The History of Alconbury in Cambridgeshire

Historical notes about the town of Alconbury in Cambridgehsire.

Acumesberie (xi cent.); Alchmundesbiri, Alcmundeberi (xii cent.); Alkemundesbiry, Acmundebiry, Aucmundebury, (xiii cent.); Alkunbiry, Alconbury cum Weston (xiv cent.);

Alconbury cum Weston was described as one 'vill' in 1316 and is still one ecclesiastical parish, but Alconbury and Alconbury Weston are separate for civil purposes. Alconbury comprises an area of 3,797 acres and Alconbury Weston contains 1,735 acres. About half of the whole area is arable and the rest pasture. The soil is clay and the principal crops are cereals and beans. The Alconbury Brook, a tributary of the Ouse, runs from the north-west to the southeast of the parish and then, turning south-west, forms the south-eastern boundary. The land rises from the Brook, where it is about 50 ft. above the Ordnance datum, to about 164 ft. at Alconbury Hill and Common Farm on the north-east side, but on the south-west the rise is more gradual, and except at Weybridge Lodge, where it reaches 163 ft., it is mostly low-lying. The Ermine Street is on the eastern side of the parish, and about a mile to the west of it is the Great North Road, which joins the Ermine Street at Alconbury Hill. Matcham's Bridge carries this road over a tributary of the Alconbury Brook and a little to the west of it is the site of Matcham's Gibbet.

The fairly large but straggling village of Alconbury is about 300 yds. east of the Great North Road, and 0.75 mile from the Ermine Street; the Alconbury Brook runs through the length of it. The church stands at the north end of the village with, a little to the south-east of it, the Manor Farm, an early 17th-century brick house with a later addition on the south-west side. It has mullioned windows and tiled roof. Near the house is an 18th-century brick barn of two stories. The Manor House, probably belonging to the manor of the Rectory, is a timber-framed house of the late 16th century. The north front on to School Lane has an overhanging upper story supported on curved brackets and a large central gable with two smaller projecting gables on the east side of it.

The open space at the point where School Lane joins the village street is known as Maypole Square. The long, narrow green, which is mentioned in 1327, is at the south-east end of the village street and through the middle of its length flows the Alconbury Brook, which is spanned by a 15th-century bridge of four arches, the eastern arch and the south face of the second arch of which have been rebuilt and the cut-waters on the north side much repaired. Bequests towards the repair of this bridge were made in 1497, and at intervals until 1531. There are cottages facing the Green on the south-west and north-east sides; many of those on the latter side are timber framed, plastered, with thatched roofs and date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Alconbury House, built in the early part of the 19th century, stands to the east of the village. It formerly belonged to the Rust family and was apparently let by Mr. G. J. Rust to Mr. James Marshall. After Mr. Rust's death, in 1922, it was bought in 1924 by Mr. Harry J. Fordham, who was killed in a riding accident in 1926, when he was succeeded by his two daughters. The house is surrounded by a well-wooded park from which there are extensive views. The park represents possibly a wood of 82 acres which lay between Monkswood and the demesne wood (one league in circuit) given by King John to Earl David, which descended with the manor. In 1230 the lord of the manor had licence to assart this wood and in 1234 and 1310 he had leave to make it into a park. There is a windmill about a quarter of a mile west of the village which is mentioned in 1278–9.

There are in the village a Wesleyan Chapel and a public elementary school rebuilt in 1871.

Weybridge lies to the south of the parish and is the survival of the King's Forest of that name. There are only two dwellings here, Weybridge Lodge and Weybridge Farm, the modern brick house of which takes the place of a timber-framed house which is now in a dilapidated condition and is used for storage purposes. It stands on a moated site and was built in the latter part of the 16th century. It has a tiled roof and a 17th-century addition on the north side. The custody of this house was granted in 1617 to Sir Oliver Cromwell of Hinchingbrooke.

Beside the place-names given above, mention may be made of Thorenhill, Wichelgoore, Widenolslade, Rogersholm (xiii cent.); Schottwood, Stokkyng, Scoles wood, Emmeshook (xiv cent.); Conscience Hole, Gallycroft, Hallowes and Inditch (1650), all in Alconbury.

The nearest railway station was that of Abbots Ripton, 4 miles to the north-east on the main line of the London and North Eastern Railway.

Victoria County History - Huntingdonshire Published in 1932