[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013
"THORNEY, (or Thorney Abbey)a parish and liberty in itself, but locally in the hundred of Wisbech, Isle of Ely, county Cambridge, 9 miles north-east of Peterborough, and 86 north of London. It is a station on the Peterborough and Lynn branch of the Midland Counties railway. This place, which is situated close to the Catwater, on the road from Wisbech to Peterborough, was formerly called Ankeridge, from a monastery for hermits or anchorites founded here in 662 by Saxulf, first abbot of Peterborough; having been wasted by the Danes, it was refounded in 972 by Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester, as a Benedictine abbey, the abbots of which attained to great power, were mitred, and sat in parliament. At the Dissolution the revenue was stated to be £411 12s. lid. The only remains of this edifice are portions of the parish church, a gateway, and some ruined walls.
The village, which had formerly a market, has recently been much improved. It stands on an eminence, and in 1861 had a population of 2,219. Extensive sanitary works have recently been effected by the Duke of Bedford, who has expended £400,000 on the drainage of the surrounding fen lands, which were until recently relieved of their superfluous waters by the uncertain help of windmills. The town is now well drained, and supplied with gas and water. There is a literary society with a good library. Petty sessions are held here. Upwards of 3,000 sheep are sent annually from this district to the London market. The living is a donative curacy in the diocese of Peterborough, value £250. The church, dedicated to St. Botolph, was originally the nave of the conventual church built about 1128, and was considerably enlarged in 1841, when the interior was refitted. The east window is in 21 compartments. In the churchyard are several tombs of French refugees, who were invited to settle here in the 16th century by the Duke of Bedford, who employed them in the drainage of the fens. The register, which commences in 1650, is partly in French. There are schools and almshouses supported by the Duke of Bedford. Fairs are held annually on 1st July and 21st September for horses and cattle, and on Whit-Monday for pleasure.
[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]