[Transcribed and edited information from The Victoria County History series- 1932]
"GREAT PAXTON, whilst the origin of the name has never satisfactorily been explained, one thing seems certain, the place name is the oldest in Anglo-Saxon England and may date from the 6th or 7th century. The 'Great' part of the name was added when the less important 'Little' Paxton came into existence; the differentiation first occurring in documents of the 12th and 13th centuries but doubtless had been in use for several centuries before.}
Great Paxton parish is low-lying, with the River Ouse forming its western, and the Gallows Brook forming its southern, boundary. It has never been a large village, but lies in a secluded valley on the east bank of the River Ouse, along the ancient road from Godmanchester to St. Neots. It was probably first settled by invaders of Saxon stock coming up the river from the Wash, as were most of the other local riverside villages. The site chosen is almost surrounded by low hills and was once densely wooded which formed a natural protection.
The original settlement was nearer the river than now and stood a short distance west of Manor Farm where a large number of Saxon coins, skeletons and pottery were found when the railway line was being constructed. At some later period, the inhabitants moved to higher ground and formed a Green at the north end of the present High Street, around which the houses were built. Later still, two outlying hamlets came into being: one at Little Paxton across the river to the west, and the other at Toseland about two miles to the east. They both represented an expansion of the settlement but why they were established so far from the mother village is hard to explain. There was once a ferry across the Ouse to Little Paxton, called the Wrayhouse Ferry, and this was in the south-west of the parish. Whilst a trackway, now known as Adams Lane led to Toseland. Both these hamlets were chapelries of Great Paxton, eventually becoming parishes in their own right and obtaining ecclesiastical independence.
The sub-soil of the parish is chiefly Oxford clay and the soil is clay, growing wheat, barley and root crops. The railway main line from London to the north crosses the parish and runs parallel with the river. The Towgood family were great benefactors and employers in the area. There are some interesting 17th century timber-framed cottages in Adams Lane and London Lane; names which go back to the 16th century.
College Farm in the west of the parish takes its name from St. John's College in Cambridge which purchased the land in Great Paxton in the 16th century at the same time that the manor was bought. The parish was inclosed by a private Act of Parliament in 1811, which completely changed the appearance of the surrounding contryside. The 3 great 'open fields' system which had existed from the foundation of the village were now divided into the numerous and much smaller 'fields' which we see today. The baulks, furlongs and headlands disappeared and the new fields were hedged and ditched and the present road system came into being. Both Little Paxton and Toseland and were originally part of the same ecclesiastical parish, although they separated for civil purposes.
Both Neolithic surface implements and a few Romano-british finds have also been discovered in the parish. "