Karen Levell Part 10

The 6th Baron, William, lost his right hand at the battle of Blenheim while serving as a brigadier in Marlborough’s campaign. He escaped from the Tower of London after arrest for alleged conspiracy in a Jacobite plot. He left the country and died in Madrid.

The Barony of North then passed to Francis, Earl of Guildford, the Lord Keeper’s son and tutor to the royal children. Francis’s son, Frederick, boyhood friend of George III, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister, was the 8th Baron. The last male heir of the North family, Dudley, the son of the 12th Baron, died in 1936, and the property was bought by Lord Fairhaven.

One wing of Catlage Hall was pulled down in 1752 and the remainder of the house in 1801, but the gatehouse built in the 1530s is still there and is known as Kirtling Tower.  It is surrounded by the original moat which can be seen from the church yard. It is the largest one surviving in Cambridgeshire. The north and east sides have water some 40-60 feet wide, but the south side seen from the road is filled with trees and in spring with a mat of snowdrops. The moat is 325 feet above sea level.

Village improvements

Water was not piped around the village until 1935. Before that time the village people used to get their water from a land drain, wells or a spring in the village. In the drought of 1921 the farmers had to go up to the hall moat behind the Towers to fetch water for livestock. My granddad was thirteen years old then, and he had to get up at six o’clock in the morning and go and fetch two loads of water, with a horse and water tank, before he went to school. He was paid 6d per load and this was how he got his first bicycle. His father always said he pulled it out of the hall moat.

Mains electricity came to the village in 1938. Before this time most of the villagers used oil lamps and candles for lights. In 1910 there was an electricity generator installed behind the Towers and my great-grandfather stayed up all night, working it, to build up the batteries. He then continued working it until my great uncle took over in 1932.

The roads were not very good until 1934 when they were widened, drained and curbed.

Next: Part 11