Little Shelford. He used to meet his great friend James Church at this place, and they agreed that when one of them died, the survivor should put up a monument to his friend's memory on the very spot where they so often met. The inscription on the obelisk runs as follows:

"To the memory of Gregory Wale, Esq., Justice of the Peace for this county, Deputy Lieutenant, County Treasurer, Conservator of the river Cam.

He lived an advocate for liberty, a good subject, an agreeable companion, a faithful friend, a hospitable neighbour, and in all parts of life a useful member of society. He died June 5th, 1739 in the 71st year of his age, universally lamented, and was buried in the parish of Little Shelford." This obelisk was erected by his surviving friend James Church, Esq., to the memory of so worthy a gentleman.

The hill is marked in some maps as St. Margaret's Mount, and this may have been its original name. We are told, however, that the ugly word "Maggot" comes from the name of Miss Margot Wale who was born in 1850 and was granddaughter of Gregory Wale. In early days she often used to walk up the mount and was very fond of it. At the latter end of her life she would lie at her window and watch her little hill and her friends and the country people got into the habit of calling it "Margot's Mount" and in later years this was corrupted to Maggot's Mount. Edible snails, it is said, were found on this hill. The story goes that they were put there originally by French prisoners who wanted to have some of their native delicacies whilst in durance vile. In comparatively recent times we are also told that edible snails were found not only there but near the Old English Gentleman, and were often eaten by a man who lived near there.

[Extracts above and below from "HARSTON - History and Local Records of a Cambridgeshire Village" compiled by HELEN C. GREENE 1937]

Baggot Hall

The front of Baggot Hall probably belongs to the late Georgian period but the main part of the house is Elizabethan. It is a charming old farm house situated in Station Road which used to be called Baggot's Road. It has been in the hands of the Hays family for many years. They went there in about 1860 having bought the life interest of the farm from Mrs. Whitechurch. She had already sold the property to Mr. Henry Hurrell, who was to take possession at her death. She had at one time been Mr. Whitchurche's housekeeper and when he died he left his property to her. She married again, her second husband being a Frenchman of the name of de Busson. He was some sort of an artist and apinted the porttraits of most of the Hays family. Possibly this was in payment of some debt for he was always short of money. He constantly wrote to Mr. Hays asking him to cut down trees on the estate as he was greatly in need of money, until at last Mr Hays refused to cut down any more. Mr. Henry Hurrell who had bought the estate from Mrs. Whitechurch had to wait thirty years for the property, though it came to him during his life time.

Harston House

This old house belongs to Sir. W. Graham Greene and it is just possible that it may be one of the old Manors of Harston. It stands on an old site and legend has it that some sort of building has been on this spot since Roman times. Roman tiles and bricks have been found on the estate from time to time and a few were found embedded in one of the walls of the Gate House. Some 15 years ago (1922) a very unusual ridge tile was discovered buried in the garden soild and covered with ivy. It is now in the Cambridge Archaelogical Museum and the date is is put down as 1480. Some old beams richly carved of the same date were also discovered. During some alterations to the house a recess in the drawing room was opened out showing the position and size of the original Tudor fire place. The principal part of the house belongs to the periods of William and Mary and Queen Anne, and the panelling in the dining room is of that date. The house has been somewhat altered on the West side, but it is unspoilt and still retains its charming appearance. The pilasters at the corners of the house are made of clunch and are particularly interesting. They add much to the general appearance of the long front.

Sir. W. Graham Greene's mother came to the house in 1891 and soon afterwards (1893) she bought it from the Longs after the death of Mrs. Long. It had been in the hands of the Long family for some time and was known in those days as the Long House of the Longs. Mr. Long was a very tall man and had sons who were all over six feet in height. He was a great character and many stories are told about him. He used to add to his already great height by walking around his garden on stilts and this enabled him to see what was going on over the garden wall. Some legends belonging to the time of the Civil War have been told of Harston House but they carry no conviction and are of little or no interest. The garden is a beautiful one. Formerly a large brick dove cote stood at the end of the orchard but was unfortunately pulled down by Mr. Long. Its huge foundations still trouble the gardener in his digging operations and it was this Dove Cote which was large enough to seat fifty men when the Horkey feasts were held there. Tradition has it that the Dove Cote was built on the site of a Roman villa.

The house we are told used to be called "The Hall" and, as mentioned earlier, it may have been the Shadworth Manor which passed through the hands of the Tiptofts and Wentsworths and finally into the hands of Lord Delaware. The Wentsworths it will be remembered were connected through Margaret Wentsworth with the famous Duke of Somerset wo was her son. If Harston was originally "The Hall," we read in some old notes of the Wale family that Thomas Wale purchased it in 1613. In 653 Robert Wale's wife was joyntured for life out of Harston Hall and her son Robert started a merchants business at Riga with £500 obtained by mortgage on this property, the mortgage being taken up by a man called J. Stephenson. In 1701 old Mr. Wale in his pocket book mentions the Old Court Barn at Harston being burnt down on Sunday, October 12th, and it seems to indicate that the Barn stood on this property.

[Extract from "HARSTON - History and Local Records of a Cambridgeshire Village" compiled by HELEN C. GREENE 1937]

Harston Manor House
Harston old National School
Harston Old and New Baptist Church

Harston Old Wooden Mill
The Manor House

This house is the old Manor of Tiptoft and the most interesting house in the village. It is now the possession of W. Rowley, Esq., and the property has belonged to this family since 1830 when a Mr. William Rowley was married at Histon on November 20th of that year to Margaret Anne Taylor the daughter and heiress of Mrs. Rivers Taylor. Her father had bought the Tiptoft Manor from Col. Wale in 1800 and this daughter Anne was, we believe, his only child.

The house as it now is belongs to the Tudor period and has many beautiful and interestig points about it. Before the present owners came to live there the house was almost obscured at the back by curiously cut yews. These were very remarkable but, now that they have been cut back and reduced in size and importance, the house has really been improved, and light and air can enter. There are two old fish ponds in the grounds, remnants of a still more ancient time.

[Extract from "HARSTON - History and Local Records of a Cambridgeshire Village" compiled by HELEN C. GREENE 1937]

INNS OF HARSTON

Past and Present

In an old directory of Cambridgeshire for the year 1850 the following Inns in Harston were mentioned:- The White Swan: Vict. T. Cornell. The Green Man: Vict. Charles King. The Waggon (i.e. Coach) and Horses: Vict. T. Tuck. The Fleece: Vict. George Willers.

Beer Retailers

William Stearn and Jaspar Tuck are mentioned. The name of the former was also spelt William Starn in another directory as he was put down as a blacksmith as well.

In 1849 the landlord of "The Green Man" was entered as Charles Wing and he was also a bootmaker. Later on several more Inns are mentioned: The Queen's Head, The Sign of the Gate, The Old English Gentleman, and The Pemberton Arms.

Inns of the Past

The White Swan

In the directory of 1850 T. Cornell appears as Innkepper. Other Innkeepers that followed were mentioned as Baugh, Haylock and the last Inkeeper Mrs. Newling. The White Swan was a very beautiful old inn standing on what is now called "The Swan Corner" just where the Council houses are situated. its date was probably late 17th century. It was a most important place in the old coaching days before the railway came to Harston. The last coach was run as late as 1879 from Cambridges to Oxford by Carleton Blythe. At that time six horses were stabled at the inn, the coach stopping for a few minutes to change horses on its way to and fro. It arrived at Harston at 9 a.m., changed horses again at Royston, arriving at the White Jorse Cellars, Piccadilly, at 1 p.m., where it resumed its journey to Oxford. It was due again at Harston again the following day ay 9 p.m. The inn was often the scene of great activity, waggons and carts standing as far as the Mill Corner while the waggoners refreshed themselves and their horses. The house was always open day and night and was the scene of many gay parties and feasts. Horkeys were held in the big room and other rent and harvest feasts. Than whilst the beer went round and the fiddlers played, the men would sit and sing old songs such as "John Barley Corn," "The Farmer's Boy," etc. The Largess feasts were held here, the men having a bread and cheese supper with onions and beer which they paid for with their Largess money.

Unfortunately the Swan was burnt down on May 8th, 1928 in the middle of the night. The fire started in the inn parlour where guests had been smoking. The inmates would undoubtedly have been burnt to death had they not been roused by the howling of a dog. As it was, some of them only escaped just in time and could not even throw a coat over their night things. The old lath and plaster work burnt like tinder and the blaze from that and the thatched barn next to it lighted up the village to such an extent that many thought their own houses were on fire. Some of the furniture was saved, but in spit of efforts of the Cambridge Fire Brigade the Inn was burnt to the ground. The brigade indeed could do little or nothing, owing to lack of water.

The Three Horseshoes

In 1850 William Stearn was innkeeper. Mr. Haylock has just given it up and the present innkeeper is Mr. Porter.

This is probably an early 19th century house and has been much improved of late. In the garden stands an old pigeon cote which had been made into a cottage many years previously. When this cottage came into the market it was bought by Messrs. Greene King and Co., who altered it so that tea could be served there.

The Green Man

In 1850 Charles King was the innkeeper, then Wedd, Hazeltine, and Mrs.Gulliver.

This inn used to be in the Oddfellows house, an old Tudor building (one of the oldest houses in Harston) standing back behind the shop now kept by Miss Mumford. The inn was later moved to the comparatively modern shop in front, and when the inn was given up the shop and buildings behind became a bakery. It continued to be used for this purpose until Miss Mumfrod took the shop for a small grocery business. Mrs. Gulliver was the last innkeeper and when she died about fifty years ago, Mr. Peachey, who had a bakery in Mr. Lennard's house, moved into the Inn. At one time methodist meetings were held in the big room here.

The Fleece

This was situated down Button End where Mr. Bert Northrop now lives and his next neighbour, and which is now known as "Fleece Cottage." It was built by Mr. Whitechurch of Baggot Hall about 1830 for Mr. George Willers who, however, never actually owned the property.

He had large cellars where he brewed his own ale, considered the best in the district at the time. A big room ran the whole length of the building and it was a very popular place of refreshment in the time of the Coprolite diggings. Village feasts were often held in the big room followed by dancing and singing. Important Coprolite diggings were almost opposite the inn and near by was a brick field. A pretty grove of trees stood little further down the Road near the bungalow "East West."

Mr. Willers and a man called Thompson rivalled each other in the brewing of beer and it was very pure quality. Some innkeepers it is whispered used to put salt into their beverage in order to make their customers drink more. Certainly there was a good deal of heavy drinking at that time and the men often became extremely quarrelsome. People still remember the awful fights that used to take place on the Village Green, and one man known as "Black Lias" was generally to the forefront. He could drink, we are told, a quart of ale in one gulp.

The Sign of the Gate

This was an old Beer House that used to be where Hill View cottages now stand near the church, and it flourished during the palmy days of the Coprolite diggings. It is mentioned in the records of 1850 but possibly did not exist much earlier than this. It disappeared when trade became slack after the diggings were given up. It had an odd sign on which was written the following:-

"The Gate hangs high
And hinders none,
Pay and drink
And jog along."

Inns of the Present Day (1937)

The Coach and Horses

In 1850 the innkeeper and owner was Thomas Tuck. Some of those who followed him were: Coe, Haylock, and Lant. The present innkeeper is Mr. Nunn.

We believe this inn to be the oldest, as it is perhaps the most picturesque, in the village. It stands in the main street of Harston and is very noticeable with its beautiful bayed-out windows and red roof. The date is said to be late 16th century and it was in past times a coaching inn. Coaches stopped and changed horses before proceeing to London, but this honour was later transferred to The White Swan. The building has been done up by the brewers who have modernised it and somewhat altered its appearance.

The Old English Gentleman

In 1850 the innkeeper was J. Jordan. It is situated at the extreme north end of the village on the Cambridge side and was built in about 1845. The builders started to put up the inn near where the pump now stands, and it appeared to be encroaching on the verge of the highway. Old Parson Metcalf of Fowlmere, we are told, happened to be passing that way and notice this. He pointed out the encroachment to the men who were doing the building and said they would have to pull down the walls they had already erected and move the inn further back. This they were actually forced to do, to their extreme annoyance, and they were so angry that they threatened to call the inn "The Meddlesome Parson." However, later on when they received praise for their work and some generous largess from old Metcalf, they relented and finally decided to call the inn "The Old English Gentleman."

The Pemberton Arms

First innkeeper, Mr. Jackson, present Innkeeper Mr. Nicholls. The Inn stands at the corner of the War memorial Green and is of comparatively modern date. It was built about 1860 on some land belonging to Mr. Long of Harston House who retained some interest in the Inn. It has lately been done up.

The Queen's Head

Innkeeper Mrs Ashby. This nice old inn stands at the corner of the Royston Road, facing the second Green. It is a pleasing and simple structure built probably in the early 18th century. The Ashbys have been there for many years. Archey Ashby's grandfather came from Newton in order to take charge of it. It too has been partially restored and modernised recently.

[Extract from "HARSTON - History and Local
Records of a Cambridgeshire Village"
compiled by HELEN C. GREENE 1937]

Details of public houses and beer retailers 1929:

Ashby Agnes (Mrs)., beer retailer
Blinch Hy. Russell, beer retailer
Haylock William Charles, beer retailer
Lant Arthur, Coach & Horses P.H.
Nicols Geo. Hy., Pemberton Arms P.H.

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