Capturing Cambridge
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Mayor William Warren

51 Bridge Street, Saracen’s Head

History of 51 Bridge Street

West of Bridge Street in the Nineteenth Century

bef. 1485: Thomas Cross

1485: sold to sitting tenant Hugh Cley

1491 – 1525: William Stevenson, lawyer, died. Paid rent of 4s to St John’s Hospital.

1526-37: quit rent paid by churchwardens of St Clement’s.

1557: Sunday, 3 January 1557. The Falcon Inn, Petty Cury, Cambridge. Despite the plague, which is ravaging Cambridge yet again, crowds cannot resist a play. Last Friday, a clear but chill New Year’s Day, Trinity College provided an outdoor show in its court. Today, warmer though still overcast, a troupe of professional players has come to Cambridge – indeed possibly two troupes, for one play is to be performed at the Falcon, close to the Guildhall, another about half a mile distant, near the main bridge, at the Saracen’s Head. (A H Nelson, Early Cambridge Theatres)

According to Nelson, no [drama] performances apart from two of 1557 and certainly no performances before royalty are capable of being documented for the Falcon, and no performances at all before modern times for the only surviving Cambridge galleries inn, the Eagle. The two performances at the Falcon are nevertheless twice as many as can be documented for three other Cambridge inns: the Saracen’s Head (3/1/1557), … the Elephant (27.2.1596); and the Bear (28.5.1600). We know, however that professional players visited Cambridge with some regularity into the 1590s, though their place of performance is scarcely ever recorded.

1538-1576: paid by John Glass or his widow. Glasses seemed to have used the property as a lodging house for members of Clement Hostel.

after 1576: Roger Slegg

c.1606: William Elsden, maltster, bequeathes his mansion house (No.52) and associated buildings to his son James

1635-39: Amos Smith brewer, previously tenant of James Elsden, occupying no.52

1649/50: ancient quit-rent of  4s attributed in St John’s rental for this year to ‘Edward Trott. lately Elsdon … for Saracen’s Head.’

1672-74: not listed in Victualler’s Book

1675: ‘sometime called the Sarazen’s Head’

c.1700: James Barnes II, victualler, probably at this location called then the ‘Vine’. Widow Hannah held victualler licence 1729-1730.

1724: James Barnes bequeathes alehouse in St Clement’s with brewhouse attached

1729-30: Hannah Barnes, widow, in no.52

1750-67: Thomas Harrington for Vine in 1752 and subsequent years

1768: not listed

1769-81: Robert taylor for Vine

1782-: not listed


1850: William Warren, mayor



Agnes Rachael Crohill, head, 63, university lodging house keeper, b Fulbourn

Thomas, husband, 64, assists in house, b Ireland

Harold Leton, 22, showroom attendant gas company, b Cambridge


R H Baynes, grocer & provision dealer, specialist in English honey

William Bradford, lodging house keeper

F W Bryan


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