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Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambridgeshire

swaffham bulbeck.jpg

Swaffham Bulbeck is today a large bi-focal nucleated village lying on the edge of the Fens about 10km north-east of Cambridge. It is divided into two parts, a southernmost linear row settlement near the parish church of St Mary, primarily arranged either side of the north-south orientated High Street, with Quarry Road running east from this and, a little to the north, Station Road running north-west towards the fen edge. The High Street runs approximately parallel with the Gutter Bridge Water, a stream or lode thought to have been first cut in the Roman period which would have provided water-borne access to the settlement from the Fens. At its northern end beyond Station Road, the High Street (at this point called Green Bank Road) forms a dog-leg around an area of earthworks including at least one moat: the street appears to be avoiding this complex by diverting at this point. 

The second, northerly part of Swaffham Bulbeck is today called Commercial End and lies about 600m north of the parish church. Before the late 19th century this part of the village was called Newham End, a name which is first recorded in the 14th century. This part of the settlement lies closer to the Gutter Bridge Water, which would have facilitated trade. The medieval settlement was surrounded by open arable fields to the south and east, and by fenland mostly given over to rough grazing to the north and west, where the land drops sharply in level.  A small number of outlying farms and cottages seem never to have accommodated more than a very small percentage of the population of the parish.

Local Information Websites

Swaffham Bulbeck Village Website

British History Online

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