Little Thetford .org

Information & History of Little Thetford

Browsing Posts published by John McCullough

The latest village newsletter is now online. If you’re in the village – a printed copy should have already come through your door.

Included in this newsletter is a questionnaire about improvements to the recreational facilities provided for 10–16 age group which the parish council has asked be completed by Little Thetford residents. A copy of the questionnaire can be found here. Follow the instructions to respond to the questionnaire. Unfortunately, there is no way (at present) to complete the questionnaire online.

The Horseshoes (left background), c. 1906

The Horseshoes (left background), c. 1906

Bob Young sends us this document which follows a visit by Mac Dowdy to the Horseshoes. Mac suggests that the main part of the house is over 500 hundred years old!

25th July 2013


One and half storeys: ground floor with dormers.

The sills of the dormers are at WALL-PLATE level, and not on the slope of the roof, indicating an early introduction into the house; c.1620–40.

The main range is a single span wide, but longer than the customary long-house. The roof is thatched with classical long straw capping along the ridge. The alignment is roughly North–South. The roof describes two levels of ridge, the North very slightly higher than the South. Their ratios are 1:1 and like two adjacent 18th century cottages (but the interior shows them not to be).

Two chimneys, one integral with the North gable end, the other placed in a ridge position, centrally to the slightly lower South part of the house. They are of basic 19th century proportions, but could be of any age from the 1880s.

All windows are modern (post early 19th century), sashes or half sashes all but one have segmental heads, a shape supported by the thatch with the dormers. The odd one cut a flat horizontal—and could easily have been a door.

Features on the West garden side echo the street front in style. There are modern additions including an extension.


Low ceilings throughout, and revealed timbers in the quarters except the kitchen. The kitchen has been modernized but the proportions remain no later than the early 18th century. It is indoubtably an extension keeping to the existing dimensions. Anyone creating a modern extension as early as 1910 would be likely to use the current modernizing fashions.

None of the construction ceiling patterns in TIMBER are later than the first quarter of the 17th century. The two chimney-pieces have no easily-seen datable materials, but their positions within their end walls (and not abutting from the exterior) give them a date close to 1600.

The ground floor plan indicates six constructional bays; which is a lot by most standards.

Ground floor plan of The Horseshoes

Ground floor plan of The Horseshoes

The tie-beam and the boxed-in replacement tie-beam are conservatively about 1520, but the slender joists between them are about 200 years later—about 1720 remodeling or improvement, that’s A and B. C is an axial beam of very early 17th century date—if providing an upper storey at the same time as the introduction of brick chimneys. The proportions of the joists could be as early as 1560–70. I would have expected D to have joists positioned like the A/B (probably of older proportion joists—not replacements). This section could easily have been two storey from inception.


Adding to the exterior information. The small area of brick-work I examined was clearly in alternating course of headers (the ends) and stretchers (the lengths). This is English bond (see brickwork), which became fashionable about 1580s until the 1640s. Brick was very expensive until the last quarter of the 17th century.


I feel sure that it is not easy to imagine the Horseshoes without, or out of, its present surrounding. Its environment. The first thing to do is to remove the road and this junction. Then throw out all houses not giving the slightest clue to existing about 1500. If you have not done this then the villagers might like take a walk through the streets some evening and attempt to discover the place where they live.

Even without a thorough survey this house reveals itself to be a significant building of social and economic importance to the settlement by 1500. It is a hall-house of substance, more than likely the manor house to St George’s Church. Timber-framed with no brickwork, therefore no chimneys. Simply an open to the rafters hall, with a central floor-hearth, and two storeys at each end. It is unlikely to be an inn.

Around 1600 the open hall had the axial-beam introduced and it got its complete upper story. The introduction of the brick chimney-pieces and possibly the casting in English bond took place around this time. Certainly in the early 18th century restoration and changes to the proportion and appearance of windows took place. It may have become an inn about this time with the development of roads and coach travel.

The July 2013 thoughts of Mac Dowdy of Architectural Research Group, Wolfson College, Cambridge.

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Gus goes gas

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Gus Pretorius during training.

Gus Pretorius during training.

Enterprising Gus Pretorius of The Wyches, Little Thetford, has worked in Information Technology (IT) for most of his life. At 47 Gus decided that he no longer enjoyed sitting behind a desk every day and getting paid only for using his brain and fingers. He reduced his IT work to four days a week in July 2012 so that he could work as a gas engineer for the fifth day of each week. Gus first qualified to install and service oil boilers because, he says “Our village uses oil and it made sense to do some work while I continued my gas training”.

At the end of November 2012 Gus resigned from his IT employment. Gus is now self-employed and registered with OFTEC (oil) and also Gas Safe. He is qualified to install and service gas boilers, gas fires and cookers.

Gus can be contacted via his web site Ely Central Heating Services.

The attached photo shows Gus during his training where he is setting the gas burner pressure of a newly installed boiler so the gas is burned correctly without producing dangerous carbon monoxide.

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The latest village newsletter is now online. If you’re in the village – a printed copy should have already come through your door.

Clouds over Little Thetford

Clouds over Little Thetford. Photo: © 2013 John McCullough

Cumulus mediocris near Little Thetford looking East from Palisade Court at 17:44 on 25/7/2013.

Send us your pictures of clouds for our gallery

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Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) at Sultanpur. Photo: J.M.Garg 2007

Sarus Crane at Sultanpur. Photo: J.M.Garg 2007

Cranes are a clade (Gruidae) of large, long-legged and long-necked birds in the group Gruiformes. There are fifteen species of crane in four genera. Unlike the similar-looking but unrelated herons, cranes fly with necks outstretched, not pulled back. Cranes live on all continents except Antarctica and South America. […] They are opportunistic feeders that change their diet according to the season and their own nutrient requirements. They eat a range of items from suitably sized small rodents, fish, amphibians, and insects, to grain, berries, and plants.*

Erm. Wait a minute. I think we Googled the wrong crane there. Let us start again.

According to BBC Cambridgeshire, a crane has fallen into the marina at the Fish & Duck at Little Thetford. The crane driver managed to jump clear. Cambridge News also carried the story.

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*From Wikipedia Crane (bird)

Wheelie bins

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ECDC recycling leaflet

ECDC recycling leaflet

Here is the leaflet for the East Cambridgeshire District Council new wheelie bins service, reproduced with verbal permission from the council. You may recall we discussed this service in October last year and more recently in February this year.

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Would you like to make a difference to the life of a child or young person with learning disabilities in your area?

Cambridgeshire Mencap is looking for volunteers for its Family Support Scheme. Our scheme provides extra help for parents and carers when and where they need it most by providing a trained volunteer to regularly visit the child or young person and provide practical help to the family.

A Family Support Service volunteer can help a child or young person to get out and about and do something they enjoy – from a walk in the park to a visit to the cinema.  Or, they can look after a child or young person at home so that carers can take a well-earned break.

We think our volunteers are exceptional and you could be too! We give training and support. It only takes a few hours of your time and really does change lives.

Like to know more? Contact Marika Newman on 01223 883141 or email

Refurbished Fish & Duck Marina, Little Thetford

Refurbished Fish & Duck Marina, Little Thetford. Image © 2013 Davina Harvey

James and Davina Harvey, owners of the Fish & Duck Marina, were awarded a premises licence recently, thus allowing them to serve alcoholic refreshments. Tables and parasols have been erected by the riverside on the newly refurbished site. James says “We plan to start small and see how it goes – if it works, we will take the leap and rebuild an eatery”.

Some images of the newly refurbished marina. Images copyright © 2013 Davina Harvey. Posted with permission.

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The Ely Standard reported that a cow was pulled from the River Great Ouse at Little Thetford at 7.45am today. The event was also reported by the BBC. The small cow was rescued unharmed by officers wearing wetsuits after a vet had calmed the animal.

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