by Colin Hinson ©2013
"WHITTLESEY, comprising the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Mary. It is an ancient market town in the north division of Witchford hundred, Isle of Ely, county Cambridge, 6 miles south-east of Peterborough, in Northamptonshire, and 20 north-west of Ely. It is a station on the Peterborough, March, and Ely branch of the Great Eastern railway. This place, called Witesie in Domesday survey, is supposed to have been a Roman station, from the traces of a military way and the numerous relics of antiquity discovered in the neighbourhood, including a massive gold ring lately dug up. It consists of the two ancient parishes of St. Andrew and St. Mary, which have been united for civil purposes by special Act of Parliament of the 12th and 13th Victoria, though ecclesiastically still distinct. They consist of an extensive tract of fenny land, comprising 25,430 acres, and include the hamlets of Coates, Eastrea, and Pond's Bridge.
The lake or mere of Whittle, from which the place derives its name, was situated in the adjoining county of Huntingdon, and measured 2 miles in length by 1 mile broad, but is now entirely drained by the Middle Level Commissioners. The town, which is paved and lighted with gas, contains a townhall erected by the governors of the charities, the old market house, two branch banks, a library with news-room, two reading-rooms, and union workhouse. It has recently been much improved, and is bounded on the north and south by two branches of the Nene river. It is a polling place for the county elections, and has a market for corn recently revived. The population of the town in 1861 was 4,496, and of the parishes 6,966. It forms a separate Poor-law Union, but is included in the county court district of Peterborough. Courts leet and baron are held twice a year. The livings of both parishes are vicarages* in the diocese of Ely, that of St. Andrew value £550, and that of St. Mary £230, with residences. The register dates from 1683. Coates and Pond's Bridge are distinct parishes. The Wesleyans, New Connexion Methodists, Independents, and General and Particular Baptists have chapels. There are two handsome National schools. - The local charities produce about £520 per annum, including the revenues from town lands. Friday is market day. The town and neighbourhood are most salubrious, all traces of fen peculiarities of climate having disappeared by the system of drainage."
"EASTREA, a village in the parish of Whittlesey, county Cambridge, 2 miles east of Whittlesea. There is a station hereon the Peterborough and Ely branch of the Great Eastern railway."
- "The Cemetery, formed in 1859, is about a quarter of a mile from the town, on the Coates road, and covers an area of four acres; it contains two mortuary chapels and is now under the control of a joint burial committee of the Whittlesey Urban and Rural District Councils. The churches and chapels were wholly closed to inter-ments and the graveyards (with modifications) by Order in Council, March 25, 1873." [Kelly's Directory - 1900] The burial ground 1859-63 is recorded in the Cambridge Records Office.
- The Census Records from 1841-1891 can be found in the Cambridgeshire Archives. In addition the 1851 Census for Whittlesey is available in full transcript form, on microfiche, from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society Publications list (search)
- "The General Baptist chapel in Windmill street has 300 sittings; the Particular Baptist chapel in Gracious street, 350; the Congregational chapel in Broad street, 350; the Methodist New Connexion in Church street, 150; Primitive Methodist in Woolpack lane, 200; the Wesleyan in Queen street, 300; and the Free Methodist at King's Dyke, 100." [Kelly's Directory - 1900]
- Baptist Church
- Baptist Church: Records exist for births 1810-37 on microfilm at the Cambridgeshire Archives.
- Independent Church
- Independent Church: Records exist for baptisms 1814-37 on microfilm at the Cambridgeshire Archives.
- United Reformed Church
- United Reformed Church, Broad Street : Records exist for marriages 1976-88 at the Cambridgeshire Archives.
- Methodist Church
- "The Town Hall in Almshouse street, erected in 1857, is a plain structure of brick; magisterial and other meetings are held here, and the building also serves as a fire engine station.
- The Public Hall, in Station road, erected in 1880 by a Limited Company, at a cost of £1,500, is a building of white brick with stone dressings, and will seat 600 persons; it is licensed for theatrical and other performances.
- The Market House in the Market place, a large open square, is a small but ancient edifice, with a tiled roof supported on stone pillars.
- The market is held on Friday, and a fair for horses and cattle June 13. Courts leet and baron are held twice a year; the fines in the manor are certain.
- The Conservative Association and the Constitutional Club occupy premises in Almshouse street, comprising a news room and committee rooms; there is also a Social Club for gentlemen, with billiard and reading rooms, at the Public Hall; there are 40 members.
- The brick-making industry here has considerably increased during the past few years, and the four yard employ a large percentage of the labouring population of the town. The bricks are made by the semi-dry process; there are also some excellent beds of gravel.
- The Trustees of the Town Lands Charity manage lands formerly devised to relieve the inhabitants of these parishes from the tax anciently laid in the Isle of Ely for the repairs of Aldreth causeway: but under an Order of the Charity Commissioners, dated April 29th, 1898, one quarter of the proceeds is devoted to ecclesiastical purposes and the remainder to educational and other charitable purposes.
- There are several charities, founded by Messrs. Kelfull, Dow, Randall and NobIe: that of Mr. Kelfull includes a provision for educating 15 boys; and that of Mr. Sudbury for the commercial education of five boys and the apprenticing of others; the whole of the above charities, with the exception of Sudbury's, have been amalgamated under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, framed in the year 1868; the net income of the united charities now (1900) amounts to about £80, and Sudbury's to about £69 10s.
- The soil of the whole parish is chiefly a black loam, with a subsoil of clay and gravel; the land is fertile, and the chief crops are wheat, peas and potatoes, with a great portion of rich pasture; potatoes are grown extensively for the London market.
- Whittlesey Mere, named from this place, but 6 miles distant and in Huntingdonshire, has been drained by the Middle Level Commissioners, and an area of 1,500 acres brought under cultivation.
- Traces of a Roman road are found at Eldernell, where several antiquities have been dug up, including a massive gold ring." [Kelly's Directory - 1900]
- The old Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival has been revived and details can be found on the Straw Bear site.
- The "1839 Pigot's Directory of Cambridgeshire" for Whittlesey index of Inns & Hotels, Taverns and Public Houses, Brewers & Maltsters + Wine & Spirit Merchants.
- A transcript of the Whittlesey parish entries from Samuel Lewis's 1835 Topographical Dictionary of England,
- A transcript of the Whittlesey parish entries from 1900 Kellys Directory of Cambridgeshire
- Ask for a calculation of the distance from Whittlesey to another place.
You can see maps centred on OS grid reference TL268972 (Lat/Lon: 52.557873, -0.131026), Whittlesey which are provided by:
- Google Maps
- StreetMap (Current Ordnance Survey maps)
- Bing (was Multimap)
- Old Maps Online
- National Library of Scotland (Old Ordnance Survey maps)
- Vision of Britain (Click "Historical units & statistics" for administrative areas.)
- English Jurisdictions in 1851 (Unfortunately the LDS have removed the facility to enable us to specify a starting location, you will need to search yourself on their map.)
- Magic (Geographic information) (Click + on map if it doesn't show)
- GeoHack (Links to on-line maps and location specific services.)