[Transcribed information from A Topographical Dictionary of England - Samuel Lewis - 1835]
(unless otherwise stated)
"THORNEY, a parish and market-town in the hundred of WISBEACH, Isle of ELY, county of CAMBRIDGE, 35 miles (N. W.) from Cambridge, and 86 (N.) from London, containing 1970 inhabitants. This place derived its original name of Anheridge from a monastery for hermits, or anchorites, founded here, in 662, by Saxulphus, abbot of Peterborough, who became its first prior; the edifice having been destroyed by the Danes, the site lay waste until 972, when Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, founded upon it a Benedictine abbey, in honour of the Virgin, which became so opulent that, at the dissolution, its revenue was valued at £508. 12. 5.: of this abbey, which was a mitred one, the only remains are portions of the parish church, a gateway, and some fragments of the old walls. A Literary Society was established, in 1823, which possesses a good library. The market, granted in 1638, is on Thursday; and fairs are held on July 1st and September 21st, for horses and cattle, and on Whit- Monday is a pleasure fair. Upwards of three thousand sheep are sent annually from this district to the London market. The petty sessions are held here. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the peculiar jurisdiction and patronage of the Duke of Bedford. The church, which is dedicated to St. Botolph, and originally formed the nave of the conventual church, built about 1128, is partly in the Norman style of architecture, with portions in the later English: in the churchyard are several tombs of the French refugees, of whom a colony settled here about the middle of the sixth century, having been employed, by the Earl of Bedford, in draining the fens. A school-house was erected by a member of the illustrious house of Russell, and the present Duke of Bedford allows the master a salary of £ 20 per annum for the instruction of poor children; ten or twelve poor families also are supported in some almshouses by the munificence of his Grace."