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This article is about the town in Cambridgeshire. For the village in Suffolk, see Somersham, Suffolkmarker.


Somersham, in Huntingdonshiremarker (now part of Cambridgeshire), Englandmarker, is a village and civil parish near Earithmarker north of St Ivesmarker.

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.

It once had a Somersham railway stationmarker connecting it to the towns of Marchmarker and St Ivesmarker, as well as a short branch to Ramseymarker.

Somersham is an important calling point on the March March march and on many ordnance survey walks. Containing four pubs, two schools, and a vast collection of other shops, it is a well catered village, despite the recent closing of many small shops.

The local football club, Somersham Townmarker, play in the Cambridgeshire League, having previously been members of the Eastern Counties League.

History

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 Maldonmarker. The manor passed to the Crown when Elizabeth I seized it via somehwat 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 Stanley 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.

During the 18th century there was a Spa just outside the town that was actively promoted by one of the royal surgeons. Thomas Hammond, an elegaic poet who died in 1742 was born and brought up in Somersham, his work remained popular throughout the 18th and 19th century being reprinted several times but is no longer well known today.

References

  1. A History of the County of Huntingdon, Vol. II, William Page, Granville Proby, 1932, British History Online


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