National Census

A census of the population of England and Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man was first taken in 1801.  Since then, a census has taken place every 10 years, except in 1941, when the country was at war.

A census is really like a snapshot of those actually present in each town or village on the census night, and does not list those who normally reside there, but who happen to be away from home that night.  The census total also included visitors and other short-stay guests.

The figures for Guilden Morden were as follows: –

Year Count Year Count Year Count Year Count
1801 428 1851 929 1901 646 1951 552
1811 489 1861 906 1911 682 1961 566
1821 570 1871 1059 1921 580 1971 590
1831 675 1881 959 1931 533 1981 799
1841 808 1891 819 1941 no census 1991 836

It is interesting to note that by 1931, the population had fallen to only 533, or less than the population of 570 in 1821, some 110 years earlier.  It was still lower than the 1821 figure at 552 in 1951.

The substantial increase in population between 1861 and 1871 (nearly 17%) may be attributed to the “Cambridgeshire Coprolite Boom”.  Coprolites were phosphatic pellets or nodules thought to be the faeces of fish, reptiles or birds, and were “mined” over a wide band of Cambridgeshire stretching roughly from Guilden Morden in the south-west, round the north of Cambridge, then east-north-east to Bottisham and Quy.  The coprolites were crushed and used as fertiliser. ( The house at the junction of North Brook End and Flecks Lane, Steeple Morden, called “The Diggings” was formerly a public house of the same name serving the coprolite diggers.) The industry declined by 1891, due mainly to cheap imports of fertiliser from America.

The huge increase in population between 1971 and 1981 (over 35%) may be fairly atributed to the building of the Bells Meadow estate (25 houses) and the Council building in Fox Hill Road, Cannons Close and Fox Corner (and later still, New Rd and Thompson’s Meadow).  Guilden Morden is defined by South Cambridgeshire District Council as a “group village”, where future building of homes is limited to infilling and to groups of not more than eight houses.

P J Roethenbaugh

Previous population estimates

Year 1086 1279 1377 1563 1664 1801 1996
Count 255 650 287 243 305 428 900

© — taken from Alison Taylor Archaeology of South Cambridgeshire  (1997)