Eltisley Stories: Our Origins

Eltisley is a parish and village in south Cambridgeshire. Covering almost 2,000 acres it lies on a heavy clay plateau about 200 feet above sea level. The name ‘Eltisley’ hints at our village’s origin as an Anglo-Saxon settlement among woodland. Eltisley – ‘clearing of a man named Elti’ becomes ‘Hecteslei’ when mentioned in the Domesday Book, a modern translation of which reads: “In Longstow Hundred. The Canons of Bayeux hold 3 hides in Eltisley. Land for 9 ploughs. In lordship 1½ hides; 3 ploughs there; 6 villagers with 10 smallholders have 6 ploughs. 5 cottagers; 6 slaves. Meadow for 3 ploughs; woodland, 20 pigs. The total value is and always was £13. Earl Algar held this manor”. By 1228 the name is recorded as ‘Eltesle’. Eltisley is unusual in having two village greens. The larger space, once known as the Great Green, stands centrally in the village at the junction of two ancient roads running from Cambridge to St Neots and from St Ives to Potton. The church stands immediately west of the green and several buildings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries stand along its edge, suggesting that the green has been at the centre of the village for a long time. In 1868 it was inclosed for the benefit of the parishioners; one of the last pieces of land in Cambridgeshire to be inclosed. The fact that it took so long for inclosure, and the fact that it passed to the Parish rather than to a local landowner, is probably due to the poor nature of the land. Cricket has long been played on the green and in 1854 Eltisley Cricket Club was established. A thatched pavilion stands on the edge of the green. The other, smaller, green was sited to the east and in 1456, villagers were distinguished as living in either ‘le Estende’ or ‘le Upende’; it appears that there may have been two centres to the village since medieval times. In 1868 it was turned into ‘Allotments for the Labouring Poor’ which much of it still is. The remainder is now an attractive pocket park and picnic area. There was Roman occupation in the village as evidenced by numerous finds of pottery. This was long thought to be the earliest activity locally until a neolithic axehead dated to 2000 to 4000 BC, and made of local flint, was discovered in a garden in Caxton End. The parish’s population doubled between 1801 and 1871, possibly because of its good road links. In addition to the St Neots-Cambridge and St Ives-Potton roads, the lane towards Caxton may also have been important. After 1871, the population began to decline; in 1961, only 253 people lived in Eltisley parish. During World War II, several babies were born in Mill House on The Green in Eltisley; the local nurse-midwife, Mrs. Rose, having taken in pregnant mothers for their confinements. In 2000, the Eltisley History Society published The Eltisley Millennium Book, which records the history of the village and the village as it was in the year 2000.

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Eltisley Origins

The name ‘Eltisley’ hints at its origin as an..