(O.S. 6 ins. aTL 45 N.W., bTL 45 S.W.)
Grantchester is on the W. bank of the river Cam or
Granta, 2 m. S.S.W. of Cambridge. It has long enjoyed
a reputation for great antiquity, perhaps deriving from
mediaeval historians like Nicholas Cantalupe (Cantelow).
John Layer (C.A.S. 8vo. Publs. LIII (1935), 103) believed
Grantchester to be 'the anncient Shire town of this
shire; but sure I am that it is but a little towne nowe'.
The choice of location has been ascribed to a ford over
the river (approximately at N.G. TL 436557) which
served a pre-Roman trackway running E. and W. to
the N. of the Bourn Brook. Fox (Arch Camb. Reg., 169)
endorses the view that the original course of the Via
Devana was directed to the ford in order to link
up with this trackway, the route through Cambridge
being a later realignment. A Roman building was found
near N.G. TL 432550 (C.A.S. Procs. XXII (1921) 124),
but there is no evidence of a camp; the termination
'-chester' does not occur here before the 14th century
(Reaney, 'Place-names of Cambs.', 75).
The village extends for about ¾ m. along the W.
bank of the river N. of the confluence with the Bourn
Brook and is about 700 yds. E. to W. at the N. end.
Here a wide E. and W. street, formerly a green, lies on
the line of the trackway. To the S.E. is a second street
whose zig-zag course to the bridge is a survival of a
system of paths and lanes between old rectangular
closes; other elements of this gridiron lay-out, e.g. 'Mill
Way', can still be traced. Skinner's map of 1666
(King's College muniments) shows the lay-out in an
earlier stage of disintegration. On a low bluff above
the Brook at N.G. TL 43115487 was Tarter's Well
(perhaps a corruption of 'St. Etheldreda's Well') now
ploughed out but originally connected to the village
by a causeway (S. P. Widnall, A History of Grantchester
(1875), 27–8 and 144–5); the causeway can still be
traced on air photographs.
Grantchester now contains 1392 acres. In 1850 it was
nearly 200 acres larger and included the old Whiteditch
Field and Newnham Crofts (see Monument (24)),
ceded to Cambridge in 1911. The principal feature is a
low watershed between the Bourn Brook and the river.
The land is chalk marl, gault, gravel and alluvium, and
nowhere reaches 100 ft. above O.D. The boundary
mostly follows the river and the brook on the E. and
S.; elsewhere it takes account of pre-existing fields,
except in the N. where it is less indented.
Corpus Christi College have been patrons of the
living since their foundation, but the village also has a
close connection with King's College who in 1452
bought a large estate here from the executors of Henry
Somer, late Chancellor of the Exchequer (John Saltmarsh 'A College Home-Farm in the 15th century',
Economic History III, 11 (Feb. 1936), 155–72). The manor
house (Monument (2)) may have been built by Somer.
In addition to the college connections Grantchester
has been for many years a place of recreation and retirement for the students and scholars of the university in
general. Some of the smaller buildings put up between
1715 and 1850 are not without academic overtones, the
effect of which is enhanced by a pleasant diversity of
materials, including brick, studwork and clay bat.
General enclosure, by act of 1799, does not seem to have
had much effect.
a(1) Parish Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary
stands on a slight rise to the S.W. of the village street
in an enclave of the manor house site; the curved wall
of the churchyard on the N. and E., of field stones, with
four pilaster buttresses, a seep hole and copings of
dressed stone, is of mediaeval origin; on the W. an
old brick wall is that of the garden of Manor Farm
(Monument (2)), part of which is now an extension of
the churchyard. The church consists of a Chancel, Nave
with S. aisle and N. porch, and a West Tower. The walls
are for the most part plastered externally save for the
S. aisle of 1877, and for the chancel which is faced with
clunch ashlar. The roofs are tiled.
Grantchester, the Parish Church of St. Andrew & St.Mary
Dressings of several windows of c. 1100 have been
built into the fabric and are evidence for a SaxoNorman aisleless nave: the sill of the external door to
the tower vice probably came from the W. window
when the old W. wall was destroyed c. 1400; remains of
two or more smaller windows (Plate 4), presumably
from the old S. wall destroyed in 1876–7, and some
other fragments, are built into the S. aisle walls (see
Miscellaneous below). Parts of the N. wall are survivals
of this early nave. Two models of the church prior to
restoration, said to have been made by S. P. Widnall,
survive (Plate 81); one of them is preserved in the
vestry. Judging by its style the chancel seems to have
been rebuilt c. 1360; an archiepiscopal direction of 1384
to the master and scholars of Corpus Christi College
for repair and rebuilding is probably a general injunction. Also in the 14th or 15th century a small
transeptal chapel, since demolished, was built on the N.
side immediately W. of the chancel arch. The nave
was extended W. and the present tower added during
the episcopacy of Bishop Fordham (1388–1426). The
tower arch was under-built in brick, with a lower arch,
in 1635. There were restorations in 1860, 1876–7 (as
above), 1889 and 1900.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (32½ ft. by 17 ft.)
is divided into three bays by two-stage weathered buttresses
with similar buttresses diagonally placed at the E. corners; an
external string below the window sills is returned around
them. The E. window (Plate 69) is of five lights, the middle
cinque-foiled, the others trefoiled, with flowing tracery and
external and internal labels; inside it is flanked by a pair of
niches each with a cinque-foiled and sub-cusped nodding ogee
canopy rising to a foliated finial. Each side wall (Plate 71) has
three windows of three lights with geometrical and flowing
tracery (Plate 10) of two types. Between them are double
cinquefoil-headed niches each with a nodding ogee canopy
rising to a foliated finial. There is no priest's doorway. An
internal moulded string is largely modern, otherwise restoration has been comparatively light. The late 14th- or 15th-century chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, the outer
continuous, the inner carried on attached part-octagonal shafts
with moulded caps and chamfered bases.
The Nave (60 ft. by 20 ft.) has a N. wall of c. 1100 except for
about 15 ft. at the W. end which was probably added with the
tower c. 1400. Adjoining the N. respond of the chancel arch are
the upper and lower doors, the second converted to a window,
of a lost rood stair of the 14th or 15th century. Immediately
to the W. a 14th-century opening, now blocked, with straight
jambs and moulded depressed head, frames a reset three-light
window with vertical tracery in the four-centred head; beyond
are three similar but somewhat larger windows; all are 15th-century. Beneath the middle of these, visible internally, are the
lower jamb stones of an 11th-century door. W. of and above
the last window are the upper and W. jamb and part of the
head of an earlier window which it has replaced. At the end of
the wall is a restored doorway of c. 1400 with stop-moulded
jambs, two-centred inner and square outer head, sunk spandrels and a label with animal head stops. The S. arcade is of
1876–7, but the old S. wall is known from the models to have
been thinner 15 ft. from the W. end, as is the N. wall.
The Tower (12½ ft. by 12 ft.) is of c. 1400, of three stages with
an embattled parapet. The restored W. doorway, with
moulded jambs and two-centred inner and square outer head,
has shields of the see of Ely and of Bishop John Fordham in the
spandrels; it has been converted into a two-light vestry window. Above it the restored W. window is of three cinque-foiled
lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a label.
The bell chamber has in each face a window of two cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head. The original lofty tower
arch has been under-built in red brick with a lower and narrower round-headed arch; the moulded soffit of the original
arch is partially exposed on the W. face where a part of the
filling has come away. The E. face of the later brick arch is in
two rectangular orders and retains some original pargetting
with the date 1635 at the apex. The vice is in the S.W. corner;
it has original two-centred doorways, continuously chamfered,
at the foot and into the ringing chamber, but the first of these
is now blind, a later entry having been effected from the
The timber-built N. porch is of the early 16th century. Its
side walls have been cased and rendered with cement plaster
inside and out. The entrance arch, framed into the end tie
beam, has moulded jambs and four-centred head. In the N.
face the frame above the tie is filled with brick nogging.
The Roofs of the nave and its aisle are modern; that of the
chancel is boarded. The tower has a short slated spire; its
timbers and those of the roof of the porch are ancient.
Fittings—Bells: 1st inscribed 'God save thy Church 1610';
2nd by John Darbie, 1677; 3rd uninscribed, old. Bell frame:
old. Brass: in vestry, detached fragment inscribed on both
sides, mediaeval. Brass indents: In chancel—(1) and (2) of
inscription plates; (3) of priest, with inscription plate; in nave
(4) of woman, with inscription plate; all 15th- or 16th-century;
see also Monument (3). Communion table: four turned legs and
top rail reused as two prayer desks; 17th-century. Doors: (1)
to porch entrance, in two leaves, of ridged planks with
applied vertical battens, old furniture; mediaeval, cut down
and reset; (2) to tower vice from churchyard, of uncertain
date, reset. Font: large tapering circular limestone bowl
with chamfered under edge on a modern base; 13th-century.
Gallery: At the W. end of the nave, in Gothic idiom of
c. 1840 with panelled front supported on an arcade of seven
bays, the wider middle bay forming the entry from a lobby
into the nave; the S. return and possibly other alterations are
of 1876–7. Glass: In chancel—in tracery of last window on the
N. side (1) foliage in yellow stain and ruby roundels in situ; in
tracery of first window on S. side; (2) vine leaf foliage in yellow
stain and ruby roundels, in situ, together with some fragments
of fleur-de-lis border in yellow stain, reset; all 14th-century.
In nave—in tracery of N. windows various fragments in situ
and reset, 14th- and 15th-century. Monuments and Floor slabs.
Monuments: In chancel—in N. wall (1) recess with moulded
jambs, depressed ogee arch and label, 14th-century. In nave—
on N. wall (2) of Dorothy Spilsbury, 1837, and her sister
Elizabeth Hollingworth (Spilsbury), 1820, signed 'Tomson and
Son Camb.'. In S. aisle—in E. wall (3) altar tomb with front of
quatrefoil panels enclosing paterae and blank shields, in a
recess with moulded jambs, four-centred inner and square
outer head with traceried spandrels enclosing blank shields;
the limestone marble top of the tomb chest has brass indents for
a man, wife with butterfly head-dress, and child below, with
scrolls and prayer picture over and shields at the front corners;
15th-century reset and restored; on S. wall (4) of George
Sheppard, fellow of Clare, 1690, framed inscription tablet,
segmental pediment crowned with an urn, and carved apron,
all of clunch; on W. wall (5) of [Katherine widow of Thomas
Byng, 1627], identified from Cole's transcript, the second part
of the inscription being now quite defaced. In churchyard—on
E. wall of chancel (6) of Francis William Edwards, 1805; (7)
of Mrs. Sarah Page, 1827; (8) of William Mandel, 1822; (9) of
Basil Anthony Keck, 1815; on S. wall of chancel (10) of Sarah,
relict of Mr. John Braysher, 1833; N. of tower (11) of Andrew
Haslop, 1692, and his daughter Jane, 16[?9]6, headstone, damaged. In the churchyard which is planted with yew and ilex
are divers 19th-century headstones and monuments. Floor
slabs: In chancel—(1) of Anne daughter of James Robson, 1731,
with achievement of arms; (2) of John Ekins, senior fellow of
Trinity, 1706, with achievement of arms; (3) of Francis William Edwards, 1805; (4) of Henry Headby, 1741; (5) of Mary
daughter of James Robson, 1721, with achievement of arms;
(6) of (?) Gifford, 1749. In S. aisle—(7) of Dorothy Spilsbury,
1837, and Mary Anne Elizabeth wife of John Letch Martin,
1842; (8) of Rebecca wife of James Brade, 1831, and Mary
Frances daughter of William Brade, 1834. Piscina: in chancel,
with cinque-foiled ogee head and sex foil drain; 14th-century.
Plate: includes a cup and paten, London 1648; a paten, London
1723, given by J. L. Martin, 1833; a pewter paten found with
a cup, in the churchyard in 1870, mediaeval; a pewter flagon,
18th-century; and three pewter or plated alms dishes, 19th-century. Pulpit: with original carved desk, square, in two
heights, with geometrical panelling below and enriched
arcading above; applied to one of the upper panels is a carved
achievement of arms of Jegon; early 17th-century. Sedile: in
chancel—recess of first window on S. side carried down to
form seat; 14th-century. Tables of Decalogue: at W. end of
S. aisle, two wooden panels with four-centred heads painted
with inscriptions of the Ten Commandments, quotations from
the epistles and sacred emblems now faded; c. 1800. Weather
vane: Cock, of copper gilt, 18th-century. Miscellaneous:
Incorporated in S. aisle walls fragments of interlace jambs,
monolithic enriched head and sills of two or more windows
of c. 1100 (Plate 4); some cheveron ornament and part of a
nook shaft, 12th-century; portions of one or more coffin lids
12th- or 13th-century; and two corbels, mediaeval.
a(2) Manor Farm, two storeys and cellar, framed and
plastered, with alterations and additions in brick and
tiled roofs, is the house of the combined manors of
Jakes and Burwash purchased by King's College from
the executors of Henry Somer in 1452 (John Saltmarsh,
'A College Home-Farm in the 15th century', Economic
History III, 11 (Feb. 1936) 155–72). Somer, who had
been Chancellor of the Exchequer, as well as a member
of the poet Hoccleve's 'Court de bone conpaignie', may
have built the house before the sale of the property to the
college; in Cole's day there was heraldic glass in the
nearby church and in the manor house, including the
arms of Somer and some others, all 'false heraldry', but
these have since disappeared. The 'sort of pulpit or
gallery' described by Cole (B.M. Add. MS. 5805,
137–42) is reflected in the surviving fabric which has
however been extensively altered both before and since
his day. The hall has had a first floor inserted at an
unknown date, and there are a number of additions to
the E. and N.E. In the plans and sections illustrated,
identifiable later work has been omitted.
Grantchester, Manor Farm, Monument no. 2
Scale of feet for sections
The plan of the house conforms to the traditional hall
and cross wings arrangement but this has been interpreted with freedom. The hall and solar form a continuous range on a N. and S. axis under a single roof of
four unequal bays. The two wings are subsidiary and
abut the eastern side of this range at its two ends. The
S. wing overlapped the hall and was apparently returned
against its end as a lean-to. Between the wings, also
against the E. side, is the original clunch-built chimney
of the hall which was probably placed between two
garderobes. Beneath the hall and solar is an original
basement with a clunch-built sewer, now ruinous,
along its eastern side passing underneath the base of the
The elevations are irregular and reflect almost entirely the
17th-century and later changes. The house faces E. with a front
door flanked to the S. by a tall 17th-century chimney with
three separate diagonal flues. At the S. extremity of this front
is the gable end of the 15th-century cross wing; it retains a
cusped barge-board with sunk spandrels and the upper portion
of a part-octagonal oriel. There is a similar barge-board over
the N. (solar) gable of the main range. All three features are
Inside the house the main range below eaves level has been
much altered but it retains its original roof of plain timbers
almost intact. This has braced tie beams, crown posts, collar
purlin, and a collar to each pair of rafters. The N. end bay,
over the solar, some 16 ft. in length, is the longest and the S.
end bay of 8 ft., over the screens, is the shortest. There are
indications that the two intermediate bays over the hall proper
were to have been equal at somewhat over 10 ft. each, but the
dividing truss now missing was apparently refixed during
construction about 1½ ft. to the S. so as to clear the chimney.
The roof timbers retain traces of reddish pigment except in the
northernmost bay. The floor of the solar has been raised but a
cased beam in the partition between it and the hall indicates
the old level. At the S. end of the hall space a corresponding
braced tie beam survives. It carried the gallery over the screens
described by Cole. At the extreme S. end of the E. wall are the
remains of two doors, one at ground, the other at gallery level.
Part of the roll-moulded jambs with base stops of the lower
door are exposed. The top of the upper door is visible from the
roof space: it has hollow-moulded jambs and four-centred
head with sunk spandrels. The hall chimney is masked by the
later work to the E. It is rectangular on plan with stepped
weatherings at the shoulder and moulded base to the shaft
which has been rebuilt in brick. S. of it is a 19th-century
geometrical stair with square balusters and mahogany rail.
The N. wing, which projected some 8 ft. E. of the main
range, has been merged in the later extensions; but traces of
the first-floor jetty to the E. and the westernmost pair of rafters
of its roof survive. An intermediate post on the S. side presumably reflects a narrow aisle accommodating the chimney
and garderobes on the E. side of the hall.
The S. wing, in addition to the oriel already described, retains
a little of its original roof at the junction with the main range.
It was of tie-beam and crown-post type. In the ground-floor
room of this wing is a 17th-century overmantel panelled in
two heights and enriched with arcading and guilloche;
flanking pilasters are carved with arabesque and have Ionic caps.
The cellars extend beneath the entire main range and have a
ceiling, largely original, which reflects the divisions on the
ground floor already described. The cross beam below the N.
end of the hall is morticed in the soffit for a partition. The sewer
along the E. side, of clunch with pointed barrel vault, has
partly collapsed and is encumbered with debris; there are
signs that it had been modified and extended. A second drain
lined with brick, probably of the 17th century, leaves the
cellar at the E. end of the N. wall curving away to the E. and
extended underground for more than 50 ft.
a(3) Pigeon House, converted to two dwellings, oblong on
plan, of plastered framing on a tall brick plinth, with the usual
hipped and tile-covered roof rising to gablets at the apex.
No structural timber is visible. It is conceivable that this is the
'Great Duffhouse' mentioned in a lease of 1467 (copy in King's
College Ledger Book) but the building (Plate 25) looks like a
later, possibly 18th-century, replacement.
a(4) House, former vicarage, two-storeyed with attics, part
brick, part framed, with tiled roofs, was built c. 1683; an
ecclesiastical visitation of 1685 refers to a 'good new built
Vicaridge House' (S.P. Widnall, History of Grantchester(1875),
111).It seems to have been a three-cell house of mixed construction with one internal and one end chimney, but the whole
has been much modernised and the S. end, entirely remodelled,
is now roofed as a cross wing. A number of chamfered beams
are exposed internally and three original brick fireplaces have
survived with chamfered jambs and elliptical heads; two are
covered with plaster enriched with moulded ribbing.
a(5) The Green Man, inn, two-storeyed, framed and plastered, with tiled roof, probably originated as a Class-H house
built in the late 16th or 17th century.
a(6) House (Class I), now enlarged and converted into two
dwellings, framed and plastered, with tiled roof gabled at the
ends. The rebuilt shafted stack suggests a late 17th-century
a(7) Almshouses, terrace of four, single-storeyed, of mixed
construction with one internal and two end chimneys; 18th-century.
a(8) Barn, framed and boarded, with thatched roof, half-hipped at the E. end to the Cambridge road; of five bays with
S. door in third bay. The original structure, which has been
lengthened to the W. and fitted with an aisle on the N., is
16th- or 17th-century.
a(9) House (Class T), two-storeyed with attic, of yellow
brick and tiled mansard roof, has a symmetrical 3-bay elevation
E. to the street with first-floor platband and dentilled eaves
cornice; late 18th-century, extended and altered. Incorporated
in the N. wall of the garden are some fragments of mediaeval
a(10) Cedar House, two-storeyed, of white brick and some
studwork with tiled roofs in a late Georgian idiom, includes
some earlier, perhaps mid 17th-century, work on the S. side
next the street. The house may be that advertised in the Cambridge Chronicle of 12th December 1840 as 'recently rebuilt'.
a(11) Lacies Farm, consisting of a two-storeyed main range
with tiled mansard roof and lower extension at the E. end, has
a nearly symmetrical main elevation in orange brick S. to the
street of c. 1790. An earlier, perhaps 17th-century, framed house
has been incorporated.
a(12) Vicarage (Class U), two-storeyed, in white brick with
slated roof, was built by the incumbent, the Rev. William
Martin, in 1850–1.
a(13) School and School House. The School, a single room
with walls of studwork, now clad in asbestos, and hipped
thatched roof, is probably that described by Gardner (Directory, 292) as 'The National School . . . erected in 1830 at a cost
of £80 in the centre of the village'. The School house (Class L),
two-storeyed, of clay bat with brick dressings and tiled roofs
with gable ends fitted with cusped barge boards, is somewhat
a(14–20) Houses, all Class-J, generally of framing with
thatched or tiled roofs, and mostly altered. Some may have
been built after 1715. Nos.(15) and (16) are in Wright's Row;
(19) and (20) now form one dwelling.
a(21) Moated site (Class A 3; N.G. TL 433553, partly on
O.S.), on ground sloping gently S.E. to the river; the E. part
is on gault and the W. part is on chalk marl. The site is associated with the 15th-century manor house (Monument (2)) and
is probably that of its predecessor. The nucleus is a moat 210 ft.
square, shown complete on the O.S. map of 1836, the N. side
of which has since been obliterated by farm buildings. The
other sides now vary from 30 ft. to 60 ft. wide and 1½ ft. to
8 ft. deep ; has been re-cut and is V-shaped.
W. of the moat the S. side is prolonged for 240 ft. and then
turns N. for 287 ft. This extension, 28 ft. to 30 ft. wide and 4½
ft. deep with 9 ins. of water, is probably 17th-century gardening. Two sub-rectangular ponds in the area so defined have
been displaced by farm buildings. N. of this secondary moat is
the manor house.
a(22) Bank (N.G. TL 435554), in Ball's Grove on gault clay
at the foot of an E. slope, running N. and S. for 420 ft., 30 ft.
wide, 5½ ft. high with a flat top 6 ft. wide. On the W. is a
ditch, 40 ft. wide and 5 ft. deep, boggy and converted into a
modern water garden at the N. end.
a(23) Village Remains (around N.G. TL 433557; hollowways only on O.S.), on flat chalk marl under pasture N. of the
present village and overlooking the river Granta on the E. In
spite of some Roman finds the existing remains are certainly
mediaeval or later. They consist of two hollow-ways (a) and
(b) bounding a block of three closes, (c), (d) and (e), on the
N. and E.
(a) hollow-way, running E. and W. and continuing the line
of the road from Coton, traceable for 342 ft.; it is 40 ft. wide,
3 ft. deep, and 25 ft. across the bottom; a depression along the
S. side is probably a modern drain.
(b) hollow-way, at right angles to (a) and continuing the line
of a lane at the side of The Red Lion public house, 164 ft. long,
35 ft. wide, 2½ ft. to 3 ft. deep and 23 ft. across the bottom.
(c) close, to the W. of (b), rectangular, 155 ft. N. to S. by
75 ft.; in the N.W. angle is a circular hollow 33 ft. across and
2½ ft. deep.
(d) close, 155 ft. N. to S. by 95 ft., separated from (c) by a
rounded bank 15 ft. wide and 1 ft. high.
(e) close, separated from (d) on the E. by a bank 12 ft. wide
and 1 ft. high, and with a W. ditch 14 ft. wide and 9 ins. deep:
trapezoidal, 75 ft. N. to S. by 100 ft., but probably extended
a(24) Cultivation Remains (not on O.S.). Ridge and furrow
is preserved in only a few places around the village and is all
in former old enclosures. The remains have straight ridges
70 yds. to 270 yds. long, 5 yds. to 15 yds. wide, and 9 ins.
to 1½ ft. high with headlands 5 yds. to 11 yds. wide. To the
N. of the village remains (Monument (23)), the ridge and furrow around N.G. TL 434560 is arranged in several blocks all
running N. and S. except those nearest the river on the E.
which run E. and W. down the slope; the headlands between
the blocks are 9 yds. to 11 yds. wide. An access way 20 ft.
wide with an E. scarp 1 ft. to 2 ft. high on the W. side runs N.
and S. through the area for 230 yds. The N. and S. ridge and
furrow around N.G. TL 432554 is cut by a later E. and W.
trackway 20 ft. to 25 ft. wide and 6 ins. to 9 ins. deep.
Modern ploughing has destroyed nearly every sign of openfield ridge and furrow. The few traces of ridge and furrow
visible on air photographs, notably around N.G. TL 423565 in
the N.W. of the parish, are of curving open-field strips. Old
maps show the strips and baulks more or less completely and
give the furlong names of the open fields. There were three
primary fields, called 'Fulbrook', 'Ridgeway' and 'Stulpe'
and three additional outlying fields, 'Whiteditch' (now part of
Cambridge), 'Crowcroft' and 'Clint'.
(Ref: John Saltmarsh, The Fields of Grantchester, unpublished,
n.d.; map 1666 (C.U.L.); map by Skinner 1666 in King's
College muniments; pre-enclosure and enclosure maps 1795–
1802 (C.R.O.); air photographs: 106G/UK/1490/3044–8,
4034–8, 106G/UK/1718/4139; St. Joseph, PK3–5.)