8 SWAFFHAM BULBECK
(O.S. 6 ins. aTL 55 N.E., bTL 56 N.W., cTL 56 S.W., dTL 56 S.E.)
The parish, about a mile wide and seven miles long,
extends from the River Cam in the N.W. across the
chalk escarpment to a small valley parallel to the
Newmarket-Chesterford road in the S.E. The soils
vary from fen peat in the N.W., through chalk loams
in the neighbourhood of the village, to glacial gravels
on the higher ground.
The village flanks the E. edge of a small valley which
cuts back into the chalk. The houses are distributed
along both sides of a single road whose line is broken
by a relatively modern diversion round the paddock
of Lordship Farm (17). The southern part of the village,
centred on the parish church and extending from the
moated site at Burgh Hall (4) to the moats near Lordship House (3), is ostensibly the older. The northern
part, known as Commercial End (see below), is a separate entity and has no houses earlier than the 17th century,
although its former name of Newnham, and the
existence of the Priory (2) at its N. end, suggest a
medieval origin. Its later growth was assured by the
revival of water-borne trade from the Lode and possibly
by the construction of a mill on the site of New Mill
which effectively prevented navigation from reaching
the old centre of the village.
Burgh Hall (4), its offshoot Mitchell Hall (14) and
Lordship Farm (17) may be correlated with the three
The area of fenland known as the Adventurers'
Ground was enclosed and drained in the 17th century
but the greater part of it appears to have been uncultivated until the end of the 18th century. By Act of
1800 the remaining fenland and the higher ground to
the S.E. of the village were enclosed. Several farms in
the fenland incorporate 19th-century buildings, of
which (23) is representative. On the higher ground a
number of large farms (19–21, 24) were established on
former common fields and old heath as a result of
d(1) Parish Church of St. Mary (Fig. 86; Plate 23)
stands at the S. end of the village in the centre of a
rectangular churchyard. It consists of a Chancel, Nave
with Aisles, North and South Porches, and a West Tower.
The walls are of clunch ashlar, field stones with some
freestone dressings, partly obscured by rendering; the
roofs of the chancel and S. porch are tiled, the remainder lead-covered. The earliest identifiable work belongs
to the early 13th century; the church of that date
consisted of a chancel, aisled nave and a W. tower
which was built last. The N. aisle was rebuilt c. 1300 and
the S. aisle early in the 14th century, both wider than
previously. In the middle of the 14th century the
chancel was rebuilt and the consecration of the high
altar by Thomas de Lisle, Bishop of Ely, in 1346 (F.
Blomefield, Collectanea Cantabrigiensia (1751), 183) probably indicates its completion. Although the chancel
arch has an early 13th-century character, its exceptional
width suggests resetting when the chancel was rebuilt.
Bequests of 40 shillings in 1494 and 20 shillings in 1495
(W. M. Palmer, 'Benedictine Nunnery of Swaffham
Bulbeck', C.A.S. Procs. XXXI (1931), 53) for the fabric
of this church may be associated with the addition of the
clearstorey; heraldry implies that the family of Vere,
Earls of Oxford, was responsible for the 15th-century
nave roof. The porches have been largely rebuilt but
may have medieval origins. The restorations carried
out in 1842 (Ecclesiologist, 1, 143), in 1876–7, 1884–91,
1896 (Kelly, Directory of Cambridgeshire (1922)) and
between 1932 and 1936, are reflected in the amount of
new stonework. The benches are noteworthy fittings.
Fig. 85 Swaffham Bulbeck, Village Map
Architectural Description—The Chancel (32 ft. by 17¼ ft.)
has two-stage weathered angle and side buttresses, parapeted
gable and plain eaves. The E. window has five cinque-foiled
lights, arranged 2:1:2, with flowing tracery in a two-centred
head with external label having mask stops; the stonework in
the head is modern. The N. and S. walls each have two uniform windows of three lights with flowing tracery and external labels and head stops, one of which is original; the sill
of the first window on the S. is higher to accommodate the
sedilia. The other windows have internal embrasures. The N.
doorway has continuous moulded head and jambs and a four-centred rear-arch. The early 13th-century chancel arch of two
chamfered orders is carried on semi-octagonal responds with
moulded caps and bases which may have been rebuilt to take
a wider span.
The Nave (57½ ft. by 20¾ ft.), of four bays, uniform on N.
and S., has octagonal piers with moulded caps and waterholding bases, and arches of two chamfered orders, the outer
being narrower and hollow (Fig. 87). The long E. and short
W. responds have semi-octagonal shafts similar to the piers
but the bases are plainer. The arches have continuous labels to
the nave. The 15th-century clearstorey has four windows each
on the N. and S. with two cinque-foiled lights, pierced central
spandrels in four-centred heads with external labels. The E.
wall has a parapet and the eaves are plain.
Fig. 86 Swaffham Bulbeck (1), The Parish Church of St. Mary
The North Aisle (11 ft. wide) has diagonal buttresses of two
stages, an added two-stage side buttress, E. and W. parapets
and plain eaves. The E. window has three uncusped lights with
moulded intersecting mullions, moulded label and stops in
Roman cement. The three N. windows and the W. window
are uniform and have two ogee-trefoiled lights, central
quatrefoil, moulded label and mutilated head stops and
continuous moulded rear-arches. Internally at sill level an
uninterrupted moulded string steps up in the E. bay and stops
against the E. splay of the N. doorway on a carved head stop.
The late 14th-century doorway to the former rood-loft stair
in the N.E. respond of the nave arcade has continuous hollow-chamfered jambs and four-centred head; hinge-pins, the lowest
step and the newel survive. In the W. bay, the N. doorway has
two continuous wave-moulded orders and a moulded label
with stops. The South Aisle (11¼ ft. wide) repeats the general
design of the N. aisle but the less attenuated window tracery
points to a marginally later date. It has two diagonal buttresses, the western being rebuilt, and two added two-stage
side buttresses. The E. window has three cinque-foiled lights
with net tracery and moulded label with mask stops. The
three S. windows and the W. window have two ogee-trefoiled
lights with a quatrefoil in the head, continuous moulded rear-arches and moulded labels with mask and head stops. The S.
doorway repeats that on the N.
Fig. 87 Swaffham Bulbeck Church
North arcade: south side of first bay
The West Tower (12½ ft. square) is of three storeys and one
structural stage with a moulded plinth and plain parapet.
Three-stage angle buttresses on the W. and five-stage buttresses
on the E. stop at the level of the bell chamber. On the N. and
S. are pairs of beast-head gargoyles. The labelled tower arch
has three chamfered orders on the E., the outer continuous
and hollow-chamfered, the second also hollow-chamfered and
springing off the side walls, and the inner plain-chamfered
and carried on attached circular shafts with moulded capitals
and bases; there are two chamfered orders on the W. The W.
window consists of an arch with moulded label and three
graduated lancets, the centre one being wider. In the N. wall
is a square-headed straight-sided recess, probably once a doorway, of unknown date, and in the S. wall is a similar recess.
In the N., S. and W. walls of the ringing-chamber are small
lancets with double-chamfered jambs; externally on the
E. is the weathercourse of an earlier, steeply-pitched, nave
roof, below which is a 15th-century doorway with pointed
segmental head and chamfered jambs. The bell chamber has
in each face a window of two uncusped lights with a blind
quatrefoil in the head.
The North Porch, possibly medieval in origin but now largely
rebuilt, has a N. archway with two continuous orders, the
outer chamfered and the inner moulded. The two-light
square-headed side windows have no original stonework.
The South Porch, also perhaps medieval in origin, has a S.
archway with four-centred head and continuous jambs of two
chamfered orders. The two-light square-headed windows have
pointed segmental rear-arches.
The Roof (Plate 23) over the nave, of the 15th century,
is in nine bays with tie beams of low pitch supported on
curved braces springing off wall-posts, with pierced arcadetracery in the spandrels. Alternate trusses have shorter wall-posts to avoid the clearstorey windows. The ridge-piece and
purlins are moulded, and at their intersections with the trusses
are bosses and pairs of demi-bosses, enriched with foliage and
a shield for Vere, Earl of Oxford (quarterly a mullet in the first
quarter). The N. and S. aisle roofs, also 15th-century, are
generally similar. Each is in four and a half bays with moulded
tie beams and curved braces, and is divided into four panels
by secondary beams and purlins. At the intersections are
foliated bosses and head bosses. The spandrels in the S. aisle
roof are carved with leaves.
Fittings—Bells: six; 3rd, inscribed 'The old four were recast
into a peal of six by Robt. Taylor and Son St. Neots July 8th
1820'; remainder have rhyming couplets and date '1820'.
Bell frame: possibly medieval. Benefactors' Tables: in chancel—
(1), stone tablet recording gifts to Charity School by Mrs.
Frances Towers and Rev. Richard Hill in 1721; in N. aisle—
(2), shaped wooden board recording bequest by Francis Barns
in 1774; in S. aisle—(3), shaped wooden board with modern
lettering referring to Swaffham Bulbeck Charity Estate, early
19th-century. Chest: 6 ft. 2 ins. long, probably of cedar, flat-topped with iron hinges but lacking original lock, the front
carved in very shallow relief against a pointillé background
with the silhouette-like forms completed in line, and representing on three panels scenes possibly from the Old Testament all
within floral borders incorporating fabulous creatures and
pairs of putti; inside, the lid is painted in black line with a
hatched background and illustrates in a large rectangular panel
the Crucifixion with attendant figures and Jerusalem in the
background, in smaller panels the Evangelists' symbols, and
in flanking roundels the Assumption of the Virgin and the
Resurrection; North Italian, late 15th- or early 16th-century
(Plate 60). Clock: in tower, inscribed 'Rowning and Tuting,
Newmarket', 18th-century, with later wording 'Repaired by
Thos. Safford, Cambridge 1820'. Coffins and Coffin lids: in
chancel—(1), stone coffin without lid, medieval. In S. porch—
(2), fragment of coffin lid with floriated crosses at foot and
century, head missing, probably 13th-century; (3), small fragment of coffin lid with terminal floriated cross, probably
13th-century. In churchyard (4), set as stile, fragment of coffin
lid with moulded edge, simple floriated cross from the head
end, and omega ornament much worn, probably 13th-century.
Font: octagonal bowl and stem with moulded cap and base,
standing on a chamfered sub-base, 13th-century. Glass: in
N. aisle, fragments including pieces of tendril and leaf decoration, some coloured, some yellow-stain, 14th- or 15th-century.
Monuments and Floor slabs. Monuments: in chancel—in S.
wall (1), arched tomb recess of two moulded orders with
cusped and sub-cusped ogee head, crockets and finial, and
flanked by crocketed pinnacles and finial integral with moulded
and decorated string extending over sedilia and piscinae, and
terminating with head stop on the W.; restored, mid 14th-century (Plate 38). In S. aisle—(2), of Jonathan Dickman, 1788,
oval marble tablet and cartouche of arms below; (3), of Mary
Dickman, 1805, rectangular stone tablet. In churchyard—(4),
of John Rickard, 1742, and Anne his wife, 1743, tomb chest
with fluted pilasters; (5), of Peacock Rickard, 178(2) and
Ann Davis his sister, tomb chest with fielded panels; two similar tomb chests 18th-century, and another, early 19th-century;
approximately 35 headstones with shaped tops and carved
with mortality emblems, dating from 1703 onwards (Plates 52,
53, 55). Floor slabs: in nave—(1), of Miles Thompson, 1761, and
Helen his wife; (2), of John Thompson, 1779.
Piscinae: in chancel—in S. wall (1), trefoil-headed, renewed;
in N. aisle—(2), moulded jambs of former piscina with later
stone lining and flat head, possibly late 14th-century; in S.
aisle—(3), with trefoil ogee head and quatrefoil drain, early
14th-century. Plate: beaker (ht. 7 ins.), engraved with scenes
from life of Jacob, by Hinrech Ohmsen, active 1654–80,
Hamburg, given by Field-Marshal and Mrs. Grosvenor in
1850; cup (ht. 7¾ ins.) and cover paten, engraved with band of
foliage-arabesques, London 1569; flagon (ht. 11 ins.), given by
Mrs. Frances Towers in 1699, London 1698 (Plate 63); stand
paten (diam. 7½ ins.) with gadrooned edge, given by Mrs.
Frances Towers in 1700, London 1700. Recess: in S. aisle, in N.
wall, rectangular with chamfered surround, medieval. Royal
Arms: painted panel with arms of George III, 1801–16.
Scratchings: in ringing-chamber of tower—(1), on window
jamb, inscription in pseudo-Lombardic capitals, 'Rob Fil Sir
R De Bekynh. . .', 13th- or 14th-century; (2), on W. wall, in
rough capitals, 'H. Richardson Bricklayer March 24 1841'.
Seating: 34 benches and two fronts with carved ends and
moulded rails, and part of one bench-end detached in N. aisle.
The ends (Plates 58, 59) are decorated with paterae on a hollow
chamfer, and the arm rests and finials are in the forms of
animals and grotesque creatures, including a mermaid, whale,
wyverns, camels and dragons; the two fronts and three backs
are decorated with blind multi-cusped panels and foliagespandrels; 15th-century. At the W. end of the nave and aisles,
six box pews with pine fielded-panelling, partly cut-down,
early 19th-century. Sedilia: in chancel, three seats sub-divided
by buttresses, the outer of which have crocketed pinnacles
and finials; the W. seat is slightly lower. The canopies have
cusped ogee heads with crockets and finials integral with
string-course over monument (1), and continuous moulded
jambs; restored, mid 14th-century (Plate 38). Tables of Creed,
etc.: over chancel arch—(1), two shaped wooden boards with
gold lettering inscribed with the Decalogue, Creed and Lord's
Prayer, 18th-century; (2), wooden roundel painted in red and
gold with sacred initials in a sun-burst, and the Gloria, early
19th-century. Tiles: in chancel—(1), undecorated yellow
encaustic, possibly 1842 (Gardner's Directory); in S. aisle—
(2), single tile with yellow slip decoration, medieval; loose in
S. porch—(3), plain buff, perhaps those supplied by Giblin and
Co. in 1839 from Ramsey at 4d each (Ledger at (17), Lordship
Farm). Weathercock: on tower, wrought-iron, possibly 18th-century. Miscellaneous: loose in N. aisle, quadrant-shaped stone
bowl, possibly a medieval stoup.
Fig. 88 Swaffham Bulbeck (2), Benedictine Priory
d(2) Benedictine Priory, sometimes known as 'The Abbey'
(Fig. 88; Plates 70, 71), stood at the N. end of Commercial
End. A fragment survives in the form of a vaulted undercroft
of c. 1300, the upper stage of which was replaced in brick by
William Hamond of Haling Park, Surrey, according to Cole
(B.M. Add. MS. 5804, 125), apparently in the first half of the
18th century. The medieval walls are of clunch and knapped
flint with limestone dressings; these were considerably refaced
in clunch in the 18th century when the present upper storey
was built. The house is now of two storeys and attics, and the
roof is pantile-covered.
A nunnery at Swaffham Bulbeck is referred to in 1199 but
it seems that Isabel de Bolbec, the second, was the virtual
foundress a few years after that date (W. M. Palmer, 'The
Benedictine Nunnery of Swaffham Bulbeck', C.A.S. Procs.
XXXI (1931); V.C.H. Cambs. II, 226). Since its dissolution in
1536, the occupation of the site by a farm and the effect of
clunch quarrying has obliterated all identifiable remains of the
church and claustral buildings. The surviving structure, which
is obliquely orientated, appears to have been the undercroft of a
guest house or prioress' lodging placed as a wing to the main
The walls up to first-floor level are of clunch much of which,
including the wide clasping buttresses, is 18th-century. The
rectangular building has five bays of quadripartite vaulting,
central columns and an original dividing wall, with later
openings, between the second and third bays. The vaulting
ribs are chamfered and spring from octagonal piers and semi-octagonal responds with moulded caps and necking; except
for the chamfered respond base in the S.W. corner the bases
are hidden. The piers and the lower courses of the responds are
of limestone. The much-decayed exterior wall face on the E.
thickens out at its S. end. The doorway in the N. bay, not
shown by Relhan (C.A.S. watercolours), has original splayed
jambs but the opening has been enlarged; the window in the
S. bay is post-medieval. The N. wall is largely refaced in clunch
on the original plane; the central doorway has a pointed
segmental head with hacked-back clunch label and continuous
limestone jambs of two chamfered orders. In each of the two
E. bays is a fragmentary chamfered sill of a two-light window
now blocked externally; inside, the two W. bays each had
lockers: the first has twin recesses with round heads and rebates
for doors, and the second was probably similar but is now
mutilated by a later window. In the S. wall the two E. bays
are blind; in the second is a locker with two-centred head,
slots for shelf and rebate for door. The three W. bays are
mostly original externally with ashlar and knapped flint facing;
in each is a window opening with chamfered segmental rear-arch and splayed jambs, but a doorway to the 18th-century
porch replaces the window in the E. bay; between the other
two windows, outside, is the tusking of a former wall or buttress. The W. wall largely preserves the original wall surface of
ashlar and knapped flints (Plate 70). At the N. end is a blocked
doorway with chamfered pointed segmental head on the E.
and segmental rear-arch on the W.; externally and slightly
off-centre is the tusking of a former wall, and at the S. end is a
small blocked opening, possibly a locker.
Fig. 89 Swaffham Bulbeck (2)
Earthworks near Priory
The 18th-century alterations consist of an upper storey in
yellow brick with red brick dressings, red brick platband, deep
eaves cornice in zig-zag brickwork which continues round the
clasping buttresses, across the parapeted E. and W. gable
ends and the pedimented projecting centre-piece on the S.
This centre-piece was an 18th-century addition repeating the
treatment and materials of the main block. In the centre is a
round-headed doorway with rusticated quoins of clunch,
flanking blind circular windows and above, three windows,
the centre blind; a round window is in the pediment. On the
N. wall are two tall chimney stacks which emerge at eaves
level. Inside, the upper rooms have chamfered ceiling beams
and the stairs have some reused symmetrically-turned balusters
of the 17th century.
Wall of clunch, about 12 ft. high, stands 58 ft. E. of the E.
wall of the medieval remains to which it is not parallel. It
has the jamb of a large doorway at its S. end and first-floor
joist-holes on the W., and is probably a fragment of a postmedieval barn. Scratchings in the clunch, perhaps 18th-century, include three of rudimentary ships (H. H. Brindley,
C.A.S. Procs. XXXI (1931), 76, Pl. 1).
The extant building is surrounded by a series of low Earthworks (Fig. 89) which have been disturbed on the W. and S.
by large clunch pits. These earthworks do not appear to be
connected with the present house, except on the N. and N.E.
where low scarps and banks appear to be on a similar alignment. More extensive and well-defined earthworks to the
N.W., S. and E. of the house form a coherent group, generally
rectangular in plan and on a different alignment from the
foregoing. They consist of banks and scarps up to 4 ft. high
sometimes forming rectangular building platforms. These remains are probably not associated with the priory but may
represent post-medieval farm buildings which were in turn
replaced by another farm further S.E., in the area of the clunch
pits, where a farm is recorded in c. 1768 (Chapman's Map of
Newmarket Heath; Enclosure Map, 1800); it had already been
demolished by 1834 (1st ed. O.S. 1-inch map).
Oolitic limestone rubble, clunch, mortar and small amounts
of medieval pottery have been found in the area.
Fig. 90 Swaffham Bulbeck (3), Lordship House
d(3) Lordship House (Fig. 90), now of two storeys
and attics, has walls of clunch, a rebuilt wall in brick,
and gabled pantiled roof. The building dates from the
early 13th century; floors, gable-end chimneys and
central staircase were inserted in the early 17th century,
so converting it to a Class-T house, and a small room
was added on the W. which in turn has been rebuilt.
The brick N. wall is 18th-century. The building almost
certainly originated as a single-cell chapel but its
history is obscure owing to lack of documentation;
reference to a dedication or to the continued existence
of a chapel in late medieval times has not been found.
The building has an E. wall with the sills and lower lengths
of the chamfered jambs of three widely-spaced lancet windows,
now blocked. The jambs of the two outer windows continue
upwards to form the sides of two small upper windows which
have chamfered jambs, wide internal splays, 17th-century
heads and chamfered mullions in clunch. The upper part of
the centre window is not traceable. The 18th-century brick of
the N. wall returns on the E. In the S. wall the jambs and head
of a lancet window, partly obscured by a later buttress was
noted in c. 1960 but is now invisible; the central first-floor
window of three lights with chamfered clunch mullions is
17th-century. At the N. end of the W. wall is a tall lancet,
narrower than, and not in line with, that in the E. wall; the
internal splays have carefully-cut clunch ashlar quoins. The
lower part is blocked. The N. jamb and part of the head of a
corresponding window on the S. and another opening in the
centre of the gable are recorded but are no longer visible.
The 17th-century alterations were carried out in carpentry of
high quality. The comparatively wide stair rises in short parallel
flights around a studwork spine-wall and terminates in the
attics with a solid studwork balustrade having concave-shaped
finials to the corner posts. The attics were originally without
partitions. The ground-floor rooms have chamfered axial
ceiling beams with ogee or hollow stops. The W. chimney
stack, rectangular above the roof, has two back-to-back fireplaces, that on the W. indicating a pre-existing room at that
end. On the first floor the upper fireplace on the E. has a
plastered chamfered brick arched opening, with incised linedecoration, and a plastered shelf, and is served by a stack with
grouped diagonal shafts above a square base.
Earthworks. To the N. and E. of the house is a group of
earthworks forming part of similar remains E. of Lordship
Farm (17) and marking the sites of buildings associated with
Lordship House. They consist of low banks and scarps covering
about 2 acres and include at least six distinct building platforms,
two of which still had structures on them in 1800 (Enclosure
d(4) Burgh Hall (Fig. 91; Plate 76), Class C, timber-framed with hipped roof and gablets, now tiled, was
built c. 1500 probably by the Ingoldsthorpe family. It
replaces a former house of the de Burgh manor which
had become ruinous by 1457–8 (P.R.O., Chancery,
Inquisitions Post Mortem (C. 139/166)). It is characteristically of 'Wealden' type. An upper floor was inserted
in the hall and a chimney stack added perhaps late in
the 16th century although the present external square
shafts have a 17th-century appearance; the house was
thus converted to one having a Class-G plan. A rear
wing on the W., apparently 17th-century, containing
kitchen and scullery, was demolished in 1967 and a new
range built on its site.
Fig. 91 Swaffham Bulbeck (4), Burgh Hall
The central hall had a parlour on the S. and service end on
the N., the two ends being jettied on the main E. elevation;
the N. end is the wider. The S. end has sash windows approximately in the position of original openings; two brackets
rising from narrow pilasters with carved capitals support the
ends of the jetty. The centre block of two structural bays with
middle rail has, or had, curved brackets from alternate studs
to the 'flying' bressummer; the cove so formed was perhaps
always open but a former fillet at the base might indicate
plastering. An oriel and a seven-light horizontal window are
inferred by constructional features below the middle rail. A
16th-century window with roll-moulded mullions within the
cove-space was presumably introduced when the hall was
floored. In the wide N. wing is an original doorway with
spandrel-board, and formerly a window on each floor. The
jetty was carried on five brackets springing from narrow pilasters and capitals, four of which survive. The unjettied W.
elevation is plastered and although early windows are reported,
only an upper one of three lights with diamond mullions at the
parlour end and an upper and lower one of four lights at the
service end, are now traceable. The N. elevation, also plastered,
has a similar ground-floor window of two lights. The S.
elevation, in two structural bays with down-bracing, has
evidence for an original three-light window on each floor, and
for 16th-century windows with roll-moulded mullions
adjacent to the earlier ones.
Fig. 92 Swaffham Bulbeck (4), Burgh Hall
a Purlin b Collar beam c Rafter
d Tie beam e Wall plate f 'Flying' bressummer
g Wall post h Curved bracket under eaves
The roof of three and a half bays exclusive of the hip-bays
is of tie and collar beam construction with purlins clasped above
the collar. Over the hall the purlins are ingeniously scarfed to
avoid obtrusive jointing (Fig. 92, for this and other jointing
techniques). Arch braces from tie beam to post have been
removed but in the hall a carved capital and pilaster cut from
the post remain (Plate 79). Windbraces are S-shaped except
for those over the parlour and service ends. The central
tie beam over the hall continues E. beyond the wall plate to be
carried externally on a 'flying' bressummer above curved
braces. The timbers are free from smoke-blackening but
numbering of the members, extensive throughout the roof,
shows that the rafters have been rearranged which may
account for the absence of evidence for a louvre. There is no
indication that the parlour was originally heated.
Inside, the hall has an inserted floor with axial beam whose
N. end continued across the former screens passage; its S.
end is built into a chimney stack which is constructed entirely
within the hall. The end walls of the hall are close-studded and
reach to the ridge. The N. end of an axial beam in the buttery
part of the service end is taken on a carved bracket; the buttery
was probably undivided. In the parlour end a trimmer to the
joists indicates the original stair; no such feature exists at the
service end. Generally, original windows had deep sills pegged
to studs, diamond mullions and internal grooves for shutters.
Fig. 93 Swaffham Bulbeck (4), Section of Barn
Besides the alterations to the hall in the 16th century, the
house was refenestrated with sash windows in the late 18th
century and given ironwork verandahs in the 19th century.
Barns, framed and weather-boarded, aisled, with thatched
hipped roofs: (1), E. of house, in three bays, perhaps after
1800; (2), S. of (1), in five bays, with braced aisle-tie, braced
tie beam, queen posts and short wind-braces to clasped purlins,
one arch brace inscribed 'R. Harvey 1774', probably early
16th-century (Fig. 93); (3), in three bays with softwood and
reused timbers, after 1800.
Moated Site. The house stands on a moated site (Class
A2(a)) which consists of two rectangular conjoined enclosures
formerly surrounded on all sides by a wet ditch. The main E.
enclosure covers ½ acre, and was bounded by a ditch 40–50 ft.
wide and up to 9 ft. deep. Only the W. side remains, the other
sides being almost destroyed by later filling. The interior is flat
and occupied by the house. Attached to this enclosure on the
N. are the remains of another enclosure of ¾ acre. The N. side,
now partly filled, is 10 ft. wide and 3 ft. deep; the S. side is
marked by a slight depression 30 ft. wide and 1 ft. deep and the
W. side by a stream 35 ft. wide. The interior is flat. (V.C.H.
Cambs. II, 41, where the second enclosure is not recorded.)
d(5) House, Class J, of one storey and attics, framed,
plastered and thatched, with brick chimney stack with bases
of diagonally-set flues, is probably a late 18th-century reconstruction round a 17th-century stack. The centre room has
a reused roll-moulded 16th-century axial beam. (Roof destroyed
by fire 1969)
d(6) House, former Crown Inn, originally Class J, of two
storeys, walls of brick, clunch and timber-framing, with gabled
roof, was built in the late 17th century. In the 18th century a
room was added on the W. and subsequently much of the
house was cased or rebuilt in clunch and brick. In c. 1840 a twostorey addition with cellar was built on the N., in white brick,
to provide a public room.
d(7) Linton House (Fig. 94; Plate 77), of two storeys partly
with cellars, exposed timber-framing on brick plinth, gabled
and thatched roof, is probably early 16th-century. The Tudoresque windows are 19th-century. A structural change in the
unusually long plan indicates a constructional halt before the
S. third of the house was added although the sole plate is continuous under both sections and the arrangement of the
ground-floor rooms do not reflect the break. The S. room of
the earlier building was incorporated in the later extension.
The disposition of the rooms suggests that the building
had a special function such as a 'town house' or inn the
northern part of which was set aside for lodgings. Probably
in the 17th century a central chimney stack was added, and
later, one at the S. end.
Fig. 94 Swaffham Bulbeck (7), Linton House
The W. elevation facing the street is in six bays with posts
and middle rails; between the fourth and fifth bays two posts
are juxtaposed. There is no evidence for original doorways
but an upper blocked window with diamond mullions, and
sills of other early windows, survive. The gable ends are
obscured by plaster. The E. elevation broadly repeats the
structural features of the W. Brick-work of the two inserted
stacks appears below the middle rail. A first-floor window of
four lights with diamond mullions now unnecessarily lights
the small space left between the wall and the central stack. Inside, evidence for original doorways exists in the N. gable
wall and in the partition between the first and second bays. The
N. cross beam is an addition but the bay was always two-storeyed. The third bay is filled by an inserted double-sided
chimney and a 17th-century newel stair. The fourth, fifth
and sixth bays are occupied by one room with intersecting
chamfered ceiling beams; the asymmetrical cross beam is
integral with the northern of the twin wall posts and is stop-chamfered to receive the N. axial beam only. A non-structural
partition, now removed, in the fifth bay may have been contemporary with the S. gable chimney stack. The roof is in
two parts and separated by the plastered gable of the N. section, which has arch-braced tie beams, collars and crown posts
braced to collar purlins; it is of crude construction, not smoke-blackened, and is mutilated by the intruded stack. That to the
S. has purlins and wind-braces fixed with nails.
Fig. 95 Swaffham Bulbeck (8), Plan of
d(8) House (Fig. 95; Plate 77), Class D, timber-framed,
partly brick-cased, with gabled roofs covered with tiles or
stone slates, is 15th-century. Early in the 16th century an upper
floor and chimney stack were added to the open hall converting
it to a Class-F house; possibly at the same time the parlour
wing was rebuilt. The hall range was widened on the N. in the
19th century. There is evidence of a screens passage and butteries at the E. end.
The ridge of the hall range is lower than that of the cross
wing which alone preserves original external features. The
W. elevation of the wing has a first-floor jetty carried on
curved brackets at each end and originally on two intermediate
brackets; at the S. end a reset blocked doorway with a four-centred head possibly came from the butteries. Other openings
have early 19th-century or later fittings. Inside, two stub ends
of a double-ogee moulded and stopped tie beam of the two-bay
open hall survive above the inserted floor. Studwork is smoke-blackened. The early 16th-century stack was built against the
former screens so preserving the passage on the E.; the inserted
ceiling (Plate 79) has a roll-and-hollow moulded axial
beam and roll-moulded joists. The E. wall of the hall reaches
to the roof and has two ground-floor doorways, the N. of
which is 15th-century and has a four-centred head with
spandrels carved or recut in recent times, one with a shield,
the other with a crowned head against foliage background;
the former is incised with dots, quarterly a saltire in the first
and fourth quarters. The W. range has an inserted chimney
stack which interrupts the axial beam and joists; a trimmer to
the joists in the N.E. corner may indicate an early 16th-century
stair rising roughly on the site of the present one, to serve the
first-floor room above the former open hall. The main room
on the S. which has an encased axial beam now has an 18th-century character with moulded cornice and fielded-panelled
doors. On the first floor the two-bay cross wing with chamfered tie beam and enlarged-headed posts was originally
d(9) House, Class G, of two storeys and later cellar, timber-framed largely cased in modern brick, tiled and gabled roof, is
probably 17th-century. Inside, the cross beams are chamfered.
The roof has tie beams, one of which is supported by small
curved braces from the posts. (Access refused on subsequent
d(10) Vicarage (Fig. 96; Plate 94), of two storeys, white
brick with slated hipped roofs was built for the Rev. G. L.
Jenyns in 1818, or immediately before; Charles Humfrey of
Cambridge was designer and builder (C.U.L., Ely Faculty Reg.
Book 1791–1829, 79–84). The asymmetrical entrance front on
the E. contrasts with the ordered elevation on the S. The front
door has a trellis-work porch. The three-bay S. elevation has
window openings with flat brick arches, the flanking sash
windows on each floor having additional side sashes. Inside,
the three principal rooms on the S. include a study; the subsequent lengthening of the passage has reduced the size of the
W. room, and openings in the W. wall have been consequently
altered. A single-storey addition to the kitchen is marginally
later. Fireplaces have moulded wooden surrounds and angleroundels.
In 1828, during the curacy of the Rev. Leonard Jenyns
(Blomefield), £450 was borrowed from the Commissioners
for Queen Anne's Bounty in order to repair and enlarge the
house to a design by Henry Legge. This may refer to alterations
on the N. side of the house.
The Stables, N. of house, are contemporary with it and
include a central stable for two horses, coach house and
laundry, built mostly in clunch. A ha-ha to the S. of the
house preserves a prospect from the main rooms over land
awarded to the vicar at the Enclosure.
d(11) House (Fig. 97), of two storeys and one storey with
attics, framed and plastered, with pantiled and gabled roofs,
originated as a late medieval building, the hall and service end
of which remain; it now approximates in plan to Class D. In
c. 1600 an upper floor was inserted in the open hall and a
chimney stack built in the N. bay; also in c. 1600 the S. cross
wing was built and later, in the 17th century, a kitchen wing
with brick gable wall was added on the E. of the service end.
The exterior shows no original features, but the gable wall
of the N. wing of c. 1600 has brick kneelers and incorporates
a chimney stack with two diagonal shafts. Inside, the hall
range has a roof with cambered tie beam and evidence for wide
arch braces, and an inserted floor with stop-chamfered beams.
The S. cross wing has a clunch fireplace with moulded four-centred head; the room W. of the central chimney stack has
stop-chamfered beams and joists, and the room E. of it has
ovolo-moulded intersecting beams and moulded joists.
Above, one blocked window has diamond mullions, and
another ovolo-moulded mullions. The roof of the cross wing
has collars clasping purlins and short wind-braces.
d(12) School and former school with School house; the
school, of clunch with brick plinth and quoins, slated gabled
roof, has inscribed panel in E. gable 'Swaffham Bulbeck
National School erected 1840', and consists of a single room
with segmental-headed side windows. The former school,
now a village hall but originally of one storey and attics, was
built in 1728 (Cole, B.M. Add. MS. 5828, 104) from bequests
by Mrs. Frances Towers (d. 1711) and Rev. Richard Hill
(d. 1721) and may have incorporated both school room and
school house, the latter partly in the attics. The walls are of
clunch with brick quoins, dressings, platband and zig-zag
eaves course, and a gabled roof has brick parapets and kneelers.
The central door and flanking windows have segmental heads
below the platband. Inside, offsets in the wall indicate the
former upper floor level. Between the building of 1728 and
that of 1840 is a single-storey extension of the 18th century,
perhaps an additional service room for the school house.
d(13) House, of two storeys and cellar, timber-framed with
clay lump infill, slated gabled roof, was built c. 1830 to a
Class-T plan with an additional end-room for a shop. A continuous outshut on the E. is later, and the brick casing of the
W. front and the forward extension of the shop-frontage are
modern. Inside, fireplaces have reeded surrounds with angleroundels.
d(14) Mitchell Hall (Plate 109), Class J, of two storeys with
attics and cellars, timber-framed partly faced in brick, with
tiled roofs, was probably built in the first half of the 17th
century. A N. wing was added in the 18th century and extended in the 19th. The brick facing of the S. and W. walls is
Fig. 96 Swaffham Bulbeck (10), The Vicarage
Fig. 97 Swaffham Bulbeck (11), First-floor Plan of House
The 17th-century house has its S. and W. sides cased in
brick of c. 1830 and the main S. elevation has fenestration of
that date and later. The other elevations are framed and
plastered but are largely masked by modern additions. The
chimney stack with grouped rectangular flues has a string-course well above the ridge possibly indicating a former
covering of thatch. Inside, the stack has been breached to
take a stair and cross passage. The centre room has intersecting
ceiling beams and, with the E. room, is higher than the W.
room. Upstairs, much framing is visible including corner and
To N.E. of house, Barn (Plate 114), of clunch with brick
dressings and slated half-hipped roof in seven bays, has
plaque on S. front with date 1845. There are wagon entrances
in the second and sixth bays. The exterior has blind-arcading,
and inside, the two-storey W. bay has a grist-mill on the
ground floor. To S. of barn, contemporary with it and of
same materials, are Cattle Sheds, including milking shed with
original wooden head stalls.
d(15) Bolebec Cottage, of two storeys, framed, with tiled
gabled roof, is probably the S. cross wing of a former house
standing on the N. The date 1587 on an overmantel may be
that for the fabric. The W. gable end to the street (Plate 77)
has a jetty at first-floor level, supported by curved brackets at
each end; a rectangular bay window below the jetty is apparently original. Inside, rooms flanking a central stack each
have a cross beam resting on shaped brackets (Plate 79) worked
in the solid of the posts which have enlarged heads to carry tie
beams with arch braces. The shapes of the brackets and
the enlarged heads vary between posts. Posts and beams are
stop-chamfered. The W. ground-floor room has an original
door opening on the N., now leading into the adjacent range,
and bay window with ovolo mullions at the angles. The
E. room has a fireplace with clunch overmantel divided by
fluted and reeded pilasters into three bays enriched respectively
by fleurs-de-lis between initials 'WC', 'Ano dome 1587' and a
rose between initials 'SC' (Plate 87). An upper fireplace has a
chamfered fireplace bressummer, and above, three sunk
plaster panels. The roof has principal rafters, collars and purlins.
Dwellings on the N., of one storey and attics, framed, with
tiled gabled roof, have been much altered but have an 18th-century Class-J origin.
d(16) Downing College Farm, originally Class J, framed
and plastered, was built in the 17th century. In the 19th century
an extension, partly in clunch, was added at one end and along
the rear; at the same time the house was refaced in white brick
and given a slate-covered mansard roof.
Barn, S. of house, of seven bays and now aisled on one side
only, is perhaps 16th-century. It has braced tie beam, queen
posts and clasped purlins.
Moated Site. The farm is enclosed by the fragmentary remains of a moated site (Class A2(a)). Alteration of the ditch
has been considerable. O.S. maps and the Enclosure Map
(1800) indicate that originally there were two rectangular
conjoined enclosures of 1 and 2 acres bounded on all sides
by a wet ditch up to 30 ft. wide. Only fragments of the
ditch round the main S.W. enclosure, in which the present
house stands, remain on the S.W., N.W. and N.E. sides; part
of the ditch on the N.W. side of the smaller N.E. enclosure
d(17) Lordship Farm, of two storeys, yellow brick with red
brick dressings, tiled gabled and mansard roofs, has a 17th- or
18th-century nucleus consisting of an internal chimney within
a Class-J house. Later in the 18th century an extension was
added on the S.W. and later again, the main house was
widened on the N.W. and the whole encased in brick with a
platband and a zig-zag eaves cornice. The interior is without
old features except for two encased cross beams in the S.W.
Moated Site. The house is enclosed by the fragmentary remains of a moated site (Class A2(a)). Much of the ditch has
been destroyed but O.S. maps and the Enclosure Map (1800)
show that originally there were two rectangular conjoined
enclosures of 1 and 1½ acres bounded on all sides by a wet ditch
up to 30 ft. wide. The S.W. side and part of the S.E. side of the
S. enclosure remain as a dry ditch, 25–30 ft. wide and 5–7 ft.
deep. The present house stands near the S.W. side of the
smaller N. enclosure of which nothing now survives. Immediately S.E. of the house and E. of the moated site are a series
of low banks and scarps covering about 1 acre, consisting of at
least four well-marked building platforms arranged around the
sides of a rectangular area, bounded by a low bank. These
appear to be the site of former farm buildings, two of which
were in existence in 1800 (Enclosure Map). Immediately to the
S.W. and S.E. are associated earthworks (see (3)).
Fig. 98 Swaffham Bulbeck (18), Stables at
Upper Hare Park
a(18) Stables (Fig. 98) at Upper Hare Park (TL 58285942),
of one storey and hay loft, pink brick with half-hipped tiled
roof, were built in the late 18th century possibly by George
Tuting, a training groom who leased the estate from the Earl
of Aylesford. It consists of a harness-room, three stalls and two
Fig. 99 Swaffham Bulbeck (19), Section of Barn
d(19) Four Mile Stable Farm (TL 58446002; Fig. 99), includes a dwelling and two early 19th-century barns, one
clunch-built with half-hipped slated roof, the other, aisled, in
five bays and constructed in softwood framing. The contemporary dwelling, Class S, of one storey and attics, has variegated
brickwork and a pantiled roof.
d(20) New England Farm (TL 58476115), includes a Class-I
house in white brick, presumably contemporary with a
clunch-built barn inscribed 'Erected 1833'. The Barn of six
bays with wagon entrances in the second and fifth has slated
half-hipped roof and external pilasters.
d(21) Chalk Farm (TL 56806049), consisting of a farmyard
and Class-U house of two storeys and cellar, white brick, slated
hipped roof, was built after 1801 and before 1812. Interior
fittings include reeded plaster cornices and staircase with iron
newel shaft and spiral mahogany handrail.
c(22) House (TL 54766417; Fig. 100), Class U, of two storeys,
white brick with pantiled and gabled roof, was built c. 1840
as an inn. The two internal chimney stacks are set back from
the ridge so providing larger rooms at the front. Upstairs, the
four front bedrooms share two casement windows.
d(23) House (TL 55626486), Class T, of two storeys, built in
white brick, is early 19th-century. A two-bay barn to the N.,
of clunch with brick dressings, is inscribed 'Erected 1839'.
d(24) House (TL 56016245), Class U, of two storeys and
cellar, white brick front and clunch side walls, with round-headed recessed doorway with fanlight, was built c. 1830.
b(25) House (TL 52256724; Fig. 101), of two storeys, framed
and weather-boarded, with slated hipped roof, was built
c. 1810 as a lock-keeper's dwelling and is now derelict. Its
non-traditional plan consists of large rooms on the front, with a
central stack, and lesser rooms at the rear flanking a stair. The
roof whose ridge is central over the front rooms extends over
the rear rooms in the manner of a salt box house of New
d(26), d(27) Houses, Class I, two storeys, or one storey and
attics, framed and plastered, 18th-century.
d(28), d(29), d(30) Houses, Class J, one storey and attics,
framed and plastered, or clunch, 17th- or 18th-century (Plate
110). (28) is at TL 55468180.
d(31), d(32), d(33) Houses, Class S, two storeys, clunch and
white brick, first half of the 19th century. (35) is at TL 55176390.
Fig. 100 Swaffham Bulbeck (22), Plans of House
d(34) Houses (TL 55476189), pair of Class-S dwellings now
unified, one storey and attics, framed and plastered, with
pantiled gabled roof, probably built by Thomas Bowyer
d(35), d(36), d(37) Houses, Class T, two storeys, white brick,
first half of the 19th century. (37) is at TL 55306359.
b(38) Lock (TL 52246720), 90 ft. long and 17 ft. wide, of
white brick and sandstone dressings is mid 19th-century. It
has two pairs of lock gates for navigation and two pairs of
self-acting flood gates. Between the pairs of gates is a brick
bridge contemporary with the lock.
Commercial End (Plate 4), the settlement situated
to the N. of the church and the old centre of the parish,
stretches for about 400 yards on either side of a straight
street from the site of the Priory (2) in the N. to a bend
in the road near Lordship Farm (17) in the S. The
earliest surviving buildings (39, 57, 59) date from the
late 17th century, by which time the trading activities
which eventually gave the locality its present name
were certainly in operation (Camb. Chron. 28 May
1824, 2); until the 19th century it was known as Newnham or Newnham Street (C.R.O., L93/163, sale in
1647). At the end of the 18th century the trade prospered
considerably and between 1801 and 1851 the population
of the parish as a whole increased from 540 to 888 and
the number of houses from 83 to 192 (Census Enumerator's Book). The activity, reflected in the survival of
many early 19th-century buildings which give the street
its present character, was largely due to the enterprise
of the merchant Thomas Bowyer. From 1805 he was
responsible for the building of warehouses, terraced
houses for labourers and a detached house for his agent;
particulars of sale which followed his death in 1824
show the variety of merchandise which was handled and
the extent of warehousing that was consequently necessary. Corn, flour and malt were the main exports and
coal, deal, wine and salt were among the commodities
imported. A large wharf was adjacent to the Merchant's House (39) and, like it, was probably constructed
in the late 17th century; the house, to which was added
a counting-house in the 18th century, eventually became
Bowyer's own and the centre for his business. The con-centration of activity at Commercial End may have become necessary when Swaffham Lode was rendered
unnavigable beyond Swaffham Mill where the Tail
Water is sufficiently wide to permit the mooring and
turning of boats. A straight ditch (79) running eastward
from the Lode may indicate an early cut to a wharf on
the W. side of the street. The waterway called 'Fish
Pond' provided access to the wharf by the Merchant's
House before the straighter and more direct 'New Cut' or
private canal was dug shortly after 1821. In the latter
part of the 19th century a decline in the river trade was
temporarily arrested by the shipping of coprolites.
Fig. 101 Swaffham Bulbeck (25), Plan and
isometric projection of House
d(39) Merchant's House (Fig. 102; Plate 83), of two storeys,
cellar and attics, red and buff brick and clunch, with tiled
gabled roof, stands at the E. end of a Cut and Wharf and is
associated with Buildings connected with the shipping of
merchandise by inland waterways. The main range of the
house dates from the late 17th century but elements in the plan
and wall structure suggest some survival of an earlier building.
A two-storey counting-house was added on the N. before
c. 1768 (Chapman's Map), partly on the site of a former outshut; in the early 19th century an extension, probably the
second counting-house listed in the sale catalogue of 1858
(C.R.O., R5/7/90), was built adjoining this addition. The house
was apparently always linked with the river trade and, before
the construction of the main counting-house, the E. room may
have acted as an office with access to the outshut on the N. by
a doorway, now blocked. The property was acquired in 1805
by Thomas Bowyer from the firm of Barker who may have
built the counting-house in the 18th century. Bowyer's diverse
business interests were reflected in the buildings and warehouses
in the vicinity of the house. Henry Giblin continued the trade
after Bowyer's death in 1824 and various storehouses were
built or rebuilt by him soon afterwards.
The main front of the house, on the S., is of brick with
openings arbitrarily arranged and a brick platband between
the storeys. The wall is interrupted by a number of straight
joints and blocked openings which cannot be interpreted. The
early 19th-century sash windows with slightly cambered heads
are uniform except for three larger ones on the first floor at
the E. end. An early 19th-century doorway has wooden
pilasters, entablature and door with chinoiserie glazing bars.
The brick E. wall has an ogee dutch gable parapet and is
punctuated by platbands and pairs of small blind segmental-headed recesses; in the gable are three wall-anchors with the
initials WPA, the first now inverted. A date in the apex is spurious
and modern. The N. wall, partly masked by later buildings,
has a clunch ground stage, against which was probably an
outshut extending over the cellar, and a brick upper stage
ornamented with diaper patterning; blocked openings exist
on both floors. The plain W. gable is similar to the E. but is
predominantly in clunch. A roof line of a former gabled
extension, probably an original service wing, remains. The
counting-house is built in yellow brick with red quoins and
has a steeply pitched roof with gable parapets. Sash windows
on two floors have cambered heads.
Inside, the character is mostly of the late 18th century. The
E. ground-floor room has dado-height panelling, moulded
cornice and wooden fireplace surround with enriched
pilasters and shelf, 18th-century. The dining room has an early
19th-century fireplace surround with angle-roundels. A chamfered cross beam at the W. end is morticed for a former
partition containing two doorways. Upstairs, the E. room
extends to the W. beyond the ground-floor cross wall and the
first-floor rooms generally contain joinery of the early 19th
century. The counting-house occupies the ground floor of the
N. extension, and contains two large safes with iron doors,
one with 18th-century brass drop-handles; the fireplace has
moulded stone surround. The present kitchen has windows and
door under a common lintel indicating its use for offices; the
S. half of the kitchen is built over cellars and reflects the width
of the former outshut.
Fig. 102 Swaffham Bulbeck (39), Merchant's House
The brick garden wall has piers at intervals, and curves on
the S.W. to enclose a yard.
Buildings, and fragments of buildings, lie to the N. and W.
of the house with which they are associated. Some which
survive are shown on the Enclosure Map of 1800 but the
majority can be ascribed to Thomas Bowyer (d. 1824). They
(a) Granary, 95 ft. by 18 ft., of two storeys, red and white
brick, pantiled gabled roof, built by Bowyer to hold 3000
quarters of grain; the ground floor was a timber store. The E.
gable contains date panel inscribed '1815', and three wallanchors, two forming initials T and B. Original openings
have been obscured since the building became a dwelling.
(b) Storehouse, 37 ft. by 24 ft., of one storey, white brick,
slated hipped roof, used for storing salt. The original entrance
has been enlarged and another opening added but some
windows at a high level retain wooden lattices; built soon
after the property's sale in 1824.
(c) Granary, 94 ft. by 26 ft., of two storeys and cellar, white
brick, slated hipped roof, built in the second quarter of the
19th century. The cellar contains bins for wine and spirits as
specified in the sale catalogue of 1858.
(d) Shed for deal, 140 ft. by 17 ft., with red brick and clunch
walls, open on the N.; early 19th-century.
(e) Stables for 32 horses, with red brick and clunch walls,
(f) Lower Coal Yard, boundary wall of clunch, perhaps
(g) Brew house, of which only footings remain.
(h) Lath house, of which end wall in red brick survives.
(i) House, red brick wall with blocked openings, 18th-century.
(j) Stables, for 30 horses, the brick and clunch S. wall of
which survives, early 19th-century.
Cut and wharf; a cut 100 yds. long, running N.W.-S.E.
joins a wharf, 90 yds. long, with white brick and freestone
retaining wall on the N. side, terminates as a turning basin,
35 ft. wide and 6–8 ft. deep, partly filled in. At its N.W. end
the cut joins two others: one, the 'Fish Pond', 20 ft. wide and
8 ft. deep, runs S.W.–N.E. for 220 yds. to meet Swaffham
Bulbeck Lode; the other, the 'New Cut' or private canal,
270 yds. long and 30 ft. wide, runs into the Lode further down
stream. The New Cut was constructed soon after 1821 to
replace the previous tortuous route by way of the 'Fish Pond',
and the retaining walls of the wharf date from the same
d(40) Range, four dwellings, of two storeys, white brick
with tiled and pantiled roof, dates from the first quarter of the
19th century and is that referred to in 1824 as newly built for
employees of Thomas Bowyer (sale catalogue, 1824, see (39)).
The foundations and the N. wall are largely of reused narrow
bricks. The openings have cambered heads and sliding sashes.
d(41) House, Class T, former public house, of two storeys
with outshut, brick and slated gabled roof; first quarter of the
d(42) House and Maltings; the House, of two storeys with
attics, with parallel gabled and tiled roofs, is of the 18th and
19th centuries. The earlier range, shown on Chapman's Map
of c. 1768, is built of clunch with pink brick dressings and forms
a terminal cross wing to the maltings standing to its E. In
c. 1820 a Class-T house was added on the S. and W. largely
masking the earlier building; an outshut on the E. and a low
building on the S., once a bakery, have been much rebuilt.
The later house has a symmetrical front of three bays with
cambered-headed openings and renewed sashes. The dormers
have hipped roofs (Plate 106).
The Maltings, of two storeys, of clunch with brick plinth
and dressings, and tiled roofs, extending round the E. and S.
sides of a yard, were built in the 18th century and probably
superceded a malthouse referred to in a sale in 1647 (C.R.O.,
L 93/163). They were re-roofed in the early 19th century.
Chapman's Map (c. 1768) shows that a further range existed on
the N. and another closed the yard on the W. In the N.E.
angle of the yard a square clunch-built kiln with a conical
tiled-roof has been altered for domestic occupation together
with part of the adjacent maltings. On the N. gable of the E.
range are two wall-anchors with the initials 'TB' for Thomas
Bowyer (d. 1824).
d(43) House, originally of one storey, Class J, now of two
storeys, brick with pantiled roof; early 18th-century. A rear
wing with cellar is 19th-century. Inside, the centre room has
facet-shaped stops to the chamfers (Plate 106).
d(44) House, of two storeys, white brick with parallel
gabled roofs, the front tiled, the other pantiled, was built
between 1814 and 1824 by Thomas Bowyer for the miller at
his commercial establishment (sale catalogues). The house
was originally Class T of two storeys with an outshut which
was widened and heightened to two storeys in c. 1830, probably following its sale in 1825 (Camb. Chron. 25 Sept. 1825, 3).
The symmetrical W. front of three bays has sash windows and
brick dentil eaves course. In the S. gable are two wall-anchors
with the initials 'TB' for Thomas Bowyer. Inside, one fireplace
has a wooden reeded surround. At the rear of the house is a
brewhouse of c. 1820 with clunch walls, brick gable wall on
the E. and pantiled roof (Plate 106).
Fig. 103 Swaffham Bulbeck (52), Pair of dwellings
d(45), d(46), d(47), d(48), d(49), d(50), d(51), d(52),d(53) Ranges,
of one storey and attics, framed and plastered, many incised
to simulate ashlar, with pantiled gabled roofs, were built in
the first quarter of the 19th century probably by Thomas
Bowyer(d. 1824). Their uniformity in planning and appearance
is striking; a pair of dwellings (52) is typical (Fig. 103). The
ranges consist of groups of Class-S dwellings; (50) originally
comprised two pairs of dwellings, now joined and curtailed.
(47) consists of three dwellings with one shared and one single
stack; the rest are pairs of dwellings with shared stacks. The
construction is in timber of light scantling. Pairs of closelyspaced flush dormers with single-pitch roofs are characteristic
features. The surviving original windows have sliding sashes.
Inside, the single room usually has an axial beam and a light
partition to enclose a stair and a pantry lit by a small window
on the front (Plate 107).
d(54), d(55) Ranges, of two storeys, framed and plastered,
with pantiled gabled roofs were built in the first quarter of the
19th century probably by Thomas Bowyer (d. 1824). They
consist of two contiguous pairs of Class-S dwellings.
d(56) House, Class T, perhaps originally two Class-S
dwellings, of two storeys, framed and plastered, with slated
gabled roof, fenestrated with large sash windows and having
off-centre door, early 19th-century.
d(57) House, Class J, of one storey and attics, framed and
plastered, partly brick-faced, thatched gabled roof; 17th-century. The chimney stack has two diagonal shafts. The
dormers are gabled. Inside, the axial beams are chamfered.
d(58) Royal Oak, of two storeys, white brick with slated
hipped roof, originally Class T, was built in the early 19th
century. Inside, the partitions have been removed. In c. 1820,
a two-storey clunch-built range was added on the E. to form
an L-shaped plan. There are two internal twin chimney
stacks on the N. and a staircase at the W. end which serves an
assembly room on the first floor. The upper fireplaces have
surrounds with angle-roundels.
d(59) House, Class J, of one storey and attics, framed and
plastered, with thatched half-hipped roof, was built in the late
17th or early 18th century re-using many medieval timbers.
The yellow brick chimney stack is of two periods, the two
flues not being in line. Inside, at the side of the back-to-back
fireplaces, are two later ovens filling the former lobby. Each
room has an axial beam, that in the centre being chamfered
and heavier than the others. At each corner of the house and
marking the chimney-bay and cross wall are enlarged headed
posts of medieval origin but probably curtailed on re-use. The
ends of the joists are carried on bearers morticed into the sides
of the posts. On the N. side of the chimney the posts carry a
reused medieval truss with cambered and chamfered tie beam
and arched braces, one of which is mutilated at upper-floor
level. The S. closed truss has posts supporting a collar at half
hip height, tie beam interrupted by the posts, middle rail and
secondary studwork; a further tie beam against the face of the
truss is supported on the corner posts.
d(60) House, of two storeys, white brick with slated hipped
roof, is of the early 19th century. The W. front is in four uneven bays with a round headed doorway in the second and a
later shop addition masking the third and fourth ground-floor
bays. The asymmetrical arrangement may indicate an original
shop at the S. end, possibly the fruiterer's establishment
recorded in the Census Enumerator's Book of 1841.
d(61) House, Class U, of two storeys, brick with slated
hipped roof; first half of the 19th century.
d(62), d(63) Warehouses, of two storeys, clunch and clay
bat with brick dressings, pantiled gabled roofs, date from the
early 19th century. (63) has been converted for occupation.
They are placed at right angles to the street and were probably
ancillary to the adjacent houses.
Prehistoric and Roman
d(64) Ring Ditch (TL 56686005), 270 yds. N. of Spring Hall
on chalk, on a slight W.-facing slope at about 60 ft. above O.D.
Diam. 80 ft., ploughed out. (C.U.A.P.)
(65–75) Hare Park Barrow Group (Fig. 22) (see Bottisham (47–55)). Of the 24 barrows in this group, 15 are in
Swaffham Bulbeck parish and are listed below. Some can be
identified as those recorded in various old excavations. Two
further barrows excavated in 1876 'at Hare Park' cannot be
precisely located: in one, of 75 ft. diam., were two chalk-cut
graves containing red deer antlers and parts of two inhumation
burials; in the other were three cremations in collared urns
(C.M.; C.A.S. Reports, XXXVI (1876), 26; Fox, A.C.R.,
327–8, Nos. 38 and 44). Further excavations on at least two
barrows in Upper Hare Park in 1880 revealed four urns
probably containing burnt bones. Two urns of flower-pot
shape had a pronounced internal bead on the rims, and another
was an anomalous urn with decorated lugs in the Food
Vessel tradition (C.M.; Fox, A.C.R., 327, Nos. 39 and 40,
Pl. IV, 2, 3 and 5).
d(65) Barrow (TL 584601), probably to be identified with
that noted in 1817 as being 'at E. end of Four Mile Course'.
Diam. 90 ft., ht. 8–9 ft., destroyed 1815; collared urn
found. (C.M.; Archaeologia XVIII (1817), 436 and Pl. XXVII;
Fox, A.C.R., 327, No. 33)
a(66) Barrow (TL 58395998), immediately W. of Four Mile
Stable Farm at 160 ft. above O.D. Diam. 80 ft., ht. 2 ft. This
and (67) are probably the two barrows excavated in 1846.
One had apparently been excavated before and no finds were
made; the other contained 'a rude vase, a few bones and some
ashes'. (C. C. Babington, Ancient Cambridgeshire, 2nd ed. (1883),
d(67) Barrow (TL 58506004), immediately N.E. of Four
Mile Stable Farm at 160 ft. above O.D. Diam. 70 ft., ht. 1 ft.
a(68) Barrow (TL 58045983), 420 yds. S.E. of Four Mile
Stable Farm, at 160 ft. above O.D. Diam. 110 ft., ht. 5 ft.,
with slight traces of a ditch. Partly excavated in 1883 when an
unspecified number of inhumations, perhaps crouched, were
found. Cremated bones and 'rude urns', one of which appears
to have been collared, were also discovered. (C.A.S. Reports,
XLV (1885), ix; Fox, A.C.R., 327, No. 35)
a(69) Ring Ditch (TL 57795984), 330 yds. W. of (68) on the
crest of the chalk ridge at 150 ft. above O.D. Diam. 100 ft.,
ploughed out. Either this or (70) was excavated in 1905 and
produced a central inhumation of a 'very young person' with
a secondary cremation of 'children' in a large collared urn and
fragments of a second urn. There was evidence of fires round
the margin of the mound. (C.M.; C.A.S. Procs. XII (1908),
314–24; Fox, A.C.R., 32 and 327, No. 37; C.U.A.P.)
a(70) Ring Ditch (TL 57815982), immediately to the S.W.
of (69). Diam. 75 ft., ploughed out. (C.U.A.P.)
In addition to (69) and (70), air photographs in N.M.R.
indicate that at least four barrows lay immediately to the E.
However as the area, now under plough, has been cut across
by old tracks and dug into by shallow quarries, it is impossible
to ascertain the original number.
a(71) Ring Ditch (TL 57935966), 200 yds. S.E. of (70) immediately E. of 'Street Way' on a small artificially-levelled plat
form set into a S.W.-facing slope at 150 ft. above O.D.
Diam. 45 ft., ploughed out. Either this barrow or (72) is probably that excavated in 1882 and found to contain a small
collared urn, flint flakes and cattle bones. (C.A.S. Reports,
XLIV (1884), xxi; C.U.A.P.)
a(72) Barrow (TL 58035954), 170 yds. S.E. of (71) on the
crest of a S.W.-facing slope at 150 ft. above O.D. Diam.
80 ft., ht. 1 ft., with wide well-marked ditch visible on all
a(73) Barrow (TL 58035945), 100 yds. S. of (72) and in a
similar position. Diam. 75 ft., ht. 1 ft., with a well-marked
ditch visible on air photographs.
a(74) Probable Barrow (TL 58205935), 200 yds. S.E. of (72)
within Upper Hare Park. A low mound diam. 70 ft., ht. 1 ft.,
is enclosed by a low bank 100 ft. diam., 12 ft. wide and 1 ft.
high, with two opposed entrances 18 ft. wide on the N. and S.
If the earthwork is a barrow it may be that excavated in 1875
or 1876 and found to contain cremated bones, flints and
'various urns'. (C.M.; C.A.S. 8vo. Publ. XVI (1878), 13; Fox,
A.C.R., 328, No. 42. One of the 'urns' may be that illustrated
in C.A.S. Procs. XII (1908), 322, Fig. 6)
a(75) Barrow (TL 58955955), 300 yds. W. of Lower Hare
Park on a small rise at 140 ft. above O.D. Diam. 40 ft., ht. 1 ft.
Since investigation was completed, air photography has
revealed the following additional ring ditch:
d(75 A) Ring Ditch (TL 57216010), 700 yds. N.E. of Chalk
Farm, on a gentle N.-facing slope at 100 ft. above O.D. Diam.
50 ft., ploughed out. (Photographs in N.M.R.)
d(76) Roman settlement (TL 55956355), lies immediately
N.E. of the Priory on chalk marl on the edge of the fens at
20 ft. above O.D. Deep ploughing has revealed large quantities of Roman pottery, mostly Nene Valley colour-coated
and Horningsea type ware and some pieces of Samian. Flint,
clunch and roofing tiles have also been found.
b(77) Probable Roman remains (TL 52666706) found in 1942
near the N.W. end of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode, on peat fen
at 4 ft. above O.D., on either side of a large rodden marking
an earlier course of the River Cam. A complete pot of the
1st century A.D. was apparently associated with 13 large
blocks of Barnack stone. It is uncertain whether the stone was
in situ; it is likely to have been newly quarried and part of the
cargo of a barge which sank near by. (O.S. Record Cards)
Medieval and later
For Moated Sites at Burgh Hall, Downing College Farm
and Lordship Farm, see (4), (16) and (17).
For Earthworks at Swaffham Bulbeck Priory and Lordship
House, see (2) and (3).
For Cut and Wharf at Merchant's House, Commercial
End, see (39).
d(78) Moated site (Class A1(b)) (TL 55556278), lies immediately N.E. of Downing College Farm in Denney Plantation
on chalk marl at 20 ft. above O.D. It is one of a line of three
moated sites (see also (16) and (17)), all close together, whose
ditches were originally filled by a long diversion of the Gutter
Bridge Ditch (cf. Bottisham (61–67)). The site consists of a
rectangular enclosure of just over one acre, bounded on all
sides by a ditch 30–35 ft. wide and 5–6 ft. deep, now dry.
The N.E. side has been partly filled in. The interior is uneven,
but with no trace of former structures. (V.C.H. Cambs. II, 41.)
d(79) Ditch and Basin (TL 6566319), lies on the W. side
of Commercial End and behind (56) and (57). The
remains consist of a large rectangular depression, 100 ft. by
40 ft. orientated N.-S., and 3 ft. deep. Part of it has recently
been filled in. It is now connected to the S.E. end of Swaffham
Bulbeck Lode by a modern drain which follows the line of a
canal 25–30 ft. wide existing in 1800. The site appears to be
that of an old basin and wharf at the head of the Lode, which
was perhaps replaced in the 17th century by the later basin and
wharf to the N. (see (39); C.R.O., Enclosure Map, 1800).
a(80) Enclosure (TL 582594; Fig. 22), lies around the site
of Upper Hare Park House and gardens on the crest of the
chalk ridge at 150 ft. above O.D. It consists of a rectangular
area orientated N.-S., covering at least 25 acres and bounded
on all but the W. side by a low bank; where best preserved, it
is 15 ft. wide and 2 ft. high with traces of a slight external ditch.
The W. side has been destroyed by modern ploughing. It is
the site of the warren established c. 1605 by the Crown for the
keeping of hares, and was apparently bounded by a pale,
presumably set on the existing bank; in 1631, £200 was spent
on repairs and maintenance. When it was sold in 1650, as part
of the estate of Charles II, it was said to be in two parcels of
30 acres and 4 acres in the parishes of Swaffham Bulbeck and
Borough Green. It was returned to the Crown in 1660; by
1768 it had become the site of the stables of the Duke of
Bridgewater and later of the Earl of Aylesford (see (18);
J. P. Hoare, History of Newmarket (1886), I, 228; II, 4, 12, 76).
d(81) Settlement remains (TL 55556208), formerly part of
Swaffham Bulbeck village, exist immediately N. of Burgh
Hall on the W. side of High Street. They consist of two
rectangular depressions, each 40 ft. by 20 ft., orientated N.-S.
with a number of slight banks, scarps and platforms to the W.
and bounded there by a low bank. This was the site of two
houses and their outbuildings in 1800. Flint rubble, bones and
pottery of the 13th to 17th centuries have been found in three
places along High Street: S.E. of the church (TL 55626218), now
built over; S.W. of Burgh Hall (TL 55456185); and E. of Burgh
Hall (TL 55606195), now built over. These sites indicate that
the village formerly extended S. of its present nucleus. (C.R.O.,
Enclosure Map, 1800.)
bcd(82) Swffham Bulbeck Lode, first recorded in 1279
(Rot. Hund., II (1818), 484), is probably of Roman origin. It
is an artificial watercourse about 3⅓ miles long extending in a
N.W. direction across the Fens from Commercial End (TL
55596322) to the River Cam (TL 52196725) (Plate 6).
Though the general course is straight except for a southward bend along the S. third, a number of minor features
reflect a history of recutting and realignment. The S.E. 1¼
miles is sinuous (cf. Bottisham Lode, Lode (32)) but thereafter
the Lode is made up of three almost straight lengths of 800 yds.,
1600 yds., and 1100 yds. This part of the Lode has been recut on
these new alignments and the former course is now marked by a
winding ditch 12 ft. wide with slight traces of a bank on the
N.E., immediately S.W. of the present Lode. The ditch is also
the parish boundary between Lode and Swaffham Bulbeck
and was known as the Old Lode in 1800 (C.R.O., Map of
Bottisham and Swaffham Fens). This recutting was apparently
carried out soon after 1664 by the Bedford Level Commissioners, though their original instructions were also to
recut the S. end of the Lode (C.R.O., R59/31/11/1 and 2). The
work proved unsatisfactory for in 1686 and 1689 the local
inhabitants complained, and in 1706 they asked that the
Old Lode be restored and the New Lode abandoned; their
request was not granted, but the Bedford Level Commissioners spent £40 on cleaning the watercourse (C.R.O.,
R59/31/10/5 and 9, Petitions and Memorials, 1686 and 1706).
Further complaints are recorded throughout the 18th century,
and both the Bedford Level Commissioners and the local
inhabitants cleaned out the Lode periodically and heightened
the banks, often ineffectually. In 1725, 400 chaldrons of clunch
were laid on the banks of the Lode but floods in the latter part
of that year and in 1726 broke them down(C.R.O., R59/31/7/1
(i)). As late as 1790 floods were still overtopping the banks
but by the 19th century greater control was exercised (C.R.O.,
The present watercourse is about 40 ft. wide with large
flood banks on either side. It receives a constant supply of
water by means of the Gutter Bridge Ditch and its feeders,
which rise in Bottisham parish and flow N.E. to the S.E. end
of the Lode. At the extreme S.E. end of the Lode are the
remains of an old basin (79) and further N.E. a series of canals
leading to a later wharf (39). Immediately N. of Cow Bridge
(TL 55326353) a flat rectangular area of about one acre is the
site of a public wharf allotted to the parish in 1800 (C.R.O.,
Enclosure Map and Award). There is little evidence for largescale use of the Lode by water traffic at any date and none
before 1700. (see Sectional Preface p. lxvi)
bcd(83) Fen Drainage (Fig. 104). Although Swaffham
Bulbeck Lode functioned as a fen drain in the medieval
period it is probably of Roman origin and was not constructed
for this purpose. There is no evidence for medieval drainage,
the earliest work apparently being of the 17th century when a
large rectangular area of about 411 acres near the S.W. end of
the fenland was allotted to the Adventurers (TL 545655). This
area was granted in three lots in 1637 following earlier attempts
at drainage (C.R.O., R59/31/9/1A), but work was probably
not started until 1651 when the allotments were ordered to be
divided by 10-ft. wide ditches; it was completed in 1655–6
(C.R.O., R59/31/9/6). The land was originally drained in two
directions: the N.E. side was drained by clearing an old watercourse known as Head Lake which flowed N.E. towards
Upware along a line now followed by a road from High
Bridge Farm (TL 543660); the S.W. side was drained by a new
cut which ran N.W. from the Adventurers' Lands almost to
Swaffham Bulbeck Lode where it joined a new 12-ft. wide cut,
flowing N.E., which also drained the Adventurers' Lands to
the S.E. (in Lode, Stow cum Quy, Fen Ditton and Horningsea parishes) before passing under Swaffham Bulbeck Lode in
a tunnel and discharging into Head Lake Stream (TL 548674;
Fig. 104 Swaffham Bulbeck (83), Fen Drainage
This part of the Adventurers' Lands was almost the only
fully-drained and cultivated area of fenland in the parish from
the mid 17th century to the end of the 18th century. For most
of this period the Bedford Level Corporation was responsible
and considerable sums were spent by it on clearing the Head
Lake Stream (e.g. C.R.O., R59/31/10/7 (1698)). An area of
land of about 24 acres between the fen edge and the Adventurers' Lands (TL 555640) was probably drained and divided by
1683 (C.U.L., Ely Church Commissioners Records No. 1383)
and certainly by 1800.
In 1767 the responsibility for draining of the area passed to
the Swaffham and Bottisham Drainage Commission following an Act of Parliament. The Commissioners abandoned the
main drainage channel across the parish from the S.W., and
the Adventurers' Lands were subsequently drained by the
Head Lake Stream alone (C.R.O., Map of Swaffham and
Bottisham Fens, 1800). In 1801 the common fields of the
parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament and the common
fenland was divided, allotted and drained. The Head Lake
Drain was retained for this purpose. In 1821 the Drainage
Commissioners constructed the steam-engine pump at Upware
(Swaffham Prior (77)) and a drain, known as the Engine or
Commissioners' Drain, was cut across the fenland from S.W.
to N.E. (TL 53506582–53906628), passing under Swaffham
Bulbeck Lode in a tunnel. The Head Lake Drain was then
The two main stages of reclamation of the Swaffham Bulbeck fens are traceable, but some minor drains have since been
added. The compact shape of the Adventurers' Lands, enclosed
by a continuous drain, contrasts with the irregularity of the
early 19th-century drainage systems.
d(84) Cultivation remains. The former common fields of
Swaffham Bulbeck were finally enclosed in 1801. Nothing
remains of these fields except low ridges which were probably
headlands between former furlongs, up to 700 yds. long and
30 yds. wide. These occur S. of Cadenham Plantation (TL
569626) and S. of New England Farm (TL 581607). (C.R.O.,
Enclosure Map and Award, 1800; commercial air photographs in N.M.R.)
d(85) Crop marks (TL 559634), immediately S.E. of Swaffham Bulbeck Priory, are visible on air photographs. They
consist of: a ditch, 200 ft. long and orientated S.W.-N.E.,
which turns sharply at its N.E. end and runs S.E. for a further
150 ft.; indeterminate ditches; possible enclosures; and a
circular feature, 50 ft. in diameter, which may be a ring ditch.
The remains are unlikely to have been connected with the
d(86) Soil marks (TL 55906220) immediately S. of Hill
House, on the crest of a low chalk hill at 101 ft. above O.D.
Air photographs in N.M.R. show a complex pattern of small
rectangular ditched enclosures covering about six acres, cut
into by later quarrying.