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Searching WW1 History

Posted by on 09:00 in Village History | 0 comments

Can anyone help Tony Pringle with the following?


“Concerning 12850 Private Frederick DRAKE of 2nd Battalion Suffolk Regiment< ?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


Born in Chippenham, Cambs 4th March 1895 (Newmarket Q2-1895  3b:535) Baptised St Margaret’s Chippenham (Cambs) on 9th June 1895 Son of Elias and Jane DRAKE (nee POWIS)


Enlisted 31st August 1914, arrived in France 19th January 1915 Gassed Evacuated to UK and discharged “Phthysis” on 14th November 1915 and awarded silver war badge # 62403  at depot.


Died at home in Chippenham, Cambs  27th January 1917   witness and informant    E Drake (Father)


Occupation given as discharged Private, 2nd Suffolk Regiment (Farm Labourer)


Cause of death (gas poisoning at the front)

(1) Pulmonary Tuberculosis)

(2) Exhaustion


Buried in churchyard at St Margaret’s Chippenham, Cambs on February 1st 1917…the grave has so far not been found, but there is no monument within the graveyard, and plans within the church do not locate the grave. The area used at that time is largely without any markers. 


I am sure this is enough to have Fred put on the National Book of Remembrance etc even possible to get a headstone in the church yard with the added words, “Known to be buried in this cemetery”


I do know CWGC will want to try and trace any surviving relatives can we see if there are any around here still please?”


If you can help please contact Tony on 01638 663343

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Village History Help

Posted by on 10:21 in News, Village History | 0 comments

If anyone can help with this request from Sue, please let me know –

“Back in 1911 my ancesters lived at Sounds cottage in Chippenham I would be intrested to know where abouts The Sounds were I imagine that it could have been a farm or an area of Chippenham they all worked on the land or in Chippenham Park. Could anyone help please.”




History project seeks wartime airfield memories

Posted by on 07:51 in Village History | 0 comments

A community heritage project researching two historic local airfields wants to hear from local people who remember the foreign fliers who were based there. Rich Soil Rich Heritage, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, wants to hear from local people who remember the American, Polish and Belgian aviators based at RAF Snailwell and the American based at RAF Bottisham. The project wants to hear from anyone with memories, information, photos or documents related to the international personnel who were based at Snailwell and Bottisham.

Many hundreds of pilots, ground crew and support staff were based at these two historic airfields during the Second World War. Out project will ensure that these memories are preserved for future generations and that these international influences on our local community are documented.  

Rich Soil Rich Heritage is a community heritage project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project combines oral history and archive research with drama and film to record the history of the many different nationalities who have come to East Cambs for work. The work theme links very different peoples across almost four centuries. From the Dutch fen drainage engineers in the mid 17thC , the Romany seasonal workers of the 19thC, the impact of the Second World War and how Prisoners of War worked on local farms, to the late 1990s and the arrival of Portuguese migrant workers.

If you would like further information or would like to be involved please contact Hetti Wood on 01353 722228 or email

1935 Silver Jubilee in Chippenham

Posted by on 08:12 in Village History | 0 comments

In one Jubilee year we can look back to another in Chippenham.

1935 marked the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.  Children at Chippenham School took part in the celebrations as the attached press cutting shows.

Silver Jubilee 1935

Drake Family

Posted by on 16:26 in Village History | 0 comments

I am researching my wifes family tree, her mother was Margaret Canfield Drake born in Chippenham, other family names are TRIBICK,DOWNING,MUNNS. I am also interested if anyone can shed light on the name CANFIELD.

Drake Family Tree Search

Posted by on 16:59 in Village History | 0 comments

I have just visited the village of Chippenham and loved it.  After ten years of research I have traced my  family  the Drakes back to the village.  They are on the war memorial and in the church records. My great great grandfather Alfred Drake left the village in the 1860s and came to Durham to work in the coal mines. He was one of nine children and left eight brothers and sisters in the village.  They lived at Rodney Square which is no longer there.  I would love to hear from anyone who can help with my history search or is interested.

Chippenham at War

Posted by on 22:45 in Village History | 0 comments

Between 1940 and 1946 Chippenham Park was used as a camp for the army, and after the war ended for Polish refugees.

From 1940 to 1941 the west wing of Chippenham Hall was a maternity hospital.  The concrete track along the southern section of the Park wall between the Snailwell Road and the road to La Hogue was built during the Second World War.

The 8th Armoured Brigade returned from North Africa in late 1944 in preparation for D-Day, arriving in Scotland in early December 1944.  They had left their tanks behind in Egypt being employed on guard duties until they left. From Scotland they were sent to Chippenham Park. To even out combat experience the constitution of the Brigade was changed so it comprised both experienced and inexperienced troops. At Chippenham Park the assembly of the reformed Brigade began, the Brigade being joined by among others the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards.

While waiting for their Sherman tanks to arrive they were taken for map reading walks to keep them occupied.  When they received the tanks training for mine removal started. A petrol tin was placed on the road, which the Sherman approached within a hundred yards. A member of the crew dismounted, crawled towards the petrol tin, bayonet in hand probing the tarmac road. When he reached the petrol tin he ran back to the tank, fetched the towing hawser, a massive affair, and attached it with string to the tin, and ran back to the tank. The Sherman then reversed pulling the tin along the road. This exercise apparently mystified the watching locals!

The 4th/7th Dragoon Guards were trained in the use of the secret Duplex-Drive "swimming" Sherman tanks that floated by means of a canvas screen around the tank and equipped with a propeller (hence Duplex-Drive). Further training in the use of these vehicles took place in Norfolk.

From Chippenham in May 1944 they moved on to Winchester ready to embark for D-Day.

The photograph shows the Army Camp at Chippenham Park in the winter of 1947.  This was provided by Robert Shaw whose wife was the daughter of post-war Polish refugees. She was born at Christmas 1946 and spent the first few months of her life in a Nissen hut in Chippenham  through that very cold winter. On the back of the photo it records that these huts were known as “barrels of laughs”.

Chippenham History

Posted by on 10:53 in Village History | 0 comments

The earliest area worked as arable was probably in the north of the parish near the Iron-Age settlement and Anglo-Saxon cemetery. Thremhowe and Flothowe fields, to the south-west of the village, have Scandinavian names, suggesting more intensive cultivation there following the 9th century Danish occupation. In the late 10th century there was an active land market: Abbot Beorhtnoth was engaged c. 980 in the purchase of estates ranging from 10-20 a. up to 80 a. and 124 a., including potentially 12½ farmsteads on the holdings involved. 
By the mid 16th century the north-eastern third of the parish was probably occupied by old inclosures belonging to Badlingham manor. In the rest of the parish there were seven medieval open fields: Sound and Stonehill fields were first recorded c. 1144-6, and the others were named by the late 12th century and the early 13th. Pudmanhill and Stonehill fields lay alongside farmland of Badlingham manor. At Chippenham in 1544 there were 424 a. in North field to the north of the village, beyond the Badlingham road. West field, to the west of the village between Newyards Lane and Port Way, covered 218 a., and there were 133 a. in Pudmanhill field to the east. South-west of the village Thremhowe field included 279 a., and there were 392 a. to its south in Sound field. Immediately south of the village Little Beck field had 190 a., and to the south-east of the village there were 94 a. in Stonehill field. The eighth field, Blackland field, between Little Beck and Stonehill fields, created partly out of land previously in cultivation and partly from newly cleared heathland, occupied 182 a. in 1544. By 1712 it had been renamed Lodge field, and by 1780 North field had been renamed Mill field.

Between the mid 16th century and the early 18th the number of open fields was reduced from eight to five. In 1712 parts of Pudmanhill field were incorporated into North field Thremhowe field was divided between West and Sound fields, while the remnants of Stonehill field were divided between Mill field and Shannels land. Little Beck and Lodge fields remained largely unchanged. By 1780 there were three open fields: Mill field had c. 500 a. West field had c. 400 a. and Sound field c. 630 a while closes in Lodge field, and Shannels land attached to New farm comprised c. 200 a.

Customary tenants’ rents declined from 10s. an acre in the late 14th century to 8s. an acre in the 15th century and the early 16th. In 1780 an acre was valued at 10s. in three open fields, but in Lodge field an acre was valued at 8s. because of the poorer quality of the soil. An inclosure Act was passed in 1791, covering 2,240 a. of arable in Chippenham and Badlingham.  There were c. 2,200 a. of arable c. 1870-1970, but c. 230 a. was turned into grassland in the early 1980s for two stud farms.

Tenure, strips, and farms were consolidated between the mid 16th century and the early 18th century. There was 1,276 a. of freehold and copyhold in 1544, but by 1560 land held by those tenures had been reduced to 1,099 a.  In 1563 Thomas Revett purchased 100 a. of freehold.  In the late 16th century there was a tendency for medium-sized copyholds to be bought up by the lords to make larger leasehold farms, and by 1636 only 523 a. of copyhold and freehold was left.  In 1696 Lord Orford purchased c. 500 a. of copyhold, making leasehold the predominant tenure. In 1791 John Tharp bought the last remaining 67 a. of copyhold.
Between 1544 and 1712 the total number of open-field strips had declined from 2,601 to 812, with 1-a. strips increasing from a tenth to half of the total.  The process, however, was an uneven one: 79 of the 245 strips in Mill field were less than 1 a. in 1712, but in Lodge field 14 out of 24 blocks were c. 5-23 a.

The medieval division of holdings into numerous half yardlands gradually gave way in the 17th and 18th centuries to six large farms, little altered thereafter. In 1544 there were 41 holdings of between half a yardland and a few acres, three yardlands, and one farm of 100 a.  In 1636 Sir William Russell’s leasehold farms comprised four under 40 a., three yardlands, and three of c. 90-200 a. each.  There were still traces of the medieval pattern in 1712, with eleven farms of between 60 a. and a few acres, but they were overshadowed by three farms of c. 100-150 a., worked from the northern end of the village, two farms of c. 250-400 a. worked from the southern end, and New farm on the former site of the Chicksands grange with 280 a.  All the small farms had undergone amalgamation by 1780, when there were four farms of c. 500-620 a., one of c. 320 a., and two of c. 132-182 a. After inclosure in 1791 there were eight farms in the parish, five worked from near the village: Manor farm at its northern end, and Park farm at its western side respectively had c. 450 and 500 a. each and Church farm at the southern end had c. 150 a.  New farm, renamed La Hogue Hall farm c. 1712-80, comprised c. 650 a., and was rented in succession by two families, the Reynolds family c. 1780-1835, and the Kents c. 1836-1922.  One of the other farms bordering upon the heathland was also held by members of the Reynolds and Kent families c. 1818-71.  After the 1870s Manor and Park farms each comprised c. 600 a., and Church farm had c. 250 a., incorporating the land of the other three village farms. There was further consolidation of the Chippenham farms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  In 1947 La Hogue, Church, and Water Hall farms were sold off, followed by Manor farm in 1981. In the 1980s and 1990s the estate’s remaining agricultural land was divided between two tenancies.

Badlingham Hall farm covering c. 350 a. in 1818, had separate wheat and barley barns in 1826.  In the late 19th century and early 20th its acreage totalled c. 650 a., and it was occupied by successive members of the Kent family from 1847 until 1949, when it was sold off by the Chippenham Park estate.  Grange farm of c. 150 a. at the south-eastern edge of the parish may have occupied the former site of Sibton grange.

In 1671 Chippenham was overrun with grooms and racehorses. There was a stud farm at Chippenham Park c. 1802-4, breeding racing horses for Lord Clermont, and another stud farm at Manor farm in 1831. In 1883 the Newmarket Jockey Club purchased 300 a. of heathland. The land subsequently formed part of the Limekilns gallops, and of the Water Hall training ground between the Bury road and the line of the present Newmarket bypass. In the 1990s Water Hall ground included two canters of c. 6-9 furlongs each, used in winter and spring, and the western section of a 4-km. dryweather gallop which extends into Snailwell parish.  After the Second World War Chippenham Lodge Stud was established in the grounds of Chippenham Lodge, which in 1984 had 100 a., housing 15 mares, and one stallion. In 1981 two stud farms were started on the former arable of Manor farm. Mill Stud west of the Isleham Road at the site of the old windmill had c. 100 a., and stabled 25 mares in 1997.
The fen at the north-west corner of the parish was used primarily for fuel and grazing from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. In 1086 a fishery, presumably at the fen, rendered 1,500 eels. In the late 18th century the fenland was predominantly used for the grazing of cows. After the inclosure of the fen in 1796, every cottager was restricted to cutting three loads of turf a year, their common rights being exchanged for 3 a. in all. The poor, however, were granted 36 a. from which to cut sedge, which was only to be sold in the parish. In 1858 the poor had to give the fen reeves one day’s notice before proceeding to cut turf, and in the 19th and 20th centuries the fenland was mainly used as shelter for game birds, and also for supporting wildlife.
The preceptor of Chippenham bought out common rights and exchanged lands with freeholders in the 1280s to create the rabbit warren to the south-east of Ditch Way along the boundary with Kennett. In the mid 16th century it was let for a rent of 505 rabbits, but by 1712 the warren had been converted into arable attached to New farm. Coursing controlled the rabbit population in the 19th century. Since 1988 there has been a 100-a. deer farm at Isleham plantation between the Isleham and Fordham roads.

From the early 18th century until the early 20th agriculture was the main source of employment. The number of agricultural workers declined from 104 to 84 persons c. 1801-11, but c. 1821-31 rose from 100 to 115. In 1861 thirty of the male labourers were children aged 14 and under, but 65 boys were employed at the five Chippenham farms. In 1871 only sixteen of Chippenham’s boys aged 14 and under worked as farm hands, but the farmers employed 60 boys most of whom presumably lived in neighbouring parishes. In 1852 unemployment was severe, but tenants of La Hogue and Badlingham farms provided their employees with generous Christmas gifts c. 1865-73. A strike in 1874 resulted in a lockout, and the South Cambridgeshire Agricultural Labourers Society paid the rents and shoe bills of 26 men from Chippenham. Fine weather permitted the collection of the harvest without the strikers’ help, but the Chippenham farmers finally agreed to raise wages by 3s. a week. A horse-chestnut called Union tree, planted at the Scotland End fork to commemorate the strike, lived until 1995.

In 1717-18 at Chippenham Hall 18 men, 8 women, and 2 boys were employed as servants, but in 1780 there was no employment at the empty Hall. There were 25-30 domestic servants c. 1841-81, but only seventeen servants c. 1861. In the late 19th century there were between two and four times as many female as male servants at the Hall and the Cottage. In 1891 half of the 21 servants employed were at the Hall, and the rest at the Cottage and main farmhouses. Between the First and Second World Wars domestic service ceased to provide much employment.

In 1851 thirty-one people were employed as blacksmiths, cordwainers, carpenters, bricklayers, grocers, and in other village trades, but by 1881 numbers had fallen to 22, and decreased further between 1891 and 1901. By 1949 there were only a butcher’s shop, a bakery, and a post office, and since the closure in 1982 of the bakery, which had been in the same family’s possession for a century, there have been no shops in the village. In 1950 76 persons worked full-time on farms in the parish, but by 1970 the figure had halved, and in the 1980s and 1990s virtually all of the inhabitants worked outside the parish, mostly in the surrounding region.

In 1086 at Badlingham there were two mills, one serving the demesne, the other the tenants. In 1338 the Hospitallers had two windmills at Chippenham. A windmill stood at the northern boundary in 1712.  In 1734 a windmill was built in the centre of North field on the left hand side of the Isleham Road. It remained in use until the 1950s, but was a ruin in 1997.

 From: ‘Chippenham: Economic history’, A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10: Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (north-eastern Cambridgeshire) (2002), pp. 379-384. URL:

Chippenham School

Posted by on 10:25 in Village History | 0 comments

In 1708 Lord Orford founded and endowed a school where children were to be instructed in English and arithmetic, but if the schoolmaster taught Latin ‘or any other foreign tongue’ he was to be dismissed.  By 1712 a school had been built opposite the church which is now a private dwelling.  A two-storeyed master’s house stands behind the north-west end.  In 1821 the Chippenham estate added space behind the school house for infants, so permitting the attendance of children from Snailwell parish.  By 1910 the infants’ classroom was cramped, and in 1955 only a curtain divided the two junior classes in the main schoolroom.  There were places for around 33 infants and 86 seniors c. 1885-1978.
Lord Orford had not fixed the number of pupils, but in 1730 there were 12 children at the school, and by 1818 it taught 40 children paying fees, and 19 others supported by subscription.  Even then the school could not meet demand from the poor. In both 1833 and 1875 average attendance was 36-7 pupils, in both 1837 and c. 1871-77 the school roll included children from adjoining parishes.  From 1875 attendance rose by 20 in each decade until 1910 when there were 100 pupils, but by 1919 it had fallen to 77, and then halved during the mid 1930s. In 1935 responsibility for the school was transferred to the County Council, and during the Second World War there were 39 local pupils and 33 evacuees from London.  In 1954 the seniors from Chippenham school were transferred to Burwell council school.  In 1955 there were two junior and one infants classes, but numbers dwindled and in 1978 the school was closed, and the remaining 25 pupils moved to Isleham school.
From: ‘Chippenham: Education’, A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10: Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (north-eastern Cambridgeshire) (2002), pp. 387-388. URL:

Battle of La Hogue

Posted by on 00:00 in Village History | 0 comments

What has the village of Chippenham in Cambridgeshire got to do with a plot to depose the King of England and re-establish the Catholic Church in Britain?

The battle of La Hogue took place in May 1692 between an allied British and Dutch fleet and a French force, on the northern and eastern sides of the Cotentin in Normandy. The French allied with Jacobite exiles were preparing to cross the English Channel to attempt to put the exiled James II back on the throne of England.  Although the French force was weaker than the British, the French commander (Tourville) believed that British captains would defect to join the service of James II.  The British commander was Edward Russell, afterwards earl of Orford.

The British government, aware of the Jacobite intrigues in its fleet, and of the prevalence of discontent, took the bold course of appealing to the loyalty and patriotism of its officers. At a meeting of the flag-officers on board the Britannia, Russells flag-ship, on the 15th of May, they protested their loyalty, and the whole allied fleet put to sea on the 18th. On the 19th of May they sighted Tourville.

Tourville bore down on the allied fleet and attacked about mid-day, directing his main assault on the centre of the allies. On the centre, where Tourville was directly opposed to Russell, the fighting was severe. The British flag-ship the Britannia, and the French, the Soleil Royal, were both completely crippled.

After several hours of conifict, the French admiral, seeing himself outnumbered, and that the allies could outflank him and pass through the wide intervals in his extended line, drew off without the loss of a ship. Until the 23rd May, the two fleets remained off the north coast of the Cotentin, drifting west with the ebb tide or east with the flood, save when they anchored. During the night of the 19th/20th some British ships became entangled, in the fog, with the French, and drifted through them on the tide, with loss.

On the 23rd both fleets, were near La Hague. About half the French, under D'Amfreville, rounded the cape, and fled to St Malo through the dangerous passage known as the Race of Alderney. The others were unable to get round the cape before the flood tide set in, and were carried to the eastward. Tourville now transferred his own flag, and left his captains free to save themselves as they best could. He left the Soleil Royal, and sent her with two others to Cherbourg, where they were destroyed by Sir Ralph Delaval. The others now ran round Cape Barfleur, and sought refuge on the east side of the Cotentin at the anchorage of La Houque, called by the English La Hogue, where the troops destined for the invasion were encamped. Here 13 of them were burnt by Sir George Rooke, in the presence of the French generals and of the exiled king James II. From the name of the place where the last blow was struck, the battle has come to he known by the name of La Hogue.

The connection with Chippenham is that Edward Russell (created in 1697 Earl of Orford) purchased the estate at Chippenham in 1689, a purchase probably financed out of the profits of his naval career. During 1689 he served in the Channel, enforcing a total blockade of France, and in 1690 was promoted admiral of the fleet. In May 1692, Louis XIV’s French invasion army and James II were gathered at Cape La Hogue in the Cotentin peninsula, ready to embark to invade England. At the Battle of La Hogue, which lasted five days, the combined Dutch and English fleets, led by Russell, defeated and destroyed the French fleet.

Between 1698 and 1712 Russell had his Chippenham house reconstructed by the architect Thomas Archer, and the Chippenham estate remodelled, relocating the village and creating a walled park. The map he commissioned from Heber Lands celebrates the grandeur of his enterprise.

The staircase at Chippenham Hall was embellished with paintings of Russell’s victory at La Hogue. Two lines of lime trees in the park are said to have been planted to represent the positions of the French and Anglo-Dutch fleets at the battle.

La Hogue lives on in Chippenham at La Hogue Farm….

For information about Chippenham Park Gardens – go here