Cheveley parish has a population of around 1,900 people and comprises two wards.
The South Ward contains the rural village of Cheveley and is situated approximately three miles south-east of Newmarket, and the North Ward is situated on the fringes of Newmarket and includes the area between Duchess Drive and Ashley Road.
The village is linear in nature and the central part, which has been designated as a Conservation Area contains a number of thatched properties some dating back to the 1600s. The use of flint, particularly for the building of boundary walls adds to the character of the village.
The church of St Mary and the Holy Host of Heaven, which is situated at the centre of the village in the Conservation Area dates back to the late 13th century.
The facilities within the village of Cheveley include a primary school, a recreation ground with a children’s play area and a sports pavilion, a public house, a grocery shop and post office and a community room that is available for hire by local groups. There is a regular bus service to Newmarket.
There are a number of clubs and organisations operating in the village community including the Women’s Institute, the Community Association, Evergreens, the British Legion and Brownies.
- Cheveley Hundred
- Cheveley Parish
- Economic History
- Manors and estate
- Charities for the poor
The Hundred lies south-east of Newmarket (Suff.); it stretches between the Icknield way on the north-west and a ridge of boulder clay in the south-east. Its eastern boundary partly runs along the Old Suffolk Road between Bury St. Edmunds and Dalham (Suff.), and its south-western boundary partly follows the Devil’s Ditch. The whole of the eastern boundary and part of the southern one form the county boundary with Suffolk. The Hundred name was first recorded in the Domesday Book. In the 11th century, 50 hides were divided between six vills. Two, Cheveley and Kirtling, of 10 hides each, remained distinct parishes. Saxton, later the hamlet of Saxon Street, was effectively incorporated from the 13th century into its larger neighbour, the 15-hide Woodditton, while the vills of Silverley and Ashley were united civilly probably by the late 13th century and ecclesiastically from the mid 16th.
The Hundred remained in the king’s hands in the Middle Ages, when the Hundred Court met twice a year. All the parishes were part of the Newmarket poor-law union between 1835 and 1894, of Newmarket rural district between 1894 and 1974, and of East Cambridgeshire district from 1974.
Cheveley occupies a slice of chalk downland and clay-capped hills stretching south-east from Newmarket (Suff.). Its boundaries enclose 1,035 ha. (2,559 a.) in a rectangle; no more than 2¼ km. wide and 6½ km. long. The boundary with Newmarket was adjusted slightly in 1993. The land rises from 38 m. (125 ft.) in the northwest to over 115 m. (375 ft.) in the south. The northern half, below 90 m. (300 ft.), is on Middle and Upper Chalk underlying soils of gravelly loam, incised by the valley of a stream followed by the Newmarket-Ashley road. In the Middle Ages the stream was bridged at Farmer’s or Broomstick corner where the road crosses that from Cheveley to Moulton, but in modern times it has run dry and serves as a drainage ditch.
The steep-sided spur north of the valley was Cheveley’s heath, scene of a murder in 1336, and long divided by a thorn-set ditch into rough grazing on the lower slopes and rabbit warrens on the flat summit, which became known as Warren Hill. With the development of the Newmarket races in the early 17th century and the arrival of permanent training stables after 1660, the heath was much used for exercising racehorses. Gallops were set out along both flanks of Warren Hill, Long Hill gallop to the north and Side Hill gallop to the south. On the hill top in 1768 stood two structures associated with sport: a hawk ladder and the King’s Chair. The latter was supposedly in origin a real wooden chair used by Charles II, but by 1790 had been rebuilt as a small gazebo. Before 1851 the Jockey Club had a lease from the Cheveley Park estate of all the heath in the parish, comprising 345 a. in 1838. The Jockey Club bought the freehold in 1920. By the 1880s tan gallops had been laid and walking tracks for horses set out around the perimeter and within an earlier plantation. In the 20th century increasingly elaborate arrangements were made to allow intensive use of the natural turf and of prepared surfaces for walking, cantering, and galloping.
South of the heath, open fields extended over the Chalk valley and the rising land to its south until their inclosure in 1844. After 1920, the part nearest Newmarket was taken for housing and the rest became paddocks for stud farms.
Above 90 m. the Chalk is capped by glacial boulder clay, the lower gradients of which provided sites for the church and village, the 14th-century moated castle, and the park of the great house which succeeded it and dominated the parish from 1600 to 1920. The clay land, especially the flat-topped ill-drained summit, was heavily wooded in Anglo-Saxon times, when the parish name was probably coined from a word for a chaffinch and the common term for woodland, leah. A charter of 1022 called Cheveley a ‘woody township’ and at the Norman Conquest the king’s wood there customarily sent fencing poles every year to Snailwell. The lower slopes were largely cleared at an early date, judging from the extent of ploughland in 1086. West of the village Stubbing field was named from the stumps left after felling. In the mid 14th century the manorial wood, apparently north-west of the village, covered only 6 a. or 8 a. but there were also trees in the park around Cheveley castle.
Further south on higher ground, some woodland remained long after the 11th century. The main focus of clearance was Broad green 1 km. south of the church, where a large freehold estate evolved in the 14th century into Bansteads manor. The green once covered 4½ a. but was encroached upon by squatters before inclosure in 1844, when it was reduced to 1¼ a. Smaller greens called Blabbers green and Little green lay to the south and west. Between and around the greens lay closes grouped into blocks each with a single name, perhaps the assarts of eponymous freeholding families: Fittocks, Boothams, Chowns, Hornets (Harnets in 1724), Broughtons, Days Leys (Derisley close in 1459), Constables ground (Constables croft and grove in 1588), Gannocks (Gannocks grove in 1445 and later), and Gibes ground (Gibbs close in 1459). Among the closes, linking the greens, meandered lanes between thick hedges set with pollards, several of the lanes being straightened or blocked at inclosure. The groves recorded in 15th- and 16th-century place-names did not survive in the late 18th century, and Southey wood at the southern tip of the parish, 26 a. c. 1724, was felled and converted to pasture before 1762. The clay land, once it was hollow drained, provided ready-made paddocks within dense shelter belts from the 1880s. In the late 20th century Cheveley’s landscape was thus divided between the open expanses of the heath, which furnished a daily spectacle of hundreds of thoroughbreds at exercise each morning, and picturesquely wooded and expensively maintained stud farms.
The parish lies just off the Icknield way, a major route between London and East Anglia, beside which the town of Newmarket grew up around 1200AD. Cheveley village was originally reached from Newmarket by a road running across the open fields, which in around 1675 Henry Jermyn diverted into the valley to the east, away from his park. A shorter but steeper and worse route followed the western parish boundary and (as Park Lane) the southern park wall. After a bad experience on the road in 1796, the 5th duke of Rutland had it remade and planted as an avenue in 1813 to form a convenient and imposing approach to the park gates. Thenceforth called Duchess Drive, it remained handsomely wooded over most of its length in 2000. The southern end round the park wall was straightened in 1894. The 5th duke maintained other roads in the parish, which in 1838 were described as excellent. The tangle of lanes connecting Cheveley to neighbouring settlements on the clay plateau was rationalized at inclosure.
The parish has never been very populous. Twenty-five families lived there in 1086, and in 1327, besides an unknown number left untaxed, 27 households were wealthy enough to be listed, evidently reflecting considerable growth since 1086. The poll tax of 1377 was paid by 146 people over the age of 14, perhaps from a total population of at least 350, and there were 180 of communicant age in 1676, indicating a population of c. 240. Baptisms exceeded burials by over 200 between 1560 and 1640 and c. 400 from 1685 to 1800, with a small surplus in the intervening years, but as the population in 1801 was only 398, the natural increase must have been offset by out-migration. After 1801 the population grew steadily until 1841, then was stable at 600-650 until 1891. A rise in the 1890s to over 700-perhaps due to employment on the Cheveley Park estate under its new owner-was reversed in the 1910s, so that in 1921 the number of inhabitants was again 600. Thereafter it rose without pause to 1,750 in 1971, most of the increase taking place because new housing was built as a suburb of Newmarket at the north end of the parish. The population fell by c. 100 in the 1970s, when few new houses were built, but then rose steadily to an estimated 1,810 in 2000.
There were 59 houses in 1674 and c. 60 in 1801, subdivided to make over 80 dwellings. Most lined the village street from the church northward to the park wall, or clustered around the churchyard. The few scattered along the lane south of the church and at Broad green were perhaps the relics of a somewhat more dispersed pattern over the assarted clay lands. At least one of five ruinous houses listed in the 1440s had stood there, and there was once a house at Hobbs Warren, a close fronting Oak Lane south of Little green.
The growing population of the late 18th and early 19th century was probably accommodated as much by dividing existing houses and adding new rooms as by new building. Cottages encroached on the roads and greens but made little lasting impact on the High Street, where a number of timber-framed and thatched farmhouses dating from the 16th century and later survived in 2000. One-storeyed cottages of timber and thatch were built at Broomstick corner shortly after 1820. Despite the importance of the Cheveley Park estate, Cheveley never assumed the appearance of an estate village. Other proprietors had cottages at Broad Green and in High Street, and the owners of the estate built only four pairs of model cottages in the village and at Broomstick corner in 1871 and 1895. Harry McCalmont (owner of the estate 1893-1902) instead built within the park in order to have his stud men and domestic staff close at hand. The stud farms founded outside the village after 1920 also provided staff accommodation near their stables.
The wedge of land between the Ashley road and Duchess Drive began to develop as a residential extension of Newmarket in the 1920s, after building plots were laid out on either side of the lower 1 km. of Centre Drive in 1921. The drive was rapidly filled, mainly with small bungalows, while housing of a mixed character extended as ribbon development up the south side of Ashley Road and the east side of Duchess Drive. In the wedge as a whole there were already 74 houses by 1932, and the population rose from an estimated 450 in 1937 to 700 or 800 in 1944, among whom there were said to be ‘no Cheveley people at all … only Newmarket people’. Most remaining gaps in the frontages were filled in the 1950s and 1960s. Under the planning guidelines established after 1974 the area was designated part of the ‘Newmarket Fringe’, and further residential building was permitted only within a tightly drawn ‘development envelope’. Thirty houses were built in the 1980s in a space north of Centre Drive, and by 1989 the whole neighbourhood, by then confusingly called the Cheveley Park estate, contained over 300 houses, as many as in the village. It lacked shops or other facilities of its own.
Although some council houses were built in the village between the First and Second World Wars, they replaced condemned cottages, and the total number of houses there did not grow significantly until after 1945. By 1970, however, ribbon development north and south of the High Street had extended to Broomstick corner and Little green respectively, leaving Broad Green as a separate cluster of houses. Most new houses after 1945 were for owner-occupation.
Cheveley Park became the centre of a great landed estate as a result of the duke of Somerset’s purchases in the 1730s and 1740s. In 1893 the estate covered over 7,800 a. in all (1,984 a. in Cheveley). The house was never the main country seat of its owners from 1750 to 1892, the Manners dukes of Rutland. One of its principal attractions for them was the shooting, notably partridge, for which the estate gained a high reputation by the late 19th century. In late September and October the house was normally filled with family and guests, ranging from the dukes of Wellington and York in the 1820s through the exiled Prince Juan of Spain in 1849 to the Prince of Wales in 1873. Both the heath and (until inclosure) the open fields provided coursing for the estate’s tenants and other local gentlemen From 1750 until the Ballot Act of 1872 Cheveley Park was also the fulcrum of the Manners political interest in Cambridgeshire.
Successive owners of the estate were not equally devoted to the noble pursuits which it offered. John Manners, marquess of Granby, a successful general in the Seven Years’ War and owner 1750-70, spent little time there. His son Charles, the 4th duke, in contrast, was often resident and extremely active locally from 1776 to 1784. He paid duty on 17 manservants at Cheveley in 1780. From 1784 to 1799, however, the house stood empty, and it was little used outside the shooting season in the earlier 19th century and probably hardly at all during the widowerhood from 1825 to 1857 of the 5th duke, who lodged instead at the former royal palace in Newmarket.
In the absence of the dukes, the social leadership of the estate and parish was assumed by their agents, notably Capt. Underwood (c. 1828-39), John Fairlie (c. 1840-57), and James and Herbert Garrod, father and son (1860-91 and 1891-c. 1912). Fairlie presided over audit dinners for the tenants and estate suppers to celebrate the 5th duke’s many birthdays, and both he and the elder Garrod were busy members of the vestry. The 5th duke, in old age, took an active part only in a charitable distribution of winter clothing to the poor begun by his wife. After his own death the tradition was continued by Mrs. Garrod.
Lord George Manners (d. 1874), the younger brother of the 6th and 7th dukes, had Cheveley as his country residence after 1857 and was involved in local affairs. (fn. 35) More significantly, the lease of the estate in 1890 to Harry McCalmont (followed by its sale to him in 1893) brought to Cheveley a big spender who stamped his ebullient personality on the parish during the remaining decade of his life. Multi-millionaire, lavish host, patron of the Turf, M.P., and Boer War volunteer, he poured money into the estate and played the role of squire to the full.
Cheveley’s inn, originally the White Hart, was renamed the Star and Garter c. 1787 after the 4th duke of Rutland was made a knight of the Garter. (fn. 38) It remained the village’s principal public house until gutted by fire in 1987; the ruin was itself burned down in the mid 1990s, and a completely new thatched and rendered ‘period’ house was built around its surviving central chimney stack in 2000. Its place was taken by the Red Lion at Little green, opened as a beershop in the mid 1850s.
A friendly society with 26 members in 1804 had failed by 1818, but the Granby Lodge of Ancient Shepherds, established in 1847, was by 1873 the largest lodge of the order in Cambridgeshire, with 165 members. Otherwise, organized social life in the mid 19th century owed much to individual initiatives, often short-lived. Phenomena of the 1850s, for example, included a farmer’s club inspired by its counterpart in Newmarket, a choral society, and fêtes in the park, put on by the agent John Fairlie.
In many ways Cheveley has had closer ties with Suffolk than with Cambridgeshire. Until 1837 the parish, with others in Cheveley Hundred, was in the diocese of Norwich and archdeaconry of Sudbury. Bury St. Edmunds served as if it were the county town, where professional services were obtained (when not from Newmarket), to where the only carrying service ran in 1853, and from where (with Newmarket) nonconformist revivals were inspired and organized. Migrants to the parish in the 19th century were more likely to come from a wide area of Suffolk bounded by Exning, Clare, and Bury than from anywhere in Cambridgeshire except Cheveley’s immediate neighbours. Almost all the farmers and most master craftsmen and shopkeepers in 1851 and 1881 were Suffolk men. Only in the 20th century were links with the Suffolk interior eclipsed as Cheveley was absorbed into Newmarket’s growing bloodstock industry.
Cheveley’s proximity to Newmarket attracted wealthy residents connected with horseracing in the later 19th and the 20th century. Among the new dwellings built for them was Warren Tower, a large red-brick neo-Tudor house built on a plot straddling the Cheveley-Moulton boundary on Warren Hill sold by the 5th duke of Rutland before 1853. It was occupied by a succession of rich people, including the leading racehorse owners R. C. Naylor in the 1880s and Sir Daniel Cooper, Bt. (d. 1909), followed in the 1930s by two widows of peers. After falling into multiple occupation and disrepair, Warren Tower was demolished in 1989, when the site was intended for a large new house for an Arab racehorse owner. Among the tenants of Banstead Manor between the 1880s and the 1910s was Lord Randolph Churchill during his flirtation with the Turf 1887-91. Other public figures owned or were associated with the stud farms.
In the later 20th century the social character even of the rural part of the parish became very mixed. The stud farms, which employed and housed increasing numbers of people, belonged, as part of the racing industry, to a world of enormous personal wealth enmeshed with international business and politics, in which social deference from staff to managers and owners was the norm. Elsewhere in the village, quite large numbers of council bungalows and fairly modest private houses were intermingled with older dwellings which were increasingly attractive to commuters, especially after the completion of the M11 made London more accessible in the 1980s.
For centuries Cheveley was divided into arable land in the Chalk valley north of the village, pasture closes and woods with a little arable on the clay around the village and in the south, and heath providing grazing for sheep and rabbits in the north. Much woodland had been cleared before 1086, when there was arable for 15 ploughteams. Three shifts, and perhaps three fields, may be implied by the mid 13th-century names of West and Middle fields, but otherwise a regular three-field system never crystallized, and fields proliferated and were of irregular sizesOn the clay, Stubbing field west of the village had arable strips in the 1450s, and High field at the southeast corner of the parish was partly arable in 1588, but most of the land south of the village was probably farmed in pasture closes as soon as it was assarted. On the eve of inclosure there were 1,479 a. of arable mainly on the Chalk and 478 a. of pasture mainly on the clay.
In 1086 the manors had four plough teams and the peasantry nine. The demesne of Cheveley manor was reckoned to occupy 3 carucates in the early 13th century, while in the 14th century Bansteads had a similar notional amount, actually c. 280 a. (fn. 88) The successors of the 13 villani and 11 bordars recorded in 1086 soon differentiated into a numerous free tenantry and neifs about whom little is known. Freeholders c. 1200 included one with 3 yardlands and another with 40 a. The Scalers family of Thriplow acquired 2 carucates before 1253, and by 1303 had 200 a. of arable and 30 free tenants. The tenants of another outsider, Adam Brachet, held at least 70 a. c. 1270. In 1327 the owners of the two manors held under half the taxed wealth of the parish, the rest being divided among 25 other landowners. Two long-lived freeholding dynasties emerged around the mid 14th century: the Cheveley family was recorded from the 1340s to 1528, when Luke Cheveley sold all his land; and the Sibyls from the 1360s to the 1490s, after which they sank into smallholding obscurity.
From the 16th century freeholders co-existed with an expansionist estate centred at Cheveley Park. Alice Cotton (d. 1543) and her son and grandson, both called Sir John (d. 1593 and 1620), bought much freehold land, starting with Luke Cheveley’s 340 a. and including over 100 a. in 1557 and over 250 a. in 1594. Between 1528 and 1598 some 560 a. of arable and 260 a. of meadow, pasture, and wood were added to the manor, partly in neighbouring parishes. In 1671 the manor nominally included 530 a. of cultivated land and 500 a. of heath, and in 1732 nominally 1,190 a. and 550 a. In Cheveley itself the park and tenanted farms covered 700 a. in the 1690s. (fn. 7)
Yeomen farmers remained a significant element, however, partly because 226 a. of freehold land was released on to the market and divided among 10 purchasers when the Stutevilles sold Bansteads manor in 1587. The Pratts bought 129 a. of it, became tenants of the rest in 1588, and remained at Cheveley for at least a century. (fn. 10) The husbandman Thomas Salisbury took a lease of 300 a. of Cheveley manor’s home farm in 1663, establishing the prosperity of a family associated with the parish until c. 1800. In the 1720s the Goodchilds, grocers of Exning (Suff.), accumulated c. 200 a. by purchase and inheritance. Copyhold land was insignificant: by the early 18th century there were no more than 10 or 12 copyholds, none larger than c. 30 a., most much smaller, and several in any case owned by freeholders.
Cheveley manor was enlarged again under the duke of Somerset. In Cheveley he bought 100 a. in 1731-2 and the Goodchilds’ 200 a. in 1734, besides making more extensive purchases in neighbouring parishes. In 1775 the estate included just over 1,500 a. in Cheveley, almost two thirds of the parish. The 5th duke of Rutland (owner 1787-1857) added more land as it became available. He attempted to secure parliamentary inclosure from 1801 onwards, but the rector was slow to assent and an Act was passed only in 1841. Common rights were extinguished in 1843 and the award was made in 1844. Numerous exchanges allowed the duke to consolidate his estate to include all the parish north of Park Lane and the Moulton road, with large wedges to the south, amounting in all to 1,969 a. (79 per cent of the parish). Bansteads manor emerged with a ring-fenced 256 a. at the south end of the parish. No-one else had more than 50 a. Apart from the temporary acquisition of Bansteads manor in 1895, (fn. 22) the Cheveley Park estate remained at about the same extent until it was broken up in 1920. In 1775 and for most of the 19th century it was mainly let as one large farm of up to 1,000 a. and one or more smaller units in the range 150-300 a., only the park being kept in hand.
Farming until the 19th century was based on sheep and corn. The smaller manor had a flock of 57 in 1086. Later in the Middle Ages some freeholders enjoyed pasture rights: in 1262 the holder of 22 a. had pasture for 120 sheep, in 1370 a freeholder had a fold for 121 sheep, and another fold was mentioned in 1378. Foldcourse for 400 was sold with one of the larger freeholds in 1576. Members of the Scalers family in 1260, the Cheveleys in 1428, and the Sibyls in 1491 had flocks. Manorial sheep farming became more important from the 16th century. When John Cotton leased Bansteads manor in 1588, he retained the right of foldcourse for 300 sheep, allowing his lessee to keep 60 animals in the flock. Cheveley manor had foldcourse for 800 in 1663. Turnips were being grown as fodder by 1724.
The three-course rotation operated in the 1730s and the 1790s had been altered to fourcourse by 1838, when the main crops were wheat, barley, and clover, with turnips and beans sown on most of the fallow field. The wheat was sold through Newmarket and the barley went for malting. Inclosure allowed more sheep to be kept, and well over 2,000 were recorded until c. 1900, after which the flocks dwindled rapidly to virtually none by 1930. Before the 19th century a few cattle were kept by the larger farmers and by commoners exercising rights in the stubble field. In 1820 the duke of Rutland induced 12 commoners, owning at least 25 cow commons, to give up their common rights in exchange for allotments in the open fields. Mixed farming survived the agricultural depression by tilting in the 1880s away from wheat and towards hay, only to be extinguished by the rise of racehorse breeding after 1890. By 1910 over half the cultivated area was under grass and by 1930 four fifths. In the 1930s two dairies and two smallholders survived but after the Second World War the thoroughbred had all.
The bloodstock industry in Cheveley can be traced from the duke of Somerset’s stud in the early 18th century, which was maintained by at least some of his successors at Cheveley Park in the later 18th and the 19th century. Modern stud farming was established after the agricultural depression and in response to the growth of Newmarket as a centre of thoroughbred training and sales. Within a few years around 1890 studs were founded by Sir George Chetwynd and the jockey Charles Wood at Chetwynd Farm (later Warren stud) on New Road south-west of Broad Green, by the trainer George Dawson at Lensfield stud (later incorporated into Brook stud) east of the village street, and at Side Hill stud at the foot of Warren Hill. More important, because of its lavish scale, was Harry McCalmont’s revival of Cheveley Park stud in the 1890s. It was nationally famous mainly because of the successes of McCalmont’s horse Isinglass, which has been called ‘perhaps the greatest racehorse that ever ran’. By 1901 a fifth stud, White Lodge, had been created northeast of Broad Green. Stud farming advanced greatly after the First World War as a result of the break-up of the Cheveley Park estate in 1920. Cheveley Park stud itself expanded between the wars to cover c. 300 a., while in the new park to its north Beech House stud (c. 200 a.) was established in the late 1920s. Longholes farm (c. 300 a.) north of the Ashley road was divided after 1925 into Sandwich stud to the east and Longholes stud to the west. Banstead Manor, which had been partly let as paddocks before 1914, and Brook farm at the south end of the village street were both bought in order to be turned into studs in the late 1920s.
After 1945 two smaller farms also became studs: Glebe House (from 1983 Danton and Glebe House stud) c. 1958, initially on the glebe land behind the former rectory house, and Fittocks in 1967 to its south. Three smaller studs, Strawberry Hill south-east of Beech House (1976), and Fresh Winds (c. 1978) and Farmers Hill (c. 1985) south and west of Broomstick corner, brought the tally in 1989 to 14 studs covering virtually all the agricultural land in the parish.
Except for the smallest studs, ownership throughout the 20th century was a pastime or a business interest for the very rich, mainly established owners of successful racehorses. Banstead Manor and White Lodge were owneroccupied, with small purpose-built country houses. Those owned by business tycoons and aristocrats were managed by resident stud grooms who gave the businesses continuity despite in some cases frequent changes in ownership. Almost all were English-owned until the late 1980s, when the Arabs who had recently come to the forefront of English racing began to buy studs. The Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah bought Banstead Manor in 1987, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, of the ruling family of Dubai, acquired Beech House, Warren, and White Lodge studs in 1989.
Nineteenth-century Cheveley had its share of poverty, assisted emigration, incendiarism, and sheep-stealing. Though agriculture was predominant, the village was not exclusively dependent on it. By the early 19th century many men worked outside farming. The Cheveley estate employed directly an agent, gatekeepers, gardeners, gamekeepers, and indoor servants, and gave work to numerous others, probably accounting for the presence in the 18th century of a grocer’s shop by 1724, a chimneysweep (d. 1759), and a painter (d. 1764). The neighbouring Kirtling estate also employed Cheveley tradesmen, including a wheelwright in 1664, and a bricklayer, a carpenter, and a thatcher in the 1750s. All the common rural trades- blacksmith, carpenter, wheelwright, bricklayer, butcher, tailor, and shoemaker-were practised throughout the 18th century as in the 19th. A windmill was first mentioned c. 1290, and one served the parish until the post mill east of High Street was dismantled in 1876.
Shopping facilities, which by the 1930s included specialists like a tobacconist and a stationer, declined slowly from the 1960s as Cheveley became more of a commuter village. There were still two food shops besides the post office in 1981. Local employment was available at the Home Office’s wireless (later telecommunications) depot, established south of the village by 1961, which employed over 50 people in 1989. There were then also small firms dealing in saddlery and safety wear, two building contractors, and a dental laboratory. The studs came to provide many jobs in the 20th century, raising the number recorded as full-time farm workers from 43 in 1930 to 72 in 1950, and employing at least 80 people, including administrative staff, in the village alone in 1973. By the later 1980s Banstead Manor and Cheveley Park studs had 20 and 34 employees respectively.
Manors and estate
The parish included two manors, Cheveley itself (the core of the Cheveley estate) and the much smaller and later Bansteads. In 1022 Ely abbey gave CHEVELEY to King Cnut in exchange for Woodditton. In 1066 it comprised five sixths of the township. One sixth of which was held by Eddeva the fair’s tenant Heoruwulf, then in 1086 by Enisan Musard from Eddeva’s successor Count Alan, and in 1236 by William son of Luke from Henry de Kemesek..
Courts for Cheveley manor were being held by 1260 Court rolls survive for 1422 and 1442-59. When Sir John Cotton and his mother leased the manor in 1663 they reserved the right to hold the court in the manor house. There are court books for 1736-1849. Bansteads manor, adjudged to be held from Cheveley manor in 1582, is not known to have held courts.
The overlordship was recorded until 1457 as belonging to Count Alan’s honor of Richmond; no undertenant is known after 1236.Between 1086 and 1130 the Crown granted the manor to Alan de DinanBécherel (d. c. 1157), whose son Roland gave it to his sister Emma when she married Robert de Vitré, retaining an overlordship which by 1168 was forfeited to the Crown. The lordship may then have been divided, since until the 1180s both the bishop of Ely and Aubrey de Vere, earl of Oxford, had interests in Cheveley.
Robert de Vitré died in 1173. His son Andrew later gave the manor to his brother Robert the clerk, and their niece Gervaise and her husband Richard Marshal recovered their rights over the tenant in 1229. The Marshal lordship was allotted in 1246 to Richard’s sister Maud, countess of Norfolk, and descended with the earldom (later dukedom) of Norfolk, last being recorded in 1526.
The Pecche undertenants of Cheveley later forged a charter to claim that they were put in possession by Roger (d. after 1131), son of Richard son of Count Gilbert, a predecessor elsewhere of Richard Marshal. More likely they were given Cheveley by the bishop of Ely, their lord elsewhere in Cambridgeshire. The first undertenant was perhaps Ralph Pecche (fl. 1130), on whose death without issue his estates passed to his brother Hamon (d. after 1178). Hamon’s younger son Gilbert took possession in 1199, died in 1212, and was succeeded by his son Hamon (d. 1241). That Hamon’s son Gilbert (d. 1291) surrendered his barony of Bourn to the Crown in 1284, but transferred Cheveley to his eldest son John, who in 1286 gave it to Sibyl and her husband Sir Roger Loveday. Loveday died in 1287. Sibyl then married and outlived William Ormsby, holding the manor until her own death after 1338. Sibyl Loveday’s daughter and heir Catherine married Roger Tichborne, who sold the reversion of Cheveley to John Pulteney in 1336. Pulteney, knighted in 1337 and in possession by 1340, died in 1349, and in 1350 his widow Margaret married Nicholas Loveyn (knighted 1351). The Loveyns initially settled the manor after their deaths on Margaret’s son Sir William Pulteney, who died in 1367 and was survived by Loveyn. At Loveyn’s death in 1375 he left Cheveley in the hands of his feoffees for 15 years or until his only son Nicholas should come of age. The latter evidently did not reach maturity, and the feoffees probably sold the manor to William Rickhill in or after 1390. Rickhill, who bought the neighbouring manor of Ditton Camoys from one of Loveyn’s executors in 1393, certainly had the advowson of Cheveley by 1405 and the manor by 1407, and died in 1407 or 1408. His son John owned the manor in 1412 and a younger son Nicholas in 1428. By 1431 Sir Nicholas Loveyn’s grandson and heir Richard Chamberlain claimed and perhaps controlled the manor, but in 1434 it belonged to John Rickhill’s daughter and heir Joan and her husband Richard Bruyn. They sold it in 1450 to William Cotton, a feoffee since 1443 or earlier.
Cheveley descended with Landwade in the direct male line of the Cotton family for 170 years, successively from William (d. 1455), to Sir Thomas (d. 1499), Sir Robert (d. 1517), Sir John (d. 1593), and Sir John (d. 1620). From 1528 the estate was augmented at intervals by purchases of freehold land. The second Sir John’s widow Anne married and outlived Sir John Carleton, Bt. (d. 1637). Her son Sir John Cotton was in possession from 1637, was made a baronet in 1641, and sold the manor in 1671 to Martin Folkes, perhaps on behalf of the Roman Catholic courtier Henry Jermyn, who owned it by 1674. Jermyn (cr. Lord Dover 1685, succeeded as Lord Jermyn 1703) died in 1708, leaving Cheveley for life to his widow Judith (d. 1726), then to his great-nephew Sir Jermyn Davers, Bt., who sold it in 1732 to Charles Seymour, duke of Somerset. Somerset, who greatly increased the estate, died in 1748, leaving it to his daughters Frances and Charlotte. In 1750 they married John Manners and Heneage Finch, sons and heirs respectively of the duke of Rutland and the earl of Aylesford, and together held Cheveley until Frances died in 1761, when it came to her son Charles Manners. He succeeded his grandfather as 4th duke of Rutland in 1779 and died in 1787. Successive owners in the Manners family were Charles’s son John Henry (5th duke, d. 1857), his son Charles Cecil John (6th duke, d. 1888), and the latter’s brother John James Robert (7th duke). The last leased the estate in 1890 and sold it in 1893 to Harry Leslie Blundell McCalmont, heir to a banking fortune (d. 1902). After McCalmont’s widow disclaimed her life interest in 1919, his trustees and heir sold the estate in 1920 to the Jockey Club, which resold most of it in smaller lots. The manorial rights were acquired by a firm of Cambridge solicitors.
John Pulteney had permission to crenellate his house in 1341. Cheveley castle occupied an isolated moated site 750 m. north-west of the church and well away from the village. The building stood on a rectangular platform 45 m. by 38 m. within a ditch 25 m. wide and 8 m. deep. Traces survive of a curtain wall with circular towers at the north-west and south-east corners and a rectangular building at the southwest. Entry was in the centre of the north side, through a gatehouse of which the footings remained in the 1990s. The walls and towers were still standing in the early 17th century.
A park may have been created around the castle by John Pulteney. Sir Robert Cotton’s imparkment of 12 a. c. 1510 was probably an addition, and perhaps marked the abandonment of the castle for a new site. His grandson Sir John Cotton (d. 1620) built a brick house at the south-west corner of the park. In the 1660s and 1674 it had 21 hearths. Henry Jermyn rebuilt it by 1681, when two views were painted for him by Jan Siberechts. The main rooms occupied a double-pile east wing, of two storeys with attics and basements, facing down an avenue leading from the northern end of the village high street. Its brick seven-bay entrance front was flanked by short projecting wings of two bays containing closets. The great hall in the north wing had presumably been incorporated from the Cottons’ house. Service rooms occupied a block to its west. Many of the overdoors and overmantels were by Siberechts, and in 1730 other fine paintings, including a Rubens, hung in the principal rooms. The hall housed portraits of royalist favourites: Henrietta Maria, Prince Rupert, and James II’s wives. During the ownership of the Catholic courtier Lord Dover, a protestant mob attacked the house in 1688, gutting the chapel. The contents were dispersed in 1730 after his widow’s death.
Cheveley Park was much altered by the Duke of Somerset after 1732. Initially he divided the great hall into a kitchen and pantry and removed the closet wings from the east front. Later he extended the front laterally with pavilions at each end, and lengthened the north and west wings. Internally the rooms remained small. The east and west wings were demolished in 1857-8, when the surviving north range was enlarged and refurbished by the architect William Burn.
Harry McCalmont demolished that house, building on its site between 1896 and 1898, to designs by R. W. Edis, a large and lavishly appointed neo-Classical mansion also called Cheveley Park, which boasted a 70-ft. long banqueting hall with a minstrels’ gallery. (fn. 31) It in turn was stripped of its contents in 1920 and demolished, the site being occupied in the 1990s by woodland.
The house, as rebuilt by Henry Jermyn, stood surrounded by formal courts and elaborate flower gardens. To the south a mid 17th-century stable block closed off a court with an oval pond. To the north a large garden had along its east side a raised terrace walk 366 ft. long adorned at 12-ft. intervals by pairs of urns. The entrance court outside the east front lay between walled formal gardens, and west and south-west of the house there were orchards and farm buildings. The entrance court was incorporated into the park after the creation of Duchess Drive in 1813. McCalmont retained the terrace walk and the stable, building to its south new farm buildings and houses for estate workers. The terrace acted as a grandstand for a National Hunt race meeting held in the park in 1893. The stable was subdivided and converted into houses before the Second World War, and the farm buildings in the 1980s.
The Cottons’ park was extended by Henry Jermyn to cover 250 a. In the 18th century the central area was heavily wooded, with avenues giving prospects from the house to the north and north-east besides a distant view of Dalham Hall (Suff.) along the great avenue to the east. Paddocks covered 25 a. along the west side. Clearance of the woodland had begun north of the house by 1775, and by 1844 had progressed to leave a dozen romantically scattered copses. A herd of deer was removed in the 1830s. In the late 19th century an icehouse was dug into the platform of the castle. McCalmont divided the old park into grazing land on the east and stud and dairy farms with new stables and other buildings on the west, adding to it 400 a. to the north, covering all the land between Duchess Drive and the Ashley road. A sinuous carriage road, Centre Drive, led from the north front of the house through the new park to the outskirts of Newmarket. After the sale of the estate in 1920 the new park was divided into stud farms and building lots. Most of the trees in the old park were cleared in the mid 20th century, leaving shelter belts and a few plantations.
BANSTEADS, first called a manor in 1359, originated with the purchase of c. 300 a. of freehold land in 1308 by John Benstede, an influential minister of Edward I who was knighted that year. It was held of Cheveley manor in 1582. Benstede (d. 1323) settled the estate on his widow Parnel, who died in 1342 having survived her sons Guy and Edmund. The estate passed to Edmund’s son John Benstede (d. 1358), eldest son John died a minor in 1359 or 1360 and was succeeded by his brother Edward. Edward (d. 1432) left as heir his son Sir Edmund (d. 1438), but the manor was held as dower successively by their widows Joan (d. 1448) and Eleanor (d. 1451) before coming to Edmund and Eleanor’s grandson Sir John Benstede (d. 1471 Sir John’s son William conveyed the manor to feoffees for Richard Stuteville in 1484.
Bansteads descended in the male line of the Stutevilles from Richard (d. 1506) to Thomas (d. 1514), Thomas (d. 1571), and Thomas (d. 1606). The last sold the manor and probably all his land in Cheveley in 1587, the manor and 260 a. out of 486 a. to (Sir) John Cotton, owner of Cheveley manor, who sold Bansteads to Simon Folkes in 1620. Folkes (d. 1642) left the estate for life to his kinsman John Raven, with reversion to his nephew Simon Folkes, who succeeded between 1652 and 1662 and died in 1669. His son John (d. 1708) was succeeded by his son Martin (d. 1746) and the latter by his son, another Martin (d. 1785), whose heirs were his daughters Fanny (d. 1829) and Mary (d. 1828), wives respectively of the rector of Cheveley, the Revd. James Thomas Hand (d. 1834), and the latter’s father Christopher (d. 1797). Both marriages were childless and the estate passed to Christopher’s grandson Philip Bennet (d. 1853), whose son and namesake had sold it with 226 a. by 1858. William Allison bought it in 1861, and sold it in 1871 to Thomas Smith, who sold it in 1876 to his son-in-law Samuel Webb Slater. It was later sold successively in 1895 to the owner of the Cheveley estate, Harry McCalmont, in 1919 by McCalmont’s trustees and heir to Capt. Charles Ashe Windham, in 1923 to James Bennie Reid, and in 1925 to associates of Henry Ernest Morriss. As Banstead Manor Stud Ltd. the estate was owned by members of the Morriss family until 1987, when they sold it to Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms Ltd.
The house called Banstead Manor occupies a former moated site of medieval origin. Three arms of the moat, enclosing a platform 40 m. by 53 m., survived in 1844 (fn. 68) but had been mostly filled in by 1885 and only traces survived in the 1990s. The 17th-century house on the site had seven hearths. It was replaced in the late 18th century, evidently in 1792 for Christopher and Mary Hand, by a double-pile house of five bays in brick with stone dressings and slate mansard roofs with dormers. Many of the architectural details were similar to the contemporary rectory house, built evidently for James Thomas and Fanny Hand; the story that identical houses had been built for two sisters was current in the village in 1989. The house was demolished in 1926 and replaced in 1927 with a larger Lutyens-influenced house extended c. 1937. It has sweeping roofs, prominent chimney stacks, and mullioned windows. The original Chinese furnishings imported by H. E. Morriss had gone by 1989, except for a statue in the grounds.
The advowson of Cheveley was attached to the principal manor until the 18th century. John Pulteney was licensed in 1344-5 to appropriate it to a chantry in London, but there is no evidence that he did so. The Crown presented in 1296 as guardian of the heir and in 1576 by lapse. John Martin presented in 1623 when Anne Cotton was patron. Although the advowson was still owned with the manor in 1671 and 1732, the first four presentations after 1660 were by persons other than the lord of the manor. In or before 1778 the advowson was sold to the Revd. James Thomas Hand, and for a century was normally owned by the incumbent, successively Hand himself (rector 1778-1831), his sister’s grandson James Thomas Bennet (1831-68), Bennet’s son Edward (1868-71), and James Foster Bradley (1871-8). (A Miss Nicholson was patron by 1879 and sold the advowson c. 1896 to Harry McCalmont of Cheveley Park. McCalmont’s heir, Major D. M. B. McCalmont, sold it in 1920 to John George Lambton, earl of Durham, who sold it the same year to the Revd. William F. Buttle (d. 1953), whose executor gave it in 1962 to the Ely Diocesan Board of Patronage.
A scheme to transfer the suburban Cheveley Park housing estate from Cheveley parish to Newmarket All Saints was approved in 1945 against the wishes of the rector, patron, and parochial church council, and became effective in 1948. The benefice was joined with three others in 1987 to form the united benefice of Cheveley, Ashley with Silverley, Kirtling, and Wood Ditton with Saxon Street.
The former rectory house on the west side of High Street almost facing the church, a five bayed two-storeyed red-brick house with attics and basements, was probably built for the Revd. J. T. Hand early in his incumbency. The imposing wrought-iron gates were formerly at Horseheath Hall (demolished 1777). The rectory was sold as a private house in 1946 and a replacement built immediately to its north remained in use for the united benefice in 2000.
The living provided a moderate income by local standards. During the 18th century and in 1820 the tithes were mostly taken in kind, but by the early 1830s mostly in cash. In 1838 they were commuted for a rent charge of £704. The glebe was reckoned to cover 63¼ a. in 1638 but only 40¼ a. in 1678, mostly comprising strips in the open fields. The Revd. J. T. Hand exchanged the open-field land with the duke of Rutland for a block of land next to the rectory house, apparently c. 1809, paying a premium for the deal and reducing the glebe to 35 a., to which 2 a. were added by purchase in 1921. The Revd. W. F. Buttle sold 22 a. in 1938 and the remaining 15 a. with the house in 1946.
The medieval patrons probably often presented their clerks as rectors. There was an anchorite in the 13th century and four parish guilds in the later 15th century. Lights and obits were supported by the rents from 10½ a. Leonard Cotton (rector 1504-57), a Cambridge educated kinsman of the squires, evidently had protestant views on redemption. During the Civil War Robert Levitt (rector from 1623) fell foul of political opponents and village gossip and was sequestered in 1644, whereupon he withdrew only as far as Woodditton and hindered the collection of tithes for his successor Abraham Wright, an assiduous presbyterian who was heartily disliked by some of his flock.
There were 30 or 40 communicants in the early 19th century, and in 1851 the rector claimed an average attendance of 50 adults at morning service and 120 in the afternoon, rather few for a parish of 612 with no regular nonconformist congregation. The vestry asked for evening services in 1852 and Edward Bennet formed a Bible Society when he was his father’s curate in 1862. The late Victorian clergy perhaps became complacent, thinking that few adults were totally neglectful of worship. () In fact the bishop in person attracted only 220 adults and young people out of perhaps 500 or 550 to special services in 1913. In the mid 20th century the parochial church council approved of services ‘in simple form, without advanced ritual’ and petitioned the patron in 1934 and 1953 for moderate appointments. Declining congregations later forced Cheveley into sharing clergy with neighbouring parishes. It had occasionally been held with Ashley, as in 1703-30 and 1895-1903, but amalgamation began to assume permanency from the late 1960s. Cheveley was held with Kirtling 1969-73 and also with Ashley 1973-5, with Ashley alone 1975-84, and with both of them and Woodditton from 1984. The incumbent always lived at Cheveley, and in 2000 she normally held services in each of the four churches every Sunday.
The church was dedicated to St. Mary in the 14th century. By the early 16th century parishioners were making bequests to ‘St. Mary and all the holy company of heaven’, or a similar phrase, as if that were its name, which became the accepted usage even before the church was reconsecrated in 1873 as ST. MARY AND THE HOLY HOST OF HEAVEN. The church is cruciform, and consists of a chancel with south organ chamber and vestry, transepts, a central tower over the crossing, and an aisleless nave with north porch. It is built throughout of flinty rubble with ashlar dressings. The church had a cruciform plan by the later 13th century, the date of the crossing arches and of a blocked lancet in the chancel north wall. The 13thcentury sedilia and piscina were destroyed in the 19th century. The tower was raised by an octagonal stage in the 14th century. Much of the church was refenestrated in the second quarter of the same century with flowing tracery which survives in the transepts and chancel. The structure changed little after 1350. In the 15th century a north porch was added and larger windows were cut through the nave walls. The 15thcentury nave and north transept roofs survive, as do the restored rood screen of c. 1400 and the 15th-century font.
Internal alterations of the mid 18th century included a private pew for the squire in the south transept. The first thorough restoration took place in 1850-1 at the expense of John Fairlie. An organ gallery under the chancel arch was pulled down to allow the screen to be restored to its proper place, the organ being moved to the west gallery formerly occupied by the choir. Box pews and an 18th-century pulpit and reading desk were thrown out in favour of new Gothic woodwork. In 1871-3 the rector J. F. Bradley made extensive repairs, replacing roofs, rebuilding the stair turret and chancel, and adding the organ chamber. Harry McCalmont and his widow paid for a vestry and internal refurbishments in 1902. The north transept was fitted out as a chapel in the 1930s.
The registers are almost complete from 1559. A burial ground near the church was given by the Duke of Rutland and consecrated in 1872, allowing the churchyard to be closed for burials in 1884.
Henry Jermyn, lord of the manor c. 1672-1708, was a prominent Roman Catholic and the eight or ten papists reported in 1676 were presumably all members of his household.
Two protestant dissenters were recorded in 1676, but no more until 1805, when a minister from Bury St. Edmunds registered a barn for worship. A house registered in 1836 was perhaps for Primitive Methodists, who had a ‘chapel’ in 1850 and held annual camp meetings on Broad green until 1862 or later.
In 1868 a Newmarket preacher began holding services in a barn on High Street. Under the patronage of Martin Slater of Hall farm a small Baptist chapel was built on the site in 1869, and by 1871 there were 24 members and a large congregation. In 1882, under a new pastor, the chapel turned abruptly to Congregationalism, though other denominations occasionally held services there too. Attendance was c. 70 in 1885. After c. 1900 the chapel was mostly served by lay preachers but membership and attendance held up well in the early 20th century as Cheveley’s population grew. At the peak in the 1940s and 1950s Cheveley itself provided almost half of c. 50 adult members. Decline began in the 1960s but the chapel was kept open after the Congregationalists helped to form the United Reformed Church in 1972. It had six members in 1989, when a minister from Newmarket held two services a month. A new vestry and entrance hall were added in 1998 and one service a week was held in 2000. In early 2020, the chapel was put on the open market for sale and the small congregation merged with the the United Reformed Church in nearby Stetchworth.
Charities for the poor
Houses and land were left for the poor of Cheveley under the wills of William Reeve and John Raye, dated 1553 and 1558 respectively and after inclosure in 1844 the land covered 10 a. In the 1720s it produced £1 2s. 6d. a year and was spent on supporting one family on permanent relief. The income was £7 in the 1750s and rose steadily to £28 10s. in the 1870s. Probably after 1756 it was distributed in coal or cash among the settled poor not on permanent parish relief, according to the number of children in their families. The income stagnated after the agricultural depression of the 1870s and fell sharply in real terms after the land was sold in 1927, so that in the 1970s only £40 a year was available, distributed among old people.
A row of four cottages, evidently intended as almshouses, was built by Henry Jermyn, Lord Dover, on Oak Lane in 1692, but he failed to endow them and after his death they were taken over by the vestry and used as a parish poorhouse until 1835, when the Poor Law Amendment Act meant that they were no longer needed for that purpose. The rector, J. T. Bennet, was frustrated in an attempt to incorporate them into Reeve’s and Raye’s charity, and instead the vestry let them to labourers, whose refusal to pay rent in the 1860s led to their summary sale. They remained standing in 2000. Between 1706 and 1738 the parish acquired another house, divided into two cottages, which also housed the poor. Pulled down but replaced on a new site at the expense of J. T. Hand (rector 1778-1831), they, too, were sold in the 1860s.
After 1835 Cheveley was successively incorporated in Newmarket poor-law union (to 1894), Newmarket rural district (1894-1974), and East Cambridgeshire district (from 1974).
Raye’s school was established in 1568 under the will of John Raye, proved 1560, who left a house and land to support it. The endowment, sold to buy 50 a. of arable, was supplemented in 1709 with a sum given by Henry, Lord Jermyn (d. 1708), and used to buy 24 a. in Worlington and Freckenham (Suff.). The land in Cheveley was exchanged with the Duke of Rutland c. 1820 and again at inclosure in 1844, being sold in 1927. The last of the Suffolk land was sold between 1891 and 1922.
The school at first taught writing and Latin grammar, and entry was restricted from 1709 to Cheveley-born boys who could already read. The rule was probably still in force in 1722, when the master was a graduate in holy orders. No new governors were appointed after 1709. In 1810 the master, nominated by the rector, provided a free education for Cheveley boys in reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 1837 up to 50 were registered but attendance was irregular. The reading requirement for entry was dropped in 1835.
The school was reconstituted in 1854 with new governors. Earlier taught in the south transept of the church, it moved to a house in High Street given by the 5th duke of Rutland. Well trained masters were to provide ‘all the branches of a sound middle class education’, including land surveying and book-keeping. Fifty boys were being taught in 1865 but few stayed beyond the age of 14 and the school did not provide a true grammar-school education. Priorities were re-evaluated in the 1870s, when the trustees were anxious above all to keep the endowment under local control. Formally, a Charity Commission scheme of 1881 attempted to turn Raye’s into an elementary school with an upper department teaching science and practical subjects, but in fact there was no demand in the village for such accomplishments and the school closed in 1873, boys instead attending the National school. The closure was regularized in 1891, when part of the endowment was transferred to the National school and the remainder diverted into grants to Cheveley children going beyond elementary schooling. Such grants continued in the 1960s, when they were still useful and appreciated, and their scope was widened under a Charity Commission scheme of 1976.
A girls’ school was founded under the will of John Warren, dated 1748 and effective in 1754, who left an endowment in stock to teach reading, writing, and domestic skills to the poor. In 1837 an ‘efficient’ schoolmistress was instructing c. 24 girls up to the age of 10 in reading and sewing. Another dozen paid fees to learn writing and arithmetic or to stay on beyond that age. In 1861 funds were raised to build a new National school on a site at the corner of High Street and Park Lane given by the 6th duke of Rutland. It opened in 1862, and was extended in 1873 to take the boys from Raye’s school. It remained an elementary school, then a primary school, serving the parish, and from 1978 was the central school of a short-lived federation with the schools in Ashley, Kirtling, and Woodditton parishes. In the 1980s and 1990s, after the others had closed, it served the four parishes as Cheveley Church of England (Controlled) community primary school.