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'ARBURY IS WHERE WE LIVE!' MAKES THE PAGES OF 'HISTORY TODAY' MAGAZINE - 1983

The excellent 'Arbury 1980' primary schools project led to one pupil from King's Hedges School writing:

We have reasons to be proud to live in Arbury with such a rich history. People have lived here for thousands of years.

The project swept pupils back to the iron age Arbury Camp, through the Roman invasion, and on through the history of the Arbury farms, Hall and Manor, the building of the estate, and life in 1980 for the pupils of the (then) present day.

In 1981, the book Arbury Is Where We Live! was published and in 1983 one of the great powers behind the project, Sallie Purkis of Homerton College, schools officer of the Oral History Society, and the general editor of the Longman books series, Into The Past, detailed the project in History Today magazine. It was a real Red Letter Day for the original Arbury Estate.

Sallie believed in Arbury as a place on the map, and was a great encouragement to me when I began to delve into my family's pre-estate Arbury history. 

Sadly, she is no longer with us, but her work lives on. There has been a ridiculous electoral ward re-naming, from North Arbury (being in the original Arbury Ward) and King's Hedges being a sub-district, to King's Hedges as a separate entity - encompassing the whole of North Arbury and even parts of East Chesterton.

Council planners seemed absolutely fixated on importing the name into Arbury for some reason, although it was never a district - simply a fifty eight acre farm, north of what is now the Guided Busway.

King's Hedges, its name seemingly derived from a hedged hunting warren in which animals were chased, cornered and killed as 'sport' in the days of the old Royal Manor of Chesterton, was not at Manor Farm - and the Manor Farm contained acreage called 'Arbury' and 'Arbury Field'. In fact, most of the land north of Arbury Road was at one time known as Arbury or Harborough (a variation on the Arbury name) Meadows. Most of 'King's Hedges Road', across North Arbury, now dates from the late 1970s and lopped off the end of the original Arbury Road! 

Add to all this the fact that over the years there has been a general (rather snobbish) vilification of the Arbury name, and it is heartening that the identity of the original Arbury Estate still survives to a large degree and the community still celebrates every year at the Arbury Carnival.

It is an historic area - the fields by the ancient earthwork and the spread of the Arbury name across those fields. It is an area which the local community researched thoroughly and published their findings on its history in the early 1980s. That should not be ignored. We are not simply plastic units of local government because we live on a council estate.

The Arbury district with earlier details superimposed on a 1900 map. Most of the land north of Arbury Road was known as the Arbury or Harborough Meadows (Harborough was a variation on the Arbury name) up to the establishment of the Manor Farm in the years following the 1840 Chesterton Enclosures.

The Arbury district in 1900 - showing the Arbury Camp, Manor, Rectory and King's Hedges Farms and part of Impington Park - some modern landmarks have been inserted to aid orientation.

Here is Sallie's article:

Lovely shot of Arbury Court in 1980 here.


This page features the Roman woman's grave, found near the site of Humphreys Road.

Photographs here include No's 1 and 2 Manor Farm Cottages - the site is in the road at the junction of Campkin and Arbury Roads and traffic passes over the spot. The Arbury Community Centre and Arbury Town Park now occupy the land behind the cottages.


We will be uploading the final part of the 'Arbury Is Where We Live!' book soon.


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