The History of Great Staughton in Cambridgeshire

Historical notes about the town of Great Staughton in Cambridgehsire.

Stocton (19th Century); Tochestone (11th Century); Stotton, Scotton, Stokton, Magna Stouton (13th Century); Stowghton (15th Century); Moche Stoughton (16th Century) and Great Staughton (modern).

This large parish, which comprises an area of 6,407 acres, lies on the borders of Bedfordshire and in 1921 had a population of 685 persons. The banks of the River Kym, which runs through it, are about 80 ft. above the ordnance datum and the land rises to a little over 200 ft. to the north and south. The soil is chiefly clay with a gravel subsoil in the south. The parish was mainly woodland down to the 13th century, when it seems, from the licences to assart lands, the timber was being cleared. There is still a good deal of woodland about Agden and Perry, but the land is mainly arable growing wheat and beans.

The principal part of the village has grown up as a roadside settlement along the main road from St. Neots to Kimbolton. The village street here has been known since the 16th century as Staughton Highway. At its eastern end the road crosses the River Kym by a bridge which was in the early 16th century called Wrong Bridge. Along the street are some picturesque 17th-century timber-framed houses; the White Hart Inn, on the north side, has a gable projecting towards the road and a way for carriages to the yard behind under a modern wing on the east side. On the north side of Staughton Highway is what is called the village cross of the unusual date of 1637. It consists of a base of modern brickwork supporting a stone octagonal shaft with rolls divided by hollows on a square-splayed base; the shaft has a moulded capital upon which is a cube with a panel bearing the inscription '1637, E.I.' on the north side and a sundial on the south, the whole being surmounted by a ball. There are several other half-timber and brick houses in the village street. The church, with the earlier settlement consisting of a few houses and cottages and a 17th-century inn, a smithy and a windmill, is about a third of a mile to the west of the Highway on a bye-road to Pertenhall. Some of the houses here are of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The road again crosses the River Kym by a bridge, called Staughton Bridge in 1509.

The vicarage (standing on the north side of the road, a little east of the church, which is on the south side) was built in 1852 by the Rev. A. B. Wilson, then incumbent, who, for publication of an essay in Essays and Reviews for which he was prosecuted, was suspended from his benefice for a year, but obtained a reversal of the decision on an appeal to the Privy Council. The house now called the Rectory Farm, but formerly known as the Hermitage, was the old vicarage, nearly rebuilt for the purpose at the end of the 18th century.

To the north-west of the church, on the opposite side of the road, is Place House, originally built on the site probably of a moated grange of the Charterhouse, by Sir Oliver Leader about 1539, when he acquired the Rectory Manor. Here he imparked a considerable amount of land, which led to riots by the adjoining tenants, who claimed rights over it. He was residing here at the time of his death in 1557. The house built by him was a large, somewhat irregularly planned brick house of two stories, with tiled roof. It consisted of a main block, and north and south wings, with stone mullioned windows and doorways of Tudor type. A fire in the middle of the 17th century destroyed most of the house, leaving little but the south wing. It seems to have been partially restored and rebuilt about the middle of the 17th century. The greater part of the existing building belongs to this period. The interior has few of the original fittings. In the west front is an arcade of three bays in brick with four centred arches of two chamfered orders opening to a loggia. In the grounds are two barns of timber framing filled with brick nogging, probably contemporary with the house built by Sir Oliver Leader.

The lands south of the village apparently belonged to the chief manor, the manor house of which stood in the moated inclosure about a mile south-west of the church, now known as the Old Manor Farm. Here stood an interesting fortified manor house built probably about 1274 by Adam de Creting, which for nearly four centuries was the home of the Cretings and Wautons. The site has been already described. The earthworks with double moats and the buildings were of great strength and withstood what was practically a siege in 1624. The house was said to have been in great decay in 1705 and was probably allowed to fall into complete ruin. Staughton House, standing near the church in a park of 500 acres, was built as the manor house of the Rectory in the early part of the 18th century. The house was rebuilt, but the stables belong to the 18th-century building. Just outside the grounds of Staughton House, on its south-west side, is Garden Farm, built in the 16th century but altered a century later. There is another homestead moat marking the site of a medieval house, near Crown Farm, on the county boundary.

Victoria County History - Huntingdonshire Published in 1932