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Ramsey, Huntingdonshire

Historical Description

Ramsey, a market-town, the head of a petty sessional division, and a parish in Huntingdonshire. The town stands at the foot of a hill, on Bury Brook, on the borders of the fens, at the terminus of the Eamsey and holme railway, which forms a junction at Holme with the G.N. main line. The G.E.R. have also a station here, which was opened in 1889. The town is 10 miles NNE from Huntingdon and 69 from London, took its name from an " eye " or island in a quondam mere or lake, originated and flourished round an ancient Benedictine abbey, suffered devastation by plague in 1666 and by fire in 1731, and is now a seat of petty sessions and of manorial courts. The buildings of the town are chiefly comprised in one long street called the Great Whyte, and another street called High Street, the two making a figure-like the letter T. There is a post, money order, and telegraph office under Huntingdon. The town is governed by an urban district council of twelve members. There is a weekly market which is held on Wednesday, a parade of shire horses and hackneys on 1 May, and an annual fair on 22, 23, and 24: July. The land round Ramsey is famous for its potatoes, of which very large quantities are grown. The Ramsey Institution stands at the top of Great Whyte, was erected in 1846, and is used for science and art classes. The Abbey Rooms, erected in 1877, have a large room capable of holding 400 persons, available for public meetings, with reading and billiard rooms attached. There is a police station in Great Whyte. The Grammar School, founded in 1661, occupies a modern building erected in 1860, enjoys an endowment of about £150 a year, and has accommodation for sixty boys. An infants' school at Church Green was founded in 1707, has an endowment of about £48, and will accommodate about 120 scholars. There are endowed almshouses for twelve poor women, thirty-one cottages belonging to Dryden's Charity which are let free or at a very small rent to poor people, and other charities worth about £220 a year. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely; value, £350. Patron, Lord de Ramsey. The church is a spacious and interesting building of stone in the Norman and Early English styles, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, and an embattled western tower with a good peal of six bells. The chancel, with its pilaster buttresses, its triple roundheaded lights, "fish" window, and double piscina, is a very fine specimen of Norman work, and contains a fine lectern of wood and a chained book with old Tudor binding. The lectern, is one of the oldest in England, its probable date being 1450. In the churchyard there are a number of finely carved grave-stones of the Queen Anne period. There is a Roman Catholic chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart, and there are three Baptist chapels, one Primitive Methodist, and one Wesleyan. The cemetery in Wood Lane has an area of about 3 acres, and has two mortuary chapels. The abbey was founded in 969 by Duke Ailwin, was a mitred one and the head or seat of a barony, had a famous Hebrew library and school, was given at the dissolution to The Cromwells, gave place to a modern mansion-now the property of the Fellowes family, and the seat of Lord de Ramsey, who is lord of the manor and principal landowner. The present residence incorporates the old Abbot's Hall, and magnificent Early English remains of the refectory are to be seen in the basement rooms and cellars. The portion of the gatehouse which is used as a lodge gives some idea of the splendour of the old abbey. In the abbey is preserved a very interesting efiigy of Ailwin. The slab with the recumbent figure probably formed part of his tomb. The parish, which includes the hamlets of Hern Drove, Forty Foot Bridge, Middlemoor, Ramsey Hollow, and Ugg Mere, has an area of 17,033 acres; population of the civil parish, 4684; of the ecclesiastical, 3312. Ramsey St Mary is a separate benefice. See RAMSEY ST MARY.

Ramsey Parliamentary Division of Northern Huntingdonshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 29,549. The division includes the following:- Hurstingstone-Bluntisham-cum-Earith, Broughton, Colne, Fenstanton, Hemingford Abbotts, Hemingford Grey, Hilton, Holywell and Needingworth, Houghton, Oldhurst, Pidley-with-Fenton, Ripton (Abbotts), Ripton (Kings), St Ives, Sapley, Somersham, Woodhurst, Witton or Wyton; Norman Cross-Alwalton, Caldecot, Chesterton, Connington, Denton, Eiton, Farcet, Fletton, Folkesworth, Glatton, Haddon, Holme, Lutton, Morborn, Orton Longville, Orton Waterville, Sawtry (All Saints), Sawtry (St Andrew), Sawtry (St Judith), Sibson and Stibbington, Stanground, Stilton, Washingley, Waternewton, Woodstone, Woodwalton, Yaxley; Ramsey-Bury, Ramsey, Raveley (Great), Raveley (Little), Upwood, Warboys, Wistow.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyHuntingdonshire 
Ecclesiastical parishRamsey St. Thomas à Becket 
Poor Law unionHuntingdon 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.


The Cemetery, near the town, in Wood lane, covers three acres, of which three-fifths are consecrated, and has two chapels. The cost of laying out the ground, drainage and the erection of the chapels was about £1,760, and the purchase money for the land £45. Additional ground of a little over an acre was added in 1910.

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1559.


Church of England

St. Thomas à Becket (parish church)

The church of St. Thomas-à-Becket is a spacious and elegant edifice of stone, in the Norman and Early English styles, consisting of chancel, nave of seven bays with clerestory, aisles and an embattled western tower, built in 1672, with pinnacles, containing a clock and 6 bells and a sanctus bell: the chancel, which is the most ancient part of the edifice, has remains of north and south chapels, the Norman piers and arches being built into the walls: in 1909 the window in the south wall of the chancel, which was probably closed in Pre-Reformation times, when the south chancery chapel was built, was re-opened by Lord de Ramsey: on the south side of the chancel is a double piscina under a canopy, and opposite this a richly ornamented tomb to William Henry Fellowes esq. of Ramsey Abbey, who represented the borough and county in Parliament for the period of 34 years, and died 23 August, 1837, and on the south side of the chancel there is also a tablet to Mrs. Emma Fellowes, his relict, d. 27 January, 1862; there is also a memorial brass to Mary Julia, widow of Edward, 1st Baron de Ramsey, d. 10 April, 1901; in the south aisle is another placed by the Fellowes family, in memory of James Jones esq. for over 70 years the agent for their estates: in the north aisle are monuments to Carina Day, daughter of the late Peter Descod, d. 1867, and to James Smith esq. surgeon, d. 1848, and a brass inscribed to former incumbents of this parish; here is also a brass to David Black B.A. of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and 2nd Lieut. Lancashire Fusiliers, who died at Poona, and another to Isabel Rebecca, wife of Capt. H. W. Denison Adam, who d. May 14, 1904, at Kuala Lumpur: new windows were erected in 1912: a stained window was erected in 1912 over the western door by the parishioners, and a stained window, consisting of three panels, was erected in memory of Emily Newton, d. May 2nd, 1913: a stained window panel was erected in 1912 by the Ailwyn Lodge of Freemasons, and there are other stained windows: in the chancel is a fine double lectern of oak, c. 1450, with a brass-bound and chained copy of "Dean Comber on the Book of Common Prayer," and a black-letter copy of "Erasmus' Paraphrase on the New Testament:" the font, of grey marble from a quarry in Northamptonshire, consists of a hexagonal basin, supported upon a central column of freestone surrounded by six small ones of marble: a new organ was provided in 1903 at a cost of £250; a carved oak pulpit was given by 2nd Baron de Ramsey; and a carved cak altar was erected in memory of Henry Mawdesley M.A. 53 years curate and minister of this parish, d. July 5th, 1840; also of Henry Worsley Mawdesley, son of the above, 13 years incumbent of Upwood, d. June 2nd, 1864: the church was entirely re-pewed and the interior restored in 1844, and has since been new-roofed and renovated throughout; extensive interior alterations were made in 1903, the gallery being removed, choir seats erected, and the organ placed in the nave: the two western vestrys were pulled down in 1910, and seating for 100 extra persons has been provided: a new vestry was erected on the site of the northern chantrey; this work was carried out at the sole expense of Lord de Ramsey: there are 700 sittings: at the east end of the churchyard stands the shaft of an ancient cross, about 12 feet in height.


Baptist chapel

There are two Baptist chapels.

Particular Baptist chapel

There is a Particular Baptist chapel.


Primitive Methodist Chapel

There is a Primitive Methodist chapel.

Wesleyan Chapel

There is a Wesleyan chapel.

Roman Catholic

Sacred Heart

The Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart, in the New town, erected in 1863, is a building in the Gothic style.

Directories & Gazetteers

Transcript of the description for Ramsey from Pigot & Co. Directory of Huntingdonshire, 1839

We have transcribed the entry for Ramsey from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Huntindonshire is available to browse.

Postal districtPE26
Post TownHuntingdon