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Babraham Hall.jpg
Babraham Hall
Grid reference: TL5150
Location: 52°7’12"N, 0°12’0"E
Population: 269  (2001)
Post town: Cambridge
Postcode: CB22
Dialling code: 01223
Local Government
Council: South Cambridgeshire
South Cambridgeshire

Babraham is a small village in southern Cambridgeshire, found about six miles south-east of Cambridge on the A1307 road.

Babraham is home to the Babraham Institute which undertakes research into cell and molecular biology.


The parish of Babraham covers an area of 2,387 acres and is roughly rectangular in shape. Its straight northern boundary is formed by the ancient Wool Street, separating it from Fulbourn, and its eastern border follows the Icknield Way (now marked by the A11), separating it from Little Abington. The remaining boundaries with Stapleford, Sawston and Pampisford are formed by field boundaries and a small section of the River Granta, on whose banks the village stands.[1]

The course of the River Granta through the parish has been changed on numerous occasions; a watermill was listed as valueless in the 14th century when the river had changed course, and additional water channels have been dug for irrigation as well as to form an ornamental canal alongside Babraham Hall. Severe floods hit Babraham in both 1655 and 1749.[1]

Traces of a Roman villa have been found on its parish boundary with Stapleford. It has also been suggested that the village has moved site, the principal evidence being that the church is a quarter of a mile from the present village. Babraham was comparatively wealthy during mediæval times due to its wool trade, with the highest tax returns in its hundred. In the late 16th century the manor was the principal seat of the great Elizabethan merchant and financier Sir Horatio Palavicino. Between 1632 and the 19th century, the manor was owned by the Bennet, and later the Adeane, families, who lived in Babraham Hall.[1] The Hall was built in 1833 by Henry John Adeane.[2]

Listed as Badburgham in the Domesday Book of 1086, the village's name means "Beaduburh's homestead" in Old English (Beaduburga ham); this form of the name, Badburgham, was also used in the 15th century, as the home village of an ostler called Roger Baldok, in a Plea Roll of the Court of Common Pleas.

John Hullier was vicar of the parish of Babraham from 1549 until he was deprived in February 1556. On 16 April 1556 he was burned at the stake on Jesus Green, Cambridge for refusing to renounce the Protestant faith. The antiquary William Cole lived in Babraham as a child when his father was the steward of the owners of Babraham Hall.[1] In the 19th century Babraham was home to Jonas Webb, a noted stock breeder who played a pivotal role in developing the Southdown breed of sheep.[2]


St Peter's Church
Church East window by John Piper

There was probably a church in the village at the time of the Norman Conquest, though the first official record was in the late 12th century. The present parish church, dedicated to St Peter since the 12th century, consists of a chancel, an aisled and clerestoried nave with north and south porches, and a west tower. The chancel and lower part of the tower date from the 13th century though there is evidence of an earlier building. The nave was completely rebuilt in the 15th century.[1]

Village life

The village contains a primary school called Babraham Primary School, which opened in 1959. It also retains one public house, The George, which was already open as an inn in 1488 but rebuilt in around 1600. There have been inns listed in the village from the 13th century, presumably on the Icknield Way at Bourn Bridge. Other former inns include The Angel, listed in 1490, The Swan, open in the 16th century, and The Chequer and The Griffin, all four of which were still open in 1600. Three ale-house licenses were awarded to the village in 1682.[1]

Babraham village cricket team won the Cambridgeshire Cricket Association Senior League in 2008.

Babraham in literature

F L Lucas's novel Doctor Dido (Cassell, London, 1938) is set in Babraham and its environs in the period 1793-1812. With much local and antiquarian detail, it tells the story of Samuel Plampin, Doctor of Divinity at Cambridge and vicar of St Peter's Babraham, who brings to the vicarage as his housekeeper a young Frenchwoman he finds in Cambridge, a destitute refugee from the Terror.

Evelyn Barnard's children’s book, The Brothers Are Walking, is set in Babraham.[2]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Babraham)