A Brief History of Dullingham
|you are in "The Past"|
|The Church of St Mary the Virgin|
|photo-diary of the re-roofing a 17th Century, Grade 2 listed cottage, Cables Farm, in Station Road|
|Joe Moore's Photographic Archive of Dullingham|
|The Old Bakery|
|Church Lane Maltings|
|The Wesleyan Chapel, Dullingham|
|Dullingham Village School|
|The King's Head|
|Dullingham Railway Station|
|Dullingham History Group|
|The Mission Hall, Dullingham Ley|
The name Dullingham has been in use for well over a thousand years - the name was used around the year 975 to describe a wood in the area. The name comes from Old English and means ‘Homestead of the Dullingas, the people named after Dulla’.
The area had been settled many centuries before this time by successive waves of invaders from continental Europe, but it seems that there is no archaeological evidence of earlier habitation in Dullingham itself, or in the other two communities which now form part of the modern village: Cross Green and Dullingham Ley.
The first written record we have is provided by that amazing achievement of medieval civil administration, the Domesday Book (1085). By this time Dullingham was a centre of agricultural activity and Domesday records four separate landholdings here: the manor, two farms and a small holding, held by four different lords. For tax purposes Dullingham was assessed at 10 hides ( a hide was usually around 120 acres).
Apart from the landowners there were villagers (villeins) - peasant farmers - who were committed to work on the estates and in return were allowed to farm small areas to feed their families. The bordars (cottagers or small holders) were the odd job men, the hired help, who may also have had a small amount of arable land and possibly a small allotment around their huts on which they could keep a few pigs or sheep. At the bottom of the system Domesday records two slaves on the Manor - they had no land and no right to pasture or woodland which was the normal privilege of villein and bordar.
Dullingham remained an agricultural community for hundreds of years - until well into the Twentieth Century in fact. For most of the population life was very hard and survival depended on the weather not destroying the harvest; most people lived in what we would regard as hovels - small single-roomed huts made of wood and daub, with a roof of reed or straw and a little simple furniture, probably home made. Water was obtained from wells or from the stream in the village.
The fortunes of the village fluctuated greatly - there were perhaps 225 souls here at the time of Domesday and possibly only 200 when the Poll Tax came into being in 1377 (though as the tax was unpopular we can be sure that some people did avoid being counted!). Infant mortality was high (around 1 in 4 in the first year of life) and the average life expectancy was only about 35 in this period. The Black Death in the Fourteenth Century may have taken up to 50% of the population (estimates for some Cambridgeshire villages are as high as 70%). But by 1728 the population had reached 378 and in 1881 it reached a peak of 835; a century later it had dropped to 501. Today 585 people live in Dullingham.
Agriculture remained Dullingham’s business: the 1841 census describes every man as an agricultural labourer except for: 12 male servants, 2 gardeners, 1 groom, 3 carpenters, 1 miller, 2 stable lads, 1 parish clerk, 1 head keeper, 3 shoemakers, 1 blacksmith, 1 butcher, 1 shepherd, 2 game keepers, 1 wheelwright, 1 bricklayer, 1 returning officer and 1 publican (who was a woman). We do not know how many women were ‘in service’ in the large houses which is where the 12 male servants probably worked too.
What is now The Gatehouse in
as it was around the turn of the century
The view from the King's
up the Stetchworth Road; note the ford that
crosses the road at the bottom of Church Lane
(click on the picture to enlarge)
(click on the picture to enlarge)
photos by kind permission of Fenprint - prints available by clicking here
The Nineteenth Century saw significant technological progress, which began to have an impact on the agricultural community and this process was speeded up in the next century when life in the village was fundamentally changed by the effects of two world wars and profound economic, social, political and technological change.
The arrival of Council houses represented an enormous improvement in the standard of living of many people in the village - the first houses were built in 1927 and had internal running (cold) water, two living rooms, a kitchen and three bedrooms; the houses built after WW2 had bathrooms and internal toilets and were wired for electricity, ready for its arrival in the village in 1949.
Increasing affluence meant that more people could afford first motor cycles and then cars, and so could move beyond the village for employment. This was important, as the increasing mechanization of agriculture meant that there were far fewer jobs on the land; the growth of stud farms dedicated to the breeding of horses also meant that less land was given over to traditional farming.
The arrival of electricity meant, among other things, that refrigerators became common and as people were now more mobile they could buy their provisions elsewhere and had the means to store them. In time the village shop, the butcher, the baker, the milkman, the fish and chip shop and the Post Office all disappeared. The bike shop turned into the service station which is on the main road through the village. The number of ‘ale-houses’ was reduced from five to two (The King’s Head and The Boot).
A more mobile population meant that many people could now travel to work outside the village; similarly, people who had jobs elsewhere came to live in the village.
In the face of these profound changes, Dullingham has been able to preserve some of its most important characteristics: the church thrives, we still have two good pubs, an active sports club and a strong sense of community. And the village remains a delightful place to live!
|a web site showing listed buildings in Dullingham click|
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