Warboys shown within Cambridgeshire
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Warboys is a large parish and village on what was the eastern side of Huntingdonshire bordering on Cambridgeshire. It was returned in the Domesday survey of 1086 amongst the lands of St. Benedict of Ramsey.
The north-east part is fenland, with the higher land to the south composed of stiff clay. The land falls from about 114 feet (35 m) above sea-level in the south to 2 feet (1 m) in the fenland of the north and north-east. Nearly 3/4 of the area is arable upon which potatoes are largely grown, and also corn and beans, etc. Warboys Wood is the only remaining piece of woodland.
The village lies on high ground in the south-west part of the parish overlooking the fen to the north-east. It has grown up at the foot of a fork formed at the junction of the main road from St. Ives to Ramsey, with a branch road leading eastwards over Warboys Heath on to Fenton. The main road, as it passes through the village, is called Church Street, and the branch road is High Street. The church is at the south end of the village. There are three or four old cottages in the village, including the White Hart Inn on the north side of the High Street - a 17th-century brick house with a thatched roof.
In 1774 an Act of Parliament was passed for draining certain lands in Warboys, including 300 acres (121 ha) called High Fen and 60 acres (24 ha) part of New Pasture. In 1795, an Act was passed for dividing, enclosing and draining the open common fields in Warboys. A further Act was passed in 1798 to amend the previous Act as regards the lands allotted in lieu of tithes.
A local landmark is the clock tower, built in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria on the throne. Warboys is also famous for the trial of the so-called "Witches of Warboys". Much witch related iconography can be found in the village, including part of the emblem of the local primary school.
The village was one of two sites in Huntingdonshire included in the Survey of English Dialects (SED). The other was Kimbolton. The traditional dialect of Warboys recorded in the SED was characterised by a 'Canadian raising' type alternation in the vowel of the PRICE lexical set.
In World War II, the RAF operated a bomber airfield just south west of the village called RAF Warboys. Wellingtons operated there from 1942 until early 1943 when they were replaced by Lancasters. After early 1944, the airfield was used for training until flying operations ended late in 1945. All the buildings and land were sold by 1964.
The church of St Mary Magdalene, formerly of the Blessed Mary the Virgin, consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, south aisle, west tower, north and south porches.
Nothing now remains of the church which existed as the time of the Domesday survey of 1086.The earliest church of which there is now evidence was built in the middle of the 12th century, probably when the church and its possessions were granted by Abbot Walter to the almonry of Ramsey Abbey. This church consisted of the present nave and a north aisle. The chancel arch, the responds at each end of the north aisle and a small piece of walling at the south-west corner of the nave of this church still survive.
Early in the 13th century, the Norman north aisle, with the arcade, was rebuilt and immediately after, the south aisle with its arcade was added. In the middle of the 13th century the west tower, with its broached spire of ashlar, was built, and it was evidently intended at this date to extend the aisles westwards to the line of the west wall of the tower. If this intention was then carried out, the south extension was rebuilt in the latter part of the 14th century when the south porch was added. The north extension was also rebuilt in the early part of the 15th century when the north porch was added.
The chancel was rebuilt and shortened before the beginning of the 19th century and, in 1832, it was extended eastwards apparently to its original length and considerably altered. At this date large galleries were erected in both aisles and the tower, the floor being lowered a foot to give headroom under them. The east wall above the chancel arch, and west wall of the tower, were cased in lath and plaster, a vestry was formed at the west end of the north aisle, all the walls were coated with thick plaster and wooden mouldings fixed below the clearstory window and in other places. The spire was restored in 1898 and in 1926 the tower and south aisle were underpinned. The additions of 1832 (except those to the chancel) were removed and the floor restored to its former level.
From 2008 to 2010 further reordering took place with the interior to assist the worship to be more flexible and to give more opportunity for the building to be more versatile and comfortable. The 1927 pews were removed to be replaced by moveable chairs, the organ was overhauled and restored and moved to a new location to the west of the south door. A raised platform was installed in front of the chancel steps. The font was moved form the central location of the aisle to a position to the east of the south door. The chancel saw some changes with the front choristers book rests being relocated to become the communion rail in front of the altar and the front choristers benches replaced by chairs. The 1927 electric heating was replaced by gas central heating, and the front of the building carpeted.
Warboys Youth Action
Warboys Youth Action is a charity established in 1993 and exists to promote the moral, physical and spiritual well being of those between 11 and 18 years of age who live in the parish. With a reputation as the provider of a youth club which was housed in part of the old school at the rear of the library. The Youthie building is not currently being used due to building subsidence. The future of the Youthie building is currently under discussion.
Sport and leisure
- Orton, H. and Tilling, P. (1969) Survey of English Dialects (B) The Basic Materials. Volume III The East Midland Counties and East Anglia. Leeds: E. J. Arnold and Sons.
- Britain, D. (1997) "Dialect Contact and Phonological Reallocation: 'Canadian Raising' in the English Fens". Language in Society 26/1, 15-46; Wells, J. (1982) Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- "Bomber Command Warboys". RAF. Retrieved 6 November 2007.
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