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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. for many years, thought to have been an undefended site, the earthwork simply being to protect the animals kept by the settlers from wolves or thieves. But excavations in recent times indicate that it may very well have been a fort. Until the late 1970s, King's Hedges Road was a dead end, terminating at the original King's Hedges, north of the modern day guided busway. In the late 1970s, it was redirected and extended across the old Arbury Meadows/Manor Farm - lopping off the original junction of the Histon/Cambridge Road and Arbury Road. Most of the modern King's Hedges Road dates from the late 1970s.

Travelling back through time is, of course, impossible. Well, as far as we know!

But vintage newspapers can give us more than a glimpse of recent centuries, and so we'll take a little trip back to Arbury and the REAL King's Hedges (or 'King's Hedge') of the 19th century as best we can - via some vintage newspaper articles.


The language and actions featured in the articles at times will not be approved of by many modern folk - and are not condoned by us Arbury Archivists, but this is the somewhat distant past. In the future many things we say and do today may meet with similar disapproval. If you are likely to find such articles in anyway distressing or 'triggering' please approach with caution or do not read any further.

Remember, in the case of King's Hedges, we are not referring to the area north of Arbury Road - strangely called 'King's Hedges Ward' by the Council but, far more appropriately, North Arbury by those of us 'in the know'. We're talking about the original King's Hedges/King's Hedge, north of what is now the Guided Busway. Similarly, the Arbury Meadows, which are mentioned in one of the newspaper articles from 1839, were not south of Arbury Road, where the Council's current Arbury electoral ward is situated, but north in the misnamed 'King's Hedges Estate/Ward' or, more accurately in the historical sense, North Arbury area.

Our old faithful map at the top of the article should help your orientation if you are not familiar with Arbury history.

Just remember: the historic Arbury Meadows = much of the Arbury part of the Council's 'King's Hedges Ward'; the real (historic) King's Hedges/King's Hedge = a small farm north of the Guided Busway.

Click on each article for a readable view.

So, off we go then. Seen the map? Got some chocolate and some fancy bottled water and a flask of tea or coffee? Away we go!

We arrive at the real King's Hedges ('a retired field'), north of what is now the guided busway, in April, 1824, to find a Cambridge student waxing lyrical about some organised fights on the land - eagerly attended by many - in Pierce Egan's Life In London. Not sure why this plot was selected as the venue for the fights, but it may tie in with the origins of the name as a hedged hunting warren - and so other 'sporting' events may naturally have been held there later. Please exercise caution before reading the article. Click on the article image for larger view:

Moving on to February 1828, and we remain at the original King's Hedges for the climax of a Quy Hunt. This report made us shudder more than a little but, as the most likely source of the King's Hedges name is tied in with blood sports (a hedged hunting warren), seems quite appropriate. Please consider before reading this - times have changed. Some of the Arbury Archivists found it upsetting to read - and none of us were happy with it. The real King's Hedges plot bordered on the 'lordship of Impington' - which was just the other side of the Mere Way, beginning with Impington Park. The parish of Impington (a different matter) ran further southwards, terminating across the Arbury Meadows (later Manor Farm) not far from Arbury Road.

Quickly (and gladly) leaving that particular scene, we return to the Arbury land south of what is now the Guided busway, and make our way towards the Cambridge/Histon Road...

... to Arbury Hedges, June, 1829, for a sale of  oak, ash, elm and willow trees. Arbury Hedges? Premises up by the Histon Road, apparently. From the lengthily titled Cambridge, Wisbech, Ely, Chatteris, Manea, Upwell, Thorney, Whittlesea, Newmarket, Soham, Linton and Royston Advertiser.

In May, 1830, two prisoners escaped from the Cambridgeshire County jail, via several ladders 'incautiously' left unattended by workmen, and made their way to the original King's Hedges, where the police lost sight of them... the trail eventually led to Sawston and Waltham Abbey...

Cambridge Chronicle, March, 1839: We're back from the real King's Hedges. north of the modern day guided busway, to the land north of Arbury Road - the Arbury Meadows - for the next stop-off. Newspaper articles tended - and still tend - to report the highs and lows of life, and this one focuses on a crime. A Histon farmer was robbed on the highway and police investigations led to four men in a tent on Arbury Meadows. We're glad that the judge strictly adhered to 'Innocent Until Proven Guilty'.

1859 - Weekly Dispatch: Arbury Camp is mentioned in this 'atlas' of Cambridgeshire - as is Wandlebury (or 'Vandlebury' as it's spelt here).

Cambridge Chronicle, May, 1891: In the 1800s, Chesterton habitations boomed way beyond the village, due to its proximity to Cambridge. It would not be drawn into what was then Cambridge town's boundary until 1911. The Victorian New Chesterton development saw huge development - and the Arbury name was not ignored. There was quite a lot of interest in the history of the prehistoric camp at that time. The sale announcement above reveals the presence of an Arbury Terrace by the junction of the Chesterton and Milton Roads. Is it still there and has the name simply dropped out of use? We're not sure, but we'll examine the Cambridge Street Directories and report back at a later date. 

There was also an 'Arbury House' in Chesterton Road. Once again, we shall research further and report back.

More 'snippets' soon.

UPDATE 19/09/2023

This was a view we took of the shops on Milton Road from the top deck of the Arbury bus going into town a few years ago!

We have just heard from Jim Smith, a fellow local history researcher and enthusiast, who has sent us a photograph of pages from the 1887 Street Directory, featuring Arbury Terrace and its occupants at that time. Many thanks to Jim. 

When what was then often termed 'the gyratory traffic system' was established in the late 1960s, the large houses on the traffic island were marooned. They were previously on the corner of Milton Road. Their back gardens became the roadway at the back of the houses. It seems that Arbury Terrace has been incorporated into the row of shops/businesses on Milton Road opposite the Portland Arms.

Looking down Milton Road from Chesterton Road in the early 20th Century - Arbury Terrace (each house 'substantially built of brick with stone bay window and dressings') was on the right and, we believe, is featured in the photograph. Photo: Cambridgeshire Collection.

Jim Smith's photograph of the 1887 Cambridge Street Directory featuring Arbury Terrace.


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