The History of Yaxley in Cambridgeshire

Historical notes about the town of Yaxley in Cambridgehsire.

The parish contains 4,287 acres of land, and 11 of water. The subsoil is Oxford Clay in the high lands but Alluvium in the fen district in the southern and eastern parts of the parish. The Great North Road follows the western boundary, and the main line of the London and North Eastern Railway runs nearly parallel to it, with the Yaxley and Farcet station about a mile to the north-east of Yaxley village. A large part of the parish is fen. Yaxley Fen was included in the Earl of Bedford's great drainage scheme undertaken in the reign of Charles I, and other parts were embanked and drained under a private Act of Parliament of 1830. Neolithic implements in the higher land and a bronze axe in Yaxley Fen have been dug up, while there are evidences of the existence throughout the Roman occupation of a small fen-side village, built of wattle and daub, the inhabitants of which used pottery and ornaments of Romano-British manufacture.

The Village of Yaxley

Geakeslea, Iaceslea (10th century); Jacheslei (11th century); Jakeslea (12th and 14th century); Yakesle (14th century); Yaxley (16th century) and Yaxley (present).

The church and older part of the village stand on the high land to the north-west of the fen. Yaxley was one of the most important possessions of the Benedictine monastery of Thorney and developed into a small market town of which the abbot was lord. It never attained any status as a borough, though in practice the inhabitants probably enjoyed some measure of control. Thus in 1305, Edward I made a grant of pavage to 'the bailiffs and good men of the town' for five years and a similar grant for three years was made in 1378. Certain royal proclamations were also sent to the bailiffs of the town for publication. Whether the townspeople ever made any attempt to obtain the right to elect their own bailiffs is doubtful, but in 1390, some of the abbot's villeins had been refusing to pay certain rents and customs due to the abbey, and in 1443 his quarrels with the townspeople appear to have resulted in his excommunicating some of the most important and an appeal to the Pope was necessary before peace was made.

There are remains of ditches at the Manor House. In the village there is a public hall for meetings.

The parish was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1767, the award being enrolled on the Recovery Rolls for 1769.

The Hamlet of Norman Cross

Northmannescros, Normannescros (10th century); Normanescros (11th century); Normancros (13th century) and Norma Cross (present).

Norman Cross is a hamlet in the parish, which gave its name to one of the hundreds of the county and is now the name of one of the petty sessional divisions and also of a Rural District Council. Large barracks were built during the Napoleonic wars in 1796-7 for the accommodation of French prisoners of war, to whom a memorial was raised in 1914. They were dismantled in 1816.

Victoria County History: Huntingdonshire ~ Printed 1932