Little Shelford

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Little Shelford
Little Shelford Church.jpg
The church
Grid reference: TL451517
Location: 52°8’34"N, 0°7’9"E
Population: 797  (2001)
Post town: Cambridge
Postcode: CB22
Dialling code: 01223
Local Government
Council: South Cambridgeshire
South Cambridgeshire

Little Shelford is a village in southern Cambridgeshire, found to the south of Cambridge. The River Granta lies between Little Shelford and the larger village of Great Shelford

This is a place with one church, one pub (The Navigator) on the High Street, and at least a half-share in Shelford railway station (between the two villages), on the line from Cambridge to London Liverpool Street.

Church and notable families

The village church is All Saints. It stands by the crossroads with thirteen fine lime trees and an ancient market cross.

The church dates from pre-Norman times. There are stones carved with Anglo-Saxon plaitwork below a tiny Norman window, a carved coffin stone which may be Saxon in the porch, and in the chapel are four more stones which are probably Norman, like the queer animal with human arms propping up the 13th century chancel arch. The chancel is 14th century. The small sacristy is entered by an ancient door in a rich arch is 15th century, and has holes of three piscinas in a windowsill.

The arcaded oak pulpit is Jacobean. The font, like the tiny church spire, is 600 years old.

The stalls have on them the Arms of the de Freville family, Lords of the Manor here, whose 15th century chapel (up three stairs) has some fine stone ornament on its piscina and on a canopy over the figure of a saint, with fragments of old glass in its windows. Some of the de Frevilles who died before their chapel was built appear in the chancel in stone and brass. Sir John, an alabaster knight with an inscription in Norman French, is here from the beginning of the 14th century, and from the end of it, in brass, are Robert and Claricia, with a greyhound and two dogs at their feet as they clasp hands, their son Thomas holding his wife's hand near them in a brass of 1405.

A 15th-century Rector, John Cate, has another fine brass portrait.

Gregory Wale's monument

The shadow of a sword falls on three tablets telling of General Sir Charles Wale, who survived many battles to die at Little Shelford in 1848, of his son who fell at Lucknow, and of his eight grandsons and great-grandsons who gave up their lives in the First World War. Other notable members of the Wale family associated with Little Shelford include Thomas Wale, Gregory Wale and Henry Charles Wale. A monument to Gregory Wale can be seen on St Margaret's Mount to the west of the village.

About the village

The de Freville manor house survives. One of many hidden ways leads past the manor and the farm where the river slips through a wood and kingfishers streak over an ancient mill pool.

The children's writer Philippa Pearce fictionalised the village as "Little Barley" in her books, while Great Shelford became "Great Barley". The River Granta became the "River Say", and Cambridge itself "Castleford". These names are used in a number of her books, most famously Minnow on the Say (1955) and Tom's Midnight Garden (1958)

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Little Shelford)


  • Mee, Arthur, (revised by CLS Linnell & ET Long), The King's England - Cambridgeshire, Hodder and Stoughton, London, New revised edition, 1965, P.165-6