Cherry Hinton used to consist of two separate settlements called Church End and Mill End. Church End developed on the higher ground to the north close to a spring line, which provided fresh water. It was also close to the fen edge, which could be used for supplies such as fish, wildfowl, thatch and fuel. Mill End developed in the south around the large natural spring pool, known locally as Giant’s Grave, providing an excellent supply of fresh water. It was situated at the foot of the Gog Magog Hills, which provided upland pasture for livestock and great defensive views.
These two settlements were separated by land that was prone to being marshy- about where the present day village shops are. In the mid 1800’s drainage of the area took place and the ground became much more suitable to build on. Then in 1852 the railway arrived, with a station in-between Church End and Mill End. This helped draw the two separate village centers together along the new High Street. The village became one large village with one main center, much as we know it today. The area as a whole was known as Hinton, until sometime in the mid 1500’s, when the abundance of cherry trees in the area gave Hinton the prefix of Cherry and it has been called Cherry Hinton ever since.
People have been drawn to the area since prehistoric times. Prehistoric burials along with various finds like arrowheads and pottery have been discovered around the area. The War Ditches, a prehistoric fortified enclosure similar to Wandlebury, stood at the top of Lime Kiln Hill. Ancient routeways still exist such as Fulbourn Old Drift, Daws Lane and the Tottenhoe Way (part of which is now Bridewell Road).
In Roman times the War Ditches site was reused, including buildings was constructed from clunch, the chalk rock that Cherry Hinton is well known for. Roman building’s were discovered on the site of The Church of the Latter Day Saints of Jesus on Cherry Hinton Road and in the north near Church End, a Roman villa was excavated in the 1980’s. A hoard of Roman coins were found in Mill End with many other Roman coins found around Lime Kiln Hill. The Roman Road ran along the south of the parish, along Worsted Street and Worts Causeway and is still enjoyed as a pleasant walking route today.
At the time of the Norman conquest in 1066, Hinton was held as a manor by Editha the Fair. After the conquest Editha’s land was confiscated and Hinton was given to Count Alan of Brittany. Count Alan was Lord of Richmond and thereafter Hinton was held as part of the Honor of Richmond as it passed in succession to Count Alan’s brothers. Eventually part of the manor of Hinton passed on to the Fitz-Hugh family of Ravensworth and was held in direct succession for over 350 years. Hinton was one of four vills contained within the Flendish Hundred, a division of land, which was created in the early 1100’s. The Flendish Hundred was later divided into five separate parishes, Hinton being one of the parishes created.
In 2000, a Saxon church was discovered and excavated at Church End, along with a large Saxon cemetery of over 650 burials, indicating that Hinton was a thriving center of Saxon activity. The church of St Andrew’s at Church End dates from around 1100. At Church End the triangular village green lay just east of the old Rosemary Branch in front of Mafeking Cottage. There were also gallows in medieval times, believed to have stood somewhere to the west near the site of the old Cement Works on Coldham’s Lane. There were closely related manors called Uphall Manor and Mallets Manor in Church End dating from around 1100. Uphall Manor at Church End had a strong relationship with the church. Mallets Manor at Church End seems to have been a smaller satellite manor of Uphall Manor and may have had Brigettine monks staying there in the 1400’s.
In Mill End Saxon burials have been found within the prehistoric burial mounds on the Gog Magog Hills close to Lime Kiln Hill, showing a continued use of the area. Mill End had at least one watermill and the original black smith was situated somewhere around where the present post office now stands. By the 1800’s the smithy had moved to the corner of Forest Road and Mill End Road and the building can still be seen, it is a small garage today. The village green at Mill End surrounded Giant’s Grave and stretched north down the present High Street beneath the Unicorn Pub. Mill End also had two manors, Rectory Manor and Netherhall Manor. Netherhall Manor played an important part in the life of Hinton. It owned much of the land and was closely connected to the lives of the villagers and the control of the land. Not much is known about the history or workings of Rectory manor that lay elsewhere in Mill End. All of the manors of Cherry Hinton had disappeared by the late 1700’s.
There were close links between the Cambridge College’s and Hinton, particularly with Peterhouse College. Since the 1200’s Peterhouse College has been closely connected to St Andrew’s Church and has helped provide many of the vicars there. The two main occupations in the village were farming and laundry. The women of the village took in the laundry from the Cambridge Colleges and the undergraduates. Many of the Cambridge College’s owned land in Cherry Hinton to extract clunch to use for their buildings. Ely Cathedral also contains some of the Cherry Hinton clunch.
The high quality chalk or clunch beneath Cherry Hinton was another major influence on the development of the village. There was a thriving clunch and lime burning industry in Cherry Hinton particulary at the site of the Spinney between Cherry Hinton Road, Queen Edith’s Way and Lime Kiln Hill. This industry was at its peak during the medieval period and continued up until the early 1900’s. The Spinney is now a nature reserve.
Enclosure took place in Cherry Hinton in 1806. With the enclosure of the village great patches of land were brought and sold, field shapes changed as did land use. Many roads were straightened and created, such as Cherry Hinton Road and Fulbourn Road and many people moved or were forced to move.
At this time John Okes, a surgeon at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, started to buy up large portions of land in Cherry Hinton. Much of this land was used to for the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall which John Okes had laid out in the 1830’s and upon which he had the Hall built for himself and his family. John Okes died in 1870 and after several different owners and occupiers Cherry Hinton Hall was purchased by Cambridge City Council in 1937. Cherry Hinton Hall has been utilised for a variety of needs since, including: a fire brigade depot, a training center, a home to young evacuees from London, a nursery and baby clinic and the annual Cambridge Folk Festival.
By the late 1800’s the Pamplin Brothers had introduced steam ploughing to the village and ran a steam plough works, close to the church of St. Andrews, which continued until the 1930’s. In 1927 Elijah Pamplin gave the land which is now the recreation ground between the High Street and Leete Road to be maintained as a meadow, for use by the villagers as a recreation ground. After the second World War the site was also designated as a war memorial.
Cherry Hinton grew rapidly from the late 1800’s. The Baptist Church, on the corner of the High Street and Fisher’s Lane was built in 1883, Rev Bewick Bridge built the first school in the village in 1818 and the alms houses were rebuilt in Mill End next to the smithy in the 1880’s. The area between Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road was developed in the late 1800’s creating ‘New Cherry Hinton’ and the cement companies began large scale quarrying in and around Cherry Hinton.
Today only one of the cement companies remains and there is no longer a station in the village but Cherry Hinton continues to expand and develop with a thriving village center, a range of different shops and many amenities. All around us are the reminders of how people in the past helped shaped the village we live in today and we are all playing our part in how the village will be shaped for the future.
© Michelle Bullivant 2006
Michelle Bullivant is the local historian for Cherry Hinton, Chairperson for Cherry Hinton Local History Society and runs the research and education service Active8 Archaeology. For all enquiries please contact:
Michelle Bullivant Dip Arch PIFA, 2 Leete Road, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge. CB1 9ET.