Place:Whittlesey, Isle of Ely, England

Alt namesWhittleseasource: Wikipedia
Witesiesource: Wikipedia
Coordinates52.567°N 0.133°W
Located inIsle of Ely, England     (1889 - 1965)
Also located inCambridgeshire, England     ( - 1889)
Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely, England     (1965 - 1974)
Cambridgeshire, England     (1974 - )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

NOTE: In 1889 Cambridgeshire was separated into two sections:

The existence of two counties was to last until 1965 when they came back together as Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely until 1974 when the area, under a new type of administration, reverted to the name Cambridgeshire. For more discussion of this situation, see Isle of Ely, England. In keeping with the policies of WeRelate, all the places within the Isle of Ely during its existence include "Isle of Ely" in their placenames instead of "Cambridgeshire".

A process is built in so that the places can be redirected if referred to as Cambridgeshire.

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Whittlesey is an English market town east of Peterborough in the Fenland district of Cambridgeshire. Including the neighbouring villages of Coates, Eastrea, Pondersbridge and Turves, it had a population of 16,058 at the 2011 Census.


History and architecture

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Whittlesey 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."

Before the draining of the fens, Whittlesey was an island of dry ground surrounded by the marshy fens. Excavations of nearby Flag Fen indicate 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 Farm at 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 2010.

The town's two parishes of St Mary's and St Andrew's were controlled by the abbeys in Thorney and Ely 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 proximity of Peterborough, Whittlesey is in the Diocese of Ely.

Until it was drained in 1851, nearby Whittlesey Mere was a substantial lake surrounded by marsh. According to the traveller 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.>

Whittlesey was significant 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 cob boundary walls during a period in which there was a brick tax. Some examples of these roofed walls still stand today and are claimed to be unique in Fenland. Clay walls predate the introduction of brick tax in other parts of the country, and some were thatched.

Whittlesey had a large number of public houses. In 1797, a local farmer noted in his diary "they like drinking better than fighting in Whittlesea."

Whittlesey was an important trade route in the late Bronze Age (about 1100–800 BC). Evidence for this was found at the archaeological site of Must Farm, where log boats, roundhouses, bowls with food in them, and the most complete wooden wheel were housed.


St Mary's 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.

St Andrew's Church is a mixture of the Perpendicular and Decorated styles of Gothic, and has records back to 1635.

The Market Place

The Market 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.[1]

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 relocation of bus services from the Market Place to a purpose-built terminal in Grosvenor Road.

Research Tips

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Whittlesey. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.