lies two miles north west of Saffron Walden. The River Cam roughly
describes the western boundary, with the village of Littlebury lying
adjacent to it. In addition to Littlebury village there are two
hamlets, Littlebury Green and Catmere End, with one house remaining at
Chapel Green, lying in the hills of the west where ponds dug in boulder
clay above the chalk would have supplied water.
earliest evidence for habitation is that of Neanderthal man, found near
Little Chesterford. Neolithic and Bronze Age flint tools, together with
aerial photographs of Bronze Age ring ditches, and various finds
confirm man’s presence for these periods.
Age sherds were found to the east of Littlebury village and in areas
extending to land between Chapel Green and Catmere End. In 2004 during
a field walking exercise led by Dr. Tom Williamson, a gold
Catuvellaunian coin circa 50BC was found as well as sherds of
prehistoric, Romano-British pottery and medieval pottery, brick and
tile, together with a Roman period forgery of a nummus coin circa
is thought that Ring Hill Fort to the west of Audley End dates from the
Iron Age period. Roman artefacts, Claudian gold coins and a silver
patera were found nearby, whilst jewellery,
Samian,‘Hadham’ ware and greyware have been located
throughout the parish. Saxon sherds found in the west indicate
settlement for that period.
earliest known reference to ‘lytlan byrig’ occurs
in the late 10th century will of a landholder, Aelfhelm Polga. By 1008,
20 hides known as ‘Lithanberi’ and half that again
at Littlebury Green and Strethall (altogether about 3,600 acres of
land), had been awarded to Ely Abbey by King Aethelred to supply food
and later, cash, rents to the Abbey. The Domesday survey of 1085
describes Littlebury as having 30 hides and a value of £28.
In 1109 the Manor of Littlebury was transferred to the Bishopric of Ely
when the lands held by Ely Abbey were divided.
relationship between Ely and Littlebury survived until the early C17th.
Thomas Sutton was granted the lease of Littlebury from Ely in 1569; it
was renewed in 1583 and in 1601, he purchased the Manor of Littlebury
from the Crown during a vacancy of the Ely Bishopric. In 1603, Thomas
Howard, First Earl of Suffolk, who was building Audley End mansion,
agreed to sell his London property, Charterhouse, to him for
£13,000 and the Manors of Balsham, Hadstock and Littlebury
were left to the Earl in return for a payment of £10,000 into
generations of Suffolks lived at Audley End, until the 10th Earl died
childless and intestate. Elizabeth, Countess of Portsmouth came into
possession of the estate with her sister on one side and the Earl of
Bristol on the other and a deed of partition was drawn up in 1753. She
subsequently purchased the mansion and parkland and in 1762 left it
all, on her death, to her nephew, John Griffin Griffin. He was to
become the first Baron Braybrooke and spent the rest of his life
consolidating his landholdings through purchasing and swapping land and
property with the Earl of Bristol and others. He commissioned Robert
Adam to design the Temple of Victory and The Stone Bridge, and was
responsible for the Tea Bridge, and extending the kitchen gardens.
Capability Brown redesigned the parkland, much of it lying in
Littlebury parish, most of which still falls within the Audley End
parish has 52 listed buildings, including The Stables at Audley End;
the centre of Littlebury village is a conservation area. The church,
known as Holy Trinity, mentioned as long ago in an Ely charter dated
between 1163-1169 was considerably altered between 1870 and 1874 and St
Peter’s church at Littlebury Green was erected in 1885.
from the incumbents of Audley End, parish notables include Henry
Winstanley, Thomas Sutton and Dame Joan Bradbury.