As the Saxons invaded East Anglia the Iceni apparently withdrew to Soham and provided a Christian refuge for St Felix when he arrived in 653AD, to Christianise the East Angles. Soham was the first see of the Bishops of East Anglia. A situation regularised by the marriage of Etheldreda to Tonbert the last King of the Iceni. The first cathedral was founded here; subsequently moved to Ely about 820AD. The populace had gone to Soham Mereside to trade. The Danes changed the prows of their ships; could sail in and slaughtered the people, monks and sacked the monastic buildings. The manorial lands themselves, were settled by the Crown before the Norman Conquest and are documented in the Domesday Book. Soham is situated six and two thirds of a mile from Ely and Newmarket, because this is as far as a man could ride in a day to set up a fresh market. Soham’s market was apparently the first in the area. The statute ‘Quia Emptores’ of 1290, which still remains in force today, states that ‘no Lordship of the Manor can have a valid existence unless it existed prior to 1290’ when the act came into force. Not only did the manor of Soham pre date 1290, it did in fact predate the Conquest, and was even recorded in a visit here by King Canute –‘on skates proceeded by a fat man called Budde – (Pudding) as he crossed Soham Mere on to the monks in Ely’! In 1372 the manor was granted to John – Duke of Lancaster (the future King Henry 4th) and in 1459 all manors were made a parcel of the Duchy, regularly referred to as ‘Soham and Fordham’, along with some other smaller manors which had all returned to the crown under King Henry IV in 1399. Duke Brithnoth also had a small manor in Soham, given to the Abbot and Convent of Ely in 991AD. Other smaller manors passed to the Tiptoft family (Earls of Worcester) descending to female heirs, eventually taking the name of Netherhall Wygorne. In 1685 the Crown sold the manors to Sir Thomas Chicheley, allotting 115 acres for the use of the poor and the founding of a grammar school. He abandoned attempts to recover the ancient field strips. One and a quarter acres is as much as a horse can plough in a day.
MEMORIES OF HAZELMARY LYON – By Mr Timothy Clark
My great grandfather Alfred Clark the founder of Clark & Butcher Ltd married twice. His first extremely successful marriage was to Sarah Bovingdon. She had sisters who had also married into Soham families; both the Staples and the Cookes had a Bovingdon connection. Sarah died after giving birth to eight children in fairly rapid succession, leaving the young Alfred junior and Ellen to be brought up by his second wife.
According to the Gesta Herewardi, Hereward was exiled at the age of eighteen for disobedience to his father and disruptive behaviour. He was declared an outlaw by Edward the Confessor. At the time of the Norman invasion of England, he was still in exile in Europe, working as a successful mercenary for the Count of Flander, Baldwin V. According to the Gesta he took part in tournaments in Cambrai. At some point in his exile Hereward is said to have married Turfida, a Gallo-Germanic woman from a wealthy family in Saint-OmerSaint. She is said in theGesta to have fallen in love with him before she met him, having heard of his heroic exploits.
Many, many varied people have published information and books on Soham Pubs, brewery and ale houses; even the local papers have, including The Newmarket Journal and more recently Soham Town Forum, have both produced information, pictures and maps; but not many have the wealth of information gathered by Janet Murfet of Soham.
Soham’s Clubs and Leisure Facilities – A short and Concise History
A Pleasure Fair held with the Whitsun horse fair still attracted swings and roundabouts in the 1860s, but was declining by the 1880s. Soham’s chief 19th-century holiday was the village feast, by the 1750s starting on the Monday after Midsummer, the date selected for one of the fairs granted in 1679 to Sir Thomas Chicheley. Usually held by the 1840s from Monday to Wednesday, the feast continued to flourish, even though fewer travelling show men appeared in the 1870s and 1880s, in the 1890s. From the 1850s it included a cricket match. From c. 1850 to the early 1880s the landlord of the Crown brought down singers and acrobats from London to perform on his bowling green, also displaying fireworks. A local amateur brass band, founded by 1853, gave outdoor gala concerts, still attended by up to 1,500 people in the 1880s. An outdoor ‘gipsy tea’ on the Thursday after, which Soham temperance supporters started c.1855 in protest at excesses of conviviality during the feast, was from the late 1860s co-opted as a customary part of it. From 1860 to c.1875 the Anglican clergy sponsored, during their July Sunday-school festivities, flower and vegetable shows for cottagers, revived for allotment-holders from 1888 by a Horticultural Society. From the late 1890s to the 1920s the feast was gradually overshadowed by a parade, started by the vicar c.1898, held on the Sunday before in support of Addenbrooke’s Hospital. From 1953 a carnival was held yearly at Whitsun, organized by the Soham Benevolent Association to raise funds for local causes: in the 1960s, at its peak it attracted c. 15,000 visitors. Its parade of floats was replaced from 1973with a show of up to 100 heavy horses, grazed on Soham’s commons. The carnival was supplemented from 1976 by an autumn ‘pumpkin fair’, also continuing in the 1990.
Roma – Romulus and Remus Coin
A similar, if not the same type of coin, found by Archeologist’s on Soham’s Fordham Road development recently, has been unknowingly in Soham since 1980.
The 1.6cm, bronze coin was found in a spoil heap, from a housing development in a neighboring county. Archeologists had surveyed an area of the site and found nothing, but it seems they were roughly 200 feet off. Soon after the archeologists left, the developers found a Roman road, cemetery, with countless bodies and artifacts; one of which was the coin that now resides in Soham, with a member of the original finders family.
Centuries Of Activity
There is evidence of human activity in and around Soham since the Bronze Age. The parish has yielded bronze weapons and tools, and some pottery, including two urns found near an un-cremated skeleton in Clipsall field.
School Days: A Short Piece Of Basic Information Relating To All Our Schools Past And Present
Church of England Primary School – Clay Street
Clay Street Primary School, Soham The Clay Street junior school and annex (Soham CE Junior school), served the community of Soham from it’s construction in 1863. Before it closed in 1991 it was replaced by St Andrews C of E Primary school which is based on Sand Street. The front of the main school, further along Clay Street, was made notable by the ‘Anglo Saxon’ warrior statue made of plough shears that once stood on a plinth in front of the lower central section. The statue is now housed ‘in pieces’ in a local barn.
On March 25th, 1807 parliament finally passed the Act of Abolition: slavery in Britain was banned. The slave trade was highly lucrative and entrenched in English culture. Despite opposition, a band of men were determined to see it abolished and spent years campaigning for its end.