Parson Drove

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Parson Drove
The Cage ,Parson Drove. - - 174373.jpg
The Cage, Parson Drove.
Parson Drove is located in Cambridgeshire
Parson Drove
Parson Drove
Location within Cambridgeshire
Population1,030 (2001)
OS grid referenceTF370085
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWisbech
Postcode districtPE13
List of places
52°40′N 0°02′E / 52.66°N 0.03°E / 52.66; 0.03Coordinates: 52°40′N 0°02′E / 52.66°N 0.03°E / 52.66; 0.03

Parson Drove is a fen village in Cambridgeshire, England. A linear settlement, it is 6 miles (10 km) west of Wisbech, the nearest town.[1] The village is named after the central thoroughfare along which the village developed, a green drove, much wider than the current metalled road (B1166). The population at the 2001 Census was 1,030.[2] The population is included in the civil parish of Wisbech St Mary.[citation needed]

The city of Peterborough, is 19 miles (31 km) to the west, and the town of King's Lynn, 21 miles (34 km) to the east.


The area was farmed by the Romans, who left evidence of their presence in several places throughout Parson Drove and the surrounding parish.[3]

Samuel Pepys wrote about Parson Drove in his diary for 17 September 1663, describing it as a "heathen place" where he found his uncle and aunt in a "sad poor thatched cottage", after which he took them to a "miserable inn" (the Swan Inn), where he was staying, and where his uncle's horse was subsequently stolen. A lawyer's clerk from London was, by his uncle and aunt, suspected as the thief, who was then detained at the inn. At about midnight Pepys, after he had retired to a "cold, stony chamber", was informed that the horse was found.[4]

John Peck (farmer) (1787 – 1851), was a well known member of the local community. He set up a farm in Parson Drove and later lived at Inham Hall.[5] He served on local drainage boards. He held the office of Parish Constable for 35 years. He kept diaries throughout his life and these were transcribed in the 1990s and have become a useful source of local history.[6]


Woad mill, Parson Drove by James Doyle Penrose (1906)

Parson Drove has buildings dating from the 16th century, ten of which are Grade II listed.[7] The village has three public houses, including The Swan Inn, in which Pepys stayed in the 17th century.

The village churches are 'The Emmanuel Church', Southea (also known as the "New Church") which dates from 1873 and contains chandeliers originally from St Paul's Cathedral[8] , and St John the Baptist (also known as the "Old Church"[by whom?]) which dates from the 12th century, and includes additions and renovations from the 14th, 15th, and 17th centuries; it is Grade II* listed,[9] and under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.[10]

The Cage was built in 1829 as a village lock-up for local criminals and stray livestock, and housed the village fire pump for nearly 100 years.[11]

The last working temporary woad mill in Britain was in Parson Drove.[12] It stood opposite St John the Baptist church, and closed in 1910.[13] It was pulled down in 1914 and the last permanent woad mills at Algarkirk(1927) and Skirbeck(1932). A model of the woad mill is in Wisbech & Fenland Museum.[14]


The village is served by the Alderman Payne Primary School - formerly known as the Payne County Primary School, the Payne Council School and the Parson Drove Council School.[15] It is a designated Community School operating under the control of Cambridgeshire County Council. The school is named for Alderman John William Payne.[16]


The local football club, Parson Drove F.C., play in the Peterborough & District League.[17]


  1. ^ AA Book of British Villages. Drive Publications Limited. 1980. p. 309. ISBN 9780340254875.
  2. ^ "Parson Drove Parish" (PDF). 2001 Census Profile. Cambridgeshire County Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Roman and mediaeval finds". Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  4. ^ Gardiner FRHS, Frederic, John (1898). History of Wisbech and Neighbourhood during the last fifty years, 1848-1898. Gardiner & Co. p. 384.
  5. ^ Diane Blawer (2000). The Trade of a Farmer: John Peck of Parson Drove. Friends of Wisbech & Fenland Museum.
  6. ^ "John Peck". Wisbech & Fenland Museum. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  7. ^ "parson drove". Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Parson Drove". Parson Drove. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Church of St John the Baptist, Parson Drove (1331998)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Church of St John the Baptist, Parson Drove, Cambridgeshire", Churches Conservation Trust. Retrieved 8 January 2019
  11. ^ "Parson Drove". Prison History. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  12. ^ "Woad Mills, Retrieved 8 January 2019
  13. ^ "Woad mills". Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  14. ^ Norman T.Wills (1979). Woad in the Fens, p11. N.T.Wills.
  15. ^ Archives, The National. "The Discovery Service". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Alderman Payne". Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Fcparson drove". www.fcparsondrove. Retrieved 11 January 2019.

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