I have been back down the cellers of Cherry Hinton Hall this morning to gather up and rescue more of the archives which were discovered there a couple of months ago.
Oaks International School now rent the Hall building from the Council and the teachers and pupils there have been a fantastic inspiration. They have taken real care and interest in their school building along with the history of the site and local area. I went out to visit them a couple of months ago to take them some old maps, records and artefacts, relating to the building and site. Also to show the children around the parkland and point out all the lumps and bumps on the ground, telling them what we think is hidden beneath.
While I took some of the children round the park one of the teachers did a history trail in the Hall building, which included a visit down the cellars The children came up from the celler clutching handfulls of interesting old documents from the mid 20th century and paper work which they had discovered down there. There were things like old Folk Festival programmes from the 1970's, Royal Ballet tickets, City Council amenities records and all sorts. I then went down into the cellars myself, to see where these had all come from. I found there was a very sizeable amount of these documents all piled up on a ledge and some in old decaying wooden crates. The cellars, were vey dark - no electricity - and very, very damp, with running water culverts in places. The documents were in need of being removed and examined as soon as possible. So it was agreed that I could go back sometime soon and take the archives out, remove them for examination and preservation.
A couple of weeks ago, both myself and Jonathan Phillips, went down in the cellars to begin sorting this lost archive out but not having electricity and the sheer amount which was there, we decided to take a sample of the archive and come back another day with re-enforcements and better lighting!
On Saturday the Oaks International School was awarded a CYPHA award (Cambridgeshire Young Persons History Award) at the CALH (Cambridgeshire Association for Local History) AGM & awards in Toft, Cambridge. I had put the school forward for this award, as I was so impressed by the work the children had produced on their local area, the interest they had shown in the history and how the teachers had been so encouraging.
Today I have been back to the cellars, along with Jonathan & Nicola Phillips to retreive the remaining archives. This time we had much better lighting (it is very spooky down in those cellars!) and we spent a good couple of hours ferrying the archives out of the cellar to my car. There was so much! A lot had, sadly, been so badly damaged by water and had rotted but a huge amount was still fine - there was a lot of old council reocrds from the 1930's to late 1970's. Lots of interest, with things like parks and gardens records, items from the allotment society and records of the Cambridge Festival etc. My car was filled - literally! As so much of the material didn't actually relate to the Hall itself or just to Cherry Hinton village, I decided to give my friend Phillip Sauders a ring. Phillip is a well known Cambridgeshire archivist working at Cambridgeshire Archives (formally Cambrigeshire Records Office). I had a chat about what we had and asked him if I could pop up to Shire Hall to the Cambs Archives, so that he could have a look and see if he was interested. He agreed, so off I went, car nearly touching the floor with the weight! (good job I have an old banger). Phillip and one of the conservators came out to the car and had a good look and decided they would be able to take the archives in and sort them out, which was fantastic news :)
Once they have had chance to go through them properly, Phillip will get back to me with an update and we'll see how it goes.
So all in all, I'm very pleased that we were able to rescue these documents before they degraded any further.
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A little exploration into one of the old farms of Cherry Hinton. Ventress Farm was one of the old farms that stood in Cherry Hinton village, positioned just off of, what is now, Cherry Hinton Road. There would appear to be nothing remaining of it to see today...or is there?...
So as you can see from the two little video clips above, it may be that there is something of the old farm buildings remaining, that we can see today, hidden away from sight and only there if you go exploring and have a look. The question is, is that older looking house, within the more modern Ventress Farm Court Flats, actually the old Ventress farm house? or even on the site of the Ventress Farm. Given the name of the site today as Ventress Farm Court, it seems a fairly obvious clue that this was at the least the site of the old farm. So let's take a look at the things I can tell you about Ventress Farm, that I know of already and then see if we can decide if that house is, in fact the old farm house. Firstly lets get our position clearer in the landscape.
This is the southern end of Cherry Hinton. You can see the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall top left and the blue pool is Giant's Grave, which is at the crossroads at the start of Cherry Hinton High Street, with the Robin Hood pub opposite bottom right corner. The yellow X marks the entrance to Ventress Farm Court and the start of video clip 1, the yellow circle marks the potential old Ventress Farm building in video clip 2.
A good place to start is the old Enclosure map of Cherry Hinton, which is from 1806, when Enclosure took place in Cherry Hinton (more on that in another blog coming soon). This is one of the earliest maps that we have for the village in any detail and we can get to see what buildings were there at that time.
The Enclosure Map, 1806, of Cherry Hinton, showing the portion that we are examining. I have coloured in the Giant's Grave and the brook and marked two of the roads so that you might get your bearings. I have also put a red dot on the spot where Cherry Hinton Hall was to be built later, and a red X to mark where the Robin Hood pub now stands. I have circled in yellow the two sets of buildings on the road, around the area that Ventress Farm once stood.
So in 1806, we can see that there are two sets of buildings around the site. The ones, in the larger yellow circle, look more like a set of related buildings which make them a more likely candidate for a farm and then the second singular building in the smaller yellow circle further to the left. Let's have a go at overlaying the modern map with the Enclosure map to see if we can sort the position out better.
Hopefully you'll be able to make out a little of what is showing through the overlaid maps above. We can now rule out the building shown previously, in the smaller yellow circle, and turn our attention to the collection of buildings, within the plot of the larger yellow circle. As you can more or less make out in the overlaid maps above, the left hand L shaped building seems to lay beneath what is now a road way - (the second part of Ventress Farm Court roadway, which comes off of Greystoke Road). The building that is shown on the picture above, in the yellow circle above is the one to focus on. If it is not the building that remains today, it would have stood upon the same spot and may relate to those bricks that were reused to make the back wall, shown in video clip 2.
As you can see there are two L shaped buildings within this one plot, numbered 113, and marked as owned by Caius College. In fact look a little closer within the plot and you'll see another small, square building, by the roadside. The dark line going across the picture is where Cherry Hinton Road now lays (this used to be called Long Drove). It does not name the site as Ventress Farm on this map. I need to do several things to make this information clearer at this stage but given the lockdown that we are in, some things will just have to wait until another day - one of which is a trip to Caius College to have a look in their archives, as it will be good to see what they have on Cherry Hinton in general but also to see what this site was called in previous years to the Enclosure. I also need to pop back up to Cambridge Archives, which is now in Ely, in its new building there, and go over both the Enclosure and accompanying pre-Enclosure maps of Cherry Hinton, getting some new and clearer pictures of them to share with you. I will then also be able to look through the Enclosure award book to see what and who else may be listed, for the plot that we are looking at. I do have all these records here but hidden in piles of archives, in boxes, so it's just as well to go and get some newer pictures with better camera. As I get more data I will keep adding to this post.
In the old medieval open field system within the parish of Cherry Hinton, the site lay in a large parcel of land called Fendon Field. The written survey, of parts of the village in 1592, by Christopher Saxton, describes many of the smaller parcels of land within Fendon Field, most of which are owned by Gilbert Wise and his family but it doesn’t mention any buildings, only the size of the land parcels. The same can be said for the survey of the land carried out in 1733 by John Tracey, some of the land within Fendon Field still being owned by the Wise family, descendants of Gilbert Wise.As we've just seen, on the Enclosure map of 1806 we can see that Gonville and Caius (Cambridge College) are marked as owning the site. Here's a little more information relating to that for now.
“In 1503 Thomas Willows granted c.45 acres to Gonville Hall (Cambridge), to which in 1708 W. Peters left 66 acres copyhold of Netherhall manor. After inclosure  Caius College's main Hinton holdings were in Fendon field… Between 1830 and 1857 its land was leased out to William Ventris. Its lands were sold off piecemeal in the 20th century, and in 1998 it retained 20 acres....In account of Caius' building expenses between 1564 and 1573, amounting to £1,837, includes purchase of timber-trees from Warboys and Ramsey woods, freestone and rubble from Ramsey [Abbey] and Barnwell [Priory], freestone from King's Cliffe and Weldon, clunch from Haslingfield and Barrington and lime from Reach and Cherry Hinton.”
“From the 16th century Caius College owned other lands in Teversham, called WILLOWES. In 1502 Thomas Willows, a Cambridge glover, had devised his purchased lands, c. 79 a., in Teversham, Fen Ditton, Fulbourn, and Cherry Hinton, to Gonville Hall, for 99 years, to help maintain a fellow and bible clerk. The Teversham portion, which, with other land in Fulbourn and Fen Ditton, became Willowes farm.” [in Teversham]
(A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Victoria County History, London, 2002.)
The next thing we can do is to take a quick look at the site from the air.
So one last little thing to try before I start telling you about the tragic and interesting history from what I already know about Ventress Farm... let's overlay the Enclosure map with the aerial view to see just where that building lands, more or less ;)
Mr & Mrs Ventris lived and ran the farm on our site in the early 19th century, and it was called Ventris Farm - later, by the end of the 19th century the spelling had changed to Ventress. You can read more about the tragic incident that occurred, in 1813, to Mrs Ventris and her young child below:
The following is gleaned from old newspaper records about the Ventress (Ventris) family in Cherry Hinton and Ventress Farm:
Mrs Ventris, Relief of poor, May 1801 (Cherry Hinton Chronicle, E.Filby)
Relief of the poor in Cambridge and the neighbouring villages. Second subscription. Mrs Ventris, Cherry Hinton paid 10s 6d
Melancholy Event, September 24th 1813 (Cherry Hinton Chronicle, E.Filby)
We are much concerned in stating, that on Monday morning last, Mrs. Ventris, wife of Mr. Ventris of this place was found drowned in a ditch in the Parish of Cherry Hinton. She had left Cambridge on the preceding day, and took one of her children with her, a girl about 16 months old, who we regret to say, was also drowned, being found within a few feet of her mother. The Coroner's jury returned a verdict "found drowned".
This terrible thing happened and the verdict just seems so plain... 'Found drowned'. Perhaps it was as simple and as tragic as that. I presume that the ditch in question was most likely a point somewhere along the Hinton Brook, only across the road from Ventris Farm, which flows from Giant's Grave at the High Street crossroads, through the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall and on towards Coldham's Common, before joining the River Cam at Stourbridge Common. You have to bear in mind that the Hinton Brook had far more depth and the area was covered in marshy boggy places, with natural springs and their little ditches cropping out in various places. This was before the drainage of the parish took place and before the water reservoirs were built on top of Lime Kiln Hill in the late 19th century, which in turn lessened the flow of water in the Hinton Brook. So perhaps it was just that, a tragic accident. It is natural to wonder if there was more to it such as foul play or even suicide, perhaps due to something like postnatal illness or such like but we can not presume or surmise anything like that because we do not have the full facts and can only give our respectful thoughts and prayers to the memory of Mrs Ventris, her young child and her family, acknowledging the sad incident, now part of our Cherry Hinton history.
I have started a family tree for the Ventris family, on Ancestry, so that I can get further records and information about them, which I'll add here as I discover facts.
Mrs Ventris was called Mary and she was buried, at Cherry Hinton, 23rd September 1813 (FHL Film No. 2149251)
The child, who died with her, was called Elizabeth Ventris, as she is shown as also being buried in Cherry Hinton on 23rd September 1813. (FHL Film no. 214251).
The gravestone of Thomas Ventris (possibly William's father) and the only Ventris gravestone I could find on my social distancing walk this afternoon, in St Andrew's Churchyard, Cherry Hinton. This little patch would have been the Ventris family grave area though. Back in around 2005, I, along with Graeme Clarke, surveyed the entire graveyard here and reproduced the grave plan and written grave records for the vicar at the time. I will dig that file out and check for more info on the Ventris family and put here later.
The main and only village burial site from the medieval period onwards was St Andrew's Church at the top end of the village in Church End - There was a large Saxon burial site further down Church End, pre-dating the main church today, which was discovered and excavated about 2009. Before that we've got isolated burials all over the place, from the skeletons of those massacred in long gone battles, found up on top of Lime Kiln Hill, at the War Ditches - to the boundary marker, bronze age burials around the parish and more besides. I'm not sure if the Baptist Chapel on Fisher Lane ever allowed any burials there but on the whole everyone was buried in St Andrew's Church yard - before the creation of the Cambridge Cemetery on Newmarket Road. I have long thought that there may have been some earlier, collective burial site, down the south end of the village (Mill End) somewhere, because Church End (in the north) and Mill End (south) were quite separate from one another before drainage took place in the late 1800's. Perhaps there is still a Saxon burial site to be discovered in Mill End somewhere - the only indication of something religious down that end at the moment, is an odd reference to "God's House" which keeps cropping up on old surveys and documents - it seems to lay somewhere off of the High Street, opposite the Post Office, in that area. So much to explore and discover still...:)
You can visit the tree that I have now started on Ancestry, to learn more about the Ventris family by clicking this link: www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/pt/RSVP.aspx?dat=MTY5MDQ0MzkwOzswMWU5NDJkNS0wMDA2LTAwMDAtMDAwMC0wMDAwMDAwMDAwMDA7MjAyMDA1MTIwNzE3MDI7MQ==&mac=KJIo8AoL8hQtxxf6g8vMBA==
The basics are:
Mr Ventris was William Richmond Ventris and he married Mrs Ventris - Mary Lawrence in Cambridge on 28th December 1796 at Saint Andrew the Great Church.
Mr Ventris was born around 1765 and his parents were from Teversham. He was married first to Martha Plume (born 1764 - died 1788) and they had 2 or 3 children together. He then married Mary and they had 4 or 5 children together.
William and Mary had a baby called Sarah in June 1812 and who was then buried in Cherry Hinton in June 1812. Mary and her daughter Elizabeth died the in September 1813 - the newspaper article saying that Elizabeth was about 16 months old - I wonder if Sarah and Elizabeth had been twins? - a quick check of the records confirms this to be the case, as both Elizabeth and Sarah are baptised together in Cherry Hinton on 6th June 1812.
William and Mary's son, Edward Ventris (b.1802 -d.1886) went on to live in Cambridge (3, Bateman Street, Cambridge) and was the Vicar of the parish church in Stow-Cum-Quy.
William Ventris died in 1827.
More newspaper clips and information regarding Ventris Farm:
27th September and 4th October 1816 (Cherry Hinton Chronicle, E.Filby)
Parish of Cherry Hinton in the County of Cambridge
Whereas the GAME within this Parish has been much destroyed by poachers and unqualified persons, and considerable damage done by persons sporting amongst standing crops and other acts of unsportsmanlike conduct, obliges us to adopt this mode of proceeding. We the undersigned being owners and occupiers of Lands within the said parish, do hereby give notice, that such persons found trespassing will be prosecuted, and qualified persons are requested not to sport.
T.S. Headly, R. Johnson, R.Rickard, R.Emson, W.Capp, J.Barrance, R.Granger sen., R. Granger jun., J.Truslove, John Headly, John Green, W.R. Ventris, William Tagg, Thomas Hart, J.Clements, William Coe.
October 15th 1819 (Cherry Hinton Chronicle, E.Filby)
Furniture - Cherry Hinton
To be sold by auction by Elliot Smith on the premises of Mrs Ventris, deceased, on Tuesday next the 19th October at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Consisting of bedsteads and furnishings, beds and bedding, 8 day clock, a bureau, corner cupboard, kitchen utensils, hooks and various other articles. May be viewed morning of sale. Catelogues to be had at the Coach and Horses, Fulbourn, Red Lion, Cherry Hinton, and Elliot Smith.
January 1st 1822 (Cherry Hinton Chronicle, E.Filby)
On Friday last, an inquest was held before John Ingle Esq., one of the coroners for this County, on view of the body of Thomas Lane, servant at Mr. Ventris's farm, at Cherry Hinton. It appeared that the deceased, who had been unwell for some time, but not so much so as to prevent his going about his usual avocations, retired to bed after eating a hearty supper. In the night a person in the adjoining room was awoke by the cries of a lad, who slept with the deceased. He immediately got up and only arrived in time to see the poor fellow expire. Verdict, died by the visitation of God.
September 14th 1832 (Cherry Hinton Chronicle, E.Filby)
On Sunday night last or early on the following morning, a post chaise was stolen from the premises of Mrs. Ventris of Cherry Hinton.
October 21st 1882 (Cherry Hinton Chronicle, E.Filby)
J.Barton will supply
Daily pure MILK from the cow
8 pints for 1 shilling.
Deliveries to all part of the Town.
All orders received at Ventris Farm, Cherry Hinton.
Owners and occupiers of Ventris (Ventress) farm over the years:
The 1888 Os Map (https://cherry-hinton.ccan.co.uk/content/catalogue_item/map-of-1888) showing Ventress Farm, as a collection of buildings in a square layout. P. indicates a pump and our building that stands today is upon the spot along the southside of this complex. Notice how the little building on the far left, which was shown on the 1806 Enclosure map, still stands.
Both the 1851 and 1861 Census do not record Ventris Farm by name but records a John Spencer as a farmer in the vicinity of where Ventris Farm would have been, on Cambridge Road (called Fulbourn Road 1861) - but we can not say for certainty that this is the same site, so for now we'll just note that, rather that say for definite.
In the news, which may relate to Ventris Farm, if Mr Spencer did indeed farm and live there, the following entry in the Cambridge Chronicle appears:
November 17th 1849
On the night of Tuesday last, about 12 o'clock, a fire broke out in a wheat stack situate in a field on the farm of Mr. Spencer, of this parish. The flames speedily communicated to a contiguous wheat stack and a barley cob, and the three were reduced to ashes. The stacks were at some distance from the Homestead and there is no doubt that they were maliciously fired. The conflagration, from the solidity of the Stacks, lasted for a considerable period, and created a great deal of alarm in Cambridge. Mr Spencer is insured, but we have not heard an estimate of the loss, which must be considerable.
(Cherry Hinton Chronicle, E.Filby)
Both the 1871 and 1881 Census do not record Ventris Farm by name but records a Remmington Pratt as a farmer in the vicinity of where Ventris Farm would have been, on Cambridge Road - but we can not say for certainty that this is the same site, so as with 1851 and 1861 previously, for now we'll just note that, rather that say for definite.
OS map 1885 shows the name spelt Ventress rather than Ventris.
On the 1891 Census, Ventris Farm isn't named but approximately where it would be expected a farm is listed but called Barton's Farm - perhaps a temporary change? this needs more investigation. As it corresponds to the site, it is worth mentioning the details here:
Barton's Farm -
James Bass, Head, married, aged 60, Farm Bailiff, employed, born in Oxford
Emma Bass, wife, aged 61, born Bucks
William Bass, son, single, aged 37, Book Cavasser, born Bucks
Louisa Bass, daughter, single, aged 23, born Trumpington
Walter Bass, son, single, aged 19, Stationary Engine Driver, employed, born Trumpington
*note how the son, Walter is a stationary engine driver - this suggests that he was working for the Pamplin family of Cherry Hinton who ran the steam plough works (where there were stationary engines working the plough) in the village and are recorded as owning the Ventris Farm site in 1913 - perhaps they owned it from this date, 1891
The 1901 Census doesn't name Ventris Farm, just the road, but we can presume with some degree of certainty that Daniel Coe who is shown as Farm Baliff and is on the 1911 Census (see below) as a Farm Steward, living at Ventris Farm, is at the same place in 1901.
So for 1901 it is likely that the following applies:
Cambridge Road, Cherry Hinton -
Daniel Coe, Head, married, aged 48, Farm Baliff, worker, born in Cherry Hinton
Emma Coe (Emily on 1911 Census), wife, aged 47 years, born Cherry Hinton
Lizzie Coe (Lucy on 1911 Census), daughter, aged 20, Dressmaker, born in Cherry Hinton
Ada F Coe, daughter, aged 16, born Cherry Hinton
Any other the families shown either side of the Coe's on this Census could also be living on the site but without a link we can not presume to add them at this point.
In 1909 a sad incident took place at the farm:
On the 1911 Census for Cherry Hinton, there are three people listed as living at Ventris (spelt the original way) Farm, as follows:
Obdiah John Malting, head of the household, aged 52, married for 30 years, 3 children born alive, 2 living, one died. Horse keeper, worker. born in Suffolk.
Caroline Malting, wife, aged 51, born in Suffolk
Harry Joseph Malting, son, aged 20, single. Born in Suffolk.
The house is listed as having 4 rooms (not inc. any scullery, landing, lobby, closet, bathroom nor warehouse, office or shop)
Also on the 1911 Census, shown living as separate family (and most likely building with in complex) at Ventris Farm were:
Daniel Coe, Head, aged 59, married for 40 years, Farm Steward, Farmer, Worker, born in Cherry Hinton.
Emily Coe, wife, aged 59, 5 children born alive and 5 children living, born in Cherry Hinton.
Lucy Coe, daughter, aged 30, single, dressmaker, born in Cherry Hinton
c. 1913 - The two farms at Cherry Hinton owned by Pamplins were Ventris Farm and Sidney Farm. Ventris Farm stood on the left of Cherry Hinton Road as you left the Robin Hood public house and made your way towards Cambridge, the farmhouse stood on the site that is now a brand new housing complex of flats called Ventress Farm Court. (M. Bullivant, Cherry Hinton Community Archives (CCAN). You can read more about the Pamplin Bros. here - https://cherry-hinton.ccan.co.uk/wp-search/ventris)
Harold Ridgeon and his family are living at Ventress Farm in the 1960's - a well known Cambridge family, involved with the Sindalls Company, which had a site further down Cherry Hinton Road, opposite Wulfstan Way.
The record on the Cambridgeshire Historic Environment Record database is as follows:
Which we now know isn't quite correct, the farm isn't completely demolished. So I have written to them to request the record now be updated with the new information provided by this post. You'd never know it was there, unless you live in Ventris Farm Court and saw that odd building in the middle as different, or if you didn't just come off road and explore because it can not been seen from the road side at all.
This welcome comment was posted to this article by Ivan who said the following:
"Not sure if you found it already but if you search for planning reference C/75/0116 on the greater Cambridge planning portal, you find : "Address: Ventress Farm House Cherry Hinton Road Cambridge Cambridgeshire. Proposal: Erection of two-storey extention to existing dwelling to from flats.Change of use of existing dwelling to flats". Dated 02 Apr 1975. The application was granted - maybe this is as straightforward as it sounds - the house was there at that time and was converted to flats then?"
If you go onto the planning portal yourself, you will find the information he is referring to and you'll see that it does indeed give the date for which the flats we see today at Ventress Farm were approved for construction in 1975 and that it also says they are to be extended from the farmhouse that stood on the site. It also suggests that the house itself is converted to flats. Here's a screen shot of part of the original application:
Many thanks to Ivan for this information - and remember, if you have any information you'd like to add or ideas you want to suggest please do get in touch. In addition, you are more than welcome to share you memories of Ventress Farm and the site, living in the flats and so on, to this site - just drop me a line :)
If you'd like to support the work that I do, why not buy me a coffee, I'd be really grateful and it will help keep me going :)
About & how to use:
This is the blog page for my articles, memories and archives relating to the archaeology and local history of Cherry Hinton, a village to the south east of Cambridge UK. The area covered is the old Parish of Cherry Hinton which today includes the Ward of Queen Edith's. Please feel free to browse, you can submit comments or get in touch using the 'Contact Me' button on the main menu above. These are my own thoughts and theories which are always a work in progress as research never ends, it's a place to put my working notes. If you would like to use or reference any of my work, please do get in touch and be sure to reference writing or pictures in the correct way, thanks in advance :) As this section gets more populated with posts, you will be able to use the search bar above or the A-Z menu below to search any items of interest.