From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Somersham in 2008.jpg
Somersham is located in Cambridgeshire
Somersham shown within Cambridgeshire
Population 3,802 (2001)[1]
3,810 (2011)
OS grid reference TL361779
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PE28
Dialling code 01487
Police Cambridgeshire
Fire Cambridgeshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°22′56″N 0°00′02″E / 52.382255°N 0.00061°E / 52.382255; 0.00061Coordinates: 52°22′56″N 0°00′02″E / 52.382255°N 0.00061°E / 52.382255; 0.00061

Somersham is a village and civil parish in Cambridgeshire, England.[2] Somersham lies approximately 9 miles (14 km) east of Huntingdon and 4 miles (6 km) north of St Ives. Somersham is situated within Huntingdonshire which is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire as well as being a historic county of England.

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.

There was once a railway station at Somersham connecting it to the towns of March and St Ives, as well as a short branch to Ramsey.


Somersham Parish Church

The manor of Somersham was held by the Abbots (later Bishops) of Ely who obtained it from the Anglo Saxon Ealdorman Britnoth following his death at the Battle of Maldon.

In 1085 William the Conqueror ordered that a survey should be carried out across his kingdom to discover who owned which parts and what it was worth. The survey took place in 1086 and the results were recorded in what, since the 12th century, has become known as the Domesday Book. Starting with the king himself, for each landholder within a county there is a list of their estates or manors; and, for each manor, there is a summary of the resources of the manor, the amount of annual rent that was collected by the lord of the manor both in 1066 and in 1086, together with the taxable value.[3]

Somersham was listed in the Domesday Book in the Hundred of Hurstingstone in Huntingdonshire; the name of the settlement was written as Summersham in the Domesday Book.[4] In 1086 there was just one manor at Somersham; the annual rent paid to the lord of the manor in 1066 had been £7 and the rent had increased to £8 in 1086.[5]

The Domesday Book does not explicitly detail the population of a place but it records that there were 41 households at Somersham.[5] There is no consensus about the average size of a household at that time; estimates range from 3. 5 to 5. 0 people per household.[6] Using these figures then an estimate of the population of Somersham in 1086 is that it was within the range of 143 and 205 people.

The Domesday Book uses a number of units of measure for areas of land that are now unfamiliar terms, such as hides and ploughlands. In different parts of the country, these were terms for the area of land that a team of eight oxen could plough in a single season and are equivalent to 120 acres (49 hectares); this was the amount of land that was considered to be sufficient to support a single family. By 1086, the hide had become a unit of tax assessment rather than an actual land area; a hide was the amount of land that could be assessed as £1 for tax purposes. The survey records that there were eleven ploughlands at Somersham in 1086 and that there was the capacity for a further ploughland.[5] In addition to the arable land, there was 20 acres (8 hectares) of meadows and 1,361 acres (551 hectares) of woodland at Somersham.[5] There were three fisheries.

The tax assessment in the Domesday Book was known as geld or danegeld and was a type of land-tax based on the hide or ploughland. It was originally a way of collecting a tribute to pay off the Danes when they attacked England, and was only levied when necessary. Following the Norman Conquest, the geld was used to raise money for the King and to pay for continental wars; by 1130, the geld was being collected annually. Having determined the value of a manor's land and other assets, a tax of so many shillings and pence per pound of value would be levied on the land holder. While this was typically two shillings in the pound the amount did vary; for example, in 1084 it was as high as six shillings in the pound. For the manor at Somersham the total tax assessed was eight geld.[5]

In 1086 there was no church at Somersham.

The manor passed to the Crown when Elizabeth I seized it via 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. "[7]

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 James Stanley, of Ely, 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.

In the latter part of the 14th century, the church in Somersham was a living in possession of the English Cardinal and papal courtier Adam Easton and he relied on its wealth until his death in 1397.

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


As a civil parish, Somersham has a parish council. The parish council is elected by the residents of the parish who have registered on the electoral roll; the parish council is the lowest tier of government in England. A parish council is responsible for providing and maintaining a variety of local services including allotments and a cemetery; grass cutting and tree planting within public open spaces such as a village green or playing fields. The parish council reviews all planning applications that might affect the parish and makes recommendations to Huntingdonshire District Council, which is the local planning authority for the parish. The parish council also represents the views of the parish on issues such as local transport, policing and the environment. The parish council raises its own tax to pay for these services, known as the parish precept, which is collected as part of the Council Tax. The parish precept for the financial year ending 31 March 2015 was just over £151, 000.[8] The parish council consists of fifteen councillors.[9]

Somersham was in the historic and administrative county of Huntingdonshire until 1965. From 1965, the village was part of the new administrative county of Huntingdon and Peterborough. Then in 1974, following the Local Government Act 1972, Somersham became a part of the county of Cambridgeshire.

The second tier of local government is Huntingdonshire District Council which is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire and has its headquarters in Huntingdon. Huntingdonshire District Council has 52 councillors representing 29 district wards.[10] Huntingdonshire District Council collects the council tax, and provides services such as building regulations, local planning, environmental health, leisure and tourism.[11] Somersham is a district ward and is represented on the district council by two councillors.[12][10] District councillors serve for four-year terms following elections to Huntingdonshire District Council.

For Somersham the highest tier of local government is Cambridgeshire County Council which has administration buildings in Cambridge. The county council provides county-wide services such as major road infrastructure, fire and rescue, education, social services, libraries and heritage services.[13] Cambridgeshire County Council consists of 69 councillors representing 60 electoral divisions.[14] Somersham is part of the electoral division of Somersham and Earith[12] and is represented on the county council by one councillor.[14]

At Westminster Somersham is in the parliamentary constituency of North West Cambridgeshire,[12] and elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. Somersham is represented in the House of Commons by Shailesh Vara (Conservative). Shailesh Vara has represented the constituency since 2005. The previous member of parliament was Brian Mawhinney (Conservative) who represented the constituency between 1997 and 2005. For the European Parliament Somersham is part of the East of England constituency which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.



In the period 1801 to 1901 the population of Somersham was recorded every ten years by the UK census. During this time the population was in the range of 833 (the lowest was in 1801) and 1653 (the highest was in 1851).[15]

From 1901, a census was taken every ten years with the exception of 1941 (due to the Second World War).

Somersham 1404 1466 1417 1317 1401 1513 2985 3538 3802 3810

All population census figures from report Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011 by Cambridgeshire Insight.[15]

In 2011, the parish covered an area of 4,670 acres (1,890 hectares)[15] and the population density of Somersham in 2011 was 522. 1 persons per square mile (201. 6 per square kilometre).

Culture and community

Containing two public houses, two schools, and many shops, it is a well catered village, despite the recent closing of a number of small shops. Current shops include a Tesco express, Costcutter & post office, Florists, Printers, Pet shop, Chemists, 4 hair salons/barbers, butchers, Chinese restaurant and takeaway, Indian takeaway, Fish and chip shop m, 2 doctors surgeries and 2 playgroups.

Sport and leisure

The local football club, Somersham Town, plays in the Cambridgeshire League, having previously been members of the Eastern Counties League. There is also a thriving cricket club located in the Millennium fields which is always looking for new members.

Somersham Town Band is the only brass band in the old county of Huntingdonshire. It can trace its history back to 1919, although the current band was reformed in 1980 after being dormant during the 1970s.[16]

Bus services

There are a number of local bus routes serving the village:


  1. ^ "Neighbourhood Statistics – Somersham CP (Parish)". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 13 February 2008. 
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 142 Peterborough (Market Deeping & Chatteris) (Map). Ordnance Survey. 2012. ISBN 9780319229248. 
  3. ^ Dr Ann Williams, Professor G.H. Martin, eds. (1992). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. London: Penguin Books. pp. 551–561. ISBN 0-141-00523-8. 
  4. ^ Dr Ann Williams, Professor G.H. Martin, eds. (1992). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. London: Penguin Books. p. 1401. ISBN 0-141-00523-8. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Professor J.J.N. Palmer, University of Hull. "Open Domesday: Place – Somersham". www. Anna Powell-Smith. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Goose, Nigel; Hinde, Andrew. "Estimating Local Population Sizes" (PDF). Retrieved 23 February 2016. 
  7. ^ A History of the County of Huntingdon, Vol. II, William Page, Granville Proby, 1932, British History Online
  8. ^ "Somersham Parish Council: Annual Return 20114/15". www. Somersham Parish Council. Retrieved 8 February 2016. 
  9. ^ "Somersham Parish Council: Councillors". www. Somersham Parish Council. Retrieved 8 February 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "Huntingdonshire District Council: Councillors". www. Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016. 
  11. ^ "Huntingdonshire District Council". www. Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c "Ordnance Survey Election Maps". www. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 23 February 2016. 
  13. ^ "Cambridgeshire County Council". www. Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016. 
  14. ^ a b "Cambridgeshire County Council: Councillors". www. Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  15. ^ a b c "Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011" (xlsx – download). www. Cambridgeshire Insight. Retrieved 12 February 2016. 
  16. ^ "Somersham Town Band". Retrieved 28 December 2013. 

External links

  • History of Somersham – Historical information about Somersham and the surrounding area.
  • Adam Easton – Historical information about Adam Easton including his relationship with Somersham.
  • 00214&zoom=16&layers=B000FTF Somersham on OpenStreetMap
  • Local bus timetables
  • St John the Baptist Church, Somersham – covers history of the building
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