Although the Enclosure documentation (dated 1813, map dated 1820) is mainly concerned with the allocation of land, it also includes references to roads and footpaths. It formalises the ownership and responsibility for these as identified by the surveyors of the village.
This page uses information from the enclosure map of 1820 and the accompanying Award Book, which has been transcribed for Meldreth Local History Group by Arnold Stanford, to summarise the roads and footpaths existing in the village in the early 19th century and attempts to match those to the 21st century roads and footpaths.
The area of different parts of the parish was given:
- The area of the roads and ways was twenty one acres one rood (quarter of an acre) and three perches (3/160s of an acre) i.e. 21.252 acres.
- The area of the town streets, lanes, drains and half the river was recorded as nineteen acres and six perches i.e. 19.04 acres
- The total area of the parish was recorded as two thousand four hundred and fifty one acres and thirty two perches i.e. 2,451.2 acres.
The different types of roads and footpaths listed are:
- Town streets which are mentioned in the introduction as part of the survey but a list is not included;
- Public Roads;
- Private Roads: Twenty feet wide, Twenty five feet wide, Thirty feet wide
- Public Footpaths;
- Private Footpaths.
Responsibility for Maintenance and Repair
The document states that the owners must ensure that, at their own expense:
- Proper and convenient stiles are set and kept in repair;
- Footbridges are laid and kept in repair over brooks, watercourses and ditches;
- Fences are laid and kept in repair.
It also states that all grass and herbage growing and arising on the public and private roads shall for ever belong to and be the sole right of the owners of the land over which they pass.
Public Carriageways or Highways
These were forty feet wide. The following are named on the map and can be matched to existing village roads:
- Melbourn Bury Road: from Ashwell Street to Meldreth High Street
- Kneesworth Road: from Fenny Lane to Kneesworth past Mettle Hill
- Whaddon Road: the current Whaddon Road, branching off Kneesworth Road to Cherry Close on the Whaddon boundary
- Shepreth Road: North End from the cross base to the Shepreth boundary
- Orwell Road: Malton Lane
Dunsbridge Turnpike in Shepreth, now the former route of the A10, is also mentioned.
Alternative terms In the document for private roads are private carriageways or driftways. A driftway is a common road for driving animals.
There is also reference to rights to sheepwalks, but this does not refer to a thoroughfare. It was the right of the lord of a manor to have his tenant’s sheep graze on his land in order to fertilise it.
There are three categories of private roads, depending on their width.
Thirty feet wide
- From Field Gate in Meldreth going south west to Ashwell Street. This is probably related to what is now footpath 12 from Fieldgate Nurseries to Ashwell Street;
- West from Chiswick End Green. This probably relates to current footpaths 11 and 13 which now turn south to the Kneesworth Road; or Map C
- Branching from the Kneesworth Road going south to Chiswick End. Possibly from Boys Bridge on the Kneesworth Road. Heads south to Red Moor and swings east following Red Moor drain then north east to Chiswick End
Twenty five feet wide
A private road branching from Chiswick End Green to a lane through Meldreth Town Estate. Meldreth Town owned enclosures 10 and 11 see Map A.
Twenty feet wide
- From Shepreth Road to an ancient lane in Letchcroft, a field almost opposite Topcliffe Mill to the North. Dukes Lane from The Warren in North End to the Mel;
- Branching out of the Shepreth road going South over Broids common and an ancient inclosure belonging to the heirs of William Clear to the next road (3). Broids Common is not named on the map but the Heirs of William Clear allotment is. Meldreth Local History Group member Alan Williams has marked the approximate location of Broids common on Map D;
- From (Pemberton garden) going west to (Robert Ellis allotment). There are a number of possible locations for this. Also see Map D
There is a small T-shaped cul de sac on the enclosure map whose name is indecipherable but starts with P… and is termed a road. This is now Stone Lane, off North End.
Only two are listed as many of the traditional routes were theoretically discontinued at enclosure (see below). However, several of those listed as discontinued appear to have remained in use and have become our modern footpaths.
Beatrice Clay, writing in 1941/1942, mentions the following footpath names:
Duke’s Lane (near The Warren), Peat Moor, Red Moor, King’s Bridge (this is close to the boundary with Whaddon and is still in use, on Footpath 1), The Meads (from the Station to Melbourn), Polly d’Acre (the current footpath from the High Street to Whitecroft Road beside the recreation ground), Overdown, New Path.
Fore more information on the modern footpaths, including a map, see Meldreth’s Footpaths.
A three foot wide footpath running from North End (High Street in the document) at what is now College Farm business centre to Melbourn Moor (now The Moor in Melbourn). Now footpath 5.
A three foot wide footpath from the north-east corner of a St John’s College field on Bury Road (now known as Bury Lane) to Chiswick End. This is marked on the map. It is possibly related to the current footpath 10 from Fieldgate across the railway to Chiswick End.
Chiswick End is named as Chiswick End Road on the map but is not included in the list of public or private roads.
A large number of roads and footpaths were discontinued at enclosure. They were detailed in a letter from the enclosure commissioners to Cambridge and Royston newspapers in 1816.
A meeting was held at the Green Man Public House on 5th December at 11am to hear objections. Unfortunately we don’t have a record of that meeting so are not able to determine whether this meeting resulted in any changes to the original proposals. We only have a record of the final decision.
- A lane from Meldreth High Street at the south-west corner of William Mortlock’s homestead going to the west and north sides of this homestead, and the north side of homesteads belonging to John Prime and Joseph Stockbridge. Then by the Churchyard and Vicarage Homestead to the Mill River. This is now Brewery Lane running behind Manting House and the churchyard to the Mel. See Map B;
- A lane from North-end Green, by the south side of a cottage and homestead belonging to William Mortlock, into Letchcroft. This is now Dukes Lane from the Warren by the church;
- A footpath from the north-west corner of an allotment to Robert Ellis west over Closes and Homesteads, belonging to the representatives of William Clear, deceased, and Chard’s Charity, to Meldreth High Street;
- A footpath from Meldreth High Street, nearly opposite to the Churchyard, south along Mill Lane to the mill, from thence crossing the river at the Mill Head, and then by the East side of the river to the south-west corner of an old inclosure called Ossards, belonging to James Allen, where it entered the parish of Melbourn. This is the current footpath 6 from Topcliffe to Melbourn;
- A footpath branching out of 4 and crossing the river at the south end of a slip of land belonging to Sir Charles Nightingale. It first passed over pasture in Melbourn then went south over an inclosure belonging to Joseph Clements, the representatives of the late William Clear and John Jarman, to an inclosure called Lower Oxcroft belonging to Joshua Fitch, and along a part of the north end and west side of Oxcroft, see map (discontinued routes 5) ;
- A footpath from Fenny Lane south-west over Home Close to its south-west corner at Whitecroft field, see map (discontinued routes 6) ;
- A footpath from Fenny Lane south over inclosures belonging to the said William Whitechurch, the representatives of the late Edward Maze, John Jarman, Jas. Course, Joseph Scruby as Lessee to St John’s College, Mary Palmer, James Wing, Thomas Cooper, Henry Clear, and Robert Ellis; to discontinued path 8, see map (discontinued routes 7 and 8);
- A footpath from Chiswick End, nearly opposite the farm homestead belonging to Wortham Hitch, Esquire. It then went east over inclosures belonging to Robert Ellis, to Meldreth High Street at the north east corner of an orchard of Robert Ellis, see map (discontinued routes 7 and 8).
My thanks to fellow Meldreth Local History Group member, Alan Williams, who has provided much of the detailed location material and the maps.