File 2 - 36 New Square

Identity area

Reference code



36 New Square


  • 3rd October 1944 - 26th June 1944 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 file (6 items), paper

Context area

Name of creator

Administrative history

Name of creator

(1907 - 1987)

Administrative history

This firm of solicitors can trace its origins back to 1789 when Christopher Pemberton set up a legal practice on his own in Cambridge. On his death in 1850 the work of his practice passed to Clement Francis (who had his own legal practice in Cambridge). He worked as a sole practitioner until he took into partnership Thomas Webster and Alfred Smith Riches in 1861 to form Francis Webster and Riches. From that time until 1907 the firm continued changing its name to reflect the partners involved. It also retained its connections to the Francis family with two of Clement's sons, Thomas Musgrave and Walter Hamond, becoming partners. Walter's son Walter Maclaren became the third generation to work for the firm after he joined as an assistant in 1925 and then partner from 1931 (he retired as a partner in 1968 but was retained as a consultant until his death in 1970 which brought to an end 120 years of continuous service by the Francis family). In 1907 a decision was taken to shorten the name to Francis & Co and this remained the name (irrespective of partners) until 1987.

Clients included: Barclays Bank; the University; a large number of the Colleges (including Jesus, Corpus Christi, Clare, Downing, Emmanuel, St Johns and Trinity); prominent Cambridgeshire families; Addenbrooke’s hospital; the Evelyn Nursing Home; Girton and Newnham and Ely Diocesan Board of Finance. By the time the Second World War broke out they were the biggest firm of solicitors in Cambridge with five partners whereas few others had more than two.

Increased work meant having to take on assistants and clerical staff and the office space at 10 Peas Hill was too small. It was decided to take up additional office space on 2nd and 3rd floors of 17 Market Street. In 1984 the Litigation Department and the Leasehold Department moved in. By this time the demands of existing clients meant there was a need for a specialist solicitor and department dealing with company and commercial law. This in turn lead to an expansion of the business and working over two sites proved difficult. In 1986 it was decided to take the lease of 24 Hills Road (re christen it Francis House) and move all departments under one roof.

Mills & Reeve (a leading Norwich practice founded by Henry Jacob Mills in 1880) wanted to open a branch office in Cambridge, which they did in November 1986, at 6 Clifton Court Cherry Hinton Road. Immediately negotiations began for a merger and in 1987 this successfully went ahead to form Mills & Reeve Francis. The first female partner, Michelle Gail Cookson, was appointed in the same year.

Mounting volume of client business resulting from the merger led to increasing staffing and further pressure on office space and so in 1989 all departments were moved under one roof at Francis House, 112 Hills Road, Cambridge

1789 - 1813 Christopher Pemberton
1813 - 1820 Pemberton and Fiske
1820 - 1829 Pemberton Fiske and Hayward
1829 - 1838 Pemberton and Hayward
1838 - 1843 Christopher Pemberton
1843 - 1850 Pemberton and Thrower
1850 - 1861 Clement Francis
1861 - 1876 Francis Webster and Riches
1876 - 1879 Francis Riches and Francis
1879 - 1887 Francis and Francis
1887 - 1888 Francis Francis and Parker
1888 - 1898 Francis and Francis
1898 - 1905 Francis Francis and Collin
1905 - 1907 Francis Francis Collin and Peile
1907 - 1987 Francis & Co
1987 - Mills & Reeve Francis

Name of creator

(1926 - 2011)

Administrative history

In 1843 James Rattee set up a wood and stone carving works next to his house, Poplar Cottage in Station Road, Cambridge. In 1848 he entered into partnership with George Kett to form Rattee & Kett. After Rattee's death in 1855 his widow, Caroline, continued in the business partnership with George Rattee.

In 1926 the partnership was dissolved and the business sold to Rattee & Kett Ltd. The vast majority of the shares were held by John Mowlem and Co. Ltd. However, George Robert Kett continued as manager. Later projects included restoration work at St James's Church, Piccadilly (completed after the Second World War), restoration work at Westminster Abbey (completed in the 1980s), and restoration work at Ely Cathedral (completed in 2000). Following the acquisition of Mowlem by Carillion in February 2006, Rattee & Kett Ltd was the subject of a management buy out from Carillion in March 2007 but went into administration in September 2011.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Contains the following:
3rd October 1944 - from J. Carter Jonas & Sons informing the Bursar that they had made out an agreement to lease the property to Mrs Baker but the current lease was made out to Mr G. A. Baker who was away serving in H.M. Forces. As a surrender could not be signed they had made out the lease in Mr Baker's name

4th January 1945 - from J. Carter Jonas & Sons asking for permission from the Bursar to accept a quote for the repair of gates to the yard at the rear of the property which was leased by Mr L. A. Rich

7th June 1946 - letter from Francis & Co to the Bursar informing him that the tenant Mrs Baker had died (6th June) and had a number of debts. They said they were trying to get Mr Baker to sign a surrender of the Agreement and would then get access to the property to assess dilapidations

11th June 1946 - Letter from J. Carter Jonas & Sons to the Bursar stating that when Mrs Baker had signed the Agreement as agent for her husband she had said he was away serving in the Far East but in fact they had separated and he was living in Cambridge. She had rent arrears of £61. 8s. 0d. which her husband refused to pay but he had agreed to clear out the house so the College could gain possession

Specification for internal repairs and decorations and formation of a bathroom

26th June 1946 - estimate of £184 16s. 9d. from Rattee & Kett Limited for the above work

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area


Originally in a Box labelled "Cambridge Barnwell 10A. New Square 2"
In a folder entitled "1934-46 New Square. Correspondence. Agreement No. 9"

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places