Cockayne Hatley is a tiny village of about 140 inhabitants on a by-road linking Potton and Wrestlingworth and much of its charm is due to its isolated position. (The visitor is warned that Cockayne Hatley has neither pub nor shop!) To the north, Potton Wood and Cockayne Hatley Wood provide a beautiful backdrop for the Church, while to the south there is a fine view over rolling countryside to the hills of north Hertfordshire. The village lies in the extreme east of Bedfordshire and is separated by the Cambridgeshire border from its neighbours East Hatley and Hatley St George. The name Hatley suggests that the village was originally a Saxon settlement, and references to it are found in documents of the tenth century. One explanation of the place-name is that Hatley was the clearing on the hill (known fancifully as the Hat) while Potton was the town in the hollow (or Pot) and, descending the steep hill towards Potton, one is aware of how appropriate such names are. Corn, oil-seed rape and, linseed are now the main crops of this exclusively agricultural parish and have displaced the orchards which, until some twenty years ago, were the dominant feature of the landscape. Indeed, the sight of the orchards in blossom led some to describe the village as a "land of Cockaigne". The village name derives, in fact, from the Cockayne family, who acquired the manor in 1417 and held it in unbroken line until 1745 when it passed to the Custs (a family related by marriage) who sold the estate in the late nineteenth century. At that time it was a fine country mansion surrounded by parkland studded with noble oaks. A decline set in after the First World War and in 1931 the manor house (known as The Hall) was severely damaged by fire. Meanwhile, a remarkable enterprise had filled the parkland with old London buses which served as unconventional henhouses. This was succeeded by Coxes Orange Pippins Orchards, under whose auspices the greater part of the parish was given over to orchards. The land was purchased by the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) in 1946, since when most of the houses on the estate have been sold to private owners. Most of the houses in the village line a winding road which now peters out into a farm track but which is a vestige of the former road system joining the village to Tadlow and East Hatley; some of the route can be followed by taking the Clopton Way footpath. The oldest building in the village is a former farm house now known as The Well House and believed to date from 1707. The Victorian age is represented in the solidity of the former Rectory, Village Farm, and some of the outlying houses. The house known as Orchard View was once a laundry which served The Hall, itself a largely Victorian building, much altered over the years. The Hall and Church lie in fields somewhat away from the village and are approached by footpaths. The Church, which is dedicated to St John the Baptist, is the chief glory of the village and also the focus of the social life of the community: on occasions such as the Patronal Festival (24 June), the Harvest Festival and the Carol Service, flowers and decorations enhance its beauty.