Toft is about six miles south of west from Cambridge; its name is an old Viking word meaning “curtilage” or “homestead”. In the Domesday Book of 1086 the population is stated to be about 200, and it was little different at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. Today the population of the village is just under 600. It is a close-knit community. Many of the families listed in the 1911 Census continue to live in the village. The strong tradition in the village is that all those who served in the Great War 1914-19 survived to return home, but their number is not now known.
All our various sources were searched for any mention of Toft, Cambridgeshire, in the context of WW1, the Great War. Only one relevant mention of this village was found. This was in the Roll of Honour of the War Memorial in St. George’s Chapel of Ely Cathedral. This memorial is dedicated “To the Men of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1919”. This lists their names by their town or village. One entry is for Toft; the name is “D.P. Taylor”. Several men named D.P. Taylor from various places in Britain died in the Great War. We have checked each one. Not one of these men had any connection whatsoever that we could find with Toft, Cambridgshire. Michael McCarthy studied the Census and Parish Records for Toft and surrounding villages looking for evidence of a “D.P. Taylor”, without success.
The village church of Saint Andrew and the Methodist Chapel (above) have memorials to those who died in service in WW2.
The photograph below shows Bert Sparks (right), native of Toft, in his uniform in July 1914 in camp with the Territorials at Ashridge Park, Hertfordshire.
Our conclusion agrees with the village tradition, that all those who served in WW1 from Toft returned when their service ended: it is a Thankful Village.
Images © Toft Historical Society 2016
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