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Cross-Country Trade in Full Swing

4000-2000BC

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Although evidence of Neolithic people is light in Nene Park in comparison to other areas in the country, there are some tantalising clues to the lives of people who lived here several thousand years ago. During archaeological digs, knapped flints have been found, including some near to Longthorpe Roman fortress, suggesting that Longthorpe was considered an important place for people throughout a long period of time.   One particularly interesting insight into Neolithic people in the Nene Park area has been opened up by the discovery of an axe made out of greenstone, along with its polishing stone. In keeping with around a quarter of all Neolithic polished stone axes found in the UK, this one began its life at Langdale in the Lake District. This suggests that Neolithic Britain was more well-connected than we might first imagine.





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Metal Work in the Early Bronze Age

2500-1500 BC

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With the arrival in Britain of skilled metal-workers from mainland Europe around 2500 BC, metal technology began. These people are called the Beaker People, the name arising from their particular style of pottery. The first metal used was copper, but this was soon replaced by the harder bronze (an alloy of 90% copper with 10% tin), for which the time period, the Bronze Age, is named. Smiths working in the Peterborough area, mostly in the east, produced hundreds of swords, daggers, spearheads, axes, pins, ornaments and jewellery, such as rings. The production of metal led to greater control of fire and with it, improved, harder pottery.    





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Notes and Queries About the Fenlands

1889

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The journal 'Fenland Notes and Queries' was first published in April 1889 and printed in Peterborough by George Caster. The journal, published quarterly, was created to bring together facts and stories relating to the fens. The information was provided by a large group of contributors, many of them clergy, some women and some anonymous. The fenland area covered by the journal included the counties of 'Huntingdon, Cambridge, Lincoln, Northampton, Norfolk and Suffolk.' (1) Intended to be of interest to antiquarians, the journal also proved popular with 'others interested in the history and folklore of the district.' (2) The journal, or magazine as it was termed, was compiled into volumes, the first covering the years 1889 to 1891. In total seven volumes were created, the last completed in 1909. The first issues were edited by W. H. B. Saunders, who was succeeded by Rev. W. D. Sweeting of Maxey. Thankfully all of the volumes are available to read online and can be searched easily for places and people. There are many references to Peterborough and surrounding villages which can tell us more about life in the past. In Volume Seven the lyrics and notes are written relating to a May Day Garland Song which it was claimed was 'sung by the children when carrying the garlands round the city'. (3) The recording of songs is an often forgotten element of recording and one of the many features that makes the volumes so valuable.
References
(1) Fenland Notes and Queries, Vol I, Ed W. H. Bernard Saunders, Publisher G. Caster, 1991, preface (2) Fenland Notes and Queries, Vol I, Ed W. H. Bernard Saunders, Publisher G. Caster, 1991, p2 (3) Fenland Notes and Queries, Vol VII Ed. Rev. W. D. Sweeting, Publisher G. Caster, 1909, p24-25





Maxey Castle Built

1370

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Maxey Castle was built by Sir William de Thorp around 1370 and was a small defensible castle. The castle buildings have long disappeared, but many documents relate to the house and land. There are remaining earthworks that hint at the former majesty of the site which include a moat and fish ponds. The castle, or manor, sat on an island in the middle of a large moat, which remains on three sides. A drawing exists of the castle from 1543 suggesting it consisted of a keep or tower surrounded by high stone walls and towers.  However, it was only in use for a couple of hundred years before falling into disrepair. Some of the stones may have gone to Conington and been incorporated in a castle there. (1) Documents in national and local record collections detail the leasing of lands around Maxey Castle to Richard Cecil by Henry VIII who was also 'Constable or Warden of Maxey Castle and Bailiff of the lordship of Maxey'. (2) Later the lands were leased to William Cecil by Princess Elizabeth; items leased included 'Ladiebridgclose' in Maxey and the 'greate garden of Le Marre' (3) which was part of the grounds of Maxey Castle. They originally belonged to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, who was Henry VIII's grandmother and owned many properties in the area. The site is scheduled and in private hands, so it is not possible to view the moat, which is now obscured  by trees. However, a public footpath takes walkers close to old fish ponds belonging to the castle. References:
  1. 'Parishes: Conington', in A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3, ed. William Page, Granville Proby and S Inskip Ladds (London, 1936), pp. 144-151. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hunts/vol3/pp144-151 [accessed 23 November 2018].
  2. Northamptonshire Archives F (M) Charter/2285
  3. Northamptonshire Archives F (M) Charter/2286






Death and Pillaging From Maxey Castle

1450

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On the first of April 1450 Lord Welles gathered a large group of men at Maxey Castle. Lord Welles, also known as Lionel or Leo, 6th Baron Welles, had been in conflict with the people of Spalding and Pinchbeck. He gathered over 100 of his armed tenants at the castle and went to Spalding and Pinchbeck to cause chaos. His tenants damaged many properties, injured lots of people and even killed a man named John Ankes. The attack was part of a long-running dispute between the people of Deeping and Maxey, and Spalding and Pinchbeck. Both sides disputed the boundary of fen land between the two areas. They continued a tit-for-tat argument involving riots and violence over many years. People from both sides would sneak on to opposing land to steal cattle or destroy turves, which were a vital fuel in an area with few trees. Lord Welles' second wife was Margaret Beauchamp, mother of Lady Margaret Beaufort. Lady Margaret later inherited the castle and lands when her son became King Henry VII. Picture Credit: CC Coat of Arms of Sir Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles, Rs-nourse, Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_de_Welles,_6th_Baron_Welles#/media/File:Coat_of_Arms_of_Sir_Lionel_de_Welles,_6th_Baron_Welles,_KG.png





Lolham Bridges Rebuilt

1642

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Lolham is a tiny hamlet close to Maxey and West Deeping. The few houses that exist sit close to King Street, a Roman road, which runs North to South through Lolham. King Street passes over Maxey Cut, The Welland and a few ditches at this point, which has meant several bridges were needed. Lolham Bridges are grade II* listed structures. There are five bridges in the listing, the earliest of which has the date 1642 on the Western side. An inscription reads: 'These several bridges were built at the general charge of the whole County of Northampton in the year 1652.' (1) However, the inscription might be slightly misleading because a record in Northamptonshire Archives references 'a trial about the responsibility to repair Lolham Bridge in 16668/9' (2). They were later restored in 1712 and 1916 (1), suggesting either flood damage or poor workmanship. Given that people would have been using that route for nearly 2,000 years it is not surprising that there are earlier references to bridges at Lolham. Indeed, one of the earliest references is in 1408 in a writ in which 'a meadow to the west of Lolham Bridge' was valued at 11s 8d (11 shillings and 8 pence) (3). Lolham Bridges are accessible from the north on a one-way road. However, there are no parking places close-by, or footpaths, so accessibility is challenging.
References
(1) Listing number 1365654, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1365654 (2) Northamptonshire Records Office QSR 1/52 http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/378e675e-7c49-4751-8f3c-3cf992aba85b (3) J. L. Kirby, 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry IV, Entries 603-654', in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Volume 19, Henry IV (London, 1992), pp. 215-234. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/vol19/pp215-234 [accessed 26 November 2018]. Photo credit: Stone bridge at Lolham, near Bourne, Lincolnshire cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Rex Needle - geograph.org.uk/p/4436905





John Claypole Marries an Angell

1622

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John Claypole was born into the Claypole or Claypoole family of Northborough and Lolham. He was the fourth child born to Adam Claypole and Dorothy Wingfield. On 8th June 1622 John married Marie/Mary Angel at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in London. The Angels held the manor of Peakirk since at least the Fifteenth Century and were said to have provided a dowry of £1500. On account of their marriage John was given the manor of Northborough and also nearby Waldram Park by his father. John trained to be a lawyer and was likely to be an early friend of Oliver Cromwell. He was MP for Northamptonshire during the protectorate; his friend Cromwell had been MP for Huntingdon. He was given a knighthood and later baronet by Cromwell, although he is rarely known as Sir John Claypole. He worked with his son John to levy taxes in Northamptonshire and later supported the marriage of John to Oliver Cromwell's favourite daughter Elizabeth. Sir John died in 1664 in London, but his wife Mary was buried in Northborough when she died in 1661. References: https://wc.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=mike83138&id=I94 Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 November 2018), memorial page for John Claypoole (13 Apr 1593–10 Apr 1664), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13526109, citing St. Andrew's Churchyard, Northborough, Peterborough Unitary Authority, Cambridgeshire, England ; Maintained by Wayne L. Osborne (contributor 46540493) . Photo credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Paul Bryan - geograph.org.uk/p/4418377