- This article is about the town in Cambridgeshire. For the village in Suffolk, see Somersham, Suffolk.
Somersham shown within Cambridgeshire
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
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|UK Parliament||North West Cambridgeshire|
There has been a settlement in this corner of the country for at least 2,500 years and probably much longer than that. The village may not be full of ancient buildings, but it possesses a rich heritage of recorded history.
Somersham lies on the Greenwich meridian line. There is a marker on the pavement in the High Street denoting the location of the October 1884 Greenwich Prime Zero meridian line.
The manor of Somersham was held by the Abbots (later Bishops) of Ely who obtained it from the Anglo Saxon Aeldorman Britnoth following his death at the Battle of Maldon. The manor passed to the Crown when Elizabeth I seized it via dubious means at the end of the 16th century and it remained in royal hands until the aftermath of the English Civil War, when it was disposed of by Parliament. According to The Victoria County History of Huntingdon, the manor was sold to Robert Blackborne of Westminster for £19,884 in 1653, who in turn sold to Oliver Cromwell's brother-in-law Valentine Walton, which ultimately resulted in a suit between the two parties. Following the Restoration, the manor was returned to the Crown.
Says the Victoria County history: "New trustees were appointed in 1631, and in 1634 the residue of the term was settled for life as jointure on Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles I, and power was given to her trustees to grant leases for terms not exceeding 21 years. On the seizure of the crown lands by the Parliament, the manor and soke of Somersham were sold in 1653 for £19,884 to Robert Blackborne of the city of Westminster. In Michaelmas term following, Robert Blackborne and Anne his wife conveyed them to Valentine Walton or Wauton, the regicide, brother-in-law of Oliver Cromwell. The conveyance led to a suit in Chancery between the parties, as the manor and soke seem to have been charged for the payment of certain troops of the Commonwealth army."
There was a substantial manor house at Somersham with formal gardens dating to the 12th century and possibly earlier. A Tudor palace was constructed over the mediaeval building by Bishop James Stanley, of Ely, under Henry VII but by the time the Hammond family came into possession in the late 17th century the buildings were in a poor state of repair. They were pulled down in the middle of the 18th century.
In the latter part of the 14th century, the church in Somersham was a living in possession of the English Cardinal and papal courtier Adam Easton and he relied on its wealth until his death in 1397.
During the 18th century there was a Spa just outside the town that was actively promoted by one of the royal surgeons. James Hammond, an elegiac poet who died in 1742, was born and brought up in Somersham; his work remained popular throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, being reprinted several times, but is no longer well known today.
Containing four pubs, two schools, and many shops, it is a well catered village, despite the recent closing of a number of small shops. Current shops include Tesco, One Stop and Impressions Print & Label.
Sport and leisure
The local football club, Somersham Town, play in the Cambridgeshire League, having previously been members of the Eastern Counties League. There is also a thriving cricket club located in the Millennium fields which is always looking for new members.
Somersham Town Band is the only brass band in the old county of Huntingdonshire. It can trace its history back to 1919, although the current band was reformed in 1980 after being dormant during the 1970s.
There are a number of local bus routes serving the village:
- 21 (Go Whippet) to St Ives or Ramsey
- 22 (Go Whippet) to St Ives or Ramsey
- Route C (Go Whippet) to Cambridge via St Ives (Cambridgeshire Guided Busway)
- Route A (Stagecoach) to Cambridge via St Ives (peak times only - Cambridgeshire Guided Busway)
- "Neighbourhood Statistics - Somersham CP (Parish)". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- A History of the County of Huntingdon, Vol. II, William Page, Granville Proby, 1932, British History Online
- Somersham Town Band, accessed 28 December 2013
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Somersham.|
- Somersham.info - Historical information about Somersham and the surrounding area.
- Adam Easton - Historical information about Adam Easton including his relationship with Somersham.
- Somersham on OpenStreetMap
- Local bus timetables
- St John the Baptist Church, Somersham - covers history of the building