The History of Pidley-cum-Fenton in Cambridgeshire

Historical notes about the town of Pidley-cum-Fenton in Cambridgehsire.

The Villages of Pidley-cum-Fenton

Whilst we were researching the history of Pidley and Fenton we were looking for some form of symbol that could be used as the logo for this parish website. There used to be a brickworks at Fenton, that was one possibility but it did not relate to Pidley. From an agricultural point of view the parish historically was half arable and half mixed farming, so that did not help.

But then we discovered that nearly all the old forest was cleared from around both villages in medieval times, so at last we found something common to both, the woodsman's axe.

We therefore decided that the twin heraldic axes would be a good logo to use as it has reference to the common history of both Pidley and Fenton. One axe to represent each village.

Today there is still little woodland around either village although new woodland plantings have been established around the golf courses at Pidley.

Twin crossed Axes

The Parish of Pidley and Fenton

The parish of Pidley with Fenton lies to the west of Somersham and no doubt originally formed with it one large parish. The land rises from about 3 ft. above the ordnance datum in Warboys Fen in the north to over 100 ft. in the middle and south parts of the parish. In the fen-land the soil is the usual black peat, where the chief crops are potatoes and other vegetable. On the higher land clay is found, which produces wheat and barley. The parish comprises 3,752 acres of which about half is arable land and a little less than half pasture: there is no woodland, but a few copses; Hill Close Spinney, Stroud Hill Spinney, Dovehouse Close Spinney, where there are the remains of a homestead moat, and Little Wood Spinney, stand on the northern slope of the hill crossing the parish from east to west. The greater part, if not the whole, of the parish was within the chace of Somersham and was open country until the inclosures made after the chace was dischaced at the end of the 18th century. Earlier inclosures seem to have been made by the Hammonds at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries, when they obtained the interest in the lease and the reversion in fee of the manor and soke of Somersham.

The village of Pidley

The village of Pidley stands on the top of a hill along the road from Huntingdon to Chatteris. Church End with the modern church of All Saints, a Baptist chapel, and Church End Farm, lie about a third of a mile off the road on the north side. The houses and cottages in the village are mostly of brick, but a few half-timber cottages remain on the north side of the road. Stanley Farm on the south side of the road, the residence of Mr. George Silk, is a substantial brick house covered with tiles. It was built early in the 18th century and contains internally many of its original features. Near to it, on the east, is Hayden Hall, where there are indications of a moat. About half a mile east of the church is the Manor Farm, the residence of Mr. Ernest Braybrook, originally a 17thcentury brick house plastered and roofed with tiles but considerably altered in the early part of the 18th century.

The hamlet of Fenton

The hamlet of Fenton is about a mile north of Pidley and lies along the road to Warboys. It consists of some scattered farms and brickworks. Fenton House, formerly the Manor House, a little to the north of the road, is an early 18th-century brick building with a tiled roof, now the residence of Mr. Felix Ashcroft. Padgetts Farm, near to Fenton House, apparently takes its name from Richard Pagitt who lived in the parish in the middle of the 17th century. In the north-west corner of the parish is Fenton End, which touches the village of Warboys, and Rowey Farm lies to the north of the parish in the fen.

Victoria County History of Huntingdonshire - Printed 1932