Little Abington

According to Enid Porter, writing in 1969, the two Jeremiah’s Tea Houses in Little Abington and Lagdon’s Grove, a wood near Bourne Bridge, perpetuate the memory of Jeremiah Lagden (with an e), an eighteenth-century highwayman. He was the son of Emma Lagden, a servant before her marriage to the Bromley family of Horseheath and later proprietress of the White Hart Inn at Bourne Bridge. She was a Quaker, but an unusual one, as the Cambridgeshire antiquary William Cole, who knew her well, wrote that she ‘laid herself out to attract men … gallantry was her
ruling passion’.

Jeremiah in his youth was post boy at the White Hart – or some said at Horseheath – in which occupation he enriched himself with stolen money. From this he progressed to robbing coaches on the Newmarket to London road. In later life, he lived at the Old House, Little Abington, where a hiding place in the chimney and a well under a living-room floor are said to have been where he hid his stolen loot.

In the garden is a vault known as ‘Jeremiah’s Grave’, although it is his wife who is said to be buried there. Tradition said that Jeremiah himself was eventually captured on the Newmarket road as he lay in waiting for the coach to pass, and was hanged in a field opposite his house. The ghost of the highwayman is said to have been seen here. Certainly the name of Jeremiah was enough to frighten Abington children well into the twentieth century. Presumably he had by then become one of the many traditional bogeys used to make children behave.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008