Towns, Cities, Villages and Hamlets
Samuel Lewis's Topographical Gazeetter 1831
BURWELL (ST. MARY), a parish in the hundred of STAPLOE, county of CAMBRIDGE, 4 miles (N. W. by W.) from Newmarket, containing 1518 inhabitants. The living is a discharged vicarage, with which the rectory of Burwell St. Andrew is consolidated, in the archdeaconry of Sudbury, and diocese of Norwich, rated jointly in the king's books at £50.14.2., endowed with £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Earl of Guilford, on the nomination of the University of Cambridge. The church is a beautiful edifice, in the decorated style of English architecture: the rental of one hundred acres of arable land is appropriated for preserving it in repair. The church of St. Andrew has long been demolished, and the cemetery converted into pasture ground. The village consists principally of one irregular street, about three quarters of a mile long, the houses in which are built with a peculiar kind of stone obtained in quarries in the vicinity, in which pyrites and sharks' teeth) in good preservation, have been found. A great fair for horses is held, annually on Rogation-Monday, at Reach, once a market town, now an insignificant hamlet, partly in this parish. A navigable cut extends from this place. Here ate the ruins of a castle, surrounded by a moat, which 'was besieged in the war between Stephen and the Empress Matilda, by Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, who was shot by an arrow from the walls. The parish register contains the record of a melancholy event arising from a fire that broke out in a barn, in the evening of the 8th of September, 1727, whereby seventy-eight persons, who had assembled to witness a puppet-show, lost their lives; the mangled and half-consumed bodies of the sufferers were promiscuously interred in two pits, dug for them in the churchyard.
BURWELL is an extensive village and parish, including part of the hamlet of Reach, with a station on the Cambridge and Mildenhall branch of the Great Eastern railway, andis 5 miles north-west from Newmarket, in the Eastern division of the county, hundred of Staploe, Newmarket union, petty sessional division and county couty district, rural deanery of Fordham, archdeaconry of Sudbury and diocese of Ely.
The church of St. Mary, at the south end of the village, is a light and elegant structure in the Late Perpendicular style, and consists of chancel (restored in 1867-8 by the University of Cambridge), nave, aisles, north and south porches and an embattled western tower, with pinnacles and spire, and containing a clock and 5 bells: the wall between the nave and chancel and the roof of the nave were built in 1464, at the expense of the Bennet family, as appears by an inscription in stone in the church: the church was extensively restored during the period 1877-90, and an organ and chancel screen erected, at a total cost of £1,727, and it now affords 650 sittings. The register dates from ther year 1562, and contains an account of a calamitous fire which took place in 1727, when a barn in which about 140 persons were assembled to witness a puppet show took light from the accidental firing of loose straw, and about 80 persons perished.
[Extracts from Kelly's Directory - Cambridgeshire - 1900]
Domesday Book Entry
In STAPLOE Hundred
The Abbot of Ramsey holds BURWELL. 10 hides and 1 virgate. Land for 16 ploughs. In lordship 3 hides and 40 acres; 4 ploughs there. 42½ villagers with 12 ploughs. 8 slaves; meadow for 10 ploughs; pasture for the village livestock; 2 mills at 6s 8d. The total value is and was £16; before 1066 £20. This manor lies and always lay in the lordship of St. Benedict's Church.
In BURWELL the nuns of Chatteris Church hold ½ hide. Land for ½ plough; it is there. Meadow for 2 oxen. The value is and always was 10s. This land was and is of the Church's lordship.
In BURWELL Alan holds 2½ hides from Count Alan. Land for 5 ploughs. In lordship 2. 4 villagers have 3 ploughs. 4 slaves; 2 mills at 6s 8d; meadow for 3 ploughs; pasture for the village livestock. Value £4; when acquired £3; before 1066 £6. 2 Freemen held this land under Edeva; they could withdraw without her permission. One of them found escort or 4d in the King's service.
In the same village Geoffrey holds 1 hide and 1 virgate from Count Alan. Land for 2 ploughs; they are in lordship, with 3 villagers; 2 slaves. Meadow for 1 plough; pasture for the village livestock. Value 40s; when acquired 30s; before 1066, 40s. 1 Freeman held this land under Edeva; he could withdraw without her permission.
Hardwin holds ½ hide from the King. Land for 4 oxen; they are there. Meadow for these oxen. Value 20s; when acquired 16s; before 1066, 20s. Thork, the Abbot of Ramsey's man, held this land; he could not withdraw without permission; however, he found either escort or 4d in the King's service.
In STAPLOE Hundred these men swore
(and all the other Frenchmen and Englishmen of this Hundred swore).
The war memorial and the men on it have been documented on the Roll of Honour Cambridgeshire page
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