Benwick is a village and civil parish in the Fenland district of Cambridgeshire, England. It is approximately 15 miles (24 km) from Peterborough and 30 miles (48 km) from Cambridge. The population of Benwick was recorded as 1137 in the United Kingdom Census 2011 with 452 households.
The settlement's name is derived from the Old English bean or beam, and wic, meaning "farm where beans are grown" or "farm by a tree-trunk." Benwick's High Street is built on a roddon; the silt banks of the old West Water river.
The earliest records of village refer to a garrison built in Benwick by Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1143. In 1221, Benwick had 15 tenants and by 1251, 32. It used to be in the parish of Doddington, one of the largest parishes in England. Under the Doddington Rectory Division Act of 1856 it was divided into seven rectories.
Mr Darby, in his Drainage of the Fens, records that in 1611 a scholar from the continent, toured the Isle of Ely, noting that the houses in Benwick were all surrounded by water, like islands, and the inhabitants were occupied with fishing and fowling. In 1774 the Earl of Orford remarked of Benwick that "the number of children crossing near a cottage and a school added much to the scene, in appearance much like the best Flemish Landscapes".
From 1898 to 1966 Benwick was the terminus of the Benwick goods railway which ran from Three Horseshoes junction at Turves, on the Ely to Peterborough line. The station was on the road to Whittlesey. There was never a passenger service on the line, except a special enthusiasts train on 9 September 1956.
Benwick Bygones, a book on the History of Benwick was published in 2008 by Adam Keppel-Garner and Janet Fountain.
Listed Buildings in Benwick
|Name and location||Photograph||Date||Notes||Grade|
||1921||The War Memorial is constructed of white stone and consists of a Latin cross on a two stepped base set on a two tier plinth: the lower tier of the plinth is a square block with a chamfered upper edge, the upper tier tall and square sectioned. There are contrasting bronze plaques attached to the west, north and south faces of the upper tier: these contain, in black lettering, the names of the 44 men who died in the First World War. ||II|
Benwick Parish Council consists of seven members; elections are held every four years, the last were in 2015. Benwick is represented on Fenland District Council. Benwick is part of the parliamentary constituency of North East Cambridgeshire; the current Member of Parliament is Stephen Barclay.
Records exist of an early Chapel to St James, where an indulgence for repairs was granted in 1518 whilst the earliest recorded church was built around 1637 but unconsecrated.
The Parish Church of St Mary's was started in 1850 and opened in 1854. Designed by Samuel Sanders Teulon, it was built on the site of the earlier unconsecrated church. St Mary's was built of Norfolk carr stone with Caen stone facings, costing £2,500 to build. The tower contained two bells and a clock was added in 1871. In 1966 the tower was removed and the clock loaned to March Museum. Over time the church moved more and was condemned. The last service was held in 1980 and in 1985 the church was demolished. The font and doorway from the parish church are now at St Jude's, Westwood, Peterborough.
A Baptist chapel was first built in 1818 on land endowed from Gideon Gascoigne; at first just a preaching place as the church was not formed until 1858. The chapel was whitewashed and thatched but in 1873 was recorded as being in a dilapidated state. A new chapel opened in 1874. The chapel was demolished in 1963.
After years of fundraising, in 2012 a church room was built as an extension to the village hall.
- Mills, A.D. (1998). A Dictionary of English Place-names. Second Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford. p34. ISBN 0-19-280074-4
- Astbury, A K (1987) . The Black Fens (3 ed.). Wardy Hill, Ely, Cambridgeshire: Providence Press. ISBN 0-903803-18-6. |loc=p. 112; caption to plate 34 on p. 113, Benwick from the air
- Fountain, J and Keppel-Garner, A (2008) "Benwick Bygones", p.9, Victoire Press, Cambridge.
- 'North Witchford Hundred: Doddington', A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4: City of Ely; Ely, N. and S. Witchford and Wisbech Hundreds (2002), pp. 110–116.
- Darby, HC (1956) The Draining of the Fens
- Childers, JW (2012) "Lord Orford's Voyage Round The Fens in 1774"
- Historic England, "Benwick War Memorial (1433569)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 30 March 2016
- Benwick Parish Council. Retrieved 28 March 2016
- Find Your MP. Retrieved 18 December 2009
- Fountain, J and Keppel-Garner, A (2008) "Benwick Bygones", p.10, Victoire Press, Cambridge.
- Cambridgeshire, p302, (Second edition) by Nikolaus Pevsner
- Fountain, J and Keppel-Garner, A (2008) "Benwick Bygones", p.75, Victoire Press, Cambridge.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
- Fountain, J and Keppel-Garner, A (2008) Benwick Bygones, p.76, Victoire Press, Cambridge.
- Fountain, J and Keppel-Garner, A (2008) Benwick Bygones, p.98, Victoire Press, Cambridge.
- Fenland Citizen 10 August 2012
- The Benwick Bugle: September 2013. Available Online: https://issuu.com/benwickbugle/docs/16._september-october
- Astbury, A K (1987). The Black Fens (3 ed.). Wardy Hill, Ely, Cambridgeshire: Providence Press. ISBN 0-903803-18-6.
- Fountain, J and Keppel-Garner, A (2008). Benwick Bygones (1 ed.). Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Victoire Press.
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