Whittlesey is a town in the north-west of
the District of Fenland. 6½ miles east of Peterborough and 11 miles west of March, it's 'island' rises to just
26 feet above sea level, and is about 3 miles long and ½ mile broad.
features in the Domesday Book as Witesie, but the name probably derives from Whittle's Ea, where
Ea is the Saxon term for 'an island'. This land was once owned by a man named 'Whittle', the name therefore
literally translates as 'Whittle's Island'.
Middle Ages there were once two important manors here as indicated by the two churches Whittlesey St. Mary
and Whittlesey St. Andrew and there were many 'guilds' in the town.
is situated at the intersection of the roads from Peterborough to March with those from
Ramsey, Thorney and Crowland. The latter (B1040) is planted with trees on the Thorney
side of the town.
has an extensive range of architectural styles. The most important buildings are the manor house and the
situated in the centre of the Market
Place dates back to 1680, originally it was a place for selling goods at market. In the 1800s It was saved
from demolition by a local businessman donating slate tiles for the roof. It serves as a bus shelter today
and is one of the town's most famous landmarks.
to hold a market and three annual fairs was granted to the town in 1715. Friday is still market day in Whittlesey,
but the town's close proximity to Peterborough limits its potential growth.
has had many public houses; at one time the town was reputed to have had 52 - one for each week of the year! Now
there are 10 - not even enough to provide one for each month of the year.
has three 80-metre high wind turbines. They power a local factory's plant, reducing their electricity bills by
appears in the Cartularium Saxonicum (973 A.D.) as Witlesig, in the Domesday Book as Witesie, and in the
Inquisitio Eliensis (1086 A.D.) as Wittleseia. The meaning is "Wit(t)el’s island", deriving from either
Witil, "the name of a moneyer", or a diminutive of Witta, a personal name; + "eg", meaning "'island', also used
of a piece of firm land in a fen."
draining of the fens, Whittlesey was an island of dry ground surrounded by the marshy fens. Excavations of
Flag Fenindicate thriving
local settlements as far back as 1000 BC. At Must Farm quarry,
a Bronze Age settlement is
described as "Britain's
Pompeii" due to its
relatively good condition. In 2016 it was being excavated by the
University of Cambridge's Cambridge
Archaeological Unit. At
Must Farmat least five
homes of 3,000 years in age have been found, along with Britain's most complete prehistoric wooden wheel, dating
back to the late Bronze Age.
In more recent
times Whittlesey was linked to Peterborough in the west and March in the east by the Roman Fen Causeway,
probably built in the 1st century AD. Roman artefacts have been recovered at nearby Eldernell, and a Roman
skeleton was discovered in the nearby village of Eastrea during construction of its village hall in
The town's two
parishes of St Mary's and St Andrew's were controlled by the abbeys in
respectively until the
Dissolution of the Monasteries(c. 1540). The
two parishes were combined for administrative purposes by the Whittlesey Improvement Act of 1849. Despite the
Peterborough, Whittlesey is
Diocese of Ely.
Until it was
drained in 1851, nearby Whittlesey Mere was a substantial lake surrounded by marsh. According to the
Celia Fiennes, who saw it in
1697, the mere was "3 mile broad and six mile long. In the midst is a little island where a great store of
Wildfowle breed.... The ground is all wett and marshy but there are severall little Channells runs into it which by
boats people go up to this place; when you enter the mouth of the Mer it looks formidable and its often very
dangerous by reason of sudden winds that will rise like Hurricanes...." The town is still accessible by water,
connected to the river Nene by King's Dyke, which forms part of the Nene/Ouse Navigation link. Moorings can be
found at Ashline Lock, alongside the Manor Leisure Centre's cricket and football pitches.
noted for its brickyards, around which the former hamlet of King's Dyke was based for much of the 20th century,
although only one now remains, following the closure of the Saxon brickworks in 2011.
The local clay
soil was also used to make mud boundary walls during a period in which there was a tax on bricks. Some examples
of these roofed walls still stand today and are unique in Fenland.
infamous for its number of public houses; folklore dictates that, at one time there were 52 of them – one for
each week of the year. In 1797, a local farmer noted in his diary "they like drinking better than fighting in
history, Whittlesey was an important trade route in the late Bronze Age (about 1100–800 BC), where civilisations
traded with many places, including the Balkans. Such evidence is clear at the important archaeological site of
Must Farm, where log boats, roundhouses, bowls with food in them, and the most complete wooden wheel were
Church is 15th century, but the majority of the building is later. The church has one of the largest buttressed
spires in Cambridgeshire. It also contains a chapel which was restored in 1862 as a memorial to Sir Harry Smith.
Church is a mixture of the Perpendicular and Decorated styles of Gothic, and has records back to 1635.
Place is the site of the town's market, held every Friday. A right to hold a weekly market was first granted in
1715, although there have been several periods since then during which the market did not function, for example
from the late 1700s until about 1850.
In the centre
of the Market Place is the Buttercross, dating back to 1680. Originally a place for people to sell goods at
market, the structure was considered useless in the 1800s and was only saved from demolition when a local
businessman donated some slate tiles for the roof. It served as a bus shelter, until the controversial
relocation of bus services from the Market Place to a purpose-built terminal in Grosvenor Road.
and Lovell families lived here in Cambridgeshire in the 1850s.
After a double wedding, July 5th 1852, two couples Henry & Mary Jane (Lovell) Bowland, and William &
Martha (Bowland) Lovell bid farewell to their families and friends, boarded the Thames. They sailed November 5th, bound for Melbourne, Australia. Through their
children connections were made with the Michael Family from Ullapool, and the Douglas Family from County
(Far Side of the World-VI)