About Mary Challis

The first Challis to settle in Sawston was Thomas Challis (1754–1816). He was a farmer, co-founder of the Congregational Church and father of ten children. One of his sons, Jonathon, married a daughter of James Everard of Pampisford and received the property in Sawston known as Monk’s Orchard from his father in-law. It was his son, Arthur James, who developed the Orchard, now the Challis Garden, and built the family house at 68 High Street in about 1850. He was Mary’s grandfather and he and his son Alfred were auctioneers and clerks to the Parish Council.

Mary then was the fifth generation of her branch of the Challis family to live in Sawston. She lived here all her life except for the short time she spent at Studley College for Women, in Warwickshire, where she took a BSc in Horticulture. She never married and, when she died in 2006, she had no close relatives and chose to leave her house and garden in trust “for the benefit of the inhabitants of Sawston village and the neighbourhood”. For this, we are profoundly grateful.