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The Spotted Cow, Northampton Street and former Northampton Boot Stores and entrance to Kettle's Yard

Kettle’s Yard, Northampton Street

History of Kettle's Yard, Northampton Street

Kettle’s Yard, 1904 (photo F J Allen)


1, Elizabeth German, 22, needlewoman, b Trumpington

2, empty

3, William Collis, 32, coal porter, b Suffolk

4, George Coulson, 27, coal porter, b Cambridge

5, James Calver, 72, carpenter, b Beccles

6, John Read, 30, labourer, b Norfolk

7, John Rogers, 56, labourer, b Cambridge

8, Edward Rogers, 70, malt???, b Cambridge

9, William Chapman, 43, brick maker, b Cambridge

10, William George, 43, shoemaker, b Cambridge

11, John Benstead, 44, bricklayer’s labourer, b Cambridge

12, Joseph Moore, 27, labourer, b Wilbraham

13. George Hall, 46, labourer, b Croxton

14, James Witt, 50, groom, b Chesterton

15, Catharine Brand, 59, b Cambridge

16, Sarah King, 53, laundress, b Grantchester

17, Ann Clark, 67, b Carlton

18, William Carter, 30, shoemaker, b Cambridge

19, James Taby, 72, labourer, b Great Wilbraham

20, James Sivell, 51, college coach driver [?], b Cambridge

21, vacant

22, James Rutter, 59,  bricklayer, b Boxworth

23, Gideon Behagg, 36, college porter, b Cambridge

24, John W W Ward, 33, shoemaker, b Cambridge

25, George Thurlow, 58, shoemaker, b Cambridge

26, Godfrey Wolf, 27, labourer, b Cambridge


  1. Robert Bright, 80, gardener’s labourer, b Middlesex

2. John Lowe, 35, coal porter, b Girton

3. James Gigney, 33, brewer’s labourer unemployed, b Cambridge

4. unoccupied

5. Martha Pilsworth, 48, laundress, b Abington

6. Sarah Thompson, 55, laundress

7. Henry Rogers, 36, brewer’s labourer out of employment, b Cambridge

8. Ann Rogers, 78, none, b Haslingfield

9. William Chapman, 62, brickmaker, b Cambridge

10. William George, 62, shoemaker, b Cambridge

11. Charles Langford, 43, general labourer, b Cambridge

12. Samuel R George, 25, bricklayer’s labourer out of work, b Cambridge

13. William A Haydock, 29, stableman, b Cambridge

14. Anne Hines, 54, washerwoman,

15. Thomas W Chapman, 28, brickmaker out of work, b Cambridge

16. John Wolfe, brickmaker’s labourer, b Cambridge

17. William H Cook, 43, bricklayer’s labourer, b Cambridge

18. James Crook, 46, groom, b Cambridge

19. Mary Collis, 52, washerwoman, b Cottenham

20. Robert Wright, 35, shoemaker, b Cambridge

21. Sarah A Levett, 35, dressmaker, b Bury St Edmunds

22. Caroline Hall, 38, college servant, b Cambridge

23. Jonas Burling, 39, fossil dig labourer, b Over

24. John Blackwell, 48, brewer’s man, b St Ives

25. Mary A Lowe, 60, laundress, b St Ives

26. Jacob Wolfe, 52, fossil dig labourer [coprolite], b Harlton

Cambridge Town Plan, 1888

1889 Cambridge Daily News 11.2.1889: Annie Woodrough, a woman of bad character, living in Kettle’s yard, was charged by Jane Elsden [see Spinning House] of Northampton Street, with using obscene language on Friday evening. Complainant said she lived in Dullingham but was now residing in Northampton Street. She was walking in St Andrew’s Street on Friday evening. Se met the defendant about a quarter past seven near the old post office. Defendant made use of a very abusive expression and offered to fight her on the Piece for 10s. Witness was also insulted by her about ten o’clock. Florence Hire, living with the complainant in Northampton Street and who was walking with her on Friday night gave similar evidence. Woodrough denied the charge saying  that she had not been out of her house until some time after the time when she was accused of having misconducted herself, and she called a witness, Annie Hammond, to prove that she had been in her house until after that time. Annie Hammond however when on her oath said that she had seen defendant in St Andrew’s Street at about seven o’clock. Mr Ekin said that this was the third time defendant had been brought up for using obscene language and the seventh time  since the commencement of the year that she had been brought before the magistrate. She would be committed for fourteen days imprisonment. [See Rose and Tulip]

In ‘The Spinning House’ p125f  Caroline Biggs refers to the state of Kettle’s Yard around this time. “It was a dank place where twenty-six tiny cottages squeezed into a place suitable for none. Nine years before, these homes had been described by health officials as ‘fever dens.’ Its inhabitants drew their drinking water from a pump in the churchyard of St Giles Church, where the water filtered itself through the corpses of the dead and buried.”


1-2. Samuel Frost

3. Charles Garner, labourer

5. Sam Wolfe, billiard maker


7. George Crook, gardener

8. William Chapman

9. James Game, chimney sweep

10. William Hammond

houses closed

17. Miss Adelaide Westley Clarke

18. Miss Mary Ann Crook

19. Mrs H Haylock

Kettle’s Yard, print by R Genlloud c.1926


Kettles Yard in 1941 by G Strickland

Kettles Yard, 1941 (photo G Strickland)

Commentary by Mike Petty in Fenland History Facebook Group: By 1941 a shop had opened but the Spotted Cow and several properties had been cleared though four small cottages at the Castle Street end considered by Cambridge Preservation Society to be capable of conversion were allowed to remain standing. They were bought by Jim Ede in 1957 and form the nucleus of the Kettle’s Yard gallery. The rest were demolished for old folk’s flats which opened in 1956 and won a Civic Trust Award. St Peter’s Church had to be underpinned in 1932 to stop it falling down. It was declared redundant in 1958 and is now cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust. As old properties were replaced by new houses the landlords demanded higher rents that the former residents could not afford, driving them out and reducing the trade of pubs and shopkeepers.


Jim Ede bought the four tiny condemned slum dwellings, the remaining buildings of Kettle’s Yard.

Kettles Yard demolition (MoC P28)

In 1981 George Hatton (3 Albion Row) recalled the games children used to play – tops and whips, roller skating and skipping on the slop from Kettle’s Yard to Northampton Street. He remembered the sign visible in a photograph warning drivers to drive slowly as they approached the Northampton Street Castle Street crossroads.



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