This website is all about Hatley St George and East Hatley, with news, history, community updates, details of local services and other things we think may be helpful.
The parish of Hatley unites Hatley St George and East Hatley, two very small villages half a mile apart in the arable farmland of south Cambridgeshire. Although quite a few of us work from home, we are largely a commuting population, albeit with a strong sense of community.
There is more about the history of the Hatleys on our Hatley history page – and photographs of Hatley and the surrounding area on the Geograph site. (The Geograph Britain and Ireland project is collecting geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland from material supplied by, well, anyone.)
There is another Hatley near by – Cockayne Hatley, which is in Bedfordshire (we’re in Cambridgeshire) and historically not connected to ‘our’ Hatley.
The extent of the parish is shown on this map; its Parish Council was established on 5th July 1973.
Hatley is roughly halfway between Bedford and Cambridge, linked by footpaths and bridleways to the surrounding villages.
The two villages predate Domesday. They share two medieval churches, a village hall, a playing field with swings and a village shop-cum-post office.
Hatley is also listed in the Open Domesday project, which shows there were 32 households in East Hatley and Hatley St George in 1066 – the 2011 census puts the figure at 78 (click on the ‘census’ link above to open an Excel file – use the drop down list to find Hatley).
A feature of the Hatleys is the more important buildings were once surrounded by moats. These can still be seen, especially in East Hatley.
Next to a good water-supply, a dry soil for building was generally essential, though some west Cambridgeshire villages planted upon heavy ill-drained clays put a moat around every house to drain the site, as at East Hatley, where most of the moats, or the remains of them, can be traced to this day. From English Landscapes by W G Hoskins, BBC Publications, 1973 (ISBN 0563 12407 5).
Professor W G Hoskins (1908 – 1992) is credited with establishing English local history as a formal academic discipline. His pioneering book The Making of the English Landscape, first published in 1955 (ISBN 0140154108), is well worth reading, although currently out of print – second hand copies can be obtained via Amazon.
The Grade II* listed parish church of Hatley St George (left) stands opposite St George’s Tower, originally a water tower, now part of a small business park.
Services are held there twice a month. Unusually, the church is not dedicated to a saint – it’s therefore known as Hatley St George church after the St. George family who once owned the village.
The church also has two special features: no chancel (the area with the altar and where the choir would sit – it was demolished in 1966) and 28 wooden shields painted with the arms of the St. George and Cotton families.
St Denis’ church in East Hatley (below) is also Grade II* listed – but is now an empty shell no longer in use as a church, although with a link to William Butterfield, the Victorian church architect who restored it in 1874.
We are very fortunate the Friends of Friendless Churches (FoFC) was able to take ownership of the building in November 2016 – albeit structurally sound but windowless, with much of its floor missing, its chancel in a poor state and, worse, without an obvious future.
In early 2018 the FoFC made a great start on its programme of repairs by putting a new floor and windows in the nave. We are hopeful they will eventually complete the restoration with a refurbished chancel (to Butterfield’s design) and glass in all the windows – when it can then be opened to visitors.
Use this link for much more on Hatley’s two churches.
Footpaths, bridleways and other useful information
There are lots of footpaths and bridleways around East Hatley and Hatley St George, well noted on Ordnance Survey maps.
The same goes for the Green spaces and activities section of the Cambridgeshire County Council website – the link above takes you to the Definitive map and statement page (with useful background information) from where you can click on the Rights of way interactive map for the county.
Put your postcode into the search box on that page to home in on Hatley: click on a footpath or bridleway for its name, number and length – with much more detail for bridleways.
And while on this section of the County’s website, click on the My house tab for lots of useful local information.
Historian and former Gamlingay resident Bernard O’Connor has some very detailed information about the Hatley footpaths (as well as those in Gamlingay and other local villages).
There is more about Hatley St George and East Hatley on the Wikipedia website.
First published on the original Hatley website in May 2013; updated 6th March 2019.