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Sacrewell Watermill, Thornhaugh - - 952763.jpg
Sacrewell Watermill, Thornhaugh
Cambridgeshire UK location map.svg
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Location within Cambridgeshire
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Peterborough
Postcode district PE8
EU Parliament East of England
List of places
52°36′00″N0°25′01″W / 52.6°N 0.417°W / 52.6; -0.417 Coordinates: 52°36′00″N0°25′01″W / 52.6°N 0.417°W / 52.6; -0.417

Thornhaugh is a civil parish and village in the city of Peterborough unitary authority, Cambridgeshire in the United Kingdom. For electoral purposes it forms part of Glinton and Wittering ward in North West Cambridgeshire constituency.

Peterborough City and unitary authority in England

Peterborough is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, with a population of 196,640 in 2015. Historically part of Northamptonshire, it is 75 miles (121 km) north of London, on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea 30 miles (48 km) to the north-east. The railway station is an important stop on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh. The city is also 70 miles (110 km) east of Birmingham, 38 miles (61 km) east of Leicester, 81 miles (130 km) south of Kingston upon Hull and 65 miles (105 km) west of Norwich.

Cambridgeshire County of England

Cambridgeshire is a county in the East of England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the north-east, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west. The city of Cambridge is the county town. Modern Cambridgeshire was formed in 1974 as an amalgamation of the counties of Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely and Huntingdon and Peterborough, the former covering the historic county of Cambridgeshire and the latter covering the historic county of Huntingdonshire and the Soke of Peterborough, historically part of Northamptonshire. It contains most of the region known as Silicon Fen.

Glinton, Cambridgeshire

Glinton is a village to the north of the City of Peterborough, England. Historically in Northamptonshire, it has a population of 3,130 and consists of about 1,200 dwellings. It is separated from the urban sprawl of Peterborough and the new township of Werrington by the A15, the Peterborough bypass.


Thornhaugh (or Thornhaw) is derived from Old English and means a thorn enclosed low-lying meadow beside a stream. There is evidence of a settlement here as far back as the 12th century, but probably has earlier origins. Although the village of Thornhaugh itself is quite small, the parish is one of the largest in the county of Cambridgeshire at 1,096.33 acres (443.67 ha). The parish is crossed by the A1 and A47 roads.

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

A47 road road in England linking Birmingham to Lowestoft, Suffolk

The A47 is a trunk road in England linking Birmingham to Lowestoft, Suffolk. Most of the section between Birmingham and Nuneaton is now classified as the B4114.

The village was declared a conservation area in 1979. The road that runs through the village is Russell Hill, named after William Russell, 1st Baron Russell of Thornhaugh who lived here. The Russell family are also associated with the Bedford Estate in Central London where you will find Thornhaugh Street and Russell Square in Bloomsbury.

William Russell, 1st Baron Russell of Thornhaugh British Baron

William Russell, 1st Baron Russell of Thornhaugh was an English nobleman, politician, peer, and knight. He was the younger son of Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford and his first wife Margaret St. John. His birthdate is uncertain, with some records showing that he was born as early as 1553, some as late as 1563. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and in September 1581 he was knighted.

Bedford Estate

The Bedford Estate is an estate in central London that is owned by the Russell family, which holds the peerage title of Duke of Bedford. The estate was originally based in Covent Garden, then stretched to include Bloomsbury in 1669. The Covent Garden property was sold for £2 million in 1913 by Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford, to the MP and land speculator Harry Mallaby-Deeley, who sold his option to the Beecham family for £250,000; the sale was finalised in 1918.

Russell Square large garden square in London, United Kingdom

Russell Square is a large garden square in Bloomsbury, in the London Borough of Camden, built predominantly by James Burton. It is near the University of London's main buildings and the British Museum. To the north is Woburn Place, and to the south-east is Southampton Row. Russell Square tube station is nearby to the north-east.

Parish Church of St Andrew, Thornhaugh Parish Church of St Andrew, Thornhaugh - - 84159.jpg
Parish Church of St Andrew, Thornhaugh

St Andrew's Church dates from the 12th century, although much restored in the 19th century; it is a Grade I listed building. [1] The village sign commemorates the first Baron Russell of Thornhaugh. [2] Although the main village is close to the A1 road, there is a significant hamlet (Home Farm, Leicester Road, Thornhaugh) with a dozen houses about one mile west of the main village just off the A47 road, consisting of an old hunting lodge (now two houses) and associated farm buildings (all now residential).

Baron Russell of Thornhaugh

Baron Russell of Thornhaugh is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1603 for the English military leader, the Honourable Sir William Russell. He was the fourth son of Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford. His son succeeded as Earl of Bedford in 1627 and the barony has been united with the earldom ever since.

The Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre is in the parish, to the east of the A1. Sacrewell is named after a "Sacred Well" in Sacrewell field near Sacrewell Lodge. Some sort of mill probably existed here since the Roman occupation. Excavations have found two Roman villas, a corn drier and storage building - an ideal site being adjacent to Ermine Street and next to a spring. Three mills in the area were mentioned in the Domesday book, and it is likely that Sacrewell was one of them. A new watermill, mill house and farm were completed in 1755 and was originally called Curtis’s farm after William Curtis who died in 1779.

Ermine Street road

Ermine Street is the name of a major Roman road in England that ran from London (Londinium) to Lincoln and York (Eboracum). The Old English name was "Earninga Straete" (1012), named after a tribe called the Earningas, who inhabited a district later known as Armingford Hundred, around Arrington, Cambridgeshire and Royston, Hertfordshire. "Armingford", and "Arrington" share the same Old English origin. The original Celtic and Roman names for the route remain unknown. It is also known as the Old North Road from London to where it joins the A1 Great North Road near Godmanchester.

William Scott Abbott became a tenant at the farm during the First World War and expanded the farm operations. After his death his widow Mary carried on following her husband’s dream. Her nephew David Powell took over the management of the farm in 1959 and in 1964 Mary founded The William Scott Abbott Trust. The vision was to provide an agricultural education for all and the educational values they promoted are still very much alive. The watermill remained a working mill until 1965, when it was no longer profitable, however, it has now been fully restored as a heritage working mill; a centre of milling excellence and an educational tool with a £1.4 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant. [3] Sacrewell visitor centre was opened to the public in 1981 and the farm and watermill are now successful visitor attractions.

Watermill structure that uses a water wheel or turbine to drive a mechanical process

A watermill or water mill is a mill that uses hydropower. It is a structure that uses a water wheel or water turbine to drive a mechanical process such as milling (grinding), rolling, or hammering. Such processes are needed in the production of many material goods, including flour, lumber, paper, textiles, and many metal products. These watermills may comprise gristmills, sawmills, paper mills, textile mills, hammermills, trip hammering mills, rolling mills, wire drawing mills.

Russell Hill Russell Hill.jpg
Russell Hill

Within the parish of Thornhaugh is Bedford Purlieus National Nature Reserve, an historic woodland of 520 acres and part of what was the ancient Royal Forest of Rockingham. Up to the mid 1600s it was known as Thornhaugh Woods or The High wood of Thornhaw. The name changed when the Dukes of Bedford took ownership renaming it Bedford Purlieus. English Nature declared the wood a National Nature Reserve in 2000, in recognition of its importance as a species-rich semi-natural native woodland. The wood is the most ecologically diverse wood in Britain and home to more plant and insect species than most other woods in this country. Muntjac and fallow deer are found on the reserve, and bird life includes nightingale, red kite, sparrowhawk, kestrel, little owl, tawny owl and long-eared owl. Reptiles at the site include adders, grass snakes, common lizards and slow worms. Bedford Purlieus is managed by English Nature and Forest Enterprise in partnership and is open to the public during daylight hours.

There is significant confirmation of Roman industrial occupation within the wood with many iron ore extraction pits and evidence of a bath house. It was featured on series 17 of television’s Time Team in 2011.

During the Second World War, Bedford Purlieus was used as part of RAF Kings Cliffe for airmen’s living accommodation which were dispersed around the woods to reduce the risk of being hit in the event of an air raid. Various foundations still remain. Buildings within Leedsgate Farm (private property) included the theatre, gym and chapel for the airbase.

See also

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  1. Historic England. "Church of St Andrew, Thornhaugh (1225298)". National Heritage List for England .
  2. "Baron returns to Thornhaugh village sign". Stamford Mercury. 21 August 2014.
  3. "First look at restored mill at Sacrewell" Peterborough Telegraph 26 July 2015