The History of Hamerton and Steeple Gidding in Cambridgeshire

Historical notes about the town of Hamerton and Steeple Gidding in Cambridgehsire.

Hamerton Parish

The parish comprises 2,184 acres, a considerable part of which is arable land. Hamerton Grove, on the west side of the parish, with one or two small copses makes up 55 acres of woodland. The Alconbury Brook flows through the village and the north part of the parish. The land here is about 82 ft. above Ordnance datum and rises at the southern boundary to 227 ft.

The picturesque village, largely composed of 17th century timber-framed cottages, lies at the intersection of the roads from Leighton Bromswold to the Giddings and from Upton and Alconbury Weston to Winwick. The church is on the south side of the village and to the south of it is the Rectory House, adjoining the remains of a homestead moat which marks the site of the capital messuage of the Beauchamps mentioned in 1274 and 1324. The 'Manor Place' was in lease to John Lawncell in 1542, when he left his interest in it to Silvester Bedell, subject to 'Mastris Sibell' not coming to dwell in it herself. The following are the particulars for sale of this house by Sir Francis Compton in 1669:

'One large mansion house contayning a greate Hall, two parlours, one Dining Room, one kitchen, with brew-house, wash-house, darye-house and several stables and barns and other convenient outhouses, and 20 lodging chambers, one faire court before it, and several yardes behind it, and ponds of water, with a great garden and other lesser gardens and fair oarchards well planted with good fruit, consisting of about ten acres. A dove house well stocked. The advowson thereto belonging worth £120 per annum.'
 

The Manor Farm, on the west side of the village, is an interesting brick house with tiled roof, of the latter half of the 16th century, to which additions were made in the 17th century. Rookery Farm, at the east end of the village, is a 17thcentury timber-framed house, adjoining which is an ancient brick barn. The footbridge over the Alconbury Brook, beside which is a ford, was repaired in the reign of Edward VI by the churchwardens, who defrayed the cost by the sale of a cope of blue velvet sold for 30s. Probably the 14th-century re-used material in the stonework of the bridge formed a part of the repairs of this date. About a mile to the south-west is Grange Farm, which was probably the site of the grange of the priory of Royston.

Steeple Gidding Parish

The parish of Steeple Gidding, containing 1,102 acres, about half of which is arable and half pasture, lies between Little Gidding and Hamerton and Coppingford; its north-eastern boundary is roughly formed by the low ridge which separates it from Sawtry, and the southern by the Alconbury Brook. From the footbridge which crosses the brook the boundary runs in a north-easterly direction and passes along the east side of the Fox covert up Anger Hill to cross the road which connects all the Giddings, whence it is defined by field boundaries as far as the Bullock Road, where it reaches the northern-most point of the parish, near Coldharbour Farm. It then turns south-eastwards along the Bullock Road to Aversley Wood, from the southern end of which it runs along field boundaries as far as the old clay-pit north-west of Hamerton and thence to the Alconbury Brook. The land rises from the Alconbury Brook, where it is about 112 ft. above the Ordnance datum, and reaches about 200 ft.

The village, which is about seven miles south from Holme and nine miles south-east from Oundle, the two nearest railway stations, stands on rising ground about 200 ft. above sea-level.

Gidding Old Hall

Site of the old hall at Steeple Gidding

Site of the old hall at Steeple Gidding

 

The site of the old hall is close to the church; and the avenue, which gives its name to Avenue Farm, leads from it due south towards the brook. Several old ponds, the remains of the 'fisheries in Gyddinges Abbott' which were let to Richard Thekeston on 6 March 1570, for 21 years at a yearly rent of £12 3s. 10d., are still to be seen near by, and the farmhouse itself stands south of these ponds, a little to the east of the northern end of the avenue.

White Hall, which is farmed by Mr. Dennis together with Avenue Farm, lies eastward from the church. Adjoining a footpath leading northeast from the church is a timber-framed thatched cottage of mid 17th-century date, formerly the Rectory.

About three-quarters of a mile south-east of the village is Steeple Gidding Lodge, and in the east of the parish is the Grange, which probably marks the site of Ramsey Abbey Grange. Coldharbour Farm is in the north-east of the parish.

The population at the census of 1921 was eighty one, chiefly engaged in agriculture. The subsoil is Oxford Clay; the soil is heavy clay. The chief crops are wheat, barley, beans and peas.

Victoria County History: Huntingdonshire ~ Printed 1932