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Old Arbury - Campkin Road: The Site of the Manor Farmhouse...

Manor Farmhouse, Arbury Road in the early 20th Century.

I've had some queries here at the blog so I will do my best to answer them.

It will be a one-by-one process, so please bear with me.

Here goes with the first:

Jake has asked:

Where exactly was the Manor Farmhouse on Campkin Road, and what's on the site now?Also, can you tell me why Arbury Ward was moved away from the original estate? This is a puzzle.

Thanks for that, Jake. The Manor Farmhouse stood opposite what is now Arbury Town Park - which was once part of the Arbury/Harborough Meadows, and then the Manor Farm's 'Stable Field'. Harborough was a variation on the Arbury name.

The Arbury/Harborough Meadows ran up to Milton Road and the original (dead end) King's Hedges Road. Up to 1977, Arbury Road ran from Milton Road to the Histon/Cambridge Road - until the building of the A14 motorway and the expansion and redirection of King's Hedges Road.

Our 1900 map, featuring the locations of the Arbury/Harborough Meadows, including the furlong and corner fields. We have marked on the Guided Busway site for orientation.

My grandparents often referred to Arbury Road as 'Arbury Meadow Road'. The Arbury Meadows became the Manor Farm after the 1840 Chesterton Enclosures. The Manor Farm's 1909 sale documents reveal the farm's field names - including two called 'Arbury' and 'Arbury Field' just north of Arbury Road, in the old Arbury Meadows. These fields now contain Buchan Street, the Pulley play area, Walker Court, etc - and part of the late 1970s King's Hedges Road redirection and extension across the Arbury.

The Arbury Meadows were probably the first seepages of the 'Arbury' name beyond the Arbury Camp Farm and the road - both ended up being North Arbury which later, and not at all appropriately, fell into 'King's Hedges Ward'.

The 1900 map with details of field names from the Manor Farm's 1909 sale documents. King's Hedges - was a small farm led to by a dead-end road, and contained two Victorian semi-detached cottages. It stood north of the railway line/guided busway.

Arbury Ward was moved from its most historic area to simply being South Arbury and to areas which included Stretten Avenue (previously North Chesterton Ward and then Castle Ward) - which had nothing to do with Arbury at all. The 'King's Hedges' ward was named simply because of the expanded modern road. The notion of taking the dead end track and redirecting and expanding it across Arbury had been in the air since at least the 1930s. 

The current King's Hedges ward area has nothing to do with King's Hedges in reality. It was formed out of the northern part of the original Arbury Ward. This is important because the original Arbury Estate was based on localities and history, and the current Cambridge City Council wards are not. 

King's Hedges was never the name of an area. It was a small, country estate, very clearly defined, so-named by local landowners the Brackyn family. The spreading of the name was always nonsensical - even King's Hedges School is not in the historical King's Hedges area. The name 'King's Hedges' appears to originate from a royal hedged hunting warren in the days of the old Royal Manor of Chesterton. The king's tenants drove local wildlife in there - deer, boars, etc, chased them through the warren and then killed them. This passed for 'sport' in those days, which the king apparently enjoyed watching.

The 'King's Hedges Estate' sub-district within North Arbury was a vague and shadowy notion, occupied by such Arbury institutions as the North Arbury Post Office, the North Arbury Chapel, and the Arbury Adventure Playground.

The ward names (King's Hedges City ward first appeared in 1976; County in 1985) were not regarded as being important by most locals initially, and not reflecting an area's history/identity - as witnessed by the Arbury 1980 and Arbury Is Where We Live! project and book of 1980 and 1981. Locals simply saw the newly concocted King's Hedges as being part of Arbury.

The wards have assumed more importance in recent years with apparent efforts to exorcise the Arbury name as much as possible and the appearance of online maps which use the wards as area boundaries. King's Hedges Ward has not only taken over North Arbury, but also parts of East Chesterton.

The 'wards' are also subject to change, via City Council 're-wardings'. In 2021, Arbury Ward lost the Chesterton triangle, gained Garden Walk and Arbury Court (which had been residing in King's Hedges Ward since 2004) and the Warwick Road area. All willy-nilly and, apart from Arbury Court, having nothing to do with Arbury historically. 

And yet, the original Arbury area still survives as everyday reality for many locals.

See how it all happened here: http://www.cambridgeelections.org.uk/cityarb.htm

I include a photograph of the Manor Farmhouse site in recent years. It's from roughly the same angle as the farmhouse pic. You can still see two large trees by the old Manor School perimeter fence which stood in the farmhouse garden and were planted around the 1930s.

The Manor Farmhouse and garden site.

View from Campkin Road - showing the two Manor Farmhouse garden trees. There were three until recent years, the third standing to the left.

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