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A Brief Parish History

The parish, and the village, of Stibbington are bisected by the A1 trunk road. The west side of the village is frequently referred to as Wansford as the two communities are joined by the old river bridge, however, it contains most of the facilities for both villages, including an hotel, the village post office and shop, two public houses, a restaurant, shoe shop, boutique and a hairdressers.  The majority of the village is constructed of the local honey-coloured stone, with roofs of Collyweston slate.  The most well-known building in our village must be the Haycock Hotel.  The history of this ancient hostelry has been traced back to 1571 when it was known as the Swan Inn.  Since then it has served the many coaches which ply up and down the Great North Road between London and York, though the stables have long since found more modern purposes.  Although it has been altered many times over the years it retains much of its original character and ambiance.  It is reputed to be haunted, and there are many stories of the famous and infamous that have graced it’s portals, including Queen Victoria.  During the 19th century this part of the village was a thriving community with both industry and commerce, and many of the buildings that exist today have been converted into homes as these old businesses closed.  Similarly, some of the old commercial buildings have been lost forever and replaced with more modern constructions.  During this time there were 2 bakeries, 2 wheelwrights, a blacksmith, a butcher, a tailor, a saddler, a stationers and 3 grocers.  The river provided power for a mill, and a paper mill, as well as a thriving wharves for barges.  As you leave this part of the village and climb the Elton Road you will pass the new Waterside Holiday Home complex which stands on the site of the old Quarry.

However, the village history goes further back to the days when it was a suburb of the large Roman town of Durobrivae which was a little further down the A1 at Chesterton, and in the part of Stibbington which lies to the east of the A1 there are buried Roman pottery kilns.  This side of the village also has the 14th century church of St John the Baptist which has a nave dating from the 12th century, although it is known that the Saxons first built churches in Stibbington and Sibson, which are mentioned in the Domesday book.  A path to the left of the church now goes only as far as the river and the boatyard, although it was originally a ford to the village of Sutton on the opposite bank of the river.  Close to the church is Stibbington Hall, a fine Jacobean house built at the beginning of the 17th century.  This part of the village is also home to the Stibbington Environment Centre, which provides environmental, and historical educational facilities for children across Cambridgeshire by utilising the old Duke of Bedford primary School buildings.  A little further down the Old Great North Road, but still within the village lies Wansford Station, a casualty of the “Beeching cuts” to the railway network in the 1960s, but saved from the dismantlers, and now home to the Nene Valley Railway.

There are various publications which contain more information on the village history. Two of these are:

Wansford-cum-Stibbington, by J Martin Goodwin (ISBN  0 90 2544 61 6).

Stibbington Church and Parish, by John L Gilbert.

1 thought on “A Brief Parish History”

  1. Good Afternoon I am from Australia and have ancestors that Lived in your area. I am having a hard time in finding some of them. One person a Mary Dewberry born/baptised around 1750 married to a Mark Dewberry (unknown date) she died on the 8/12/1786 aged only 36 years she had two children with Mark Dewberry a James 1781 and Sarah 1785. Mark later married a Catherine Askham in 1787. Would love to find family ancestors of them.

    Janet Pritchard

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