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per annum. Doddington was anciently a seat of the Bishops of Ely; Bishop Balsham, the founder of St. Peter's College, died there in 1286. Population of the parish, 7,500.
MARCH is a market-town, near Doddington, situated on the banks of the river Nene. The church is an elegant and spacious edifice. A number of coins and other Roman antiquities have been discovered in digging near this place. Population, 5,117.
THORNEY is also a small market-town, twenty miles from Ely, extremely well situated. This place was long famous as the site of an Abbey of Benedictine Monks, founded in 972, by Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester. It was a very opulent establishment, and ranked among the mitred abbeys. In the year 1085 the ancient church was taken down, and a new one was commenced by the Abbot Gunter; this structure was extensive and magnificent; but when the abbey was dissolved, great part of it was destroyed, and the rest was spared on its being made parochial. The aisles were removed in 1636; and the nave, which is sixty-six feet long, and twentyeight broad, was repaired and fitted up for divine service. The school-house occupies part of the supposed remains of the abbey cloisters. The number of inhabitants in the parish is about 2050.
The most northern town in the county, and the second in consequence, derived its name from the River Ouse, or Wis, which flows through, and falls into the sea, about eleven miles below it. It is 24 miles from Ely, 44 from Cambridge, and 94 from London. From a mention of the town in the Saxon Chronicle, Wisbech appears to have been well known as early as the 7th century; and has moreover at different times furnished evident traces of its having been a Roman station. In 1087 King William built a castle here, which was dismantled in the reign of Henry II., restored afterwards, and again destroyed, together with the town, in 1236, by an inundation of the sea; restored again as early as 1246, and probably continued thus, till rebuilt about 1480, by Morton, Bishop of Ely, from whose time it continued to be the constant or temporary residence of the Bishops of Ely, till the time of the suppression of the Hierarchy, in the interregnum, when it was purchased by John Thurloe, Esq., afterwards secretary of state to the Protector. This gentleman rebuilt it from a design of Inigo Jones, and in 1816 it was taken down by the proprietor.
The church, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, is a spacious and handsome fabric, though of singular construction, having two naves, two aisles, and two chancels. The naves are lofty, and separated from each other by a row of light slender columns, with pointed arches; the aisles are the most ancient, particularly that on the north side, which is divided from its nave by low massive columns, and Saxon arches. The window at the west end of the south aisle is much admired. It is divided into five lights, by strong mullions, and the tracery of the whole is finely varied. The tower is finished with an elegant pierced parapet and pinnacles. On the west side of the north entrance is a small chapel, or chantry, dedicated to St. Martin. Over the porch of the south entrance is a room, which in 1657 was converted into a library: it contains several valuable works, such as Walton's Polyglot Bible, the works of the early Christian Fathers, &c. In this church are several handsome monuments.
A handsome chapel of ease, of an octagonal form, adequate to the accommodation of 1,000 persons, was erected, in 1828, by subscription. The principal contributor, both to the erection and endowment, was the late vicar, the Rev. Doctor Jobson.
The charter of the corporation of Wisbech was granted by Edward VI. and confirmed successively by James I. and Charles II. By the late municipal act it is divided into two wards, and is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors.
The trade of Wisbech, which has much increased of late years, is now very considerable. The prin
cipal articles of traffic are coals, corn, timber, and wine; the average of the exports and imports amounts to nearly 86,000 tons annually. The custom-house duties paid, are about 30,000l. per annum. The market is abundantly supplied with poultry, fish, and butcher's meat; and the trade of the town is further promoted by six annual fairs, for horses, cattle, flax, and hemp. The public charities and benefactions belonging to the town are numerous and valuable.
Many improvements in the buildings have been made since the middle of the last century;—the chief of which are, a neat stone bridge over the great river, consisting of one elliptical arch, of a span of 72 feet, erected about the year 1758, at the expence
of nearly 2,300l. ;-a custom-house, a corn-exchange, a shirehall, and a jail, each of which is well adapted to its purpose. The streets are tolerably well paved, lighted, and watched; the buildings are in general neat and modern, and some few are elegant. On the whole, the town has an air of cheerful opulence and neatness, exceeded by few places of its size in the kingdom.
Wisbech also possesses an excellent Literary Society. It was instituted in 1781. The education of youth is provided for by a free grammar-school, founded 1379. In the charter of Edward VI.
provision is made that “a schoolmaster learned in the Greek and Latin languages, shall be supported in the town for ever, at an annual salary of 121.” In 1628 Thomas Parke, Esq., left lands in Cambridge
shire for the use of the master; and John Crane, Esq. of Cambridge, in 1651, left an augmentation. The whole now produces about 60l. per annum. In 1638 Mr. William Holmes founded two Scholarships at Magdalene College, Cambridge, for natives of Wisbech, educated at least three years in this School, and which are now worth about 75l. per annum each. The Bishop of Ely is the visitor of the School.
Wisbech is also one of the Corporations entitled in its turn to Mr. Crane's Charity, mentioned above at page 216.
The dissenters from the established church are numerous; consisting chiefly of Quakers, Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists. The population of the town amounts to about 8,800. In 1676 its inhabitants were only 1,705.