We Meet Once More.

8th July 2021 – A Walk around Titchmarsh

by Julie Nicholson.

We enjoyed the first face-to-face meeting of Peterborough Local History Society since March 2020, with a visit to a small village (600 inhabitants), 20 miles south-west of Peterborough. The sun shone and we couldn’t have picked a better evening for a guided tour around the village. 

Our host and guide, Ian Curtis of Titchmarsh History Association, provided a commentary and it felt as though we were walking through time, as he took us back to events and people long since passed. The village certainly had its fair share of characters over the years and it’s good that their memory is being kept alive in this way.

We began at the glorious church of St Mary the Virgin with a doorway identified as being from Norman times. In addition to being a place of worship for the village for nearly a thousand years, the church is also being used as a community space, with parties and events held within those majestic walls. Adapting with the times to serve more than the spiritual needs of the villagers. Note the chimney above the porch – there to warm a chamber used by the Pickering family (one of four prominent Titchmarsh families) as their pew or ‘gallery’.

We then went “off-roading” and walked across Church field. Now a firm grass path, this was once the main road through the village. In the 1640s and 1650s Gilbert Pickering created Church Street and then subsequently received permission to cut off part of the old road from Titchmarsh to Thrapston. The Pickerings were lords of the manor and influential supporters of Cromwell in the Civil War – but where was their manor house? This was a mystery remaining until recently, when research gave way to discovering that it was, indeed, just a short distance from the Church, in Churchfield. Doubtless, the reason that George Pickering had the road closed – he didn’t want all and sundry traipsing past his front door! Moving on, we had a wonderful view of the Old Rectory, a magnificent building dating from 1861. Now a private home, it was originally built on the site of a former rectory that had fallen into disrepair.

Emerging from Churchfield, we walked to a row of almshouses. These date from 1756 and were founded as ‘a hospital for eight poor widows or maidens of the parish of Titchmarsh’. They have now been modernised as six individual homes, without the strict rules that former residents had to adhere to (no drinking or card playing; no quarrelling; and a requirement for regular attendance at church). 

As you can see, the doorway to this cottage which dates back to the late 1600s continues the “small” theme but the scones, jam and cream, together with the other refreshments we were served at the end of our walk certainly didn’t! We deserved it – we did walk a long way!

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