Castle Camps


Castle Camps is 15 miles south east of Cambridge, in the central east of England. It was originally known as Great Camps, possibly from the early English fields or encampments formed in clearings made in the great forests.

Northeast View of Camp's Castle in the County of Cambridge
Northeast View of Camp's Castle in the County of Cambridge

The manor was sold to Sir John Skinner, Lord Mayor of London. Sir John, being in embarassed circumstances, sold it to Thomas Sutton for £10,800 but there were delays in the payment, causing Sir John further misery and much diffficulty. He had used the expected funds from the sale of the Manor as security for other debts and as late as 1610, his widow was still writing to Thomas Sutton concerning her dire needs of funds.

Thomas later endowed it to Charterhouse, who in turn sold all the Estate except Castle Farm and Manor in 1919. The house was rebuilt in the late 16th century, but fell down about 1738 when Charterhouse constructed a smaller farmhouse facing north, incorporating a fragment of the earlier building in the back wing. In the 1740's Castle Farm was divided betweeen the rebuilt farmhouse at the Castle and the new Moat Farm. Most of the 16th century wall around the farmhouse still stands but Sir James Reynolds had the gateway pulled down as his coach would not fit through.

The Hearth Tax entries for 1674 give an indication of the social structure of the village as do the Land Tax records of 1798.


Extract from 'Magna Britannia - Cambridgeshire'
by Daniel & Samuel Lysons, first published 1808.

CASTLE-CAMPS, in the hundred of Chilford, and deanery of Camps, lies at the south-east extremity of the county, about 15 miles from Cambridge, and about six mile from Linton. The manor, which had belonged to Wulfwin, one of the Thanes of King Edward the Confessor, was given by William the Conqueror to Aubrey de Vere, ancestor of the Earls of Oxford of that name, and was parcel of the barony, by virtue of which they held the office of Lord High Chamberlain of England : in the reign of King Henry VIII. it was the seat of John Vere, commonly called Little John of Camps, eldest son of Sir George Vere, who, on the death of his uncle John Earl of Oxford without issue, succeeded to the title. In the year 1580, it was sold by Edward Earl of Oxford to Thomas Skynner, citizen of London; about 25 years afterwards, it was purchased of Sir John Skynner by Thomas Sutton, Esq. Founder of the charter-house, who made it part of the original endowment of that establishment.

The castle, which was an ancient seat of the Veres, was, for some years after his purchase of the estate, the residence of Mr Sutton : when Buck made a drawing of it in 1731, there were considerable remains of the building; the greater part fell down in 1738; a brick tower remained until 1779, when it was blown down by a high wind. A farm-house has been fitted up for the tenant on the site, which is surrounded by a moat, and exhibits other marks of having been a place of strength : the park, as we are informed by a record of the 13th century, was four miles in compass.

During the 17th century, the castle estate was held on lease by the family of Reynolds. In the parish Church is a monument of Sir James Reynolds of Camps, who died in 1650, and his son and grandson both of the same name, all of whom it is probable were inhabitants of the castle. Sir John Reynolds, another son of Sir James, was a distinguished general officer during the protectorate of Cromwell ; he was cast away in the year 1657, on his return from the continent, where he had a command in the French King's army, then engaged in a war with Spain. A descendant of this family, Sir James Reynolds, Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland, and afterwards one of the Barons of the Exchequer in England, had a summer residence about half a mile from Castle-Camps, called the Green-house (now a farm-house belonging to Mr. Johnson) ; he died in the year 1747, and lies buried in the parish church, where there is a monument to his memory. There are memorials also for Sir Thomas and Sir Francis Dayrell, descended from the ancient family of that name at Lillingstone-Dayrell, in Buckinghamshire, and for a son of Sir Thomas Nevill. Sir Thomas Dayrell was chosen for the comeliness of his person, to command the masque before the King and Queen at Whitehall on Candlemas night, 1623 ; and a second time in the city, when he was knighted, being at that time of Lincoln's Inn : he was an active royalist during the civil war ; Sir Thomas Dayrell died in 1669; Sir Francis, who was his second son, in 1675, of the small-pox : the Dayrell family resided for some years in this parish before they settled in the adjoining village of Shudy-Camps. Sir Thomas Nevill was of Westoe Lodge in this parish, which now belongs to the widow of the late Richard Crop, Esq. and is in the occupation of Benjamin Keene, Esq.

The manor of Olmested-Hall, partly in this parish, and partly in that of Bumpsted St. Helion, in the county of Essex, was successively in the families of Olmested and Skrene; it now belongs to the master and fellows of Queen's College in Cambridge. The rectory was in ancient times given by the Vere family to the monks of Abington; the governors of the charter-house are now patrons. Dr. Nicholas Grey, the first master of the charter-house, who died in the year 1660, was rector of Castle-Camps.

It appears, by the returns made under the act of parliament for ascertaining the population of this kingdom in 1801, that there were 74 houses in Castle-Camps, of which 73 were inhabited ; the total number of inhabitants, is stated to be 546, living as 106 families.