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CONINGTON:
Geographical and Historical information from the year 1932.

[Transcribed and edited information from The Victoria County History series- 1932]

"CONINGTON parish lies on the west side of the Fen, and the greater part adjoins the Fen district where the land is flat and from which it gradually rises from about 2 ft. above sea-level in the east, to 40 ft. at the Ermine Street. Westward of Ermine Street, the land rises more abruptly and reaches 169 ft. at Conington Road Hill. The land is mostly pasture but there is also some good arable land and some residual woodland. Conington Fen, which occupies a large part of the eastern side of the parish, is now mostly drained and ultivated. Bog Oak, frequently found in the fens, is indicative of former forest land.

Before the 17th cenury the Fen was used mainly for feeding cattle and sheep, and the supply of peat turves - the cutting of which was regulated by the Fen reeves, who also looked after the maintenance and cleaning of the dykes and ditches. On St Luke's Day, on the tolling of the church bell, the tenants met at the church and went to the Fen to view the ditches belonging to their tenements. The systematic drainage was begun by Sir Thomas Cotton in 1639, and during the following year the first pump was installed. The cultivation of the Fen was then gradually taken in hand, but it was not until the 19th century that the greater part was ploughed. Inclosures began at the end of the 16th century.

The farms in the 17th century were mostly pastures, but after the purchase of the manor by Sir John Heathcote, the amount of arable land was increased. In 1751 a good deal of the land was planted with wode. In 1800 there were 270 acres of arable land which, by 1838 had fallen to 250 acres, but by 1888 it had risen again to 290 acres which by 1921 had increased to 600 acres; all this tended to increase the size of the farms.

The somewhat scattered village is on the east side of the A1(M) Motorway, following Ermine Street which became the Great North Road, and lies along Conington Lane which leads to the church and Conington Castle (or Manor House), the most famous owners of which were the Cotton and Heathcote families. The Crown and Woolpack (formerly, the Woolpack Inn) which was on the Ermine Street is said to have been frequented by the notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, who died in 1739. The well-known episode of his putting on the shoes of his horse the wrong way in order to mislead his pursuers, is said to have taken place here.

There is a reference to a Guildhall (le Gyldawle) at Conington in 1523, and there were frequent bequests to the Guild of the Holy Trinity in the Wills of persons living in the parish in the 16th century. There was also a Guild of Our Lady mentioned in 1503."

[Description(s) transcribed by Ian Argall and later edited by Colin Hinson 2010]
[from The Victoria County History series - 1932]


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