Skip to main content

1986/1987/1988: Mrs Hinchcliffe's Old Arbury, Chesterton And Vicarage Terrace Memories - Part 2

A postcard Mrs Hinchcliffe sent to her father, Henry Brett, at 106, Milton Road, Chesterton, Cambridge in 1925. Henry would often accompany his wife and daughter for the first few days of a holiday, but could not leave his smallholding at Manor Farm for long at that time of year.

Postmark Guildford, 17 June, 1925: 'Dear Daddy, Just a card hoping you are well. I am surprised you have not written to us. Well, dear daddy, this is all I can say, with love, Grace xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'

Part two of Mrs Grace Hinchcliffe's 1980s contributions to the Arbury Archive.

'Dad was still working his smallholding at Manor Farm. He did that til he died. He built a conservatory onto the back of our house [106 Milton Road], and put a sink in it - because there wasn't one before. We had no water supply in the house. That had to be fetched from a tap in the back garden - I always remember, the tap and the garden shed were covered in hops, growing all over them! The wash house and privy were in a little lane at the back of the house. The wash house had a copper in it. It was shared with Mrs Day, next door. It made a good bicycle shed as well!

'They used the front room as a shop where Mum sold Dad's produce. She used to make lovely toffee apples to sell, and buy in a few sweets. Mum also did some dressmaking - she could make brides' and bridesmaids' dresses, even do wallpapering. She was very clever, and she cooked lovely.

'My dad said that whenever there was a thunder storm over Arbury when he was a kiddie, Grandma Brett would tell the children to hide under the big kitchen table and go around covering up the mirrors and cutlery and then join them! She had a real fear of thunder. 

We're featuring again our trusty old Arbury map, with the Bretts' house marked with a red 'x' for all new readers. This map dates back to about 1900, a few years before Manor Farm was bought by Cambridgeshire County Council.

'Me and Mum didn't like it, either. If we had a storm in the night, we'd always get up and make tea! Dad used to sleep through it, but then he was out working in all sorts of weather. Sometimes a storm would fade then come back again and we'd say it'd got stuck in Coton Hole! I never really knew where Coton Hole was. Somewhere in Coton, I suppose!'

We have been unable to find any reference to this location online, so if anybody knows anything more about this saying, we'd be grateful to hear!

A Starr and Rignall photograph of Mrs Hinchcliffe, with her mother, Lydia Brett, 1916. Starr and Rignall were well known local photographers of Cambridge and Ely. The photograph had been printed as a postcard, which was a popular trend for sending to friends and family at the time.

'I used to go up to the water course which ran across Manor Farm to get watercress for sandwiches for Sunday tea with Grandma Brett. I was very proud when she first let me go and get it on my own - thought I was very grown-up!'

Manor Farm had been split up into smallholdings after its sale to Cambridgeshire County Council in 1909.

'All across the Arbury were men working different smallholdings, and there were chicken coops and pig sties and fruit trees and vegetables were growing. Mr Baker, who lived in one of the Manor cottages, used to go round the houses in Chesterton, and round about, with a horse and cart, selling vegetables off his smallholding.

'Dad's ground at Manor Farm was five acres and he had ducks, geese, chickens, pigs and a horse for the plough. There was a big shed on there and a well, with a lockable wooden lid. Dad grew corn, artichokes, lots of vegetables, quinces, raspberries, gooseberries.... There were some apple and pear trees there, and that was part of his produce. He put up a tennis court for me and [cousin] Muriel and Mum, and swings for me and Muriel. Mum would often take us for a picnic on Dad's ground. You'd get to it down the little cart track by the last of the Manor Cottages, which ran from the Drive through to Milton Road. I think part of Dad's ground is on the Manor School site now [1987].

'Down that track was also the University Field Labs that we've talked about before, and we used to call them "The Experiment Farm"!

'I remember me and Muriel hiding behind a tree in the Manor Farm Drive opposite the old orchard one day. We were throwing bits of twig and stuff at people passing by and pretending to be ghosts, making strange noises. It was one of those things we did - sometimes we climbed up a tree and did it. It was a prank that got boring quickly because not many people passed that way.

'On this day, Mr Baker came by. We rarely saw him at that end of the Drive because he lived up the other end, and I chucked something out and made a particularly weird noise and he stopped and said: "Good heavens! I think there's something very odd behind that tree! I must hasten on my way!" And he walked off quickly. Well, we were doubled up with laughter, me and Muriel! Of course, I know now he knew it was us and was giving us a bit of fun, but we didn't at the time. Muriel said the noise I'd made had sounded like "a very strange owl", and although I tried to do it again, I never could!

View across Manor Farm from Arbury Road. The trees which Mrs Hinchcliffe and her cousin hid behind and climbed are on the right.

'And then there was poor old Grandad Brett. Grandma Brett always used to say: "Never pick up a needle on a Sunday," - it was the day of rest, but of course there was work to be done. Grandad had the pigs and goats and anything Mr Camps wanted doing to see to, but he'd sometimes try to snatch a few minutes shut eye in the Best Room after dinner.

'Well, me and Muriel were told to go and 'rest our dinner' for a while before going out to play, and there we'd be, sitting opposite Grandad, who'd pulled his cap over his eyes and was trying to sleep. Sunday was supposed to be a quiet, solemn day, but, of course, me and Muriel would get the giggles.

'Grandad would push his cap back up, and say: "What have you two sat on? A giggles' nest? Now, be quiet, do - let me have five minutes!"

'Of course, that made it worse! We knew Grandad's bark was much worse than his bite and in the end he'd chuck his cap at us, then go and sit on this chair he had near the piggery at the bottom of the garden. Poor old Grandad!'

Part 3 is here...


Popular posts from this blog

What Did The Romans Ever Do for Arbury? Jim Smith

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

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 no

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