Stapleford near Cambridge was first mentioned in 956 when it was given the Latinised name of Stapelforda. Unlike most parishes, the spelling has hardly changed since then. The parish, however, was inhabited long before this. Wandlebury Ring, which lies within the parish boundary, is an Iron Age hill fort, originally built in the 3rd century B.C., but rebuilt with a double bank in the first century A.D.
The village probably began near the ford across the Granta in the south-west corner of the parish, by a post (a staple) which marked the ford and gave the village its name.
On the north-west side of the parish there were some sixty acres of open-field land, called the Ming Lands which were shared with Great Shelford. The Inclosure award of 1814 drew a boundary between the two parishes.
Until the Inclosure in 1814, there survived a Green of about 30 acres, which extended from Bar Lane across the sites of Cherry Tree Avenue and Greenfield Close to the far side of Haverhill Road, up Bar Lane nearly to Green Hedge Farm and across Bar Lane to include the site of the School. This Green, including the pond on the corner of Bury Road and Haverhill Road was then allotted to separate owners and at the same time Bar Lane was laid out in its present course, rather than around the edge of the Green, a line which it had followed until then.
The population in 1801 was 235 and in 1831 464. In 1871 it reached a peak of 594, not exceeded until 1931 when it attained 636. Since then numbers have steadily climbed to 831 in 1951, 1548 in 1961, 1668 in 1981 and 1749 in 1991, and slightly decreased to 1738 in 2001. The boundaries of the parish remained almost unchanged until 1985, when Bridge End Cottage and Dingle Dell were gained from Sawston and a small uninhabited area in the river bend was moved from Stapleford to Sawston. The ancient parish contained 1835 acres (743 hectares).
The opening of Shelford railway station in 1845 had a great effect on the development of Great Shelford and to a lesser extent on Stapleford. Several large houses were built in Mingle Lane and elsewhere in the village. Four substantial mansions were built on Foxhill soon after 1900. These included Middlefield designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Development of the village has continued slowly. The row of 32 houses in Haverhill Road was built by the late Frederick Baynes on land acquired from the Foster estate in the later 1930s. Some council houses were built in Bury Road in 1926 and others were built at the end of Gog Magog Way in the 1950s. The Priam’s Way estate and Greenfield Close were built in the 1950s, Finch’s Close in the late 1950s, Aylesford Way (in several stages) in the 1950s – 1970s, Poplar Way and Forge End in the 1960s, the Vine Farm estate and Cherry Tree Avenue in the 1970s, Joscelynes (in two stages) in the 1970s and 1980s, Cox’s Close and Heffer Close in the 1980s, Anvil Close in the 1980s and 1990s, Adcroft Piece in the 1990s and Greenhedges in 2007.
The new South Cambridgeshire Local Plan has designated an area between London Road and Aylesford Way for future development, while retaining the land presently used for industry in Granta Terrace as “employment land”.
Stapleford street names have suffered many changes. Mingle Lane was called Church Road in 1814, later becoming Church Lane. Gog Magog Way was called Back Road in 1814, later becoming partly Church Lane and partly Lordship Lane. It was also known as West Lane. Bury Road was called Hills Road in 1816, later becoming partly Bar Lane, partly Poplar Terrace and partly Bury End. Bar Lane was called Bar Lane Road in 1816. London Road was formerly known as The Street or The Village Street, but has been London Road since at least 1850. Church Street has been so called since at least 1740. Babraham Road was called Linton Road until 1958. Hinton Way was formerly known as Cherry Hinton Road.
Some street names, particularly those of terraces, have vanished though some may still be seen marked on house frontages. St. Mary’s Cottages, Vine Terrace, Brookside and Alma Cottages were all in Bar Lane. Petersfield Terrace, Bury End and Poplar Terrace were in Bury Road. Feoffee Cottages were in Church Street and Lordship Terrace was in Gog Magog Way.
One modern street name has unfortunately been given in error. Adcroft Piece was named after the house called Ancroft Piece at 76 London Road but the name was altered to Adcroft, as it had been spelled in the Inclosure award. In this case, however, the Inclosure award was wrong and every other source gives the old field name as Ancroft. Something similar affected Greenhedge Farm, so called because it lay on the edge of the one-time Green. The former Special School corrupted the name to Green Hedges and this has now been perpetuated in the small housing estate built on its site.
The road that runs through the village from Great Shelford to Sawston and Great Chesterford (A1301) was a turnpike road from 1724 to 1870. The road from Cambridge to Linton and Haverhill (A1307) was likewise a turnpike road from 1765 to 1876. Stapleford was formerly crossed by the railway to Haverhill, which branched from the Liverpool Street line south of the London Road bridge. The line was opened in 1865 but closed in 1967 and is now dismantled, though the humped bridge where it passed under the road to Sawston still remains.
Opening of the M11 motorway in 1980 relieved Stapleford and neighbouring parishes of much of the traffic which had formerly used the A1301. Continuing increase of local traffic, however, necessitated the construction in August 1997 of a pelican crossing across London Road at the Post Office, which has since become a photographic studio. The Parish Council had first requested a crossing there in 1964.
In September 1989, the District Council defined an area in Mingle Lane and Gog Magog Way, together with two properties in Dukes Meadow and four in Church Street, as a conservation area.
The history of Stapleford is fully described in the Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire. Volume 8, 1982 pp. 227-238 More recent history, assembled from reports in the Cambridge Chronicle, appears in the Stapleford Chronicle, 1770-1899, by Mary Miller, 1982. The history of the village as described in the minutes of the Parish council is summarised in Stapleford Matters, 1894-1994, by Tony Doggett, 1994. Stapleford Millennium Chronicle, Volume 1, edited by Alan Bullwinkle, 2000, contains news about some of the inhabitants and happenings in the village from 1900 to 1939. Copies of this are still available locally.
The Stapleford Chronicle, Volume 2, edited by Dorothy Millgate and covering the years 1939-1977, was published in 2007.