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Great Shelford

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[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013

"GREAT SHELFORD, a parish in the hundred of Triplow, county Cambridge, 4 miles south-east of Cambridge, its post town. It is a station on the Cambridge section of the Great Eastern line of railway. The village, which is considerable, is situated on the Granta, a branch of the river Cam, near Gogmagog Hill, and is chiefly agricultural. In the vicinity are extensive flour and oil-cake mills, also a brewery. There are nine wells in this parish, from which the town of Cambridge is chiefly supplied with water. The impropriate tithes belong to the Master and Fellows of Jesus College, Cambridge. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Ely, value £112, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient stone structure with a tower and steeple, which last has been twice rebuilt, having been blown down in 1703, and again in 1798. The interior of the church contains a canopied brass, bearing date 1411. The parochial charities produce about £47 per annum. There are a National and a British school for both sexes. The Baptists have a place of worship. The Master and Fellows of Gonville and Caius College are lords of the manor. On a farm called Grannams, the property of St. John's College, are remains-of a Roman intrenchment.

[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]





  • The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Great Shelford.


Church History

  • "The church of St Mary the Virgin, erected in 1387, at the sole cost of Thomas Patesle, then vicar, who is buried in the nave, is a very fine edifice of stone and clunch, built mainly in the Perpendicular style, and consisting of chancel, clerestoried and embattled nave of four bays, south porch with parvise aisles and a western tower, square in the lower and octagonal in the upper stage, with embattled parapet and small wooden spire and containing 5 bells: the church retains a very finely designed and elaborately worked Perpendicular rood screen, and a curiously carved pulpit of the Jacobean period: on the north wall of the chancel are six stone panels, inclosing carved shields of arms of the Redman, Torrell and Gouldwell families, three of these commemorating John Gouldwell esq. ob. 15 Feb. 1596, and his wife ; and Isabel (Calverly), wife of William Redman, Bishop of Norwich, 1595-1603; a memorial brass has also been placed to the late Richard Corney Grain esq. so well known in connection with the German-Reeds as a public entertainer, and who died 16 March, 1895 : in the south aisle is a beautiful trefoil-headed piscina: all the windows are fine examples of Perpendicular work: the stained east window is a memorial to Thomas Edleston Crisford, d. 1875, son of a former vicar, and there are several other stained windows, including one erected about 1896 to John Allen Ramsay and Elizabeth his wife: there is a fine brass, with the effigy, under a canopy of shields, of a priest in a cope, commemorating Thomas Patesle, vicar, 'a great benefactor to, and re-builder of the church,' ob. 31 Oct. 1418 ; the inscription, now lost is given in the Harl. MSS. No. 2,129: there is also a brass inscription to John Redman, and a solitary shield of arms: the south porch is groined in stone: at the beginning of the present century the tower suffered very much from a violent storm, and in 1798 the south-west angle of the tower, with buttresses and side wall, fell to the ground: the church was reseated and the interior restored about 1862: the chancel was restored and choir stalls on the south side erected, by the present vicar in 1890, as a memorial to the late Rt. Rev. J. R. Woodford D.D. Bishop of Ely 1873-86: the choir stalls and priests' stall on the north side were erected as a memorial to the late Peter Grain, for 40 years vicar's church-warden: a new organ has been built, at a cost of £400: in 1887 the bells were re-hung and one re-cast, at a cost of £100 and during the period 1886-90 various structural restorations were carried out, at a cost of £700: there are 500 sittings. The register dates from the year 1557."
  • "The Baptist chapel, rebuilt in 1856, at a cost of £1,000, is of brick, in imitation of the Norman and Early English styles, with an open timber roof, and affords 400 sittings."
    [Kelly's Directory - 1900]

Church Records

  • Church of England
    • Great Shelford, St. Mary the Virgin: The registers are still at the church for baptisms, marriages and burials 1557 onwards but indexed transcripts of these records exist in the Cambridgeshire Archives for the years 1557-1844 and copies of the original registers on microfilm for the years 1557-1875. The indexed transcripts of the registers are 1557-1844 available in full transcript form, on microfiche, from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society Publications list (search). Bishop's Transcripts for the years 1599-1869 reside in the Cambridge University Library.
  • Baptist
    • Baptist Church: Records of births 1824-36 exist in photocopy form in the Cambridgeshire Archives.
  • Methodist Church

Description and Travel

  • Great and Little Shelford in Old Picture Postcards'by Margaret K Ward. European Library - Zaltbommel/Netherlands 1993 2nd ed. GB ISBN 90 288 5504 1 / CIP
  • The Great Shelford Chronicle' containing news about the inhabitants/events 1774 1868. Complied by Anne George et al. Sponsored by Great Shelford Parish Council. Pub 1993.



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Military History



  • Land Tax: records were compiled afresh each year and contain the names of owners and occupiers in each parish, but usually there is no address or place name. These records reside in the Cambridgeshire Archives for the years 1798 (on microfilm), 1829-32 and 1880-1948.