2 - The Parish of Great Gransden

DRAFT VERSION - last revised 20 May 2021. The full Character Assessment (of which this page forms part) is also available in PDF form. The sections of the character assessment are:
  1. Introduction 
  2. The Parish of Great Gransden (this section) 
  3. The Village of Great Gransden 
  4. Cherished views of Great Gransden and the surrounding countryside 
  5. Directory of listed buildings 
  6. Social Hubs 
Please give us some feedback! Email your comments to gg.2020vision@gransdens.org.

Parish Boundary

The Parish boundary is shown below in Map 1, below. It can be seen that the parish occupies a very rural location, with only one significant settlement, the village of Great Gransden at its SE corner.

Map showing the Parish of Great Gransden
Appendix 1 map 1: Boundary of the parish - which is the boundary of the Neighbourhood plan area. Click on the map to see a larger version.

Topography, geology, geography

The parish of Great Gransden is mostly situated on calcareous Boulder Clay, a drift deposit laid down by the retreating glaciers during the Quaternary Ice Age some 450,000 years ago. This clay overlies the solid geology of the Lower Greensand (of Lower Cretaceous age) and Ampthill Clay (of the Lower Jurassic), both of which formations are also exposed in the western part of the parish. The Gransden Brook and the Waresley Dean Brook have cut down through the boulder clay to expose the underlying Greensand in various places along their valleys. Indeed, this is almost certainly why the villages of Great and Little Gransden are located where they are, since the sheltered valley of the Gransden Brook and the series of small springs along the edge of the clay and greensand exposure provided an ideal settlement site along the SW edge of the poorly draining boulder clay soils.

In turn, this valley may also help explain the origin of the village name – the earliest known mention is Grantandene in A.D 973 in one of the charters of Thorney Abbey, when Aethelwold Bishop of Winchester endowed the Abbey with land here. The name derives from “Grante’s Dene” meaning “Grante’s Valley” (from the Old English “Denu”, “Dean” or “Dene” meaning “valley”) and there is even a reference in the Crowland Cartulary to someone called Grante being resident in this area in the mid-10th Century.

However, people have been living and moving through this area for thousands of years, with Neolithic flint arrow heads having been found in Gransden Wood and scattered findings of Roman coins and pottery at various sites in Great Gransden, notably on some fields on the NW boundary of the parish which indicate that there may well have been a Roman farmstead here that was occupied for several centuries. Following the Viking expansion into England from the 9th to the 11th centuries, the area now occupied by the parishes of Great Gransden and Little Gransden came under the control of the Danelaw. The name of a now-disappeared woodland block W of Hayley Wood - Little Hound Wood (“Lytlelund”) includes the Old Norse element “lúndr” meaning a small wood or grove, suggesting that much of the land had already been cleared for agriculture by the Viking era and the surviving woodlands were already in discrete named blocks.

Established Employment Areas

The HDC Local Plan identifies two Established Employment Areas in Great Gransden parish – Sand Road Industrial Estate and Hardwicke Road Industrial Estate. These are situated on the outskirts of the village, and house around 25 businesses, mainly engineering and manufacturing based.

Kingspan (Potton Timber) occupies a site on Eltisley Road, where they manufacture timber frame houses. However, the site has now received planning permission for housing development of self-build homes, and so manufacturing will cease.

Other business sites include Highbury Fields, John Taylor Crane Yard, Eltisley Business Park and Collings Brothers Agricultural Supplies.