Wrestlingworth (Wrastlingewurde (12th century); Wrestlingforth (17th and 18th centuries)) is a village situated on the east Bedfordshire border with Cambridgeshire. Wrestlingworth is a small rural parish of approximately 1,700 acres with a population of over 850 people.
Today Wrestlingworth incorporates the hamlet of Water End, some half mile to the south of the village centre. It serves as a commuter village for Cambridge, Stevenage and London. Amenities in the village include a pre-school group and a Church of England VC Lower School. The Church of St Peter is also located in the village. It is in the civil parish of Wrestlingworth and Cockayne Hatley.
Community groups in the village often meet at the Grade I listed 17th-century pub, The Chequers. These include the local Women’s Institute, the Goodwill Fund, the Walking and Wildlife Group, The Bowls Club and the Pre-School support group.
Wrestlingworth is not mentioned in the Domesday Book. However, by the mid-12th century two manor houses – Kendale’s and Hereford’s - are recorded as the village which was being established along the banks of a tributary of the River Cam.
The Church of St. Peter was established in about 1300. Graves from the Great Plague are still clearly visible in St. Peter’s churchyard, together with low set ‘leper’ windows.
More information on the Lords of the Wrestlingworth Manors and St. Peter’s Church can be found on the British History website.
Through the centuries Wrestlingworth flourished as a rural farming community partly due to its close proximity to the old Great North Road and the historically influential towns of Potton and Biggleswade.
The last woman to be publicly hanged in England
In the 1840s, notoriety hit the village when the case of the murderer Sarah Dazley came to the fore. By the age of 25 Dazley had poisoned two husbands and a child. She was about to marry a third husband when villagers warned him of her past and subsequent investigations took place. These commenced with exhumation of the bodies and a Coroner’s Inquest which was held in The Chequers Pub. Traces of arsenic were found and several local residents gave evidence against Dazley during her trial at Bedford Assizes.
At the end of the case, Dazley was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged outside Bedford Gaol. She was the last woman to be publicly hanged in England and it is said that the entire Wrestlingworth community walked or rode over to Bedford to see the event.
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