Once Manor Farm
We started to research this house after Sonia Watts gave us her memories during lockdown and someone else contacted us about drawings done by Dorothy Bliss for a WW1 Red Cross book. Her address was the Old Manor House Harston. Sonia Watts’ father Dennis Chapman owned some of the Manor House Farm fields from around 1924 to 1970s.
We already had an 1886 sales document for a Manor Farm. Lot 5 describes the house and two small adjacent fields: ‘The Homestead’ consists of a FARMHOUSE with a pleasant aspect, built partly of brick and partly of stud and plaster, and covered with slates. It contains 3 Lower and 6 Upper rooms, with 2 Kitchens, Dairy and the usual Domestic Offices. There are also 2 Barns, Nag and Cart-horse Stables, Chaff House, Cow lodge and Piggeries, Open Shed, Granary & Fowl Houses, and other buildings all in good repair. And adjoining the house is a Good Garden and Productive Orchard.
Lots 2, 3 & 4 described ‘The remainder of the Farm which is Arable consists of 70A, 2R & 4P of first rate corn and sheep land in a good state of cultivation, lying in 3 fields fronting the road leading from Cambridge to Newton’. Lots 2-4 may have been sold separately in the end.
The whole farm in 1886 was in the occupation of a yearly tenant, Mr Robert Pick, at a rental of £112 per annum, and was sold subject to his rights of tenancy.
The 1901 OS map shows the same house shape and outbuildings but the 1910 land use evaluation map and associated information show the house & garden of area 2R 31P was occupied by C P Gaul with the owner James Bacon Rampling of Cambridge. However, all the farmland and most of farm buildings to the south of the house belonged to Hurrells of Park House opposite, so by this stage the house and farmland had been separated and perhaps why it was then called The Old Manor House and Manor House Farm.
Home of the Bliss’s
Records show that from at least 1915 – Jan 1940 The Old Manor House was lived in by Mrs Gertrude Anne Bliss. WI records show she was active in village life and enjoyed producing charades for WI entertainment. Her daughter Dorothy Gertrude lived there presumably until she married in 1923. She had worked for the VAD as nurse in WW1 and illustrated a book on the VAD working in the convalescent hospitals for soldiers. The book published in 1917 was called ‘In Blue and Grey’ by Lorna Cobbold with profits to the Red Cross.
Accidentally burnt down in WW2
The house was used by soldiers in WW2 and accidentally burnt down but 1949 land use map show a number of farm buildings seem to have survived. The photo we had was labelled ‘old barn’ (under arrow) and we had not realised it also showed what must have been The Old Manor House adjacent in 1910/11. The farm buildings and yard later became a car auction business and car repair. By the early 1960s two houses, 104 & 106 High St were built on the site. In late 1990s No 104 was demolished to create an entrance for High Meadow.
Hilary Roadley Sep. 2020. Harston Local History Group welcomes any other information on Harston people, places, businesses or events. Contact details at back. Website: harstonhistory.org.uk