Bell House – A Histon House through Time

By Eleanor Whitehead

Part One – origins

It is believed that the Church Street area of Histon, known as Church End, has been a centre of settlement for over a thousand years. Bell House stands proudly at the top of Bell Hill at the junction with Church St, in Church End, Histon. This timber framed cottage was originally built as a lobby entry cottage during the Elizabethan era. From the appearance of the timber frame it may well have been built with three bays. Built on a much larger plot than today, it was once a dominant building in this part of the village in its heyday.

To read the full article please look under the heritage bulletin tag on our menu

Lucas Smith

Towards the end of the 18th C the agricultural revolution (leading to more food but less employment) caused a rising population to migrate to the cities. Poverty increased, as did crime. The prison population exploded. With Captain Cook’s discovery of the extent of the Australian continent, the British Government looked to secure the continent as a British colony. The overloaded penal system became a cheap source of labour to be used to construct the new settlements of Australia. By the 1830s, HM Government had also realised that the forced emigration of petty criminals (especially those who were skilled and literate) was an excellent method of colonising distant Australia.

To read what happened to Lucas Smith please follow the link

The Merrington and Christmas families

Sometime in the distant past, St Andrew’s Manor, Histon purchased a large close (enclosed village field) just over the boundary in Impington. Histon locals came to call this field Impington Close. By 1801 it had been subdivided and sold off to various farmers. One such allotment, which ran alongside Impington Lane (in the past variously described as Dog Kennel Lane, Green Hill, Mill Hill Lane) was called Ratcatchers. Until recently, this was associated with the Unwin seed packing factory. Today it is the site of the Merrington Place development. In 1801 it was owned by John Merrington.

To read more follow the link

Station and Cambridge Roads, Impington

Once the railway was opened in 1847, Station and Cambridge Roads became the focus for village expansion. In 1806 there was nothing but open fields and the windmill. In 1877 a bill of sale advertised land for housing development. By 1886 there was the ‘Railway Vue’, fifty eight new homes and, of course, the massive jam works. Visitors from all over the world saw the area with its orchards, pasture, strawberry fields and young plantations, as a wonderful and healthy location for such an industry. To read more on Impington follow the links

Histon and St Etheldreda

Recent discussion has centred on whether the care home in Histon should be Etheldred House – its actual name – or perhaps it should be Etheldreda House. Eleanor Whitehead has carefully examined the claims of the three King Etheldreds of the Anglo-Saxon period, but they don’t appear to have come near the place.

We did, however, have in the village the site of the ancient church of Histon St Etheldreda which was demolished by Sir Francis Hynde in 1599. He used the materials mainly to extend Madingley Hall, whilst some more have gradually re-appeared built into cottages scattered around Histon.

It is a fascinating question to examine why Histon was involved with St Etheldreda in the first place and to find that there is indeed a very real connection. To read the whole article please follow the link

Histon and Impington Prepare For World War II

By May 1938, Air Raid Wardens had been appointed and they were attending lectures on anti-gas precautions. Early on, it had been decided that the whole population would be issued with gas masks and Histon and Impington were amongst the first in the county to begin a house to house census on the number of gas respirators required.

The photo shows 1944 Histon and Impington Air Raid Wardens at Impington Village College.

To read the whole article pleas follow the link to

Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo, is the National Trust’s archaeological site near Woodbridge in Suffolk. The presenter Pete Carter has been a volunteer and museum guide at Sutton Hoo for more than five years. In the talk Pete describes the Anglo-Saxon cemetery on the Sutton Hoo estate and tells the story of how the famous Ship Burial, believed to be that of the 7th Century East Anglian King Rædwald, was discovered in 1939.

Some of the personalities involved with the dig are covered, as well as how the archaeology revealed an astonishing wealth of material, a find of unique importance in English history. An explanation is given of how the grave goods and treasures found in the excavations cast a bright light into the Dark Ages, and in doing so substantially broadened our understanding of the society of the time. There will be replica objects to look at and time for questions.

Pete specialises in Sutton Hoo’s history and artefacts, and has developed a particular interest in the overall context of the middle Saxon period, several hundred years during which English society was progressing from a comparatively disorganised patchwork of sparring tribes to what we now recognise as a single nation state.