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Cromwell Comes to Stay

1643

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The Cathedral was ravaged during the English Civil War when Peterborough, a town with Royalist sympathies, was taken by Colonel Oliver Cromwell. Nearly all the stained glass windows were destroyed and the altar and reredos, cloisters and Lady Chapel were demolished. Much of the Cathedral’s library was destroyed by Cromwell’s troops, by being burnt in the cloisters. The Royalist newsbook ‘Mercurius Aulicus’ describes it thus: ‘It was advertised this day from Peterburgh, that Colonell Cromwell had bestowed a visit on that little City, and put them to the charge of his entertainment, plundering a great part thereof to discharge the reckoning, and further that in pursuance of the thorow Reformation, he did most miserably deface the Cathedrall Church, breake downe the Organs, and destroy the glasse windowes, committing many other outrages on the house of God which were not acted by the Gothes in the sack of Rome, and are most commonly forborn by the Turks when they possesse themselves by force of a Christian city.’  Cromwell spent a month in Peterborough, lodging in the Vineyard at the back of the Cathedral Precincts, allegedly with concussion from having hit his head whilst galloping under a low gateway. Recent archaeological evidence has been found of Cromwell’s troops being camped in the Cathedral grounds.





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Death of a Cromwell

1665

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Elizabeth Cromwell née Bourchier was born in Felsted, Essex in 1598 to a wealthy family. She is known as being the wife of Oliver Cromwell and Protectoress of England from 1653 to 1658. After her husband's death in 1658, and the restoration of the monarchy, Elizabeth was mocked and afraid for her life. She wished to escape London and had to petition Charles II to allow her to do so. Elizabeth moved to Northborough Manor to live with her daughter Elizabeth, who had married into the Claypole family. Elizabeth Cromwell died in 1665 and was buried in St Andrews Church, Northborough. The parish records state 'Elizabeth, the relict of Oliver Cromwell, sometime Protector of England, was buried November 19th 1665.' Some items from her life and more information about her can be found in her homes in Ely and Huntingdon, which are now both museums. Reference: Cooke, G.A., A Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Northampton, Sherwood Jones and Co., via https://archive.org/stream/topographicalsta00cook/topographicalsta00cook_djvu.txt [Accessed 26 May 2018]





Thorpe Hall Built

1653

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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.





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Laying of the Corner Stone

1884

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In the Peterborough Advertiser of 17th March 1933 was an article about the retirement of Mr Samuel Bird. He had worked for nearly 60 years for the Peterborough Building Contractor John Thompson. Mr Bird was interviewed by the newspaper at the age of 77. He was interviewed in his office situated in the extensive yards at the Thompson business premises in Cromwell Road. On 1st January 1883, Mr Bird took charge of the rebuilding of the Central Tower of Peterborough Minster. The work was so complex it took a total of ten years to complete. Mr Bird had vivid memories of the laying of the corner stone of the north east pier of the tower on 7th May 1884. He recalled that the chief stone was laid by the Earl of Carnarvon in the name  of H.R.H Prince Albert Edward of Wales. Mr Bird remarked ‘copies of the Advertiser and The Times together with current coins of the realm, from £1 to a silver penny, new from the mint, were placed beneath the stone. Mr James T. Irvine was the clever Architects clerk of the Works at the time’. This time capsule, presumably the first Peterborough time capsule, is still in place. After the ceremony a tea was arranged for people associated with the works. The image associated with this story is an admittance slip for the tea party.  





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The New Lead-Free Cathedral Font Christened

1660

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According to the Cathedral registers, the font in the church was pulled down by Cromwellian troops. The registers state that it was 'puld downe, and the lead taken out of it by Cromwell's Souldyers.' A new font was ready for its first christening by November 1660. The first child to use the font was a girl named Hellen Austin on 7th November 1660. An elaborately carved font dating from the 13th century was rediscovered in 1820 in a canon's garden. It was unclear how long it had been in the garden and could possibly have been the one pulled down by Cromwell's soldiers. The lead in reference might have been an inner lining to the font. Knowing what we now do about lead, Hellen was lucky to to be the first child not to have a lead-lined christening.
Reference:
W.D. Sweeting, Historical and Architectural Notes on the Parish Churches in and around Peterborough, (Whittaker and Co, 1868) https://archive.org/stream/historicalarchit00swee/historicalarchit00swee_djvu.txt
Photo credit:
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © J.Hannan-Briggs - geograph.org.uk/p/3661559





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