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Upper Caldecote Introduction

Elizabeth Harvey almshouses Apr 2007
Elizabeth Harvey Almshouses Apr 2007

Upper Caldecote is a hamlet of Northill and, although now a separate ecclesiastical parish, remains in the civil parish of Northill. The name Caldecote first occurs in 1197 and Upper Caldecote is first recorded in 1363 (as Over Caldecote). the name means "cold cottages", presumably due to the exposed position on the flatlands of the Ivel Valley.

Manors

Upper Caldecote is not specifically mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Caldecote Manor is first recorded in 1252 when the Abbot of Warden Abbey was granted free warren in woods belonging to Caldecote Grange. It seems likely that it had formed part of the larger Manor of Northill, which the Abbots had claimed since the 12th century. The Abbey continued to hold the manor until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII when it reverted to the Crown. In 1564 it was granted by Elizabeth I to her favourite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. By 1603 it was in the possession of George Fish of Southill. In 1674 the owners were John and Mary Moore who, in that year, quitclaimed it to Nicholas Ratchford. At the turn of the 17th and 18th century the manor was owned by George Vaughan but in 1714 it was conveyed to trustees for the use of a Mrs.Stukeley, sister-in-law of Sir George Byng and by 1776 was owned by his grandson George, Fourth Lord Torrington. By the early 19th century it was owned by Thomas Smith and it passed to the Thornton family by 1821 who owned it into the 20th century (all manorial incidents, courts and tenure of land being abolished under the Law of Property Act 1922.).

An Upper Caldecote Manor, also known as Blundell's alias Hartshorne also existed but records are scarce. John Blundel owned land in 1381 held by Northill Rectory Manor. Hartshorne farm lay in Ickwell and was owned by the Crown until at least 1606. Blundell's Manor is recorded as being sold by the Colt family in the 16th century when they sold it to John Poley. His son, Francis, died in possession of it in 1568. He was succeeded by his infant daughter Alice, who married Robert Reade. Alice and Robert alienated the manor in 1588 to George Mordaunt and it stayed in this family until at least 1728, though by 1801 it was owned by John Harvey and remained in this family into the 20th century.

The 21st Century Settlement

Today's village is strung along two main roads - north-south along Hitchin Road and east-west along Biggleswade Road. The bulk of the hamlet lies west of the Great North Road (A1) but the hamlet (and Northill parish boundary) extends east to the River Ivel to include such properties as Ivel Farm, Elm Farm, Tudor Rose and the Sainsbury's superstore just on the Northill side of the boundary with Biggleswade.