Wimblington History

Evidence has been found of settlement here since the Bronze Age. People in the Iron age also settled on the clays of what was then Wimblington island and occupancy continued through Roman times with people raising cattle, sheep or producing salt. The village was not mentioned in the Doomsday Book compiled between 1085-1086, although Brithnoth, the first Abbot of Ely, exchanged 60 acres, and a fishery rendering 1000 eels per annum, in Wimblington and Doddington, with Wine, son of Osmund. Similarly Ramsey Abbey had sold 10 acres and two fisheries at Wimblington to the Monastery of Ely in the late 10th century.

By 1669 the commons of Wimblington, which included Stonea and Horsemoor Fens, had become overstocked. Sir Algernon Peyton, as Lord of Doddington manor, therefore made an agreement with his 42 (Fn. 72) Wimblington tenants, which defined the system of common pasturing at great length. (Fn. 73) Each tenant was to be stinted to 6 bullocks or cows, or 3 horses or mares (with foals), or 30 sheep or ewes. 'Poor persons' were allowed to keep one or two cows or heifers each. The 800 acres of Stonea Fen were to be left 'fresh', without stock of any kind, from 14 February to 23 April each year, on penalty of 6d. for a horse, 2 cows, or 8 sheep, in the case of a first offence, and 1s. for subsequent offences. Half the fines were to go to the parish, half to the impounder of the stock or hayward. Ten trustees were appointed to administer the scheme. Closes varying in size from 13 to 7 acres were to be enclosed for the use of each homestead, to a total of 432 acres. The sites and bounds of the closes are set out in great detail.

March, Benwick and Wimblington remained Parochial Chapelries of Doddington until 1874. St Peters church, which cost £4000, was opened on May 15th of that year. The rectory, now Eastwood House on March Road was sold by the church authorities in 1974.

An Enclosure Act was passed for Wimblington in 1791. The award was not made until 1805 when 676 acres of land were shared amongst fifteen proprietors, including Sir John Peyton, Lord of the manor (133 acres) and Sir John Waddington (145 acres).

In 1714 Thomas Eaton bequeathed two houses and 8½ acres of land for providing a school in the village. At the time of the 1805 Enclosure Award 42 acres were allotted in respect of the Estate but a school was not completed until 1817 at a cost of £800. In 1867, 78 boys and 65 girls -children of agriculturalists - were registered. A new school was built in 1924 (the old buildings were in a bad state of repair) at a cost of £3,000 providing for 202 pupils.

Notable houses in Wimblington include Addison House in Addison Road (early 19th century) and the Manor House, Doddington Road. As perhaps befits one of the oldest houses in Wimblington, an air of mystery surrounds the date of construction of the Manor House. Most authorities, including the Listed Building Commission, date the house as early 18th century, but it has been described by at least one chronicler as "a delightful Cromwellian manor" which would place it in mid 17th century. Alas, deeds and other documents, which would presumably resolve the matter, were lost in a burglary many years ago. Various additions and alterations have been made over the years, notably in the 19th century, and the interior, whilst retaining many of its older features, has been remodelled into a comfortable 21st century family home. Cased beams are features of most of the main rooms, and 19th century fireplaces survive in several rooms.

An imposing cruciform chimneystack surmounts the building above the dormer attic window. The house is now set in mature ornamental and working gardens of about one-third of an acre, much changed from the original farm-based surroundings.

At one time there were 10 pubs in the village including the Railway Inn, The Bell, The Wagon and Horses, The Anchor, The Carpenters Arms, The Unicorn, The Cock, The Chequers, The Royal Oak, The Rising Sun and at Stonea the Golden Lion, The Plough and the Chequers (Boot Bridge). Today only The Anchor and the Golden Lion in Stonea survive as hostelries.

The population of Wimblington was 965 in 1831, 1269 in 1931, 1315 in 1971, currently in 2002 it is 1700.

Wimblington Railway Station was sited three-quarters of a mile south of the village on the Wisbech and St Ives branch of the Great Eastern railway. The line, which was opened 1848, closed in the 1960`s as a result of the Beeching cuts, ran along the course of the present A141 Chatteris - March bypass, veering off at the bend past Bridge Lane on a route which takes it along Woodmans Way.

Wimblington won the Cambridgeshire Times and Wisbech Standard "Best Kept Village" award nine times and in 1997 came second in the "National Village of the Year" competition. In 2002 and 2003 Wimblington & Stonea won the Fenland Section of the Calor Village of the Year competition. In 2003 Wimblington & Stonea also won the Cambridgeshire section an achievement which was marked by the presentation of the prestigious Fairhaven Trophy, which was awarded by Lord Fairhaven of Anglesey Abbey. In the same year, Wimblington & Stonea was one of 40 villages throughout England and Wales to be put forward for the Village of the Year final, where the community won the Youth Section for the East of England and the Home Counties.

The Parish Hall is almost 100 years old and the Parkfield Social Club area is to be envied.

A mixed community, we have many other redeeming features I hope you will investigate by navigating the links shown. There is diverse employment within the village, agriculture being the main one with Knowles Transport being the largest employer in the village.


Historic Rights of Way

Wimblington is fortunate in enjoying a network of footpaths, bridleways and byways giving a unique view of Fenland.


Part of the old railway line is a bridleway and there are other Rights of Way with names that give a glimpse of history - the byway "Workmans Drove", the bridleway "Firelots" (surely where peat came from?) and the linked route "Woodmans Way" for instance. Woodmans Way has a leaflet of its own that is available from the F.D.C. or tourist information offices. Inside the village itself are some ancient footpaths, which give short cuts through the very heart of the village. The Parish Council maintains these under the Parish Paths Scheme.

Stonea Camp, a famous Bronze Age site, has a footpath network that takes in the site of the Roman Administration Camp and who knows if Boudicca once rode this route on her small fierce ponies.

Rights of Way are clearly marked on Ordinance Survey Maps and Wimblington is justifiably proud of its access to the countryside-routes that have been in use since time immemorial and to be enjoyed far into the future.


Fort in the Fens

Stonea Camp is an Iron Age hill fort lying to the east of Wimblington. The site is a fortified arrangement of banks and ditches, standing just two meters (6 ft 7 in) above sea level, and is the lowest hill fort in Britain.


Around 500 BC, when fortification is thought to have begun at this site, this rased area land would have provided a significant habitable space amidst the flooded marshes of the Fens. The site exhibits at least two phases of development over several hundred years of settlement, with a D-shaped set of earth banks surrounded by a larger, more formal set of banks and ditches.

Excavations elsewhere in Britain show the hill-forts were used as permanent settlements for privileged families, living in wattle and daub round-houses up to 10m diameter, thatched with straw or sedge, and drawing on supplies of labour from a wide area.

Similar Medieval castles, at times of trouble they would give some protection to a wider population.

The fort is a possible site of the battle of 47 AD mentioned by Tacitus, between the Iceni tribe and a Roman auxiliary force under governor Ostorius Scapula. Human remains have been found around the site including sword-marked adult bones and the cleaved skull of a four year old child, indicating that the inhabitants were trapped and attacked within the settlement.

The remains of a multi-storey Roman tower have also been excavated within sight to the north of the Stonea Camp fortifications. The building was probably constructed to suppress further tribal rebellion or settlement at this site.

Stonea Camp fort survives today as an earthwork of monumental historical importance. Excavation work was carried out in 1980 by the British Museum, and restoration work followed in 1991 to recover the outer bank system and ditches which have been worn away by agriculture.

The site is open to the public all year round with a series of interpretation boards explaining the occupation at the site.

The site is owned by the Cambridgeshire County Farms Estate and managed by the Archaeological Field Unit of Cambridgeshire County Council.