"FEN DITTON, (or Ditchton Fen), a parish in the hundred of Flendish, in the county of Cambridge, 2 miles north-east of Cambridge, its post town. It is situated on the river Cam, and the railway to Ely passes through the parish. This was formerly a market town, by virtue of a charter granted to the bishops of Ely in 1270. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ely, value £404, in the patronage of the bishop. The church is dedicated to St. Mary. The tithes were commuted under an Enclosure Act in 1803. The parochial charities produce about £6 per annum. An almshouse for six widows was built in 1665 by one of the Willeys family.
[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]
"The church of St. Mary, which stands near a bend of the river and on its south bank, is an edifice of Barnack ashlar in the Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of four hays, aisles, south porch and a western tower containing 5 bells: the chancel is a beautiful example of rather late Decorated work, but the nave, arcades and the clerestory are Perpendicular: the font, which bears shields of arms, is of the same date: the Early English tower, a curious structure supported on four arches, was taken down to the foundations in 1881 and carefully rebuilt under the direction of J. L. Pearson esq. R.A. the north aisle and chancel being restored at the same time, and the east window filled with stained glass, as a memorial to Professor Haviland by his sons: in 1888 further restoration was effected, and the total cost of both amounted to £4,060 : in the chancel is a mural monument with arms, to Richard Willys, of the Inner Temple, ob. 1625; a slab, with arms, to Jane, wife of John Cornwall S.T.P. ob. 1712; and another, also with arms, to Humfrey Gardner esq. oh. 1691. This church was visited in 1543 by Dowsing, the iconoclast, who "beat down two crucifixes, and ye 12 apostles, and many other superstitious pictures": in 1889 the south aisle, porch, clerestory wall and windows were thoroughly restored, and during the progress of the work two niches, quaintly painted, were discovered at the east end of the aisle, and also a piscine in a fair state of preservation there are 300 sittings. The register dates from the year 1538, and contains numerous references to the Willys or Willis family. The living is a rectory, net yearly value about £530, with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Ely, and held since 1915 by the Rev. George Richards Christie M.A. of London University, and A.K.C. Near the church is a memorial of Portland stone, bearing the names of the men of the parish who fell in the Great War, 1914-18. A Church Hall was opened in 1914. The Primitive Methodist chapel, erected in 1850, will hold 100 persons. In this parish, and 2¼ miles from Cambridge, is the Cambridge Borough Cemetery, opened June 6th, 1903; the area is 25 acres: there is one mortuary chapel and a house for the superintendent." [Kelly's Directory - Cambridgeshire - 1929]
Fen Ditton, St. Mary: The registers are at the church but indexed transcripts for baptisms, marriages and burials 1538-1902 reside in the Cambridgeshire Archives plus photocopies of baptisms 1800-38, marriages 1903-46, burials 1903-68 and banns 1904-34. The parish register transcripts, 1538-1902, are available on microfiche from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society Publications list The Bishop's Transcripts for the years 1599-1651, 1661-1715 and 1725-1857 can be found in the Cambridge University Library.
"In this parish are the remains of Biggin Farm house, formerly a residence of the Bishops of Ely, and here also is "one of the three celebrated ditches or dykes thrown up by the East Angles to protect themselves from the incursions of their enemies, the Mercians ": the market granted to the Bishops of Ely for this place in 1270 has long since become obsolete." [Kelly's Directory - Cambridgeshire - 1929]
Land Tax: records were compiled afresh each year and contain the names of owners and occupiers in each parish, but usually there is no address or place name. These records reside in the Cambridgeshire Archives for the years 1757-63, 1789-1837, 1880-92 and 1903-48.