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Scull above Baits Bite Lock - geograph.org.uk - 672865.jpg
The Cam near Horningsea
Grid reference: TL4962
Location: 52°14’26"N, 0°11’11"E
Population: 331  (2001)
Post town: Cambridge
Postcode: CB25
Dialling code: 01223
Local Government
Council: South Cambridgeshire
South East Cambridgeshire

Horningsea is a small village in Cambridgeshire, sitting on the east bank of the River Cam north of Cambridge, north of Fen Ditton and on the road from Cambridge to Clayhithe. The nearest railway station is Waterbeach.

Bait's Bite Lock on the River Cam is just to the south of the village; the first lock downriver from Jesus Green in Cambridge and so a frequent gathering place of rowing eights.

Listed as Horningesea in the Domesday Book, the village's name derives from either "Horning's Island" (referring to dry ground in marsh) or "Horn-shaped Hill Island".[1][2]

Parish church

Church of St Peter

The village has been home to a place of worship for well over a thousand years. A minster was built here in the 9th century; it was sacked by the invading Danes in the 870s but rebuilt soon after. Only a pair of Anglo-Saxon coffin lids remain from the original church.

The south arcade remains from the 11th century, the chancel from around 1220, and the building was substantially rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries. During this period it was granted to the Hospital of St John in Cambridge, and at the order's dissolution at the Reformation its lands passed to St John's College, Cambridge. The church was extensively restored in the early 19th century.[3]


Horningsea's location on the River Cam is central to its development as a village, whose use for navigation dates back to at least Roman times. Around 4,000 years ago, the parish consisted of a chalk promontory between marshland and the sea, and there is evidence of Iron Age habitation. Around 1000 years ago it had become a peninsula extending northwards into the undrained fens.[1]

Between the 2nd and 4th centuries Horningsea was used for pottery by the Romans and was connected to Lincoln by Car Dyke, a Roman canal.[4]

Drainage of the area began with Bottisham Lode in the early Middle Ages, and a bridge is mentioned in the village in the late 13th century. In 1637 the Earl of Bedford was given 400 acres in Fen Ditton, Horningsea, and Stow cum Quy which were drained over the following 20 years. The remainder of the parish was drained in the late 18th and 19th centuries, other than the area around Snout's Corner, which is still fenland.[1]

The Saxon hamlets of Eye and Clayhithe have been part of Horningsea parish since 1279; Clayhithe stands where the ancient peninsula reached the river.[1]

Big Society

The village sign

Horningsea has one pub (Plough and Fleece [5]), a restaurant (the Crown and Punchbowl), and the parish church of St Peter. The only retail facility inside the village is a Garden centre which also contains a cycle shop.

In September, 2012 a Community Interest Company (Horningsea CIC) took over the running of the pub.[6]

There were three public houses in 1764; The Sluice at Clayhithe which catered to the river traffic, closed in around 1830, The Chequers, which probably opened around 1800 and closed in around 1873, and The Crown and Punch Bowl inn which opened in a 17th-century building in around 1764. The Plough and Fleece, occupying a 16th-century building, opened as a pub in the 19th century.[1]

The Millennium Green contains a sculpture called Convexity created by local artist Matthew Sanderson.[7] The Millennium pavilion is also situated here. These were created as part of the Millennium celebrations at the start of 2000.

Village flag

Village flag

In April 2014, Horningsea adopted a village flag, at the initiative of the Residents Association. The design, by Peter Halford, is a striking one showing a potter at his wheel, which represents the long history of pottery in Horningsea, evidently going back to Roman times. The potter emblem long predates the flag - it was adopted for the village sign in 1982 and is also used for the logo of the residents association. For the flag the colours of white and red being decided as the most appropriate to represent the village, being the colours of the Order of St John, the Knights Hospitaller, which owned the manor in the Middle Ages.

A swallow-tailed variation of this flag also exists and is flown in the village.

The village has another flag too, also created in 2014 and this one just to mark an event of that year, namely the 800th anniversary of the parish's being given by the Bishop of Ely to the Order of the Knights of St John in 1214. The Order's holdings were passed at the Reformation to St Johns College, Cambridge. This event flag features the eagle shown on the wax seal of the Order over the crossed keys of St Peter on a red field denoting Lady Margaret Beaufort, benefactor of St Johns College, with a golden border.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Horningsea)