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The Guildhall Completed



The Guildhall, also known as the Buttercross or Chamber Over the Cross, was built to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy and was paid for by public subscription. It was built by local builder John Lovin, who was partly paid by the minting of an octagonal Peterborough halfpenny. Many local influential families subscribed to the building of the Guildhall and several coats of arms can be seen on the side of the building. Peterborough Museum houses a turtle shell decorated with the arms of Sir Humphrey Orme, MP and owner of Neville Place (the site of the present museum). It is said that Sir Humphrey supplied the turtle for soup eaten to celebrate its completion.


‘Our Journey’ Launched



'Our Journey', the digital timeline for Peterborough was launched on 8th June 2018, during the year of 'Peterborough Celebrates', commemorating 900 years since the building of Peterborough Cathedral. It aims to tell the story of Peterborough and its people and is designed to grow over time, as more and more of the people of Peterborough; individuals, groups and communities add their stories, so that it truly represents the dynamic, diverse city that is PETERBOROUGH!

Gordon Arms Celebrations



The Earl and Countess of Aboyne, also known as the Marquis and Marchioness of Huntly, or Charles and Marie Gordon, were owners of Orton Hall in the mid nineteenth century. They were so happy with the birth of a new daughter that they celebrated with the locals in the eponymous Gordon Arms Inn. On 16th January 1845 they held a ball and supper with dancing that continued until late, no doubt for the local gentry. The day after they treated '300 or upwards cottagers and peasantry' to cake, tea, beef and plum pudding, which would have been very welcome in the dark depths of winter. The Morning Post, Monday 27th January 1845, Page 5, Column 1-2

Cardinal Wolsey Visits at Easter



Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was an important figure in the life and politics of Henry VIII. A well-educated man, he became an advisor to Henry. He is possibly best known for failing to annul Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon. Henry wished for more children and wanted marry Anne Boleyn, but divorce wasn't an option. Wolsey tried to get the marriage annulled by the Pope, but this was unsuccessful. Henry was angry that he couldn't end his marriage and Wolsey was in trouble. His failure to convince the Pope was seen as an act of treason and he was called to London to face Henry. But Wolsey's health had been deteriorating and he never made it back to London. He did, however, make it to Peterborough. Peterborough Abbey hosted Wolsey's visit at Easter in 1530. He took part in many ceremonial duties including observing Maundy Thursday. As tradition dictates, he washed the feet of 59 poor men (the same number of men as his age), this was carried out in the Lady Chapel, which no longer exists. He also handed out gifts to the men. They received '12 pence, three ells of canvas to make them shirts, a pair of new shoes, a cast of bread, three red herrings and three white herrings and the odd person had two shillings.' (1) Wolsey travelled on from Peterborough to the Fitzwilliams at Milton for a few days. His health gradually faded until he died in Leicester Cathedral on 29th November 1530. One of his many legacies was the building of Hampton Court Palace, which was taken by Henry VIII after Wolsey fell out of favour. His visit was also remembered in an iconic LNER poster advertising Peterborough, designed by Fred Taylor. A copy is on display on the top floor of Peterborough Museum.
(1) W. T. Mellors, The Last Days of Peterborough Monastery, Northamptonshire Record Society, 1950, p xviii


Cock Fighting at the Angel Inn



With supposedly medieval origins the Angel Inn was often the centre of proceedings in Peterborough. Owned by the abbey, the inn was possibly built to provide rooms for pilgrims. This would have enabled the abbey to earn yet more money from the devout visitors to the city. As well as bedrooms, the inn earnt money holding events, which ranged from grand balls to small meetings. It was also very well-known for the cock fights it staged. Cock fighting was particularly popular during the weeks when horse racing was happening in the city. People would travel from considerable distance to enjoy a variety of sports that could be bet on, including cock fighting. This curious advert from 1768 almost appears to be written in a different language: This is to give NOTICE, THAT there will be a Main of Cocks fought at the Angel Inn in Peterborough between the Gentlemen of Lincolnshire and the Gentlemen of Northamptonshire, for Ten Guineas a Battle, and a Hundred the Main ; to shew thirty-five each upon the Main and twelve Byes. The Cocking to begin the first Day of the Race, and end on Friday. N,B. An Ordinary each Day of the Cocking
References Stamford Mercury, Thursday 9th June 1768, p4, col 1    

Peterborough’s Bird Man: Walter Cornelius



Looking up at the wind vane above the Lido, you might be confused by the shape. The weather vane commemorates the life of Walter Cornelius. He is possibly best known in the city for his comical attempts to fly over the rive Nene and for his amazing strength. The reason his likeness sits above the Lido is because he was a swimming instructor there in the 60's and 70's. He taught thousands of children to swim and as a lifeguard kept them safe. The weather vane was created after calls to commemorate the life of such a well-known man. Born in Latvia in 1923, Walter was quite the entertainer and successfully broke many world records. He was a strongman and daredevil too. He won the world sausage eating championship in 1966 and pushed a pea along the ground with his nose for three miles. Thankfully Walter was recorded on television. Videos of him showing his amazing strength can be found on youtube and at the East Anglian Film Archive.
Picture Credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Paul Bryan -

Record-Breaking Mallard Steams into Town



The growth of Peterborough in the nineteenth century was thanks to the arrival of the railways. It is only fitting then, that Peterborough was part of a record-breaking railway achievement. The East Coast Main Line that runs North to South through the city was the destination of the fastest speed achieved by a steam engine. The Mallard, an A4 class of steam locomotive, regularly travelled the route from London to Edinburgh. On July 3rd 1938 whilst heading south from Grantham towards Peterborough, it travelled faster than anyone could have hoped. It was being driven by the experienced driver Joe Duddington and Tommy Bray the fireman. Amazingly it achieved a top speed of 126mph (203kph). No other steam train has been able to achieve that speed. Tommy Bray was said to be 'grinning from ear to ear' when he arrived in Peterborough. (1) The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) had planned the event and knew that pushing The Mallard to achieve such high speeds was risky. They had a back up engine waiting in Peterborough North station, which was swapped with The Mallard. The train continued its journey on to London and The Mallard turned back towards Doncaster for some TLC. The Mallard is now part of the collection at the National Railway Museum in York.


St Mark’s Supportive Hankey



St Mark's Church on Lincoln Road owes its existence to the arrival of the railways. The huge influx of railway workers and their families were provided with housing by the railway companies and churches were built for each new area. St Mark's was consecrated on 26th September 1856 and completed in 1857 thanks to a £25 donation by local M.P. Mr T. Hankey. There was a ceremony to lay the first stone of the church in 1855. All the local dignitaries and school children gathered in Peterborough Cathedral to sing and listen to sermons before walking to the church. A total of £107 was raised by the congregation to pay for the building work. The first foundation stone was placed in the ground with several commemorative items. These included a glass bottle with current currency and a role of parchment naming the dignitaries and architect connected to the building. Several tools were deposited which related to the Freemasons, who we may assume, were instrumental in raising money for the building and/or construction of the building. The first vicar of St. Mark's was Rev. C. Camp/e who caused quite a commotion once by fainting during a sermon. The organ was installed in 1858 and was built by Messrs. Bryceson and Son, of London. In 1957, to mark the centenary of the church, a new hall was added to the building. Photo credit: St Mark's Church, Lincoln Road, Peterborough cc-by-sa/2.0 - © JThomas -

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: