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.
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 petitioned 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.'1
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.
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.
The Cathedral was ravaged during the English Civil War when Peterborough, a…
Elizabeth Cromwell née Bourchier was born in Felsted, Essex in 1598 to a w…
Thorpe Hall is a Grade 1 listed building built during the Cromwellian era b…