[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]