[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013

"BURWELL, a parish in the hundred of Staples, in the county of Cambridge, 5 miles to the north-west of Newmarket, its post town. It is situated in a fenny country, crossed by a navigable cut from the river Cam, and contains part of the hamlet of Reach, which was once a market town. The soil is very fertile. The village consists of one long irregular street, and the houses are built of stone quarried in the neighbourhood. In the parish are the vestiges of a very ancient moated fortress, said to have been founded before the Norman Conquest. Geoffrey de Mandeville besieged it in the reign of Stephen, and fell before the walls.

The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely, value £335, in the patronage of the University of Cambridge. The church is dedicated to St. Mary. It was erected about 1460, and is a very beautiful example of the decorated English style. It was restored in 1861, and its repair is provided for by an endowment. The tower is crowned with pinnacles; the church has an elaborately carved oaken roof, and contains two monumental brasses of the early part of the 16th century, and several family tombs. Another church formerly stood in this parish, which was dedicated to St. Andrew; it has long been demolished, but a new church, to be called St. Andrew's Mission Church, is now being erected, as well as a teacher's residence.

Here are chapels belonging to the Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans. In the year 1860 a new endowed boys' school was erected to the west of the church, by the proceeds of a charity, and on the east of the church is a girls' school and residence, built in 1859 by voluntary contributions. The parochial charities consist of the church and town estate, the produce of which is about £160 per annum, and an allotment of fen for the poor, comprising nearly 200 acres, but this last has been swallowed up in legal expenses. In 1727, by an accidental fire which broke out in a barn here during an exhibition, 78 persons lost their lives. A horse fair is held at Reach on Rogation Monday. The crown is lord of the manor, and owns the greater part of the property.

"REACH, (or Reche, or Ruin Reach), a hamlet in the parishes of Burwell and Swaffham Prior, hundreds of Staploe and Stains, county Cambridge, 1 mile from Swaffham Prior, and 6 miles north-west of Newmarket. It was formerly a market town. The Independents have a place of worship.

Reach formed into a civil parish in 1954.

See also Reach main page."

[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]




  • The Census Records from 1841, 1861-1891 can be found in the Cambridgeshire Archives and at Wisbech Library. The records for 1861 were lost at source. In addition the 1861 Census for Burwell is available in full transcript form, on microfiche, from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society Publications list (search)


  • St. Mary's Church}, Burwell.

Church History

  • "The church of St. Mary, at the south end of the village, is a light and elegant structure in the Late Perpendicular style, and consists of chancel (restored in 1867-8 by the University of Cambridge), nave, aisles, north and south porches and an embattled western tower, with pinnacles and spire, and containing a clock and 5 bells: the wall between the nave and chancel and the roof of the nave were built in 1464, at the expense of the Bennet family, as appears by an inscription in stone in the church: the church was extensively restored during the period 1877-90, and an organ and chancel screen erected, at a total cost of £1,727, and it now affords 650 sittings. The register dates from ther year 1562, and contains an account of a calamitous fire which took place in 1727, when a barn in which about 140 persons were assembled to witness a puppet show took light from the accidental firing of loose straw, and about 80 persons perished. " [Kelly's Directory - 1900]
  • There is further information and photographs of the Church on Ben and Mark's Cambridgeshire Churches website.

Church Records

  • Church of England
    • Burwell, St Mary's: Records of baptisms 1562-78, 1599-1636, 1645-1974, marriages 1562-78, 1599-1640, 1655-2003, burials 1560-76, 1599-1634, 1655-1932 and banns 1754-1811, 1867-1972 reside in the Cambridgeshire Archives. The Bishop's Transcripts for the years 1567-1641 and 1663-1836 can be found in the Suffolk Record Office and copies on microfilm for 1567-1641 and 1663-99 can be found in the Cambridgeshire Archives. Indexed transcripts exist in the Cambridgeshire Archives for baptisms 1562-78, 1599-1636, 1654-1891, marriages 1562-76, 1599-1640, 1655-1891 and burials 1560-1576, 1599-1639, 1655-1890.
  • Methodist Church
    • Causeway Methodist Church: Records exist for marriages 1971-85.
    • Wesleyan Methodist Church: Records exist for the Mildenhall Wesleyan Circuit of which Burwell is part.
    • Primitive Methodist Church: Records exist for the Ely Primitive Circuit of which Burwell is part.
  • Independent Church
    • High Town Independent Church: Records exist for baptisms 1747-96 and 1819-36 (the latter on microfilm) both of these have indexed transcriptions available.






You can see maps centred on OS grid reference TL587664 (Lat/Lon: 52.27285, 0.324545), Burwell which are provided by:


Military History

  • The Burwell War Memorial has been transcribed and and the men researched, it is located on the Gable End of a private dwelling. The transcript reads "In honoured memory of the following men of this village who died for us in the Great War 1914 - 1919. This cottage was erected by the people of Burwell."


  • Steven's Mill
    • The Burwell Windmill, built in the early 19th Century, is built of Clunch stone, plastered and tarred. The wood and iron machinery drives three pairs of stones on the first floor. The second floor contained bins and the third was empty. The domed cap has a finial. It is known as Stevens' Mill and was last worked in 1955. It ground 'Old Kent Longred' wheat to produce flour of exceptional quality.

Probate Records

  • Two courts cover Burwell as follows:
    • Archdeaconry Court of Sudbury: Jurisidiction in various parishes including Ashley cum Silverley which were in the diocese of Norwich until they were transferred to the diocese of Ely in 1837.
    • Records are held at the Suffolk Record Office covering Wills, 1439-1857, administrations, 1544-46, 1568-93, 1605-12, 1630-1858, inventories, 1573-76, 1617, 1625, 1640, 1650-1747. Index to wills to 1535 are published in Proceedings of Suffolk Institute of Archaeology, volume 12 and of all records to 1700 in the Index Library of the British Records Society, volumes 95 and 96.
    • Consistory Court of Norwich: Records are held at the Norfolk Record Office. Wills 1370-1857, administrations, 1370-1499, 1549-1640, 1666-1857, inventories, 1584-1846. There is an index to wills covering 1370-1857 published by the Norfolk Record Society, volumes 16, 21, 34, 38 and 47.


  • 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 1750-1948; 1798 is on microfilm at Huntingdon Record Office.