** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **
Editorial With current political discussion about Toll roads, this month’s article by Ken Hamilton is topical! Then take yourself to South Cambridgeshire’s far east for a Spring exploration of Weston Colville.
The Hauxton and Dunsbridge Turnpike The following interesting piece was received from Ken Hamilton last January, just too late for the February issue. Ken refers to the popular Christmas Eve walk of RA Cambridge Group, attended by 38 walkers.
“Kathy and I recently led a walk from Frog End, on the edge of Shepreth parish, starting from outside the Green Man pub in Dunsbridge Turnpike. I knew there was also a road sign on Shepreth crossroads a mile down the road to Cambridge, and the unusual name induced me to do a little investigating.
Turnpike Trusts were first established in the early 17th century, by private Acts of Parliament which allowed their trustees to exact a toll on road users, in return repairing and maintaining the highways. The Hauxton and Dunbridge Turnpike Trust was created in 1793 on an existing road running from Cambridge to Royston, with two tollhouses – one at Hauxton and the other at Dunsbridge. The road is the present day A10, still marked as Dunsbridge Turnpike on maps and road name signs around Melbourn. Asking people where Dunsbridge was proved unprofitable, and even experienced ramblers had no idea. However, the Dunsbridge Turnpike crosses the River Shep hard by the Dunsbridge Business Park. That this is the site of the original Duns Bridge seems a reasonable inference. There are a few tales about the Trust in the files of The Cambridge Chronicle. One is of the unfortunate accident suffered by Mr Cann, the tollkeeper at Dunsbridge, who one January day in 1810 was badly injured when his gun burst in his hand. He was taken to Addenbrookes Hospital, where his hand was amputated. Further news on his recovery is not forthcoming in the files.
The Trust, along with all other Turnpike Trusts around the country, was wound up in 1873, and the road and all the assets of The Trust were taken over by Cambridgeshire County Council. Toll gates were removed and free access to travellers was now the rule. As might be expected, this was a cause of celebration by all who used the roads (though probably not by the toll-keepers!). Inhabitants of the parishes traversed by the road no longer had to contribute a set number of days labour to maintaining the roads, and landowners were no longer responsible for funding their upkeep.”
Ken writes “I am still seeking information on The Trust. I do know records are held in the Leicestershire County Council archives, and Trust minutes at Cambridgeshire University Library, but if any reader can point me in the direction of more information, I will be extremely grateful”.
Parish of the Month – Weston Colville OS Explorer Maps (209), 210
In the far SE of Cambridgeshire, this long narrow parish stretches nearly 6 miles, adjacent to the Suffolk border at one end, and Six Mile Bottom at the other. Church End is named for the parish church, and has a windmill, and arts centre (formerly a school) whilst a mile away, Weston Green has the Methodist Church, small shop, and The Reading Room (parish hall).
The Essex River Stour rises in Weston Green at a ford and footbridge. Elsewhere are to be found ponds and moats, water being readily retained in the heavy boulder clay soil overlying the chalk.
Like almost every parish in South Cambridgeshire, traces have been found of prehistoric occupation, including two Neolithic axes and Mesolithic worked flints (on the border with West Wratting). Alison Taylor* quotes a possible Bronze Age ring ditch by the west boundary, and finds of early Bronze Age pottery just east of the church. The Roman Age is represented only by small amounts of pottery found in disturbed soil during excavations of a moat. However, early Anglo-Saxon pottery fragments were found in quantity on a high point half-way between Weston Colville and West Wratting, suggesting an early settlement.
Coming to historic times, in the late C10th a manor at Weston was given to the Abbey at Ely. The original manor house of Colvilles was probably sited west of the church, near a fragmentary moat adjacent to the present Weston Colville Hall. Another Anglo-Saxon Manor was Moynes, surrounded by a moat, at a site now known as Mines Farm. There was a daughter site, with a moated manor in Great Coven’s Wood.
Nowadays, Weston Colville is but a small village, with a few houses at Church End, and a modest settlement at Weston Green. In 1086, Domesday records ca 200 people and, up to the C14th, the parish was quite densely populated, after which there was a sharp decline, due to Black Death and famine. In 1377, the population was ca. 155. When a map was made of the parish in 1612, there were only 6 houses near the church, 18 at Weston Green, and more houses than at present scattered along the road between. More exact population census records of 1801 (318) and 1851 (574) plot the modest rise in residents declining to a figure of 430 in 1996, small for a large parish of 1300 ha.
Points of interest On the little triangle of green in front of The Reading Room is an attractive village sign, commemorating the wartime airfield, at the edge of the parish, now restored to farmland.
Turn along Mill Hill to Church End, to pass very soon an attractive landscaped pond, and, nearer Church End, a windmill. The restored church contains interesting brasses. In the churchyard is the base of a C15th cross.
Near Church End, an unsigned track turns off at TL 621 528 to Lower Wood, a Wildlife Trust nature reserve, which can also be accessed from the other end via Bridleway 14. This damp old wood is predominantly ash, which was once coppiced. Flowers include water avens dog’s mercury, oxlip, and bluebell. (Unfortunately Great Covens Wood to the north, and containing ancient moats, is private).
*Alison Taylor – Archaeology of Cambridgeshire, Vol 2. Publ. Cambridgeshire County Council 1998.
The paths of Weston Colville
This parish has no fewer than 24 paths, mostly in quite good order, signed and waymarked.
A small signed carpark is available opposite the Reading Room, Weston Green, at TL 625 523, although presumably its primary purpose is for Reading Room users. Otherwise, some parking may be made considerately alongside the recreation ground. Parking is more difficult at Church End
Paths from Weston Green
From Weston Green, by the Methodist Chapel , Fp 11 is signed on Chapel Road at TL 6233 5224, and leads along a good headland to Wratting Common Road, and thence to paths of West Wratting or West Wickham. An alternative route to West Wratting Common Road is via Fp 12. This starts up a driveway signed “Lakeside”, and “Alberta” at TL 6277 5215. Once behind the gardens, turn left and follow good headland as far as a footbridge & copse at TL 6236 5159, then continue SSW beside trees, then across an arable field to Wratting Common Road.
Starting again in Weston Green, Fp 13 leads across the rec to the end of Horseshoes Lane at TL 6282 5241, where two paths to Willingham Green are available. Bp 14 starts North: the RoW starts so narrowly between hedges, that it is dangerous should you meet a horse. Instead, a permissive footpath is signed running alongside it. Beyond the hedged section, follow the waymarked field-edge path.
Byway 15 crosses the infant R Stour at a ford, with a concrete bridge provided for walkers. Also from near the ford, Fps 16 and 17 run behind the houses.
Still in Weston Green, Fp 18 starts as a narrow way between garden hedges at TL 6278 5215 off Common Road. It continues as a field-edge path, later Fp 20, leading via Cocksedge Farm to Carlton Church.
Also off Common Road, at TL 6282 5210, Fp19 leads over a footbridge to run behind gardens, only to re-emerge onto Common Road a little further SE. Persist down this road to TL 6320 5169, where Fp 21 starts across an arable field, cutting off the corner of a road, on the approach to Carlton Green.
Finally, in this locality, path connoisseurs will appreciate Fp22, (which joins West Wratting fp 16 and West Wickham 20). This meandering path in 3 parishes wanders around the boundary of the former wartime airfield. Used in dry weather, when the crop is still short, this is an amusing exercise. When the author tried the route in June last year, it was perfectly reinstated. Presumably the farmer also has a GPS!
Paths from Weston Colville Church End
From the B1052, just SW of the church, Fp 8 is signed through a kissing gate at TL 6151 5301 into a pasture field, which often contains placid cows. A second kissing gate leads into arable, where the path continues due S, leading through a belt of trees and towards The Grove in West Wratting. A feeder path, Fp 9, starts off Mill Hill Road, beside the windmill at TL 6202 5291, corners the wood at Hill Crofts, and joins Fp8 at TL 6148 5264.
Older maps do not show Fp24, which leaves Fp8 at TL 6144 5239, running ESE in front of the plantation. It continues along a field-edge track to meet Chapel Road at TL 6185 5212, and then continues SW inside the roadside verge to connect with paths leading towards West Wratting.
Returning to Mill Hill, Fp7 starts to the N of the road, signed beside a house driveway at TL 6195 5301. This popular dog-walking path joins the B1052 at TL 6199 5345, at the driveway to Moat House. A branch path, Fp 6, turns off Fp7 at the plank bridge at TL 6202 5312, and returns towards the B1052 nearer the centre of Church End at TL 6179 5325 between two houses.
Opposite this point, Fp5 ‘s signpost at TL 6177 5327 is often obscured in a tall hedge. The path is clear enough, going NW, at first on a grass headland beside a ditch & hedge. Beyond the crossing with Fp10 at TL 6138 5355 there are cross-field sections, sticky on the heavy clay, before attaining Grange Road at TL 6041 5393.
Fp10 is a relatively new addition to the network, and may not be shown as a RoW on old maps. It runs N from the B1052 at TL 6134 5309 on a farm track, to become Carlton Fp22, which joins part of the Icknield Way Path, Carlton 2, at the barn shown on maps as “Cricks Farm”.
The Outliers Those few readers who have been diligently following this exercise on their maps, will wonder what has become of the remaining paths. Because parishes in this Hundred are long and thin, drawn out giving each access to the predecessor of the A11, path numbering is rather obscure.
So Fp2, between Lark Hall, TL 5853 5479 and the minor road at TL 5916 5422 is numbered in Weston Colville. Similarly, the long path, Fp1, from the N end of Fox Road, TL 6011 5456, follows hedges and field boundaries to the outskirts of Six Mile Bottom. Byways 3 and 4 are two short sections of Fox Road which continues S all the way to Balsham.
Byway 23 is a short section of the Old Cambridge Road, which runs westwards from Lark Hall, to meet the A11 close to the Fleam Dyke Crossing.
Did you know?
Some 200 walks are available to be downloaded on the National Trust website. Most popular is The Bath Skyline walk, and the “most challenging” is said to be a 10 mile walk in the Manifold Valley, Derbyshire. Information: nationaltrust.org.uk
WANTED Reports of usage of a Harlton Path
A (non-public) footpath that has been used for at least 40 years that we know of, was closed in January and the stile removed. It is a short path and goes from the back of Harlton Churchyard to join with public footpath No.1 that goes from Haslingfield Road to Washpit Lane. If you have ever walked this short path from the churchyard, can you please e-mail me on email@example.com or get in touch with Roger or Janet Moreton. Thank you.
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This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889
Cantab 67 – Price 20 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2012