Warboys Village History
About 350 million years ago, Warboys was the site of an active volcano which existed just
south of the old Warboys airfield.
People have lived in the area around
Warboys since 7000BC as indicated by finding a boat of this age during
the late 19th century in a field adjacent to Puddock Drove. Bronze age
tools have also been found indicating a presence 3500 to 1200BC.
The Romans brought Christianity to East Anglia. The history of religion
during the early centuries AD was probably a mixture of Christianity and
Paganism. In 655AD the first Abbey in Peterborough was founded. The
Viking invasions of the 7th century destroyed churches and monasteries
but in 974AD Archbishop Dunstan donated the land known as Warboys to
Ramsey Abbey. Christian activity is recorded in the Domesday book, of
1086AD, which stated there was a priest and a Church in Warboys.
The first recorded settlement was known as Wardebusc (Saxon lookout
woods) and was positioned at a fork in the road which skirted the fen
between St Ives and Ramsey. By 1150 this had been changed to Wardebois
(French influence) which was shortened to Warbois before finally
Some history follows roughly in chronological order:
It is thought that the first
Manor House (near the Parish Church) was
built around 1250. Sir John Leman later modified the house around 1620
to what we see today with a Dutch Gable to the front of this grade II listed building .
In 1557 some 118 villagers died during an outbreak of the
Alice Samuel and her family, were hung on 6 April 1593. This is a case of what
the rich and famous did to poor vulnerable people effectively on the
evidence of children.
Baptist Church came into being in 1644. The Puritan preacher,
Henry Denn, baptised the first five Warboys men: William Dunn (who
became the first pastor of Warboys), John Ward, John Richards, John
Kidson and William Askew. Up to the early 1900's baptisms took place in
the Weir. The Baptist Chapel building was completed in 1831.
On 18 August 1835 a
fire in the west end of the village destroyed 32
houses and cottages.
The Rev E Finch, Rector of Warboys, on 15 March 1860 conveyed to a Board
of Trustees The National School, the Master’s House and Playground.
Board School was built in 1896 (the school buildings are now used as
the Library, Youthie, Playgroup and Parish centre.)
Clock Tower was built in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of
Queen Victoria. It was paid for by public subscription and cost £230. It
was restored in 1987.
Railway Station was opened in 1889. This was on the Somersham to
Ramsey line operated by the Great Eastern Railway. In 1923 it
became part of the newly created LNER. During this latter period
the line saw increasing competition with road transport.
Brickworks opened in 1893. Alfred Fuller employed 50 men to work
on his hand made bricks. Each man earned £1 per week.
Parish Council was Inaugurated in 1894.
three globed lamp standard was erected at The Weir in 1897 to
celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
Baptist Church was restored and 'beautified' and reopened in 1899.
The chapel thus began to look as it does today.
16 houses and outbuildings, along Warboys High Street, were burned in
1900. Calves and poultry died, Mr Raby died of shock caused by the
outbreak of the fire.
Methodist Church was built around 1900 but this was replaced by the current brick Church
in 1938. The brick Church was built on a brick by brick basis by
rebuilding a chapel from Great Raveley.
V C Cockerel raised £11,000 for the British Red Cross Fund in Warboys
during 1914-18 war.
Warboys Women’s Institute was formed on 14 July 1920. The current W I
Hall was officially opened by Mr Frank Robinson on 6 June 1929. The hall
cost £380 to build.
Warboys Railway Station was closed to passengers in 1930.
airfield (1941 to 1946) was the home of 156 Squadron,
also known as
The Pathfinder Squadron, until it moved to Upwood in March
The first cricket match was held on the new
sports field on 6 July 1946
between Warboys XI and G Gifords XI. Part of the ground was donated by
local farmer Tom Longland and the remainder was paid for by public
As part of the Cold War defences, a
Bloodhound Missile Base was
established in the centre of the old airfield in 1959.
Warboys Railway was finally closed in 1964.
The new school –
Warboys Community Primary School - was opened in Humberdale Way by the Marquis of Exeter on 22 November 1972. The cost of
the building was £91,000.
Warboys Library was opened in 1975.
The first consignment of rubbish was deposited in Warboys
fire caused enormous damage to the White Hart public house in 1996.
Warboys Landfill Action Group was formed in 1999.
Youthie building was opened in February 2001. This provides a
meeting place for village young people mainly aged 13 - 18 years.
In 2010 the Youthie building closed due to subsidence.
In 2010 the
Duke of Gloucester
visited the village in recognition of Warboys winning the
'Cambridgeshire Village of the Year' competition for the third time.
Parish Church History
The original church was built around 1086 and was surrounded by a
medieval village. Nothing remains of this building and the oldest part
of the existing building dates from the 12th century. The church was
originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but this was later changed to
St Mary Magdalene. The current Parish Church is on the same site but is
now on the edge of the village, the village no longer surrounds the
to see a layout of the church in a separate
window. (You may need to set your browser to allow popups if you
have disabled this facility).
The earliest part of the current church was built during the 12th
century—this church consisted of a chancel, the present nave and a north
aisle. From this Norman church only the chancel arch (see adjacent
picture) and a small piece of walling in the south west corner of the
nave have survived.
Early in the 13th century the north aisle was rebuilt followed by the
building of the south aisle. During the mid 13th century the broach
spire was built.
During the 14th century the south aisle was extended (by the side of the
tower) and a south porch added.
The north aisle was extended (or rebuilt) in the 15th century when the
north porch was added.
Sometime before the 19th century the chancel was rebuilt and shortened
but during the 19th century (1832) the chancel was extended eastward to
its original length and considerably altered.
At this time large galleries were erected in both north and south aisles
and the tower, the floor being lowered a foot to give headroom under
them. Some walls were plastered, such as above the Norman arch. The
vestry at the end of the north aisle was created.
In 1896 the spire was restored. Look towards the tower from the east
end of the nave to see a majestic arch and elegant
In 1926 the tower and south aisle were underpinned. Also the changes of
1832 (apart from the chancel) were removed i.e. the plaster and
galleries also the floor was restored to the former level. You can see
where the wooden joists were inserted in the piers. It is interesting
that one of the piers is octagonal while the rest are circular!
is of the early 13th century, the square bowl is carved with
crude foliage standing on one large and four smaller shafts mounted on
the base. The wooden cover also has an interesting background: It was
made during the restoration work of 1926 from old beams salvaged during
the restoration work.
The font was moved from the west end of the nave in July 2007 to it’s
new position in the east end of the north aisle. Baptisms are no longer
a separate service where people just gather round the font, it is now
usually part of morning service and the new position enables most of the
congregation to see the Baptism.
Church Bells: There are now six bells, the sixth one (the treble) being
a recent addition (1953) in honour of our Queen. The original sixth bell
was said to have been lost at sea, many years ago. Apart from the fact
that the bells record that they were made by Joseph Eayre of St Neots,
they have interesting inscriptions. The bells were hung and rung in
1765, and on them are recorded the names of the church wardens and
rector of that time, namely, Edward Dring and Oliver Hills together with
Allen Cowper, Rector. In addition, bell number two says: 'Cum voco
nenite', bell number three says: 'Omnia fiant ad glorium Dei', bell
number six (tenor) says: Ego sum vox c1amantis'. Translating with some
licence the combined messages of the bells into one sentence, we might
say, ‘I cry aloud with my voice, all praise to our glorious God’. The
bells are regularly rung.
paid for by donations, was made by Messrs Harrison and Harrison of
County Durham and installed in the east end of the north aisle in July
1901. In 1947 it was restored and enlarged. In July 2007 the organ was
moved from the east end to the west end of the north aisle and it had a
full refurbishment and tuning.
During the second world war there was an airfield at Warboys. Many
forces personnel who lost their lives are remembered in the church on
plaques or in the Book of Remembrance. 156 Path Finder Squadron has a
lasting association with the church. A stained glass window in the south
aisle marks this period.
During and just after the war the sermon was preached in German and
English when 150 German prisoners-of-war worshipped with villagers. The
POW chaplain, Pastor Schroeder, of Old Hurst Camp read a translation
prepared by the then Rector (Rev Nelson Trafford).
The church has a fine 12th century
bronze knocker consisting of a lion’s face holding a ring of two dragons
fighting although this is no longer fitted to the main church door.
The electrical switch gear at the east end of the north aisle has been
boxed in using panels from the old pulpit.
At the east end of the north aisle is a bracket containing a 15th
century lion. Look closely and you will find other gargoyles around the
church (inside and outside the church).
A list of Rectors in charge of the church since the 12th century is on a
plaque mounted on the organ.
There are two stained glass windows in the chancel (east wall and south
wall). One in south aisle (already mentioned) and another in the south
In 2007 the traditional wooden pews were removed and replaced with
upholstered chairs. This makes sitting more comfortable and enables
a flexible use of the space.
In 2010 new staging, carpets and a gas heating system to radiators