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St Andrew's Hill corner with Downing Street c1960

St Andrew’s Hill, Old Corn Exchange

History of St Andrew's Hill

St Andrew’s Hill had vanished under the Grand Arcade complex by the end of the 20th century.

It originally ran from opposite the Geological Museum in Downing Street NNW until it joined with St Tibb’s Row which continue almost due north towards the site of the old Post Office.


1959 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments Survey of Cambridge:

House no. 4 and shop no.3 and warehouse adjoining on the south, the last behind the premises of Messrs Barrett and Son, china and glass dealers, 25 St Andrew’s Street, the three forming a domestic’s and business unity…… Barrett’s warehouses in Jesus Lane were offered for sale as building materials in 1831 and R Barrett was ‘of St Andrew’s Hill’ in 1836. Probably therefore the present group was built c. 1830.

House no.7 …. was built in the 18th or early in the 19th century…

Houses, nos. 9 and 10, on the corner of Tibb’s Row and extending towards Corn Exchange Street …. the plan suggests a 16th-century origin. the earliest of the additions to the W is of c. 1700. The wing, probably once a separate building, is of the 17th century. The whole was remodelled and the main range refronted early in the 19th century, probably by Charles Humfrey and in 1818 when the ownership of the land on which two porches were being built was in dispute. Humfrey evidently established his right, for the porches survive and the space between them is enclosed by railings.


The Grand Arcade excavation report (2019) p.291 has some very interesting commentary on the Plot XXII which lay behind nos. 22-26 St Andrew’s Street and fronted onto St Andrew’s Hill.

Throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods Plot XXII had remained a largely open area. This began to change in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (see above), but it was in the nineteenth century that this situation altered fundamentally and Plot XXII became one of the most archaeologically ‘active’ areas in the street block. This was primarily because its lack of earlier development meant that when pressures on space increased during the nineteenth century it presented a significant opportunity, paralleled only by the large garden area that was developed by Robert Sayle (below). The Purchas family continued to own at least part of Plot XXII until 1829, although their fortunes were in decline, and by 1830 the plot was rather more densely built-upon than in the late eighteenth century but not fundamentally altered. The only archaeological feature of c. 1800–30 was brick-lined Well 55. The plot then came into the hands of two local spinsters, Misses Mary Ann and Sophia Bones, who died at some point between 1841 and 1851. In c. 1830–45 and probably c. 1844–5 the area was transformed, and although the Cock Inn continued to exist it shrank and lay outside the investigated area. It is unclear whether this change took place under the aegis of the Bones sisters, although it is perhaps more likely that it took place under their successors who may have been the Barrett family.



7 St Andrew’s Hill

Romilly records in his diary 4 July 1843:

M.L. and I went over the two dilapidated houses, gardens and 6 cottages belonging to 2 unfortunate maiden Ladies of the name of Bones who have just been removed to Bedford Asylum. Their relation (Mr Michael Headly) kindly showed us over the place: it was a melancholy exhibition: the 6 cottages were all dismantled, the gardens become a wilderness: the house in St Andrews St had never been finished, they having quarrelled with their Architect:- the house facing the Pig market was where they lived. They fancied everything was poisoned: they used to throw aside their bread after smelling to it: we saw at least 60 loaves of bread in different closets, many wrapped up in paper an dated, the greater part mouldy and hard: they had fastened down the register to their stove, tying it to the top bar, because they thought there were spies in the chimney: they did not venture to speak to each other lest they be overheard by the spies, but wrote down their thoughts on slates: they slept in the same bed: they spoke to persons from a pannel in the bedroom window: they had no servant but an occasional charwoman; they had had not changed their linen for weeks nor see the said charwoman: the elder of the 2 sisters had more than £1000 about her when taken away: they resisted very much (as might be expected) when taken away, and fled from room to room: their little dog defended them stoutly and bit the Policeman. The house and cottages that were unoccupied would let for more than £150 p.a.” in one of the gardens was the old decayed chaise of their Father (an Attorney) ….. [John Bones died in 1813 and is commemorated in a memorial tablet on the north wall of Great St Andrew’s Church.]

The story of these two sisters who lived at 7 St Andrew’s Hill was retold by Enid Porter in the Cambridge News of 31 January and 7 February 1964.


The Grand Arcade report (2019) p.291describes the archaeological significance of the work that was carried out in the 1840s:

The first stage in the construction of Corn Exchange Court was the demolition of the existing above ground structures and the backfilling of various features including Cellar 4. This feature contained one of the largest and most diverse nineteenth-century assemblages from the site (MNI 290, or 343 if shellfish are included), which is linked to an inn as well as several Colleges. As this material has been published in detail elsewhere (Cessford 2014a), only an overview will be presented here. The backfilling of Cellar 4 involved the dumping of c. 3.1 cubic m of material. The primary constituent of the infill was building debris, consisting of crushed mortar and hundreds of brick and tile fragments, some of which were of the same fabric as the walls of the cellar while others appear to derive from the demolition of different structures elsewhere on the plot. There was also a considerable quantity of ash, charcoal and cinder. The material culture that was recovered was dominated by pottery (MNI 205), plus glass vessels (MNI 13), bone (46 MNBU, plus 5 others) and edible shellfish (MNI 193), plus some clay tobacco pipes (MNI 10), a small amount of window glass, some heavily corroded and unidentifiable iron fragments plus the iron portion of the heel of a shoe, part of a ceramic figurine, two bone knife handles, a whetstone, a small bone button and four copper alloy objects.

Despite the plot’s known association with the Cock Inn relatively few items were recovered that appear to be inn-related. The most obvious was a half pint capacity stoneware tankard-shaped jug with a pinched spout and an ale measure mark consisting of a crown over the initials WR. This was in compliance with the act for ascertaining the measures for retailing ale and beer of 1700, which covered vessels of up to a quart capacity used in inns and other commercial establishments and was in force until 1876 (Bimson 1970).



Corn Exchange Court created.

Corn Exchange Court 1885 OS map (from Grand Arcade report)

Corn Exchange Court 1901 OS map



(unnumbered) Charles Henry Careless, 30, college servant, b Hampshire

Emily E, 28, b Essex

Robert, 3, b Middlesex

Annie Jane Flora, 1, b Cambridge

Mary Dawson, 18,  servant, b Elsworth

Ellen Wishey, 16, servant, b Cambridge

William W Haggis, lodger, 24, college cook, b Cambridge

Charles Henry died July 1854 aged 34. He was son of James Careless.

See Mill Road Cemetery entry

Old Corn Exchange building, Cambridge (Camb.Collection)


Old Corn Exchange, St Andrew’s Hill

A rollerskating rink was opened in the old Corn Exchange.

Rollerskating in Cambridge – over 140 years of it


By 1887 the rear portion of Corn Exchange Court had ceased to be used as residential premises and had become a horse stables.


Enid Porter writes in Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore p.248:

For a short time in the 1890s the old Corn Exchange on St Andrew’s Hill, which had been used as a shopping arcade following the opening of the new Corn Exchange in 1874, was used as a theatre known as the Arcadia Entertainment Hall.

In the 1890s the rear of Corn Exchange Court was used by Thomas newton who had a carpenter, glazier, painter workshop, and William Chapman who was a carpenter and undertaker. The cottages remained but their internal divisions had been removed.

1913: (from Downing Street end)

Old Corn Exchange Building;

Foster & Jagg, printers and publishers

Henry Liddiard, cycle and motor depot

East Side:

(1) Whitmore and Co, wine spirit and ale merchants

The Bun Shop saloon and retail bars

(3) R Barrett and Son, earthenware, china, glass and hardware merchants

(4) Herbert Dye Froment, head porter Clare College

(5) Mrs L Hobson, lodging house keeper

(6) Albert Edward Hunting, carpenter

Mrs E Hunting, lodging house keeper

Corn Exchange Court:

Barrett and Son, china, earthenware and hardware merchants

Barrett’s Cottages:

Stables: Knaster and Cox motor garage

(7) Cox and Allen, bookbinders etc

A Cox, advertising agent

(8) Summers and Sons, motor builders

Stable and warehouse, Flack and Judge Artistic Sign Union

West Side:

(9) Papworth and French solicitors

Major Oliver Papworth, councillor of the Borough

North Side:

(9) Frederic W French, secretary Victoria Friendly Societies’ Asylum

Percy Albert French

(10) Mrs Elizabeth Scott


(10) Mrs Elizabeth Starr Scott was reported to have died November 1918 aged 88.

St Andrew’s Hill: Whitmore & Co and The Bun Shop

1962: (from Downing Street end)

East Side:

(1) The Bun Shop

(3) Barrett and Son, wholesale and retail glass

(4) Miss Dodd

(5) Mrs L Hobson

Corn Exchange Court:

Barrett and Son, wholesale and retail glass, china and hardware

(7) W S Thatcher, private tutor

(7) Elias and Co stock brokers

A Sidney Campkin and Sons, photographic apparatus

Matthew and Son Ltd

(8a) Speedy Shoe Repair



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