History of Ramsey from 1600

History of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, UK, from 1600 to date


One the 29 August 1636 the Little Whyte was hit by fire. 'Fifteen commoning tenements' were burnt down and many others were damaged. The names the Great Whyte and the Little Whyte  goes back to the 13th Century. The Great Whyte which was once called the Whyte turns northwards from the Little Whyte. On the 21 May 1731 the High Street and the Great Whyte suffered the same fate as the Little Whyte did. Most of the north and the west side was burnt to the ground and many buildings were damaged. The 17th century houses at the bottom of the Great Whyte survived.  These houses can still be seen but they have been renovated. One of these houses is the George Hotel.

On the south there was a railway station (this is where the pub 'The Railway Inn' is located) there is a lane. This lane was called Biggin Lane. This lane still excites today. Biggin Lane first appeared in the 14th century as 'Le Byggyngwey'. This lane led to the moated grange of the monastery called the Biggin. There was also a Lepers Lane in Ramsey and land in Hepmangrove next to Lepers Lane which permitted the identification of Lepers Lane to Biggin Lane.

When Edward II was on the throne John de Pappeworth caught leprosy and an order was passed against him so that no one was to receive him into their house. From this it is possible to believe that the Biggin could have been one of the small Leper houses. When the disease was almost wiped out in the 14th century this house would have been used for something else. In 1606 Sir Philip Cromwell, brother of Oliver Cromwell started to live in the old Leper house. In 1757 the house was pulled down.

After the dissolution of the monastery in 1539 Sir Richard Williams alias Cromwell earned a lot of profit from the Abbey by selling the building material. The 16th century Gonville and Caius Collage, Trinity Collage, King's Collage were mainly built from the material from the Abbey. There is also evidence that the gateway at Hinchingbrooke was taken from Ramsey.

The Cromwell's used the Abbey as a quarry until the 17th century. In the last few years of the 16th century Sir Henry Cromwell began to build the present house which was said to be his summer residence. His son Sir Oliver Cromwell lived at Hinchingbrooke until he fell into financial difficulties so then he took up residence up in Ramsey Abbey.

Destroying the Abbey

Animation of a man taking the stone from Ramsey Abbey

Taking the stone from Ramsey Abbey


In 1839 the house was considerably altered and enlarged with the designs of Blore. A wing was added on the west side of the house. A new north front was built between the towers. A pierced parapet and new porch was also added. At the end of the ground floor there is a late 13th century statue supposed to represent Ailwin (Ailwyn) the founder of Ramsey Abbey (This is where the name for the secondary school comes from). The figure has a beard and curled hair and wears a civil dress with a long cloak. He holds two keys and a wand in his right hand and his left hand is resting on his chest. Over his head is a trefoiled canopy and above that there are angels holding the soul in a sheet. His feet rest on a lion.

In the 18th century the lord and Lady de Ramsey gave the abbey up so that it could be come a grammar school. To start with it was a privet school for boys. Later that century it allowed girls into the school. Then in the 19th century it became a public school for boys and girls. In the year 2000 the Ramsey Abbey School became an Information Communication Technology Collage. This is what it is today.

Ramsey Abbey House

Ramsey Abbey House (circa 2002) viewed from the sports field of Ramsey Ailwyn School.

Ramsey Abbey House (circa 2002) viewed from the sports field of Ramsey Ailwyn School.


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