Girton has a long history as a village – people were living here pre Saxon times. The old name for Girton was Gretton, meaning ‘village on the gravel’, so called because the settlement grew up along a gravel ridge.
Girton has a stone war memorial standing near the road within the grounds of St. Andrew’s Church. Inscriptions surround the four sides of the upper part and a pyramid style top with sculptured wreaths of poppies surrounding its base. The memorial was erected after the First World War, and records the names of the 18 village men killed between 1914 and 1918. It also includes 12 names from the Second World War (1939 – 1945).
Girton Village History Group
There have been several groups in the Village which have collected archive materials, and in 1999 the Girton History Group inherited much of the results. The Group was established to produce a Millennium publication for the Village, and decided to focus on wartime memories.
The Group identified a collection of letters written to service men and women during the Second World War as a coherent and manageable project. These were monthly cyclostyled reports of village goings-on and give a unique insight into the daily life of Girton in wartime. They were begun by the leaders of the Young Men’s Group, Freddie Barrett and Horace Bradfield, to provide news to former members of the Group serving in the Forces. Ill health forced Mr Bradfield to withdraw from the venture, but for two and a half years Mr Barrett continued to write his circular which was sent to all service man and women from the Village.
The collection, illustrated with contemporary photographs, was published by the Group on Remembrance Day 2001 under the title Keeping in Touch.
Following on this success, the Group worked on a wider history of the Village in the War, which included replies received by Mr Barrett, memories of then residents of the Village, and information gleaned from Parish Council Minutes, the Minutes of the Invasion Committee, and a variety of other materials. This book was published in 2003, again on Remembrance Day.
The books were privately published thanks to generous grants from the Big Lottery Fund’s `Awards for All’ millennium fund, and should be available from local libraries. They are: Keeping in Touch by DR de Lacey and M Parnwell with members of the Girton History Group (ISBN 0-9539007-0-3) and Girton’s War by DR de Lacey with members of the Girton History Group (ISBN 0-9539007-1-1).
Since then the Group has been in abeyance. The most significant parts of the archive are lodged with the Cambridgeshire Collection and the Cambridge Records Office, with the remainder being stored in St Andrew’s Church Office.