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CANTAB46 April 2008

CANTAB46 April 2008 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Editorial –
Parish of the Month – Barrington
For those living in and around Cambridge, the paths of Barrington are very popular. One can park opposite the church, at a corner of the huge village green, and take a number of routes around and out of the village, giving access to Orwell, Harlton, Haslingfield, Harston, Foxton, and Shepreth.

Barrington has a long and well-documented history, and in particular, is said to be one of the most outstanding localities in England for the study of Anglo-Saxon burials. The green is the largest in South Cambridgeshire, and several old buildings delight the visitor. But before going on to outline Barrington’s past, for the present, do you know  the local paths?

Can you number the Barrington paths?
All public rights of way in the country have an official  number, generally by parish. This number is recorded on the “Definitive Map” held at the County Council. Barrington has 12 such public rights of way.  Also note some extra access.

Footpath 1 starts from  Orwell Road at TL 384501, along the drive to Dumpling Cottages. A grassy track beyond a stile leads beside new woodland, to a bridge, from which path continues to Orwell.  One is also invited to wander about in the new woodland.

From Orwell Road at TL 383505, Byway 2 (The Whole Way), runs uphill as a rutted track, continuing into Harlton, reaching the road at the W end of the village.  From the same point, the farm track, Footpath 9, goes E to Wilsmere Down Farm, where it joins Footpath 3.

The start of Footpath 3 is off Back Lane  (Bridleway 8), behind The Green. Footpath 3 runs NW beside hedges to Wilsmere Down Farm, then uphill, to the crest of Chapel Hill, TL 386516, where it joins two paths at a T-junction.  To the left  is Footpath 12, running due W to join the Whole Way. To the right is Footpath 11, continuing E along the ridge above the chalk-pit, to reach the road above Haslingfield.

Footpath 10 starts from The Green, near the pavilion at TL 391497, going N, alongside hedges and across an arable field to join Footpath 9.

Return to the church carpark, and cross to the other side of the road.  Go forward, and turn left, beyond a large children’s playarea, entering Glebe Road.  At the end of  the road, at TL 404500, Footpath 4 runs NE along a gravel farm track, between open arable fields.  Later, the path becomes a pleasant riverside route, passing into Harston, to emerge by the river bridge.

On the edge of Barrington Green at TL 395497, a sign, “Public Footpath to Shepreth 1, Foxton 1¼” points SSE across High Street, and along Boot Lane.  At the far end, TL 395496, is the start of Footpath 5, through a wide wooden kissing-gate  The path runs SSE downhill in a  lane, passing an attractive old graveyard on the right  At TL 396495, the R.Cam or Rhee is crossed on an iron bridge, and a second channel is crossed on a further bridge.  The path continues in fields, dividing to give a branch to the Foxton Road, and across a large arable field by a line of electricity poles en route to a railway crossing in Shepreth. Note that a nature reserve is accessible from Footpath 5, just beyond the bridge over the Cam.  Enter a meadow through a kissing-gate. and continue through the meadow to a wild area of scrub, attractive in Spring for a display of butterburr.

Footpaths 6 and 7 also leave this side of the Green –  From High Street at TL 394496, Footpath 6 follows Mill Lane residential road S to TL 394495, where a  “Public Footpath” sign points ENE along an alley.  The path winds behind gardens, passing the junction to Footpath 7 at TL 395495.  The  alley continues ENE to reach Boot Lane and the junction with Footpath 5 at TL 395496.

On the N side of High Street at TL 394497, a sign, points across the road to indicate Footpath 7 going SSE along a mossy path between walls, joining Footpath 6 at the end.

There is also County Council access land at Five Fools Meadow, by the bridge over the R.Rhee off the road to Shepreth. There is a small carpark here. Formerly there was a permissive path from the end of the field, through a strip of woodland, to join the Malton Road, just outside Meldreth. Sadly this connecting path is no longer available “for the forseeable future”, due to danger of falling branches in the woodland.

History of Barrington
The parish of Barrington covers 914 ha, of which The Green occupies 9 ha, the largest in South Cambridgeshire. To the NW, the chalk escarpment topped by clay reaches ca 70 m. The line of the hill is being rapidly eroded by the workings of the cement works, recently spared an even greater increase in activity from a threatened new plant.

Over the centuries, populations have  ranged from an estimated 85 in 1086; rising to 535 in 1279; 364 in 1563 (a decrease due to plagues?); 348 in 1801 (the first reliable figure); rising to 727 in the C19th, when a sudden rise in population was due to imported labourers digging for copralites. By 1996, 990 people lived in the parish.

But let us go back to the beginning of occupation…In the past the Rhee often flooded, and was marshy across about half a mile, so fordable sites made the village attractive in Anglo Saxon and earlier times.  In the parish were found weapons from early man including 2 Neolithic axes, Bronze Age axes, and a Bronze Age arrow-head stuck in the skull of a wolf! A small Bronze Age burial mound was found during excavations of an Anglo-Saxon Cemetery on Edix Hill.  Gold coins, an iron currency bar, and an imported “Arrentine” cup, indicated some prosperity during the Iron Age period, when there was an extensive settlement, with traces of enclosure ditches, buildings, trackways, and pottery dating from 150BC to 50AD. Similarly, there are relics of a Roman settlement.

Around the C5th the Saxons came – the name Barrington is said to be derived from Barra’s tun, or place. Two major Anglo Saxon cemeteries were discovered in the C19th, and carefully noted by the scholars of the time.  Hoopers Field W of the village contained 114 burials, and some cremations. An Anglo Saxon burial ground shown on the 1:25000 OS sheet of 1956 at TL 388 497, W of the Whole Way. Typically, the female skeletons wore bronze broaches fastening clothes at shoulders, and wrist clasps fastening long sleeves. Necklaces of amber or glass beads were common. The male sheletons were buried with spears, or sometimes a sword, or with their shield. The burials dated from the late C5th to the early C7th. (Note that the first, wooden, church in Barrington dated from ca. 650ad, when grave goods would no longer have accompanied the now Christian burial) The second of these, Edix Hill, close to the border with Orwell, and on a high point of the chalk escarpment, has recently been more fully excavated. Grave goods were similar to those of Hoopers Field.

Modern excavations started 1989.  In three years, over 149 skeletons were found.  Women’s jewellery  included Baltic amber, ivory and garnets perhaps from India, and crystal from Europe.  The skeletons were generally quite tall for the period, the  men being on average 5ft 8 inches.

From the Middle Ages, Barrington has surviving moated sites.  One is Lancasters Manor House, S of the village, near the river  (ca. TL393 494 ), inhabited C10th – C14th. Some 4000 potsherds and iron tools were dredged from the river here. A moat in the grounds of Barrington Hall, TL 396 501, was the site of the Bendyshe Manor house, replaced by the present hall in C17th, and occupied by the Bendyshe family until 1937. (The house can be glimpsed through the trees from the rear of the church carpark, or from Fp 3. The old Guildhall (off High Street, opposite Mill Lane) dates from the Tudor period. The Royal Oak pub is C15th.

The first church was wooden, on the present site, erected ca 650, and probably burned by the Danish invaders following the Battle of Ringmere, 1010AD. The present church was started in the C12th, the only remains of which are at the base of the tower arch.  The main part of the church dates from the C13th, built of locally quarried clunch and stones from the fields.The W half of the chancel’s N wall, the nave arcades and parts of the S aisle are from the C13th. The rest of the building, including the tower, were finished in the C14th, and bells have rung there since the construction. The C19th saw the restoration of the church which had become much decayed. Within, notable are: C13th font; C14th nave roof; C15th wall painting (“three living & three dead”); 4 sets of medieval pews; the C16th parish chest ; the Bendyshe chapel; and a carved C17th pulpit.

The sign on The Green was erected in 1983, in memory of William Warren, (who died 1979, formerly a parish councillor for 26 years). Both sides of the sign show the village pond, with ducks in the foreground.   In the centre is the tall chimney of the Portland Cement Works. On one side of the sign are illustrated a thatched cottage and the church, whilst on the other is a house and the pub. Beneath the village name are geese, reminiscent of the arms of the local Bendyshe family.  Today, the cement works (opened 1918) remains the largest local employer.  However, the habit of digging into the hill goes back many centuries, the old clunch workings having provided the white stone for the church, and for the Gate of Honour at Caius College, Cambridge in the 1570s.

An example of Victorian industry is retained in Bulbeck Watermill, TL 395494.  This is a substantial late C19th 3-storey brick mill, with iron framed windows, which can best be seen across the river, from the nature reserve.

Monthly parishes
Persistent readers will have noted that “Cantab” often, but not invariably, contains a “Parish of the Month” . Between Dec 2000, and the present time, the following parishes have been featured – Soham; Grantchester; Shepreth; Elsworth; Chishill; Paston (Norfolk); Toft; Gt Shelford; West Stow (Suffolk); Gt Chesterford (Essex); Balsham; Elmdon (Essex); Fulbourn; The Wilbrahams; Gamlingay; Bassingbourn;  Sawtry; Saffron Walden (Essex); Foxton; Ickleton; Conington; Shudy Camps; Graveley; Hardwick; Meldreth; and Hinxton.

A straw poll a couple of years ago established that the “Parish” articles were the most appreciated item. Most have been in South Cambs., the area of the Editor’s greatest on-site knowledge, but an attempt has been made to range over East Anglia. If anyone would like to suggest a parish for one of the next issues, ideas are welcome, but no promises are made, as more information is available on some parishes than others.        JM

Local Access Forum in Cambridgeshire
The Local Access Forum [LAF] is a statutory body which meets to discuss & formulate policy regarding access to the countryside. drawing its membership from a wide range of interested parties. LAF is concerned to recruit people with an active interest in such matters, and the RA is an obvious source of people.

We have been asked by Anneline Wilson of Cambridgeshire County Council to publicise this opportunity, and we give below the contact detail if you are interested .

We are looking to encourage people from all areas and walks of  life who have an interest in the rights of way network and access to the countryside to get involved with the local forum & make a difference.

For more information, please phone the access team or view the website:
01223 717445 or

Quotation of the Month
Here lies John Crossfield, rambler past,
Who walked the footpaths, ‘til at last
One muddy day, it is related,
He was himself, “not reinstated”


Suffolk Surrender!
Some ten years ago, our old friend, John Andrews of Suffolk, wrote a piece about the many cases where rights of way cease abruptly at the county border. At the time, as well as jolly quips about border guards, there was a serious discussion about registration of rights of way, and parish-to-parish continuity.

And now, within the space of one week in February, Roger and I came upon two such cases of improvement. In the first case,  the lack of a right of way on the Suffolk side has been ameliorated by the provision of a permissive link, and publicised by the Parish Council. In the second case , a package of path Orders has established legal links with the path network.  My examples are both to be found on Explorer 210, “Newmarket and Haverhill”.

From Dalham, in East Cambs.,  a road climbs quite steeply W out of the village, passing an attractive windmill. Shortly, taking the left road at a junction, one comes to the start of a signed byway, at TL 718 615.  The map shows “The Old Suffolk Road (track)“. It is a pleasant grassy track, first between hedges, and then affording good views of farmland. With a name like that, one would think it would run for miles, but it doesn’t – it stops in a knot of trees and scrub at the county boundary with Suffolk, TL 718 603.  The map shows no continuation in Suffolk, but we had been there before, and had sneaked out, doing no harm, along one field boundary or another. On this occasion, there was a clear headland track beside a ditch running E to the B1085 at TL 722 604.  Here there was a wooden post.  It didn’t actually have a waymark upon it, but looked as though it might once have done so!. We turned along the road back to Dalham, and came upon a display board, with a parish map. And lo, here was the permissive path shown on the map, and the legend suggested the little circuit we had just completed, as one of a series of options. Good.  But how much better if this had been made a public right of way; added to the Suffolk Definitive Map; and, in due course, shown on OS Sheet 210.

Then, just two days later, we started a walk in Kirtling, East Cambs, on the report from a friend that a new bridge had been seen to go up in an unexpected place. We left the road near Mill Cottage, at TL 695 566, and, for the first time, took a path reinstated across an arable field, generally SE to a stream at TL 703 559. This used to be a dead-end, but here, indeed, was a fine new bridge with handrail, and a posted Confirmation Order showing the revised path network on the Suffolk side. All was laid out clearly on a map, and legal explanations appended. There were even some waymarks. The new footpath allowed us to continue for the first time, beside the stream, to emerge on the minor road called “The Thrift” at TL 697 554. This gives a good footpath continuation opposite to Sharps Green, and thence back to Kirtling.

We were a bit premature to use this path, as there were two pleasant contractors still building the bridge!  However, we followed the alternative option, a new path mostly along field edges, to the Bradley Road at TL 707 548, near Dowels Farm (replacing one which had run mostly across fields, and had tangled with horse-paddocks at Banstead’s Farm). The paperwork suggested some other dead-end paths had been closed as part of the package, but this looked like a fair bargain.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a 20p stamp.

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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


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Cantab 46 © Janet Moreton, 2008.