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Ptolemy’s Geographia



Claudius Ptolemy was born in Greece and lived in Alexandria. He was a very talented man and was credited as an astronomer, geographer, mathematician and astrologer. He created several works including a book known as Ptolemy's Geographia, which incorporated knowledge from gazetteers, astronomers and other academics to craft maps and indexes of the known world. The original book was thought to contain maps too, but all of the existing maps are from Medieval Europe. The map of the British Isles is a rather crude interpretation of the area, but it indicates the most important towns in Roman Britain. Roman Leicester (Ratae) and Caistor in Norfolk appear to be on the map and the town between them on the map might just be Durobrivae sitting by the River Nene. As one of the largest towns in Roman Britain, it should be on the map!


On the Roman Road System



The Antonine Itinerary was a catalogue of the road network in England and Europe during the second century. It recorded the names of important towns and the distance between them. This would have been useful information to anyone travelling through the country, in particular any military troops. Durobrivae, the Roman town at Water Newton, has its first reference in the Antonine Itinerary. It was part of Route 5, a journey from London to Carlisle. It was recorded as the stop between Cambridge and Ancaster, being 35 miles from Cambridge and 30 miles from Ancaster.

Thorpe Hall Built



Thorpe Hall is a Grade 1 listed building built during the Cromwellian era between 1653 and 1658, at a time when very few stately homes were built. Oliver St. John (pronounced Sinjun) commissioned the house to be built by Peter Mills, who later helped to rebuild London after the Great Fire in 1666. Oliver St. John was a judge, politician and Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas to Oliver Cromwell, whom he was related to through his second wife Elizabeth Cromwell, said to be his favourite cousin. This connection might have been advantageous in securing the land to build Thorpe Hall on. The house was built in the shape of a cube, set amongst 6 acres of walled garden. Much of the interior of the house has changed over the years, but the wooden staircase is dated from the original house build and large fireplaces on the ground floor are worthy of merit. The house has changed hands many times over the years and was at one point a boys school and a maternity home. It was bought by Sue Ryder in 1986 to be used as a hospice, with an extension added in 2015 within the old walled orchard.


Celia Fiennes Passed Through the City



Celia Fiennes was a prolific traveller who documented her journey around Britain on a horse. At a time when only the wealthy could contemplate travelling and when the majority of literature is written by men, Celia Fiennes' work is refreshing. Celia passed through Peterborough and much admired the cathedral and town. She wrote that the city 'looks very well and handsomely built, but mostly timber worke: you pass over a Long stone bridg. The streetes are very clean and neate, well pitch'd and broad as one shall see any where, there is a very spacious market place, a good Cross and a town Hall on the top (the Guildhall or Buttercross).' She continued her prose, describing the cathedral in great detail before her journey continued on to Wansford. Worth noting that she describes Peterborough as being in Lincolnshire and surrounded by the Lin (possibly mishearing Nin), suggesting that she hadn't taken a very good look at the city or spoken to the locals! All quotes from: Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle,, 2016, pp130-131

A Spy in Our Midst



Peterborough has hosted several production companies for a variety of film and television productions, two of which were for James Bond films. The first, filmed in 1982, was Octopussy with Roger Moore, where Nene Valley Railway transformed into Karl-Marx-Stadt and formed the backdrop to a thrilling carriage-top fight through the local countryside. The second, in 1995, was Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan. The film crew utilised the old British Sugar sugar beet factory in Woodston and again the Nene Valley Railway near Castor.


Milton Manor Purchased



Milton Manor, situated to the West of Peterborough, has existed since at least 1381. The manor has long been associated with the Fitzwilliam family, but they did not create it. William Fitzwilliam purchased the manors of Milton and Marholm from Robert Wyttilbury/Whittlebury in 1502. He also bought Longthorpe Tower in the same year. In 1575 all of the manors belonging to the Fitzwilliams were valued. Milton Manor, now the main residence, was only valued at £15, but Marholm Manor was valued at £32 and 5 shillings.

Woodcroft Manor’s Royal Owner



Woodcroft Castle used to be known as Woodcroft Manor. It dates back to the twelfth century and appears frequently in court papers over the centuries. It is best well-known for the Civil War siege and death of Dr Michael Hudson, but it has a much better connection. On 6th October 1570 Woodcroft Mansion house was referred to as having been 'purchased of the late King Edward VI'. Many of the local manors have been owned by monarchs, often being given as presents. However the ownership of Woodcroft might suggest that it was once much more important than it is now. Indeed, in 1575 the manor was valued at £15, 6 shillings and 8 pence, which was more than Milton Manor.

Ernie Wise Took His Final Bow



Comedian Ernie Wise OBE, one half of the legendary double-act Morecambe and Wise, died on 21st March 1999. He lived on Thorpe Road in Peterborough for many years with his wife Doreen, next door to singer Edmund Hockridge. Proud of his home, he often made references to Peterborough in sketches on the Morecambe and Wise Show. The show ran from 1968 to 1983 on BBC then Thames Television and featured some of the biggest celebrities of the day. Comedic sketches were interjected with dance and musical numbers, for which the pair are best known. The two outstanding sketches are Singin' In The Rain and The Breakfast Sketch. Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise were honoured with OBE's in 1976 for their many years of service on television, radio and films. They won many awards during their careers, including 8 BAFTAs and Freedom of the City of London. During one of their Christmas episodes in 1977 the pair broke all previous viewing figures with over 20 million viewers. Both are remembered with statutes in Morecambe and Morley respectively.

Edmund Hockridge Peaks at the West End



Edmund Hockridge was born in Vancouver, Canada. He moved to England after the Second World War and became a huge West End star. He was a baritone singer best known for performing in the musical Carousel. He performed as Billy Bigelow for well over 1,000 performances, both in London and on the road. Hockridge's connection to Peterborough came with his second wife. He met Jackie Jefferson, a dancer, whilst both were performing in Carousel. After they had married they moved to Peterborough, next door to Ernie Wise, on Thorpe Road. Although his name is rather obscure at present, Hockridge was possibly the best known male lead in the 1950s. As well as performing in Carousel, he featured in Guys and Dolls, The Pajama Game and many others. He released 11 albums and sang with many other celebrities, including Cliff Richard and Suzi Quatro. His songs are still played on the BBC to this day. He died on 15th March 2009 in Peterborough and left behind his wife Jackie and several children. Reference: