Hildersham ‘A Century of Change’ 1800-1900 – A Village Transformed
A recent HLF ‘All or Stories’ project was carried out between 2012 and is still ongoing in many ways.
The aim of the project was defined as:
Hildersham is a small rural village in South Cambridgeshire. In the century between 1800 and 1900 its inhabitants, their homes, working life, farming methods and landscape was dramatically transformed. This change is documented by a wide range of archival material that is not always available or has survived in intact in other villages.
The purpose of this project is to not only transcribe and digitise these records, but equally importantly to analyse and interpret these archives in order to identify and link individual families to the houses and land from this century, many of these houses still survive today.
The heritage focus of the project was on Hildersham and its people and how their lives changed so dramatically in the 100 years between 1800 and 1900.
For centuries the land at Hildersham was farmed in small strips using ridge and furrow. You can see this in a portion of the Tithe Apportionment map of 1840, please click on the map to see an enlarged image, A smaller central part of the village is shown in the banner above.
Hildersham Wood is shown along with the field strips at this end of the village
In 1800 the landowner wanted Hildersham to become Enclosed, along with several other villages he owned. The rector of Hildersham and the local farmers were completely opposed to this and told the landowner (John Mortlock, the Cambridge Banker) that they could do better for the local residents. The village was sold the next day and Hildersham was not finally ‘enclosed’ until 1896 making it importantly the last parish in Cambridgeshire to do so.
However, as a result of the delay in being enclosed, it meant that when the law changed, a very detailed survey of Hildersham was completed in 1837 as part of the Tithe Commutation Act, when Tithes were changed from goods to a tax; this importantly listed all the land and buildings and tells the researcher exactly who lived in what house.
A page from the 1837 Tithe Apportionment schedule for Hildersham showing the entry for the Revd James Barker
The project has digitised and transcribed all the available records around this period and has built up a detailed picture of each of the major houses in the village and who lived in them using, the above act, the census and parish registers. A ‘now and then’ photographic archive has been created with the help of the children in the village.
Click here to download and read a transcribed copy of the 1937 Tithe Apportionment Schedule This along with the coding numbers on the accompanying maps, details who owned what bit of land and who lived in the house and what the commutated tithe would be. See the transcription of the page above by clicking on the image below
Transcribed version of the above entry for Revd James Barker
An example is given below of a Now and Then scheme, with a photo of Hildersham Hall, once owned by John Mortlock
Hildersham Hall, as it is NOW, shown during a Rolling Supper evening
Hildersham Hall, as it was THEN, in the 1880s
Some of the work involving the Transcription of Parish Documents
The online records only go up to 1911, which is the latest date of census records you can access. This is common practice and the law of the land, giving a 100 year gap between publishing the next census records and is done in order to ensure no living person is shown.The next release 1921, therefore will not be released until 2021.
The online records again only go up to 1911, which is the latest date of census records you can access. This is common practice with names, to ensure no living person is recorded.
There is far more records and documents, photos, etc. from the project than can be possibly displayed here.
This was a hugely enjoyable project especially working with the children and this has led to a legacy of ongoing research work, using digital techniques. Many thanks to HLF for all their help and assistance with the project.