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Village signs is a series of caches based on the ornate signs that depict the heritage, history and culture of the villages that put them up (normally on the village green!).The signs can be made of different materials from fibreglass to wood, from forged steel to stone. They can depict anything from local industry to historical events.
The name Hardwick is generally taken to mean Sheep farm. The earliest mention of the village is in 991 A. D. and that only in tradition. In that year the Danes were again threatening this part of the country and Ealdorman Beortnoth, the local chief was leading his men, to join in the campaign against the invaders. The lands he had at Hardwick he gave to the priory at Ely as a burial offering in the event of his death in the coming battle. Much later we find that Edward the Confessor confirms the gift to the priory. The next mention of Hardwick is in the Domesday Book compiled by order of William the Conqueror. At that time the manor covered 5 hides one virgate and 22 acres. There were 7 villeins (peasants, who farmed land in return for work done on the lord’s land) and 4 servi (landless servants) with 2 oxen plough teams. In 1109 the See of Ely was created and the manor of Hardwick became part of the lands given to the Bishop for his use. Between 1166 and 1212 part of the Bishop’s lands passed by gift into the hands of the nuns of Swaffham Bulbeck in exchange for ½ Knights fee. As might be expected, with a Bishop as Lord of the Manor, there has been a Church in Hardwick for a long time and certainly since 1217 when the earliest record of the building is known. Throughout the history of our church the Bishop of Ely has had the right to appoint the rector to the Living, and until the Tithe Redemption Act of 1935, the right to receive tithes. In 1219 this amounted to the value of 10 marks (the mark being worth 66½p approx), in 1254 12 marks and in 1291 16 marks. In addition the Rector was granted a house with 40 acres of glebe land. At least once during this period the rector was an absentee from the parish and he appointed a vicar in his place. Unlike many of his contemporaries, the then rector paid nearly all the tithes to the Vicar. Absenteeism continued to plague the Church until the early 19th century when it was finally abolished, to the betterment of the Church and Village. Although, as mentioned earlier, there has been a Church building since 1217, our present building (except for the vestry) dates from around 1400. One of the south windows is earlier and perhaps comes from that earlier building. A little later the Chancel Arch was rebuilt and the steps in the left hand corner were added to provide access to a rood screen. This latter was removed during the Restoration, restored in the early 17th century and finally removed at some unknown date. Our Church in other words is very much as it was 570 years ago. Life in the 14th Century cannot have been easy for the various tenant farmers. The figures that are available suggest that there was a decline in prosperity over the period from the early thirteen hundreds to the late fourteen hundreds. For example the rent of a full tenement is recorded as 17 shillings a year (85p) in the time of Bishop Fordham (1388-1425) soon reduced by him to 15 shillings (75p) because of the poverty of the inhabitants. By 1463 it had become 13 shillings and 4 pence (66½p). During this time rent was often in arrears, probably doe to the poverty in the village but also because of difficulties in actually getting to the village to collect the rents. Source: Extracts originally published in Hardwick Happenings, 1976 If anybody would like to expand this series please do. I would just ask that you let Smokeypugs; know first so they can keep track of the Village Sign numbers and names to avoid duplication.
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