A look at the lost South Cambs settlement with a Roman history to boot
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
In South Cambs, we’re familiar with parishes joining up to form larger authorities.
Bassingbourn and Kneesworth joined in 1966 to become Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth, Shingay and neighbour Wendy were joined as Shingay-cum-Wendy nearly a decade before that in 1957, and – further afield in the South Cambs district – Stow-cum-Quy is the joining of two settlements to the east of Cambridge.
There is another union in our villages – Croydon and the community of Clopton, the lost settlement with quite a history.
In medieval times, Croydon and Clopton were two communities of above average population. In fact, Clopton had a market in 12th century granted by Robert Hoo, Lord of Clopton in 1292, meaning it would have been given the status of a town at that time.
According to British History Online archives: “the two villages stood on the chalk slope at the spring line, Croydon 1½ km. west of the Old North Road, Clopton another 1½ km. further west.
“At Clopton, where there were traces of Roman occupation, an Anglo-Saxon village covering 30 acres had been established by the 10th century.
“There were 18 peasants there in 1086, and probably circa 20 taxpayers in 1318. Some 32 people paid the wool levy in 1347.
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“The medieval churchyard received four levels of graves between the 12th century and the 15th.
“By 1524, after the enclosure, the only households were those of the lady of the manor and five labourers. In 1561 – when the settlement was joined with it’s neighbouring parish to become Croydon-cum-Clopton – only two households remained in Clopton.”
Croydon’s Church of All Saints, is still recognised as covering the parish of Croydon-cum-Clopton, and according to the benefice’s website the union “was due to the de-population and aggressive enclosures of Clopton by London lawyer, John Fisher.
Today Clopton is a lost village although its site can still be visited by following the bridleway that extends westwards from Croydon High Street.
The church’s website states: “Croydon also has a substantial area east of the church where most of its own medieval lost village lies under farmland.
“The modern village consists largely of 19th and 20th century properties, mostly to the west of the church, although earlier remains are scattered between and behind them.”
The church which is part of the Orwell group – also consisting of Arrington, Barrington, Orwell and Wimpole parish churches – is open each day during the hou There is a small exhibition in the church of former village life through photographs.