Burwell, a village and a parish in Cambridgeshire. The village stands 4 miles ESE of the river Cam, 5 NW of Newmarket, consists chiefly of one irregular street, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Cambridge, with a station on the Cambridge and Mildenhall branch of the G.E.R. Traces of a castle are here, built before the Conquest, and besieged in the war between Stephen and the Empress Matilda. Seventy-eight persons were accidentally burnt to death in a barn here in 1727. The parish includes also part of the hamlet of Reach. Acreage, 7446; population, 1998. About one half of the land is fen. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely; net yearly value, £272 with residence. Patron, the University of Cambridge. The church is fine Perpendicular English, was partly restored in 1861, and has a pinnacled tower. There is a mission church of 1863, besides Baptist, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels. There are also an endowed school, and an estate worth about £100 yearly, the income from which is devoted to the repair of the church and the endowed school.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Burwell St. Mary|
|Poor Law union||Newmarket|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The parish register dates from the year 1562, and contains an account of a calamitous fire which took place in 1727, when a barn in which about 140 persons were assembled to witness a puppet show took light from the accidental firing of loose straw, and about 80 persons perished.
Church of England
St. Andrew's mission chapel, at the north end of the village, is an edifice of brick, erected at a cost of £1,100, and opened 12th November, 1863: it will hold 200 persons.
St. Mary (parish church)
The church of St. Mary, at the south end of the village, is a light and elegant structure in the Late Perpendicular style, and consists of chancel (restored in 1867-8 by the University of Cambridge), nave, aisles, north and south porches and an embattled western tower, with pinnacles and spire, and containing a clock and 5 bells: the wall between the nave and chancel and the roof of the nave were built in 1464, at the expense of the Bennet family, as appears by an inscription in stone in the church: in the church is a brass effigy of an ecclesiastic, vested in cassock, surplice and almuce, the head resting on a pillow, and originally under a triple canopy, but only the central pediment, with a figure of Our Lord in Pity, remains; this brass is palimpsest, and the reverse includes part of the remaining pediment of the canopy, made up of three pieces of an early figure of a deacon, c. 1320; the bottom portion of the canopy consists of the lower half of the figure of an abbot in rich vestments, and generally assigned to John Lawrence, abbot of Ramsey 1508-39, who died in 1542 and directed that he should be buried here: the church was extensively restored during the period 1877-90 and an organ and chancel screen erected, at a total cost of £1,727, and it now affords 650 sittings.
The Baptist chapel, erected in 1851, has 500 sittings.
The Congregational chapel was founded in 1600, and has seating for 420 people.
There is a Primitive Methodist chapel.
There is a Wesleyan chapel.
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Burwell from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Burwell (St. Mary))
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Cambridgeshire is available to browse.
Online maps of Burwell are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Cambridgeshire papers online:
- Cambridge Independent Press
- Cambridge Chronicle and Journal
- Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette
The Visitations of Cambridgeshire 1575 and 1619 is available online.