‘Bury’ in old English means homestead or settlement and is often attached to some of the oldest buildings in towns and villages and this house is one of those. Its position near St Leonard’s Church suggests that it was the Glebe Farm given to the Rector in office who could either farm it himself or let it to provide income for his stipend. Medieval maps show it on the site of the Churchill Cultura – the Church’s farmstead.
The house in its present form dates from 1700 as a date stone with initial RC on the eastern chimney stack suggests. We believe that these are for Richard Cornwell, a churchwarden whose name appears on the Royal Coat of Arms (date unknown) which hangs in the church; as a prominent member of the village he is likely to have been a farmer considered suitable to hire Bury Farm.
At that time, and until about 1973 when it was sold away from the land, the house was a centre of a thriving farm, with a large farmyard behind it and there was a right to graze sheep on the North Common, now ploughed up and disappeared.
Since 1490 the Bishop of Ely had a ‘palace’ or private estate in Little Downham, now known as Tower Farm and Bishop Matthew Wren (uncle of St Christopher – architect of St Pauls Cathedral) had the medieval building radically rebuilt and altered in the late 1680’s when the villagers of Little Downham took their opportunity to beg, borrow and steal the old building materials.
Our roof rafters, the beams in the sitting and dining rooms and the sitting room fireplace stones are all dated about 1500. In the early part of the twentieth century, the front porch was built, the dining room fireplace reduced in size and the original staircase removed and a new one built in its present position.
Like all old homes, Bury House is a mixture of styles and periods and it has been a family home for over 300 years. We hope you enjoy your stay.