Local History

The village of Lolworth is a square parish crossed by the Greenwich Meridian 8 miles to the northwest of Cambridge. Two main streams drain the area flowing northwards to the flat fenland on the other side of the Roman road that forms the northern boarder. This road which linked Colchester and Chester was known as the Via Devana; later to become a turnpike and today a major trunk road linking east coast ports to the Midlands and the North (A14).

The first recorded mention of Lolworth was in 1085 when a certain Robert of Picot of Cambridge was said to hold land at Lolesworde or Lolesuuorde in the North Stowe Hundred when 16 peasants were mentioned. Picot was an infamouse sheriff of Cambridge at that time. By 1279 the population had risen to 50 tenants.

The village rests on high ground predominantly of heavy calcareous clay of glacial origin, with just a little lighter greensand in the northeast. The glaciers came from the north and contain stones from Lincolnshire as well as fossils from the chalk. It has always been difficult land to farm hence the village has never been prosperous.

Today the village is centered on a cross roads on The Green. The church to the north of The Green dates from mainly the 14th C but windows in the porch, from the 13th C. Originally the village houses were on the slope below the church to the north but a major fire and a great thunderstorm in 1343 destroyed these dwellings and today leave little trace. Today’s houses are not very old except the one time Rectory (Georgian) in Robin’s Lane and a pair of cottages on The Green dating form the 19th C. Frequently the houses today occupy the footprints of earlier dwellings which fell into disrepair when times were hard.

The fortunes of the village and fluctuations in the population have been linked to its agricultural prosperity. Throughout it’s history, until the beginning of the 20th C employment was almost entirely in agriculture. Up to the time of the enclosures in 1844 the land was owned by landlords living outside the parish. After that time four major farms were established practicing mixed farming and up until the 1880′s there was as many as 400 sheep in the village. Not until after WWII did the arable systems that can be seen today begin to be developed.

In the 1840′s there was a school held in the church with 23 pupils and it continued at about this size until 1869 when a school with a teacher’s house incorporated was opened on The Green with 45 children. This had been built by the Daintrees who were the big landowners of Redlands and Yarmouth farms. In 1910 the school was taken over by the County council despite opposition by the rector at the time. Pupil numbers varied over the years and in 1938 they were reduced to only 9. There was discussion then that the school should be shut and the children sent to Boxworth, however, it remained open and numbers were boosted by an influx of evacuees from bombed cities in WWII soon afterwards. It was not finally shut until after Swavesey Village College was opened in 1958 where children from 11 to 16 would be educated and primary age children would attend the Swavesey Primary School.

Prior to this time all the children were taught in one room. The school leaving age was 14 years old and the starting age was 4 years old. One teacher would be employed to teach all those age groups. Looking through the school log books it is possible that epidemics of childhood diseases such as chicken pox or measles would effect a large number of children and the school would be shut for a week or more. Once the school house was no longer occupied Mr Robinson from the Grange purchased it and donated it to the village to use as a village hall.

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