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Exploring The REAL King's Hedges...

The Cambridge and St Ives Branch railway line is now the Guided Busway.

Where was King's Hedges historically? How did the name come about? Why is the majority of King's Hedges Road no more historic than late 1970s - and nothing to do with the course of the original road? What have council planners of the 1960s and 1970s and the needs of motorists got to do with the King's Hedges presence in the historic Arbury district? All will be revealed...

We're going to leave Arbury briefly and go to King's Hedges. No, not King's Hedges Ward - that area is, in reality, one of the most Arbury of Arbury areas in Cambridge historically, but the REAL King's Hedges.

North of the Guided Busway.

You see, the land north of Arbury Road is the site of the Arbury Camp, the Arbury/Harborough (a variation on the Arbury name) Meadows and the Arbury fields of Manor Farm. 

It has absolutely nothing to do with King's Hedges at all. And King's Hedges was never a district.

Land north of Arbury Road. We have pasted the 1800s locations onto our map (1900) which features the Manor Farm for clarity, and also some details of modern locations. The Arbury or Harborough Meadows (both names were current and each a variation on the other), North Arbury/North Harborough Furlong, West Arbury/Harborough Corner and Arbury/Harborough Furlong. The 1840 Chesterton Enclosures map features the 'Harborough' variation on the Arbury name, but an 1839 newspaper article refers to the 'Arbury' Meadows. The names were interchangeable.

We saw an outside display entitled 'The Roman Landscape At King's Hedges' on one of our rambles round Arbury, trumpeting the grand history of King's Hedges, including a Roman villa. The Roman villa was on the site of King's Hedges School, but King's Hedges School is not in the historic King's Hedges acres, and the villa was found on Manor Farm land, on the acreage known as Arbury/Harborough Meadows, not far from the Arbury iron age earthwork. 

'The Roman Landscape at King's Hedges' - an epic piece of misinformation. The Roman villa and the historic area described had nothing to do with King's Hedges - and a lot to do with Arbury. We do hope the display wasn't sponsored by money from public coffers.

1969: Much excitement in the 'Cambridge Evenings News' over the discovery of the Roman villa, and even older finds, in a North Arbury barley field. The road built on the site was called Northfield Avenue.

King's Hedges Road is the story of a farm drift. It began as a private farm track - leading to King's Hedges, a small farm. But then, at the Chesterton end, the marvellously retro Golden Hind was built and house building started along the road and, finally, after North Arbury was built, with its sub-district, King's Hedges Estate, northwest of Campkin Road, King's Hedges Road ROARED, changed direction, and swept across the old Arbury Meadows by Arbury Camp and lopped off the end of Arbury Road as part of the A45 (A14) motorway development. The King's Hedges Road extension and redirection was known in its planning stages as 'The Northern Peripheral Road'.

We have been asked why we don't include more King's Hedges history on this site, but that is because, historically and right up to the original North Arbury Estate, King's Hedges had nothing to do with the Arbury part of the area that is 'King's Hedges Ward'. It's manufactured. It's fake. King's Hedges School was simply named because council planners were determined to import the name, although it was built in the old Arbury Meadows, and the "new" King's Hedges was simply a poorly defined area within Arbury, near the original road.

King's Hedges School is cherished by many of us here, it's a wonderful establishment, but the fact that it is in the historic Arbury area and it was named after a small farm north of King's Hedges Road is no mystery to anyone who delves slightly. King's Hedges School did, of course, make excellent contributions to the 'Arbury 1980' project and the 1981 Arbury Is Where We Live! book.

Streets off of King's Hedges Road had occasionally been referred to as 'King's Hedges Estate' previously, and nobody knew - and many didn't much care - what the Council was thinking or doing. 

What would become the original King's Hedges Road was a narrow, nameless, private road, leading north of the railway to the 58 acre King's Hedges farm plot at the time of the 1840 Chesterton Enclosures, according to the map. It was a dead end - basically, a farm track.

When was it first called King's Hedges Road? Well, old maps often don't reveal what rural roads were known as locally. The track led right into the original King's Hedges and is referred to as King's Hedges Road/Lane (or 'King's Hedge', singular) in the local press well before 1840 - after all, it was actually the track leading to a named property.

Arbury Road is referred to as the 'Histon Road from Chesterton' and similar in several maps we have seen from the early-to-mid 1800s. Very descriptive, but quite a mouthful! It's highly possible locals had adopted the Arbury (or Harborough) name long before the 1840s. Roads were often named after local landmarks. There is reference to 'Arbury Meadows' (land north of Arbury Road) in an 1839 newspaper report, and the road is referred to as 'Arbury Lane' in an 1842 newspaper report. 

An 1829 newspaper advertisement for a sale of wood reveals the presence of a property called 'Arbury Hedges' in the district.

The Ely Road... well, we have an idea it may have become Milton Road simply because locals then were much more likely to be travelling out to Milton than Ely as it was much closer and so referred to it thus. Pure conjecture on our part, but one of the Manor Farm fields by that road was called the 'Milton Road field' at the time of the farm's sale in 1909 (it was sold separately as 'valuable building land') and if this was the original name, would be indicative that 'Milton Road' was in use locally long before it made the maps and popular press.

But to return to King's Hedges.

In the 1930s, questions were raised about the maintenance of King's Hedges Road, and why a private road was costing the ratepayers for its upkeep. The Cambridge Town Clerk replied that the old Chesterton Urban District Council had begun repairing the road, thus making it a public road, in error, and this had been passed on when Cambridge took over part of the road. The County Council later handed over the rest of the road under the same arrangement. 

In 1924, King's Hedges Road was still a narrow, dead-end country road, with rough grass margins and hedges on each side. By the late 1930s, with the motor car making its presence felt, the rise of King's Hedges into something rather different was being planned. With some, at first, wood framed houses being built along the road, builders were told to keep them far enough back to allow for a major widening of the road and its future as part of a new Cambridge ring road was being planned by the Council.

When work began on the Arbury Estate in the 1950s, the Council planned a 'King's Hedges Estate', not based on local history and not in the original King's Hedges plot, but in the Arbury Meadows which had become Manor Farm. Why? Well, perhaps the Council planners thought it would all make sense after the road redirection and expansion finally took place in the late 1970s?

Aerial view of part of the district, showing the original King's Hedges (outlined in red). Part of it remains as grass, and it straddles the motorway.

One cannot help asking: Did the Council think council tenants wouldn't give a fig about local history - or that they'd be too stupid to research it? After all, it wasn't Newnham, or West Chesterton or the historic city centre, was it? 

The Council it seems, was seriously out of touch with locals and local history. The idea of naming North Arbury 'King's Hedges', after a small farm plot with a council house on it north of King's Hedges Road (which simply led to it), seemed too bizarre to anybody knowing the district well - and the history of King's Hedges was as nothing compared to the ancient Arbury earthwork.

The original end of King's Hedges Road in 1968, from a train on what is now the guided busway. Click on image to see details on map.

However, the 'King's Hedges Estate' was going full steam ahead with the publication of a plan for the estate in 1967, but the following year the planned 'estate' was subsumed into the new Arbury Ward. As South Arbury had been so-called years before, the northern side of Arbury Road was quite logically already being called 'North Arbury'.

So, King's Hedges Estate became a sub-district of North Arbury - and a far less aptly named area within the Arbury - but Arbury was very much the dominant name. Community identity in Arbury was running very high. 

Just where King's Hedges Estate was became rather vague, and this only increased with the opening of the North Arbury Post Office in Cameron Road in 1971. If the GPO didn't know its districts, who did?

People had long ago united under the historic Arbury name, and the residents were fund raising and campaigning for Arbury facilities.

Hmm... time to break it up...

Things called 'Arbury' in Cambridge and its environs over the years. Most of them are north of Arbury Road, including the ancient Arbury Camp and the Arbury Fields. There was a time when almost all of North Arbury was called 'Arbury/Harborough Meadows' - Harborough being a variation on the Arbury name.

The 'King's Hedges' City Council Ward of 1976, formed out of the original Arbury Ward's northern area, was simply named by local government planners for local government convenience and dragged right up to Arbury Road, sounding an electoral death knell for Arbury unity and becoming a nonsense historically.

Many local people didn't pay much attention for years. They were suddenly getting a council newsletter called Focus On King's Hedges, but King's Hedges was in North Arbury, along with the North Arbury Post Office, the North Arbury Chapel, the Arbury Adventure Playground, the Arbury Community Centre and Arbury Town Park - the majority of these created with a great deal of fund raising and campaigning by the locals.

And electoral wards were just for voting purposes. Most people thought.

Councillors positively fawned over the local schools' history project 'Arbury 1980' and the 1981 book Arbury Is Where We Live!, which covered the original Arbury area, but plans to break the estate in two, leaving the most historic Arbury area in an historically groundless, separate 'King's Hedges ward', were, of course, already half achieved by then.

As far as the County Council was concerned, King's Hedges Estate was still in Arbury until the mid-1980s, when a new King's Hedges Ward was established there.

Many local residents, including ourselves, still regard 'King's Hedges Ward' as North Arbury and King's Hedges as being primarily the original King's Hedges, north of the busway (now occupied by Cambridge Regional College), with a King's Hedges Estate sub district within North Arbury near the original King's Hedges Road.

Most people we know refer to King's Hedges primarily as Arbury/North Arbury, which is, of course, historically correct. Residents past and present researched the history via Arbury 1980 and Arbury Is Where We Live! and the Arbury Archivists have been delving ever since. There is a major disconnect between the City/County Councils and large numbers of the general public there. The general public are right.

'Cambridge Evening News', January 1973: work is about to start on the learner pool, here referred to as 'Arbury'. As the pool was built in the old Arbury Meadows, in a Manor Farm field simply called 'Arbury' beside the prehistoric Arbury Camp, the name was appropriate. The Council later named it the 'King's Hedges Learner Pool'. Examining local history causes the King's Hedges name to contract to a small farm north of the guided busway - and brings forth a waft of blood sports with its origins. Locals of the time simply viewed the council planners' 'King's Hedges' as a sub-district of North Arbury. Arbury has far more meaning, depth and reality - and takes us right back into pre-history.

People in the (North Arbury) King's Hedges Ward really don't live in any historically meaningful King's Hedges area - and the name didn't spread naturally and organically outside of its own boundaries. 

In the case of Arbury Camp, the Arbury name spread via the road and the Arbury/Harborough Meadows (all north of Arbury Road). North Arbury/Harborough Furlong was actually by the King's Hedges farm track, as our map shows. 

The ancient earthwork had long been referenced by locals - appearing as 'Ertburg', 'Herdbury' or 'Herburw' in the thirteenth century, and there were references, no doubt, right back to its origins. The name is thought to be derived from the Old English for 'earthwork', and references will have pre-dated the English language. It was very much a landmark.

With King's Hedges, the name's spread on the Arbury is due to out of touch council planners and the road expansion, taking the name where it never was and never, logically, should have been applied.

VROOM! VROOM! BEEP! BEEP! That's King's Hedges.

A map showing the huge redirection and extension of King's Hedges Road, across the old Manor Farm and Arbury Meadows. Buchan Street was built on a Manor Farm field called 'Arbury'.

Anyway, all that being said, the council planners' and road-driven King's Hedges is kind-of-sort-of-perhaps King's Hedges (a very modern and misnamed King's Hedges offshoot within Arbury), and it now has a King's Hedges Drive (which is actually IN King's Hedges), as well as a chunk of Arbury Road, so it's done well, hasn't it?

The building of the extended and redirected King's Hedges Road across the Harborough/Arbury Meadows, seen in late 1977. The majority of King's Hedges Road dates from the late 1970s. Construction of what was referred to in its planning stages as the Northern Peripheral Road, to connect the original King's Hedges Road with Arbury Road, began in 1976.

The whole area, right through Arbury on one side and Impington/Histon the other is rich in archaeological finds and sites. The Mere Way used to be a lovely walk. We haven't been up there for years. Wonder what it's like now?

As with a lot of the rest of the area, there were archaeological finds on the King's Hedges site, but these are not linked to the name. We're not even sure what era they are from. Roman? They are definitely later than Arbury Camp, and absolutely not related to the King's Hedges name, which is much later. They do not seem to have been much cause for interest in the archaeological world. All of the documentation we can find focuses on Arbury Camp and the Manor and Hall Farm fields - 'The Arbury'.

King's Hedges has been subject to a certain amount of revisionism. But, as we have already said, it was a fifty-eight acre plot, beside Akeman Street/the Mere Way, the Roman road which ran across the whole district. Part of the road was actually named 'Mere Way' by the Council in South Arbury. 

The land beside the Mere Way on the Histon Road side (Impington Park) was also called the 'Mere Way' by some locals, and was a popular area for children's play, walks, etc.

In one piece of independent research from the 1980s, we found a map drawn up at the time claiming that the 'Mere Way' land west of the Roman road belonged to King's Hedges and was the 'King's Hedges Closes' (small fields). No, that land never belonged to King's Hedges and was, historically, part of Impington Park and, before that, the huge 'Burrow Field'.

Furthermore, the research map featuring the incorrect 'King's Hedges Closes' also lists North Arbury as 'King's Hedges Estate' and South Arbury and the Stretten Avenue district as 'Arbury Estate'. 


The Stretten Avenue district, a part of Arbury ward but not estate from 1976 onwards, and formerly part of the New Chesterton district, North Chesterton ward then Castle ward, was listed as 'St Luke's area, Arbury ward' in 1980s City Council newsletters, and the Arbury Adventure Playground, Arbury Community Centre, Arbury Town Park, North Arbury Chapel and so on continued to reside in 'King's Hedges Ward' - otherwise known as North Arbury. 

Arbitrary ward redefinitions do not rewrite districts. 

The inaccurate information is featured in the Victoria Histories and British History Online, the source given being a contribution to the Cambridgeshire Collection. It is easily disproven, simply by checking old maps, sales particulars, etc. Do be wary and check sources!

The Cambridgeshire Collection is wonderful, one of the very finest resources for local historians, we are heavily in its debt, but, with contributions from all us Joe and Josephine Bloggs out here, can contain a certain 'Wikipedia' element at times. First rule: all sources must be reviewed!

King's Hedges belonged to the Bensons of Chesterton Hall, as did the Manor Farm.

There were two small cottages at the farm, and two of Andy Brett's 'olde' family were born there, before moving to Manor Farm.

'I think it was a kind of satellite of Manor Farm,' says Andy. 'It was separate, but the Bensons' tenant farmers at Manor Farm probably also farmed the 58 acres of King's Hedges too.'

Good guesswork, Andy! An 1899 newspaper report reveals that George Ambrose, tenant of the Manor Farm, was also tenant at King's Hedges.

Back to Andy:

'I remember gazing down the original King's Hedges Road to the farm in the early 1980s and the cottages where my great grandfather and great aunt were born had long gone. The place appeared derelict and resembled a 1930s council house - it was a single house. The ground was all pitted and rutted and looked quite sad.'

The original road to King's Hedges - and the starting point of the mighty extension ripping across the Arbury. Vroom! Vroom! 

Where did the King's Hedges name come from?

Of course, it doesn't have any prehistoric links, unlike Arbury, and while the whole area is rich in Roman finds, it's much later than that too. Various stories exist and one of the farm's tenants believed that the farm was named because of the original hedge-bordered track which led to it from Chesterton and crossed what was known as the watercourse - a drainage ditch - officially known as the 'First Public Drain'. 

'They were originally known as the King's Ditches,' he said. 'As the King's Hedges farm track crossed one, that's how the plot got named.'

Could be. It was plainly part of local folklore at the original King's Hedges, and is fascinating to know.

We have found no official documentation regarding this, and none of the other Arbury Archive contributors who lived in the district when it was farmland, referred to any 'King's Ditches' - they referred to the 'watercourse'.

In medieval times there were, of course hedges in the area which were spotlighted as being the King's. Not common hedgerows, of course, which abounded in all rural districts, but something else entirely.

In an article which appeared in the Cambridge Review in 1897, Thomas McKenny Hughes, geologist, who led some excavations at Arbury Camp in the early 20th Century, pointed out that the original King's Hedges was in the area of the medieval King's warren or game preserve in the old Royal Manor of Chesterton, where hedges were grown to channel animals into an area where they could be chased and killed by hunters for 'sport'. 

Could this be the origin of the name? We think it's by far the most likely source. The warren would have been dubbed 'The King's Hedges' by locals as the King made his way from Cambridge Castle often to watch the 'sport' - and it was his warren.

We're indebted to Cambridge Street Names, a brilliant publication by Ronald Gray and Derek Stubbings for digging out the Cambridge Review article. Several of us Arbury Archivists knew Derek from the Chesterton Local History Group and remember him fondly.

The name 'Kinges Headge' was apparently applied to the original King's Hedges farm by its owners, the Brackyn family, first appearing in print in 1588. The warren may have gone by then, but knowledge of its location (and perhaps even vestiges of it) would perhaps have been motivators for the naming. The site is small and the name very specific.

From 'Cambridge Street Names, Their Origins & Associations', Ronald Gray and Derek Stubbings, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

So, as local landowners once decided to name a small farm after a royal hedged hunting warren, the Council then decided to name everything for miles around after that warren? The whole of North Arbury and parts of East Chesterton? Does not compute. And, speaking personally, we don't even like blood sports. The notion of the warren and what took place within does not make us feel any sense of homeliness or belonging. We'll stick with North Arbury and East Chesterton.

As an aside, in the 1980s, a popular local joke concerned William The Conqueror camping behind some hedges to preserve his privacy - 'That's how King's Hedges got its name!' we laughed.

It must be said, local councillors played on the Arbury name to whip up unity at times. In 1983, when Cambridgeshire County Council proposed to close the Manor Community College on Arbury Road, Peter Cowell, originally an Arbury Ward city councillor and then 'King's Hedges' when the city council created the new ward out of the northern part of Arbury, said:

'Manor is a central focus in Arbury and its possible loss would do immeasurable damage to people of all ages in the community.'

A 'central focus in Arbury'? Yes, it was on Arbury Road, the boundary of North and South Arbury - very much in the centre of things.

Janet Jones, Arbury ward county councillor, was usually perfectly OK with dropping in 'King's Hedges' here and there in her comments to the press, but at the time of the Manor closure proposal, she said:

'... the people of Arbury will make this their campaign and fight to save their school.'

King's Hedges seemed to have slipped down the back of the sofa as far as both councillors were concerned at that point. We liked them both, they were committed workers for the district but, as one of our commenters pointed out in our article about the proposed Manor closure (here), both statements seem (perhaps) rather manipulative in retrospect.

The SACC campaign newsletter of 1983 - 'Save Arbury's Community College'. Councillors Jones and Cowell, chair and vice chair of the Manor governors, were heavily involved in the campaign, Councillor Cowell was on the Campaign Committee, and Councillor Jones served as a treasurer. The newsletter began: 'All over Arbury people are busy...' 

'All over Arbury...' Of course. King's Hedges was a little farm north of the railway tracks, or guided busway as it is today. In the late 1970s, it had been cut in two by the A14.

As a final point of interest, we mentioned earlier that the King's Hedges name sometimes appeared as 'King's Hedge' in the local press into the 19th Century and, as we know, the original name was first recorded in writing as 'Kinges Headge'. 

Perhaps the hunting warren back in the days of the Royal Manor of Chesterton was seen by some as being all one hedge? Something to ponder...

Anyway, below are the 1909 sales particulars for King's Hedges, here listed as 'King's Hedges Farm', although it was simply 'King's Hedges' on maps. 

The Ely Road is Milton Road. It was already known by the latter name by some people locally (this is how many old road namings and re-namings began) and was beginning to seep into print. More about that soon.

Field names at King's Hedges. Scroll back up to the map at the top of the article for locations.


  1. The Golden Hind is a lovely building. I used to think it was much older than it is.

  2. I saw the incorrect 'historical map' you refer to in the Victoria Histories and knew it was incorrect. The Victoria Histories are wonderful, but the compilers do drop into local studies departments at libraries and pluck out unsubstantiated and previously unpublished material. They are, however, open about it and the source of all material must be checked by readers. Sadly, that particular item was bilge. It happens.

    1. Seems a bit harsh to call it 'bilge' - but certainly inaccurate.

  3. Yeah, 'King's Hedges' is the stupidiest and snobbiest name in Cambridge. North Arbury was the real deal. King's Hedges is just a rebranding.

  4. Hyacinth Bucket: 'No, I must certainly do not live in North Arbury - I live in King's Hedges!' Funny thing is there are a lot of folks in King's Hedges Ward who bang on about the environment and probably think the name of the ward is a bit lovely and very historical - and 'It's NOT Arbury, oh no, not Arbury, dear. Yes, I know it was an ancient place somewhere near, but it's become a name that's a teensy weensy bit common.' It's all very ironic that the KH name spread because of the motor car.

  5. Kings Hedges sounds like the name of a country estate or an elite school. Very Cambridge really. Alongside names like Trumpington, Romsey Town and Arbury it sounds absolutely bloody stupid - even more so because it wasn't even where they say it is. I don't know when Cambridge gets off its throne and stops the chortling. I always think of Kings Hedges as part of North Arbury.

  6. They should of called it Arbury Camp Way at that end, turning into King's Hedges Road further on. I'm cynical to the absolute max about the modern day but the ancient Arbury stuff is fascinating.

  7. I've thought about this and wondered 'is it important or is it not?' I've decided it is to a large degree as it shows what little regard the Council has for local history and community. The Council assumes OWNERSHIP not REPRESENTATION in so many ways. There is confusion here between Arbury and King's Hedges and the Council created it. I never knew where King's Hedges actually was until I looked at your map, I assumed it was historically something mega in my neighbourhood, and I now think the Council is absolutely pathetic. Why on earth did they extend the road and name the entire neighbourhood after it when it was already called North Arbury? I can't work it out, but I think a lot of people here are keen to rebrand and push the house prices up. My neighbour likes to think she lives in 'Central Cambridge' because of all the 'Greater Cambridge' stuff (when did we vote for all that?) but in reality we're on the outskirts. Good luck to you here - I know one of the Arbury Archivists and may have some contributions to make later.

  8. This is a very interesting blog. I'm reading several posts before bed each night and I'm really keen on it. It is good to know all about the area and I didn't have an idea before. The farmhouse at Manor Farm looked like a nice old building and I think it's a shame the council didn't keep it and make it the Arbury Community Centre or something. Please continue the work here and I thank you.

  9. The Council won't rest until everything we once thought we knew as Arbury is called North Cambridge or King's Hedges Ward and Arbury is just a squidgy little bit that no other part of Cambridge wants. Bateson Road popped off to West Chesterton Ward to buffer the boundaries of 'outstanding' Chesterton Community College with Chesterton wards.

  10. I never thought the Arbury would have dedicated historians. Interesting.

  11. Oh, yes! Cambridge isn't all university colleges, silicone fens and big posh houses. We love the Arbury! :)

  12. I lived on King's Hedges Estate in the 1990s when I was in Cambridge but it was considered a part of Arbury and muddled in with North Arbury, despite being a voting ward. I never knew where King's Hedges actually was historically and thought the highway had been there forever. I'm surprised the historical King's Hedges was such a small and inconspicuous plot.

  13. Darling, how dare you! Most of the illustrious King's Hedges Ward is swathed in a road that is 45 years old! We are highly historical! Any more of this 'It's Arbury really' stuff and I'll send the King's Hedges Ward city councillors round with a booklet on Feminism, a booklet on Climate Change, a booklet on humanism, a booklet on why naming council wards after highways is lovely and why King's Hedges is a much nicer name than Arbury, and a booklet on why you are a thoroughly nasty person who takes up too much oxygen from our beloved King's Hedges. All hail King's Hedges! Down on your knees! On the glorious day... Don't worry. I joke. Love and kisses. xx

    1. Ooh, dear! We tremble! :)

  14. Residents clearly identified with the area being North Arbury and many still do and the writings of people who knew the district in rural times also identify it as Arbury, like your Mr Cardinal and his 'The Arbury' memoires from the early 80's. But the Council really didn't, and doesn't, give a fig about such things as history or community identification - they've been picking away at Arbury virtually since it was built, and the ring road was always envisaged which should have been called Arbury something. It would be better if councillors didn't make themselves out to be so 'of the people' because so many aren't. There is a manorial feel to it all and they dictate, whatever history or public feeling says, in the less affluent areas of Cambridge that is. But if anybody tried to rename old neighbourhoods where THEIR forebears lived, I feel the majority of 'our' councillors would be up in arms. However, whatever the Council dictates, history cannot be rewritten.

  15. It's quite exciting as things fall into place in what has become rather a broad and straggling area. Once you remove that strange Council creation, King's Hedges Ward, Arbury makes as much sense historically as Chesterton. Well done! Keep peeling back those layers of time.

    1. I never liked the King's Hedges name much, it sounds snobbish and formal but the hunting and motorway links make it much worse.

    2. 'Kings Hedges Ward' councillors do recognise North Arbury and are interested in the history of the Arbury. They didn't create the 'ward' thing.

    3. We were in touch with a Councillor Martin Smart - who took the trouble to reply to us and was very aware of the Arbury - and Alex Collis, of course, fully recognises North Arbury. The confusion arrived because King's Hedges estate was part of North Arbury, near KH Road, then the Council tried to rename the entire estate King's Hedges Estate, via the electoral ward. To some, this seemed a good idea (anything but Arbury!), but to most of us who know the area, it's bunk. Electoral wards are one thing, historical districts another. And ditching historic names for 'rebranding' is a shallow and futile exercise. North Arbury was a hub of great community initiatives - the name is nothing to be ashamed of.

    4. I find the history of Kings Hedges enjoyably gruesome. Imagine trudging through the woods and seeing the king's hedges of the hunting warren, silhouetted against the sky, and hearing the screams of a wild boar being gored by hunters in there. And the modern highway extension with all those cars! Kings Hedges is like the local anti-hero as a name, compared to Arbury and its ancient settlement. Kings Hedges is Skeletor to He-Man.

  16. 'The working class people of Arbury know exactly where Arbury is/was and that's why I enjoy your blog so much. I like history, not twee names with dark histories prompted by Council dictates. Arbury is a people's republic in its way!'

  17. It's not only the original northern part of historic Arbury that has fallen into Kings Hedges Ward. It continues to spread illogically. I live in Scarsdale Close, off Green End Road, in East Chesterton. That's now been changed to Kings Hedges. What is it with the Council pushing that horrible name? I don't like blood sports - and never have!

  18. North Arbury gave people something to research which made sense. That's how they did the Arbury stuff in the early 1980s. There's some terrible pip squeaks around who think King's Hedges sounds grander, but it's groundless in that area and about blood sports and the aristocracy anyway. Trying to sink the Arbury name is a bad move. Look at the Cambridge City crime stats and King's Hedges Ward is the worst. Submerging the rightful name did zilch and just took away something positive which should of been defended.

  19. I remember the council touting the 'King's Hedges' name years ago, back around the turn of the 70s. This was their plan for the 'King's Hedges Estate' in what was then mainly called North Arbury. They described the land between Arbury Road and the railway tracks as the 'wedge of land between Arbury Road and King's Hedges Road'. This surprised me as in reality the 'wedge' was largely between Arbury Road and the rail tracks (now Guided Busway). Most of King's Hedges Road hadn't been built and the original road ran across the busway and turned into a track leading to King's Hedges. It didn't run across 'the wedge'. The motorway was obviously a twinkle in the planners' eyes even back then, but that 'wedge of land' was the historic Arbury Meadows and Manor Farm. The Council planners would not have been so arrogant had it been Newnham!


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Our trusty old Arbury map showing location details before the Manor Farm was established. The red line, inserted by Jim Smith, indicates the course of the Roman road - Akeman Street or the Mere Way. The land north of Arbury Road was the Arbury or Harborough Meadows, Arbury/Harborough furlongs and Arbury Camp, King's Hedges was in its original position, north of the railway (now guided busway) and Arbury Road ran from the Ely/Milton Road to the Histon/Cambridge Road - as it did until the late 1970s. Introduction - by the Arbury Archivists Jim Smith is a local history researcher and a good friend of the Arbury Cambridge Blog. He has been researching Roman finds in the historic Arbury area and has written this article for us. We are most grateful! He follows the adventures of those who scraped away centuries of soil to reveal ancient findings beneath.  Of course, as always, we deal with historic Arbury here, not council planners' estates or electoral wards, which are both prone to

Main Streets of Arbury: Campkin Road - Part 1

Left: work begins on Campkin Road in 1961. Numbers 1 and 2 Manor Farm Cottages have been demolished, but the intention is to preserve the old trees lining the old Manor Farm Drive. Right: a similar view in more modern times, with the Arbury Town Park and Campkin Road. In 1982, Campkin Road was described as the 'Hauptstrasse of North Arbury' by local journalist Sara Payne. Ms Payne's local history articles in the Cambridge Weekly News were hugely popular and, for each one, Ms Payne visited a street in Cambridge and talked to the residents, collecting their memories for publication and producing a fascinating series of 'Then and Now' style articles. 'Cambridge Weekly News', 1982. Down Your Street followed in the footsteps of a similar series in the local press in the early 1960s - by Erica Dimmock - and both now make fascinating reading. We're starting our look at Campkin Road with material from the 'Arbury 1980' project and accounts from locals

Manor School Memories Part 1

The Manor School on Arbury Road was one of the main focuses of life for North and South Arbury for decades. With its evening classes and youth centre, and various community activities - like the annual Christmas party for the elderly and the annual school play in the 1980s ( Annie Get Your Gun and Dracula Spectacular spring to mind) - the Manor opened as separate boys' and girls' schools in 1959 (the girls had to share the boys' buildings at first as their own were still under construction). The school later became co-ed.      An aerial view of t he Manor Schools - Boys' and Girls', around 1960, with a section of Arbury Road and Arbury Court. Note Arbury Court was yet to gain its library and large supermarket building, and Campkin Road was still the Manor Farm Drive. The side of the Manor School 'new block', built in the early 1970s, the tower block and boys' gym beyond. The school was built in the Park Meadow of the old Manor Farm - which is how the &

Arbury Court - Part Of The 'Centre' Of The Original Arbury Estate...

A view across Arbury Court, looking towards Arbury Road, in 1976. Arbury Court is part of the 'centre' of the original Arbury Estate in Cambridge. The Court, with its pub, supermarket, hardware store and post office, chip shop, newsagent, TV shop, greengrocer, hairdresser, chemist, supermarket and branch library, is part of the 'hub' of the estate. The historic Arbury district. The Arbury or Harborough (the names were variations on each other and interchangeable) Meadows covered most of the land north of Arbury Road. The road ran from Milton Road to the Histon/Cambridge Road until the late 1970s. The Manor Farm was formed in the years following the 1840 Chesterton Enclosures. Orchard Park (originally Arbury Park and, before that, Arbury Camp Farm) features the outline of part of the Arbury prehistoric settlement at Ring Fort Road. We've inserted the sites of Arbury Court, the Guided Busway and Campkin Road. Arbury Road marks the boundary of North and South Arbury, a

Arbury Archaeology and History: Part 1

Imagine an iron age settlement. It is surrounded by a circular earthwork. People live here. There are houses, and pens for animals within the enclosure. Until recent years, it was not believed to be a fort. The settlement is larger than some, but believed to be very much the equivalent of what we now call a village - the earthwork simply to defend it from wolves and animal thieves. The earthwork is filled with water, and reeds and rushes grow there. Despite the naming of the Arbury earthwork as 'Ring Fort Road' in the Arbury Camp Farm Arbury/Orchard Park development, the original height of the earthwork and its enclosed area were not believed to indicate that Arbury was a fort (compare to Wandlebury), and the findings of archaeologists from Cambridge and London from the early 1960s to 1970 discounted the notion. Comment from Arbury Camp, Cambridge, A Preliminary Report on Excavations - by John Alexander and David Trump, 1970: The excavations therefore tend to confirm earlier s

Arbury Snippets Part 4: Arbury Terrace, Arbury Hedges, 19th Century Pugilists, Hunting & Escaped Prisoners At The Real King's Hedges And Suspects On The Arbury Meadows...

We've superimposed the old Arbury Meadows, Furlongs and Corner onto a 1900 map. Remember, the Manor Farm, which covered most of North Arbury (or the Council's inappropriately named 'King's Hedges Ward'), did not exist before the 1840s. Our 1900 map also features the details from the 1840 enclosures map. The names Arbury and Harborough were variations on each other and interchangeable. Whilst the 1840 enclosures map used the 'Harborough' form, an 1839 newspaper article (featured) used the 'Arbury' form. During the late 1800s, the 'Harborough' form all but disappeared. The Arbury name is derived from the Old English for 'earthwork', the earthwork surrounding the iron age settlement at Arbury Camp Farm (now Orchard Park, originally Arbury Park). The earthwork, or at least part of it, was a landscape feature for around 2000 years, and the part of the outline seen on this map is incorporated into the design of Ring Fort Road. Arbury was. f

Ask Arbury: The Roman Villa in Arbury

     E-mail to Arbury Cambridge blog: Was a Roman villa found at King's Hedges? I recently saw an outside display in North Arbury/King's Hedges Ward called 'The Roman Landscape in King's Hedges' which claims there was one. And is King's Hedges Road Roman?  We've seen that display. Electoral wards are not historic areas and local historians really do need to be mindful of that fact. The answer to your question regarding the Roman villa and King's Hedges Road is no. The Roman villa was found on the site of King's Hedges School, which is not part of the historic King's Hedges acres. Historically, King's Hedges was simply a named property, a farm, of fifty eight acres, and is now north of the guided busway. It was never a district. King's Hedges School is dearly loved by many of us and we treasure it, but those in the know accept it's not actually in any historically meaningful King's Hedges district, and the site had nothing to do w

What Arbury Means To You...

We thought it would be good to invite comments (or emails - from readers about what Arbury means to you. Of course, many have already made their views plain on here, but we like the idea of a dedicated blog post. Please be aware that we are referring to the original Arbury area here, the area between Gilbert Road and King's Hedges Road, not modern electoral wards/misnamed apparently 'separate' housing estates. From 'Arbury is Where We Live!' (1981): Community action has always been important in Arbury. The first Arbury community groups were formed with the building of South Arbury in the 1950s, and North Arbury has seen many fantastic community efforts - resulting in the likes of the Arbury Adventure Playground, Arbury Carnival, Arbury Community Centre and the Arbury Town Park. So, what does Arbury mean to YOU? How long have you lived here? Are you interested in Arbury history? What do you like about Arbury? What do you dislike? What mak

Manor School Memories - Part 2

Lads from the Manor Boys' School in 1960. D. Claton, M. Farrow, R. Mitchell, C. Peck, I. Skeels, R. Potter and G. Paine are present. Do any readers remember who is who? School's back in - Manor School/Community College on Arbury Road that is (now North Cambridge Academy). Here is the second part of our series on Manor Memories - Part 1 is here . Pupils' foreign holiday, 1960: the first Manor girls to go on a joint foreign holiday with Manor boys: G. Anderson, J. Barnes, C. Blackwell, H. Brown, S. Budd, L. Carter, A. Clarke, L. Doggett, C. Doughty, P. Drake, S. Hardy, E. Harradine, B. Kaspar, D. Miller, J. Parker, L. Phillips, J. Reeves, J. Spencer, J. Symonds, with headmistress Mrs Firman. Note the Manor Schools' caretaker's house can be seen in the background, and the trees of the old Manor Farm orchard. October 1960, and here is a view of the Manor Boys' and Girls' schools from the car park at the Snow Cat public house (now the Cambridge Gurdwara). A view