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  History - A History of Gorefield

A brief history of Gorefield from 1190 onwards


  A History of Gorefield : Photos from the Past : Some Interesting Facts
Villagers Contributions : Submit Information
Situated some 4 miles to the north west of Wisbech and first mentioned in a manuscript in 1190 and spelt GOREFIELD. Spellings from later dates were GORDEFELDE, GOREFEILD and probably means 'fen field' or 'mud marsh'.

Gorefield originally comprised four common land fields, Cat Field and Richmond Field which lay to the South of the Junction of High Road, Cattle Dyke and Gote Lane and Ox Field and Gore Field to the north.

A number of Manors came into being in the Middle Ages and perhaps the most important one in the Parish of Leverington was that of Richmond which lay in Gorefield and was regarded as the Chief Manor. This Manor was first mentioned under its own name in 1390 when Geoffrey Richmond was granted the right to hear mass in the oratory of his house but only if he attended the parish church on Sundays and Festivals.

It is possible that in 1344 this manor was held by Sir John de Shardelow of the Prior of Ely for 13s 4d annually. In 1391 Robert de Shardelow, great grandson of Sir John, settled it upon trustees. The Manor appears to have remained with the Shardelow family until 1453 when it was acquired by Sir Gilbert and Margaret Haultoft, Mary, their daughter, married Thomas Kerrile of Wiggenhall St. Mary and the Manor remained in this family for more than 100 years. Sometime after 1624 the Manor became invested in John Pell of Holme-next-the-Sea. In 1687 the manor extended to some 20 acres of arable land, 5 of meadow, 200 of pasture, 20 of fresh marsh and 100 acres of water covered land. In 1800 the estate was auctioned in some 13 lots. A George Johnson bought the manor house and some 200 acres and just before his death in 1830 he sold his estate to Jonathan Peckover of Wisbech. The present Richmond Hall Farm replaced the old manor house during the 19th century and the estate remained in the possession of the Peckover family until 1920. Soon after Lord Peckover's death it was sold by his daughters. The house and most of the land is now owned by Mr. Michael Newling who lives at Richmond Hall. The Moat that surrounded the original manor house still remains near the modern Richmond Hall, was 300ft in diameter and 40ft wide and was one of the few moats found in Fenland areas.

In 1919 some 20 unused pots were found at Richmond Hall and probably date from the late 4th Century. It is thought that it was the site of a potters store or kiln as the pots were stacked and unused. A lead weight of possibly Roman origin was found in the village in 1949/1950.

Decoy House to the north of Decoy Road in Gorefield fen was formerly in the possession of Samuel Clark and his family. From Clark the property passed to the Revd. Jeremiah Jackson (d 1857) Vicar of Elm. Around the 1850’s part of the house collapsed and was rebuilt by Jackson. Upon the Revd. Jackson’s death the estate passed to his son the Revd. Frederick Jackson, Vicar of Parson Drove. In 1904 the house was sold to Mr. Walter Ward and is still in the occupation of the Ward family. One of the rooms in the original house, it is said, contained ten oil painted panels, probably three centuries old, two of which depict the duck decoy. These panels were taken from the old house and built into the present one. The duck decoy was located about 1/4 mile behind the house and extended to some 6 acres. The actual site was on the opposite side of Goredyke Bank. As general improvements were carried out to the drainage of Newton and Tydd St. Gilles fen the decoy was eventually abandoned. Duck decoys, formerly a common feature of the Fenland scene attracted the attention of Daniel Defoe in 1722 when he visited Kings Lynn and the Isle of Ely.

Before enclosure of common land, horse racing took place on a strip of such land stretching between the Gote Inn and Cherry Tree Farm, the latter now owned by Dr. and Mrs. Cookson was originally constructed in 1680 and has subsequent additions.

A Mill once stood at the north western edge of the village, the date of its construction is uncertain but it was offered for sale by auction in 1883 and the following is an extract from the particulars of sale:-
"To be sold by auction by Mr. T.P. Maxey on Saturday the sixth day of January 1883, steam and windmill, containing as follows:- Four patent sails and fan tail, four pairs of valuable stones all of which can be driven by wind and two by steam power, dressing machine with 18 inch cylinder, silent feeder and smut machine, all of which are in good working order, also a very valuable eight horse horizontal engine with twelve horse Cornish boiler (by Jimson and Co) with 52 feet chimney shaft. All of which premises are bounded on the east and west by the High Road heading to Wisbech, on the east by property belonging to John Sanders and Jesse Bradley and south on property belonging to Alexandra Peckover, Esq. A successful business has been carried on for the last 30 years."

It is said that the mill was originally driven by water. The Mill was finally demolished in 1962.

The ecclesiastical parish of Gorefield was formed under the provisions of the Leverington Rectory Act 1870 out of the civil parishes of Newton and Leverington.

The Church of St. Paul was erected in 1870 at a cost of £2,000 made of flint and stone in the early English style and containing a chancel, nave, vestry, south porch and a turret containing one bell.

The first Independent Church at Gorefield was erected end opened for worship in 1834. Prior to this date a few people used to meet and worship in the house of Mr. G. H. Meadows who lived next door and in fact gave the land on which the church was built. It is interesting to note that the singing was accompanied by a flute played by Joseph Meadows, a son of George Meadows.

Soon the original building became too small and an extension was constructed. However, the original building with the enlargement became inadequate and a new larger building was erected in 1869. A burial ground adjoined the new building. Just prior to 1934 an acetylene generating plant was installed and the Church was brilliantly lit by acetylene gas. During a drought in 1901 buckets of water were sold from a pond in the Chapel grounds at a cost of 1 pence a bucket.

A School Board was compulsorily formed in 1875 under the Education Act and built a school on the High Road in l877. The accommodation of 108 places became inadeguate and in the latter part of the first World War the infant classes were held in the Parish Room erected in 1904 in Gote Lane. In 1925 three new classrooms were built at a cost of £1520 and the accommodation increased to 170. The school became one for Junior Mixed and Infants in 1948.

A terrace of brick built cottages known as the Barracks situated to the centre of the village were possibly built in 1840/1850 to billet workmen engaged on the conatruction of the North Level Main Drain.

The population of the village in 1881 was 506 and in 1970, 620 persons. In 1892 the following persons were among those residing in the village.

BECK Rev. Andrew M.A.
ANDERSON, Thomas Edwin
AUBIN, Jonathan
BRADLEY, Jesse (Mrs)
CLARK, Samuel
DACK, Joseph
DAWES, William
ELAM, Joseph
FOSTER, James
GARNER, John
GRIFFIN, Joseph Ellard
GRIGGS, John
HIPWELL, Solden
HIPWELL, William
HOLMES, John
HOLMES, William
HUNNS Thomas
LEACH John
LEWIN Richard
MAXEY William
MAY George William
MEADOWS Joseph
SANDERS John
SCRIMSHAW Thomas
SKELLS William
STOCKDALE Samuel Joseph
SWANN James
WARD Edward
WARD John
WARD John
WARD Thomas
WATSON John
WILKINSON William
YOUNG
Vicarage
Boot maker
Farmer
Thrashing machine owner
Farmer, Thrashing machine owner and shopkeeper.
Farmer and Blacksmith
Farmer
Farmer
Farmer
School attendance officer
Farmer and Landowner
Farmer
Builder and contractor
Builder and Farmer
Farmer
Farmer
Gote Public House
Farmer
Farmer and Landowner
Farmer
Farm Bailiff to Thomas Dearlove
Farmer and Landowner
Farmer
Farmer and Landowner
Farmer
Farmer - Richmond Hall
Carpenter and Wheelwright
Farmer and Landowner
Farmer
Miller (Steam and wind)
Farmer
Plumber, glazier and painter
Blacksmith and shopkeeper
Beer retailer, farmer and shopkeeper.

In 1927 the first Women’s Institute meeting was held in the village; the first elected President being Miss Rutter. In 1977 they celebrated their Golden Jubilee.

In 1936 electricity was connected to the village at a cost of £5. per house which entitled the owner to three light fittings, one 5 amp socket each additional light fitting cost £1.

In 1961 the first gymkhana was held in the village.

In 1970 a committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Mr. D. Walker to acquire a site within the village to provide a playing field. Subsequently eight acres of land to the east side of Wolf Lane was purchased from Mr. Michael Newling a great deal of the money required being raised by the villagers themselves.

In the same year, 1970, eight aged persons bungalows were constructed to the north of the High Road, by the Wisbecb R.D.C. on land bought from Mr. Michael Newling and named Richmond Green. Mr. Newling insisting on the name Richmond Green as this was the original common land name for the site.

In 1971 renovation and modernization of the original vicarage in Gote Lane was completed and the new owners, St. Mark’s Church of England School, Fulham, London opened their "country school". The new school providing a centre for their London Pupils from which they could carry out field studies and the like. The first Warder/Principal was Mr. Hugh Cocksedge.
Acknowledgements:
Duncan Howat and all those people who spared time to provide information.
References:
Victoria - History of Cambridgeshire & Isle of Ely, Vol 4.
Place Names of Cambridgeshire, Kelleys Directory.
Gorefield Village Sign The Countryside