The Foxearth and District Local History Society
The Fieldnames of Cavendish from the Cavendish Tithe Map of 1846

By Andrew Clarke

For the people who lived in Cavendish until the mid-twentieth century, the landscape and the fields were a central part of their lives. Most people here worked on the land, or on the products that were manufactured from the produce of the fields. The rest sold them the things they needed to live their lives. They could recite the names of all the fields from Pitchers to Finsted End and tell you of their vices and virtues. They knew all the farms, their produce and their prosperity.

The Project

This article describes how Tom Hastie and I created this field name map of Cavendish, with the help of James Morley of Wales End farm. We started with a copy of the Cavendish Tithe map kindly donated by Wales End Farm, and Tom Hastie transcribed the record of all the holdings (fields and so on, who owned them and what farm they belonged to).  We then converted this to a JSON database that we could query in order to calculate the total acreages of each farm. Then we obtained a good scan of the 1880 Ordnance Survey map and transferred, from the Tithe map, all the field boundaries that had disappeared in the forty years between the two maps. The Tithe map was beautifully executed, but it was never intended to be completely accurate because its purpose was only to record where each field was.  We then labelled each field according to its number on the map.  We had to delete anything that was obviously anachronistic, such as the railway.  It was a useful exercise because the 1880 OS map has marked on it the presence of old walls, ditches, ponds and moats. It also has every footpath then in use.

Once this was complete, we put the map on the website. Here is just a small section by way of illustration.

The Context

Very few old maps included the fields. There were plenty of estate maps because field boundaries were immensely important to the farmers, but  I know of none that record the Cavendish farms that predate the Ordnance Survey of 1805 and that still exist. We’ve relied particularly on Charles Verron’s map of 1805, a preliminary map for the first Ordnance survey but which has mercifully survived. Unlike the final OS map, Charles Verron included the main field boundaries but not, of course, the fieldnames- there were over four hundred in Cavendish alone.

The tithe maps are important because they were the first systematic record of the names of the fields. The fieldnames are often recorded in deeds, but without an easily-accessible map, it is difficult to use these names to find a place. Some field names change a great deal, and others not at all.  Some are boring, merely the description of their size such as ‘Seven Acres’: some tell us where a manor used to be, complete with House and farm, where now is just vast open fields. Others, such as ‘Thistley Meadow’ or ‘Hungerdown’ tell us of the irritations, and others of the special crops grown such as osiers, rushes for weaving and Ash for handles. There are a group that are mysterious and hark back at least five hundred years.

The Tithe Survey

Cavendish, according to the Tithe survey of 1846, contained nearly three thousand acres of farmland (2936 1/3 acres) it consisted mostly of arable land, 255 fields containing 2,124 acres, whereas there was only 640 acres of pasture and 148 acres of woodland. The rest of the land was mostly attached to homesteads. 

Just over a third of the land was owned at the time by Rt Hon Earl Howe.  John Ruggles-Brise (then lord of the manor of Cavendish) and Thomas Heigham (owner of Houghton Hall)   between them owned another eight hundred and fifty-five acres and Sarah Yelloly of Cavendish Hall had two hundred and twenty-eight acres.

There were twenty-five farms, varying from Houghton Hall with four hundred and twenty-six acres to the diminutive Ark Farm with just seventeen acres.

Num  of holdings



Avg Fieldsize



Houghton Hall




Colts Hall




Wales End Farm




Blackland Hall




Robbs Farm




Scotts Farm




(Cavendish) Lodge Farm




Kimsings Farm




Wales Farm




Trucketts Farm




Over Hall




Home Farm




Cavendish Place




Cavendish Hall








Little Nether Hall




Swans Hall




The Hermitage




Motts Farm




Finsted End




Moors Farm




Brick Kiln




Ley Farm








Ark Farm



The Manors and Farms of Cavendish

In the records, there are thirty farms or manors mentioned as being in Cavendish since the Norman Conquest.  There probably weren’t more than twenty-five separate farms at any one time since some were renamed, others abandoned and several amalgamated with the more successful farms.  To study fieldnames, one needs to know about them because their names tend to linger on in field names.

Exploring the records is a frustrating business because there was no conventional spelling. Letters were used phonetically to spell it as you spoke it. Cavendish was, in various documents, spelled  Kanavadisc,  Kavanadish, Kavendys, Caundish,  Caundysh, Cauenedhis, Cauenediss, Cauenedissch, Cauenedyth, Cauene Edysse, Caundish, Caundissh, Caundyssh, Cavened, Cavendissh, Kanavadise, Kauenedish, Kavanadis, Kavanadisc, Kavendych, Kavendys, Kavanedis, Kavenedisch, Kavendish, Rananadisc, Ranavadis and Ranavadisc.

Some farms and manors change name due to the vanity of the purchasers wishing to have their name attached. Greys Manor became Colts Manor, for example.  Others seem to change on a whim. Home Farm became Ducks Hall, for example.  Some vanish completely to be commemorated only as fieldnames, such as Jankens or Jenkens Farm. A few have vanished to leave no trace at all such as the Manor of Stansfield Hall. Several were absorbed by neighboring farms, such as New Hall Manor (1463-1475), whose name is commemorated in four fieldnames,  Payton's manor (1298 - 1475) and Peche Manor/Pechy's Manor  1475), all of which were absorbed into Grey’s manor and thence became part of Colts Hall. Where, one wonders, were  the Hermitage,  Padbrooke Hall, Bully hall and  Blount's?

The first puzzle is how a parish of 3000 acres could sustain so many prosperous farms. The answer is, I think, that several Halls owed their prosperity to weaving. We know that the parishes to the north of the Stour were benefitting hugely in the weaving of the broadcloth. Clare, Cavendish, Glemsford, Melford Acton, Lavenham and Sudbury were at the heart of the industry. Most of the finished cloths were sold via Sudbury, or more rarely Clare. However, Cavendish was an active centre of the trade from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century.  Pentlow Mill, for example, l had a fulling mill for processing broadcloth. Some Halls were centres of weaving, like mediaeval factories. Some grand houses in Clare still retain traces of where the machinery worked, in wings at the back of the halls.

In perusing the records, it is soon apparent that hamlets, manors and settlements came and went. The Domesday reference, for example mentions  Rodenham a hamlet with 2 carucates’ belonging to Cavendish (a carucate was a medieval measure of the area of  land a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season- about sixty acres). This was said to have its own mill, though this later vanished. The most obvious candidate for this was Blacklands which had its own watermill, and enough flow for a horizontal millwheel.

Houghton Hall is probably the oldest farm name surviving. It was originally a hamlet called Hocetuna in the Domesday survey , meaning probably a settlement by a hill spur (hoh Oe), becoming Hoketon and Howton Hall before settling into the modern spelling.

Finstead (Finesteda) on the borders between Cavendish and Glemsford, gets a mention too as a Saxon settlement (Lands of Ralph de Limesi. Huthrad in K.E.'s time held as a carucate now)

Padbrook Hall was the residence of Thomas Cavendish’s father in law, John Smith. Padsbrook seems to have survived for some time as a separate village and manor before being absorbed as Cavendish End. Bulley Hall  is mentioned  in six documents from 1314 to 1753 until being absorbed into  Nether Hall. Its name probably survives with some of the ‘bull’ fieldnames .

 Collingham Hall Manor (first mentioned in 1394, last mention 1609) probably existed somewhere near Ducks Hall (alias Home Farm) and could be the same place.   Columbine Garden and Columbine Bottoms were originally named after the former Collingham Hall Manor. Home farm had been called ‘Ducks Hall’ by the 1840s

More hall most likely morphed into Moore’s farm

Overhall had a long and distinguished life as one of the major manors. It was mentioned in the doomsday book. It was at one time the grand manor of the Cavendish family, though the famous John Cavendish seems to have been living at Pentlow Hall at the time of the peasants revolt in 1381. It declined in importance until, in  1601, the greater part was pulled down, and the remainder fitted up as a farmhouse. A Victorian rectory was built on the site though a small part survives as ‘Pocky Hall’. Most of the remaining land was transferred to Cavendish Hall.

New Hall (1463), Chelforde(1463)s,  De Greys and Peytons Manor (1298-1475), along with Padbrook Hall, all seems to have been assimilated into Colts Hall. 

Quipsey, Impsey or Jmpie, Impey Hall. (first mentioned in 1381, last heard-of in 1626) became part of Houghton Hall farm but leaves its mark in the various fields called ‘Impey’. It was probably sited in the north east corner of  Impey Hall Meadow.

Kimsings Farm (Kensings, Kessings Hall Manor and Kemsynge) 1300 seems to have kept its independence over the centuries.

Bully Hall is heard of in 1314, but in 1715 became absorbed into Nether hall. Nether Hall, in turn became part of Cavendish Hall.

Cavendish Hall, described by White in 1841 ‘an elegant modern mansion, in a park of 50 acres’ was built by Thomas Hallifax, Esq., banker, of London. Sarah Yelloly, the widow  of the  Dr. Yelloly, who was physician to George the Fourth, lived there and owned other land as well as the parkland of Cavendish Hall. Charles Verron’s map shows that Cavendish Hall’s land was carved from Houghton Hall, and Houghton Hall’s driveway was diverted to make way for the new estate. It was at that point it gained the current straight but boring driveway.

Other farms, such as Wales Farm, Blacklands , Robbs farm, Ark Farm,  Truckett’s, Cavendish Place, and Scott’s farm seem to have kept out of the historical record, though further research is bound to show something up.

The names

One Close Roll from 1455 mentions several manors and  lists of fields. An occasional name such as ‘Netherhalle’, 'Pentlow mille' is instantly recognisable, but many names need quite a bit of disentangling.  We’ve found this with other nearby parishes. ‘The farm’ in Pentlow, the adjacent parish,  became ‘Clark’s Farm’, and morphed to ‘Clarkes Farm in the Wood’ before being shortened to ‘Clarks in the wood’ and thence to ‘Larks in the Wood’. Obvious once you know the sequence. Cavendish Mill seems to have started as Padsbrook Mill, changed to 'Paddokkysmyl', ‘Paddock mill’, ‘Paddy’s Mill, Patrick Mill to Cavendish Mill.  ‘Peacocks field’ seems to have morphed from ‘Pease Croft’

Hodskinson’s map of 1783.

As an example of the changes in field names, here are a selection of Cavendish fieldnames from mediaeval manuscripts: Aldeforde,  Asshmede meadow, Bateshalk, Blakelond, Bunefelde ,Burrefelds, Carters pightell, Chirchfelde, Claypetland, Colmanshalk, , Colyngham Wey, Cros Went,  Cullynges Hoo, Four Acres,  Heydyche,  Hydon, , Long Mere , Lowecrofte, Lowhill, ,Maresfeld,  Melfelde, Melleweye, Musticas Strete, Padbrook Bridge, Padbrook Street, Reylond, Rushe Pasture, and Shipland. 

Of these fields, only the following can be recognized. Church field,  Four Acres  and mill field (possibly also Rush Ley?). There must be a ‘Four acres’ field in every parish, and both Church field and Mill  field are extremely common names.

Some field names change a great deal, and others not at all.  Some are boring, merely the description of their size such as ‘Seven Acres’: some tell us where a manor used to be, complete with House and farm, where now is just vast open fields. Others, such as ‘Thistley Meadow’ or ‘Hungerdown’ tell us of the irritations, and others of the special crops grown such as osiers, rushes for weaving and Ash for handles. There are a group that are mysterious and hark back at least five hundred years.

So what is indicated by the names and the map?

The first map we have that shows individual fields is Charles Verron’s map of 1805, before Cavendish Hall appeared. Between then and the tithe map of 1835, we lost a few fields and gained a few, but the rate of change was slight.

Charles Verron’s Map of 1803, a details showing Cavendish

 Even the 1870 map of Cavendish was very much unchanged, barring the loss of woodland. We seem to have a landscape inherited from the mediaeval at that point, but with several manors coalesced into the major farms.  The long-lasting fields reflect the underlying geology, and were laid out because they grew different crops well, or suited meadow or pasture. 

The top of Cavendish parish, where Easty and Northey wood survives, was, I think, once Abbey Woodland that was used for the commercial production of oak for houses and ships, but also used for hunting. The house currently called Blacklands looks suspiciously like a mediaeval hunting lodge. We know that the King, when a guest of Clare Castle, loved to hunt the woodlands of the Stour valley, and these abbey lands were well known for the sport. We know also that the Abbott of Bury would make gifts occasionally to make church roofs from the timber thar grew north of Cavendish and Glemsford. The names reflect this. ‘Old Park’, ‘Abbots’,  ‘Great wood field’ and  ‘Sawpit meadow’. The old roads that go north and south through the parish, now mostly bridleways, were large and broad because oak timber was dragged down them. Even in the twentieth century, the huge wagons would bring trunks of felled trees down to the Cavendish road.

Going further back in time,  it would seem that there was a deer park in Cavendish. Christopher Saxton's map  in 1575 shows  a Park at Cavendish. When John Speed copied the map for his 1610 'Suffolke Described' he left out this park, so it has always been assumed that it was an error. However, Saxton didn't make many errors: The park seems to be placed quite near where Houghton Hall still stands today, and it is clear that the building that stands there now is but a small part of a large mediaeval house. There is a history of Houghton Hall in manuscript form which I haven't read yet which might clear up the mystery, but in the meantime it would be nice to think that Saxton recorded the park just before its demise. The Houghton Hall estate used to be very large and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that this is the site of a mediaeval deer-park. Note also the large area of woodland between Boxted Glemsford and Cavendish, corresponding to the large commercial woodland estates once owned by the Bury St Edmunds abbey.

Saxtons Map With Park

The deerpark disappears in adifferent contemporary version of the map, though the woodland remains. The explanation is simple. No deerparks were recorded on some editions of Saxton's map.


Saxton's Map of Suffolk


 Royalty stayed quite often at Clare Castle when the castle was in its prime and this would be the nearest deer-park to the castle. Between 1230 and 1240 Henry III was resident at Clare more than once. There is documentary proof of this. In 1235, the king sent his huntsmen to Clare to take ten bucks in the park in readiness for the arrival of the court. Edward I, intending to hawk in the River Stour, ordered the sheriffs of Suffolk and Essex to keep the river free of other hawkers, and to ensure that the bridges in good repair. So it must be worth keeping an open mind about the possibility of a deer-park at Cavendish. We are on firmer ground in believing that the king of England used the Stour valley for hawking when resident at Clare Castle

Printing out the map

The map we’ve produced prints out nicely as a large map, of around three foot by two foot. As it is based originally on the ordnance survey map (more correct than the tithe map) it looks good too.

Instructions for printing the map in ‘Poster’ size are here.