The History of Colne in Cambridgeshire

Historical notes about the town of Colne in Cambridgehsire.

The Parish of Colne

Colne lies on the eastern border of the county on land falling from a little over 50 ft. above ordnance datum in the south-west to about 8 ft. in the fen on the Cambridgeshire border to the east. It covers 1,753 acres, the greater part of which is grass land. The soil is gravel and clay, growing corn and fruit. Some outlying portions of the parish have been added to Somersham and Bluntisham.

The village lies along the road from Bluntisham to Somersham, surrounded by fruit gardens. It suffered from a disastrous fire in 1844, but there still remain several 17th-century half-timbered houses and cottages, thatched or tiled, and in the middle of the village on the west side of the street, a late 16th century house having a central chimney stack with octagonal shafts and moulded bases. Near to it is the Baptist Chapel built in 1870. The old church, which stood about a quarter of a mile north-west of the village, was for the most part destroyed by the fall of the tower in 1896. A new church was built in the village. There were railway stations at Somersham and Bluntisham, each about a mile from Colne village.

The homestead moat, to the east of the old church, by tradition represents the site of the house of Drurys Manor. The house was demolished about 1787, and nothing now remains of it above ground. The homestead moat to the west of the old church was probably the site of the house of La Leghe Manor. This house, it would seem, was destroyed at an earlier date, and the Carters, lords of the manor in the 17th century, apparently lived in the village. The ancient village site to the east of the parish has already been described.

The long quarrel between the Bishop of Ely and Lady Blanche, daughter of Henry Earl of Lancaster, and widow of Thomas Wake of Lidell (co. Cumb.), arose about property in Colne. Lady Blanche probably claimed a mesne lordship over the manor of La Leghe in Colne, which was disputed by the Bishop of Ely, then overlord. We know the Wacheshams held lands of the honour of Lancaster. In 1354 the bishop and his men burnt the houses of La Leghe in Colne and murdered William de Holme, Lady Blanche's servant (vadlet), in the wood of Somersham. Holme had an interest in the manor of La Leghe (q.v.). The bishop was convicted of the latter crime, and his appeal to the Pope brought about the excommunications of Lady Blanche and various members of the court. Political complications followed at the Papal court.

Victoria County History: Huntingdonshire ~ Printed 1932