Meldreth is a semi-rural parish in South Cambridgeshire, covering 1,007 hectares. It is surrounded by arable land and orchard farms. It is located in the valley of the River Rhee, 10 miles south-west of the university city of Cambridge and 4 miles north of the market town of Royston. There is a conservation area covering the areas around the church and the village stocks. The Melbourn by-pass was opened in July 1988 and runs south-east of the village, separating Meldreth from Melbourn.
The village has a population of approximately 2,500 people (2011 census figure). Detailed statistics for the village from the 2011 census are available here.
A monthly magazine, Meldreth Matters, is delivered free of charge to all households and businesses in the village.
Services and Facilities
General facilities in the village include
- a village hall
- a community room for the elderly
- a church meeting room
- a public house
- a railway station
- a preschool and primary school
Meldreth has the following retail outlets:
- a post office/shop
- a butcher
- two farm shops
- a take-away restaurant
- a hairdressers
The village includes the following leisure facilities:
- recreation ground with children’s playground and football pitch
- two tennis courts
- bowls green
- croquet lawn
Leisure activities such as keep fit and ballroom dancing are provided by private organisations. In addition, there are many groups and clubs operating in the village that cater for a wide range of leisure and sporting interests.
There are additional leisure facilities nearby. Leisure centres, both with swimming pools, are located in Melbourn and Royston. There are several golf courses nearby, for example those in Melbourn and Whaddon.
Other key services, including a library, doctors’ surgery, dentist and petrol station are located in Melbourn or Royston.
The village primary school opened in 1910. Most pupils transfer to Melbourn Village College or Bassingbourn Village College for secondary education. Sixth Form Colleges are located in Cambridge.
Bus services are infrequent, but do link the village with nearby villages, Royston and Cambridge. Timetable information may be viewed on Cambridgeshire County Council’s website. More comprehensive public transport links are provided by the railway. The village has its own station on the King’s Cross to King’s Lynn line.
There are approximately 900 people employed in the village including those working from home. The largest employers are the Etex (formerly Marley Eternit) building products factory, the Aurora Group residential school at Meldreth Manor and Bury Lane Farm.
The County Councillor is Mrs Susan van de Ven, who also lives in the village. She may be contacted by email or by telephoning 07905 325574. For information on current issues please see Susan’s website.
Our Member of Parliament is Anthony Browne. For more information, visit his website.
History and Settlement
The parish stretches from the River Rhee, or Cam, in the north to Ashwell Street in the south. The western boundaries follow common field boundaries with Whaddon and Bassingbourn. The eastern boundaries follow the River Mel in the south and other water courses draining to the River Rhee in the north.
Until the 19th century Meldreth was divided into five groups of buildings but today, with 19th to 21st century infill, it forms a continuous settlement of over 3 km between Shepreth and Melbourn. The parish church of Holy Trinity and two former manors identified by their moated sites occupy the north of the parish by the River Mel. Meldreth and Sheene Manors survive today and the mills of Topcliffe Manor and Sheene Manor were in use until 1942 and the First World War respectively. In North End the street formerly widened to a village green near the Malton Lane junction. Marvell’s Green at the Fenny Lane junction still has the 18th century stocks and the base of a whipping post.
The first church in Meldreth probably dated from around 970. In the Domesday Book of 1086 the church is associated with the Manor that became Flambards. The present church building dates from the late 12th century with extensions in the 14th and 15th centuries. Extensive repairs were carried out to the south wall in the 19th century, when it was covered in roman plaster. The church is the only Grade I listed building in Meldreth and there are 38 Grade II listed buildings.
Before the 18th century, all buildings were traditionally built of a plastered timber frame with roofs thatched with long straw or plain tiled. Chiswick House, Sheene Manor and No.33 North End date from the 16th century. Farm buildings were weatherboarded and thatched until the 19th century when brick, slate and pantiles were more commonly used.
The enclosure of the open fields and commons took place in 1820 when the land was farmed from the village. The Royston-Cambridge railway line and the station were opened in 1851, opening Meldreth to wider markets. Extensive plum and apple orchards were planted in the mid 19th century and are part of the intrinsic character of the village. The good flavour of the Cambridge Gage grown in Meldreth was widely recognised and the fruit delivered to London’s Covent Garden by train.
By 1900 there were at least two cement manufacturing and lime burning factories in Meldreth – Cambridge Portland Cement Co. Ltd. (now Cam Farm) and Meldreth Portland Cement & Brick Co. Ltd. (now Etex) and 13 farmers employing 94 people.
Post World War II expansion in Meldreth was rapid, with new housing being developed just north of the London-Cambridge railway line. Residential estates such as The Grange, Oakrits and Flambards Close and local authority developments such as Elin Way and Howard Road have increased the size of the village since the 1960s. Other housing expansion has taken place in Bell Close and Gables Close. More recent expansion has taken place with the creation of Melrose, Marys Way and Burtons. Development at the southern part of the village has been consolidated, whereas in the north, the village’s linear character has largely been retained. In 1951 Meldreth had a population of 636. By mid 1991 this had risen to 1,740.
Information for this page has been compiled from a number of sources including:
Meldreth Parish Plan, June 2005
2001 Census Profile on the Cambridgeshire County Council website