Meeting reports 2016 and 2017

  • Middle Saxon Village Development in Cambridgeshire and the -ham/-ton Divide
    Richard Mortimer’s story started from a community dig in Oakington over a number of years. He set about looking for patterns in the landscape, and one thing came to stand out: To the north of a line, a large proportion of village and town names ends in -ham, while to the south the suffix -ton is much more in evidence. Both these suffixes mean basically ‘enclosure’ or ‘settlement’, so why the different distribution?
  • The Gray family of Wandlebury
    Christine Ruse gave us a very personal account of the last private owners of the Wandlebury estate, based on reminiscences of people who had had connections with the family as well as written records.home for injured troops, made all the more popular by the Grays hospitality.
  • My Family with Two Black Sheep
    Martyn Northfield’s family have lived for 500 years in villages in South Cambridgeshire, including Stapleford, and Essex. Martyn traced his family back through his father and also his mother who was called Twinn. Two families family living in the quiet villages of South Cambridgeshire and north Essex epitomises so much of English history over the generations.
  • Stourbridge Fair
    Honor Ridout, a longstanding Cambridge Blue Badge guide, has researched the Fair for a number of years.  She is also a stalwart participant in the full-dress re-enactments of the Fair that now take place every September at the Leper Chapel (which is a little gem of Romanesque-style architecture).  Who better to tell us all that can be known of its history?  She did so for us with gusto and humour.
  • How Bill Tutte won the war – or shortened it by at least two years
    Talk by Richard Fletcher Anyone who has heard of Bletchley Park has also heard of Alan Turing and his work in solving the cyphers created by the Enigma machine but very recently the name Bill Tutte has come to the fore.
  • Robert Sayle: the Man, his Life, and the Shop
    Christine Shaw gave us a talk about Robert Sayle, his shop – which later became Cambridge’s main John Lewis store – and his benevolent care for his workers and the town.
  • History in our Hands and on our Doorsteps
    James Foreman explained how he and a couple of helpers have sorted the collection into archive boxes. However, the collection needs to be catalogued and cross referenced for which volunteers are needed. Discussion turned to the question of how to make the archive more accessible.
  • Being a Cambridge Blue-Badge Guide
    Robert Hill gave an entertaining talk about his experiences over many years of showing groups of visitors around the glories of the city and the university. He went on to show his photographs of many more-or-less obscure corners of the colleges and town, challenging us to identify them.
  • Oliver Cromwell and his family: Divided Loyalties
    David Cozens, long-time chair of Huntingdon Local History Society, decided to find out about Oliver Cromwell’s family life, and shared with us the fruits of his research.
  • The Cambridge Bonfires
    Dr Seán Lang (a playwright and regular broadcaster as well as a lecturer in history at Anglia Ruskin University) gave a fascinating, and greatly entertaining, talk about Town and Gown in Cambridge in the 1890s. What started as a tale of student high-jinks quickly took us into the Boer War and profound social change.
  • Henry Morris and The Establishment of The Village Colleges
    Keith Dixon told us all about the extraordinary character who was founder of Cambridgeshire’s Village Colleges. This was an almost-rags to educational riches story: born in 1889 into a large family in Southport whose mother died when he was young and who had to work against all the odds to get accepted at Oxford University, but had to leave for war duty in WWI. 
  • Stapleford’s Eccentric Vicar, The Rev Daw, and His Pioneering Concrete House
    Patricia Mirrlees and others revealed the story of ‘The Stone House’: the impressive white building set back amid large gardens, as you swing round from Church Street into Mingle Lane. It is not made of stone at all – but of concrete! Who would have guessed that this is the last remaining grand house in the country to have been built entirely of concrete.