The earthwork remains of a late C16 or early C17 garden laid out behind a former manor house.
The manor of Hamerton was conveyed by Sir Thomas Knyvet to Silvester Bedell in 1565. He was succeeded by his son Sir John, from whom it passed in 1613 to Capell Bedell. It is likely that a series of elaborate gardens was created by these generations of Bedells around the manorial complex they inhabited, because when Capell died in 1643 he divided the manor between his two daughters: Elizabeth, who married Sir Francis Compton, and Mary, who married Sir Thomas Leventhorpe. Elizabeth acquired her sister's portion but in 1669 the manor and its gardens were sold. The sale particulars of this date (Proc Cambridge Antiq Soc 1978) describe ponds, a great garden, lesser gardens and orchards. The manorial complex was later occupied by the Rectory and was sold into the Smith family. Edward Smith Stanley, commonly called Lord Stanley, became owner in 1771. By 1838, when the site had descended to the hands of John Smith Barry, a map of the area shows the garden area had become simply a field (HRO). The Smith Barrys continued to own the site throughout the C19 and into the C20. The Rectory field was sold into divided ownership in 1997, part being retained by the Rectory and part sold to a separate owner. It remains (1999) in divided private ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
The site here registered is located in the south-east corner of the Cambridgeshire village of Hamerton which itself lies c 7km north-west of Huntingdon, to the west of the A1. The village is set in an open agricultural landscape typical of this part of the county, characterised by generally flat land occupied by large fields with few hedgerows and occasional blocks of woodland. The site is bounded to the north by the Rectory garden, to the west by village gardens and trees, and to the east by open farmland. To the south the boundary is formed by a long canal and raised bank, beyond which the land rises gently. The ground has a slight fall to the south and east, affording good views over the surrounding countryside to the south.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The site is entered through a field gate in the north-west corner and there is a stile in the south-west corner.
The gardens, now earthwork remains, were associated with the manorial complex that stood on the land now occupied by the Rectory.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The garden earthworks occupy an area c 200m by 400m and comprise an open field laid to pasture with a few trees. The earthworks fall into three areas. The first area, c 200m by 100m lies in the north-west corner. It is dominated by a central rectangular mound composed of C17 brick rubble, which is surrounded by shallow raised earthworks associated with the edges of paths or borders. The area to the south of this is bordered to the south and east by a water-filled canal, with a wide raised terrace bank beyond the south arm. This is currently (1999) covered in tree and scrub growth. Path and border edges are also evident in this area. The third area covers the eastern half of the site: to the north is a complex series of irregular earthworks whilst to the south is a dry moat with central rectangular island bordered to the east by several rectangular marshy depressions, which may be the remains of an elaborate water garden (Proc Cambridge Antiq Soc 1978) or possibly served as fishponds. The sale particulars of 1669 describe 'one large mansion house ... one court before it, and several yardes behind it, and ponds of water, with a great garden and other lesser gardens and faire orchards well planted with good fruit, consisting of about ten acres'.
Victoria History of the County of Huntingdonshire III, (1936), pp 66-8
Proc Cambridge Antiq Soc 68, (1978), pp 65-7
Map, 1838, probably based on the Enclosure Award (PM2/17), (Huntingdon Record Office)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1887
2nd edition published 1902
3rd edition published 1924
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1887
3rd edition published 1924
Description written: November 1999
Amended: December 2000
Register Inspector: EMP
Edited: January 2001