St Clements, Outwell
|Council:||King's Lynn and West Norfolk|
|South West Norfolk|
The village is to be found five miles south-east of Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, the nearest town, and 18 miles south-west of King's Lynn in Norfolk, on the route of the A1101 Bury St Edmunds to Long Sutton road. The parish of Outwell in the 2001, had a recored population of 1,880 at the 2001 census.
It is thought that the name Outwell is derived from its position as a later settlement or extension of nearby village of Upwell. The name dates from the Anglo-Saxon period, recorded as Utwella in the Domesday Book.
The village is split neatly in two between two counties; Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, the border of which is marked by the old course of the River Nene, which line runs right through the middle of the village.
The village and parish is traversed with many drainage channels which characterize this part of Fenland Norfolk. The eastern corner of the parish is cut north to south by the Middle Level main Drain. Crossing the parish from east to west is the drain called Well Creek. The north and eastern parts of the parish consist of arable and pasture fields, the eastern area referred to as Walsingham Fens and the north area as Well Moors. On the edges of the village there is a small amount of woodland near Birdbeck Field and to the south and at Church Field to the east of the village.
Outwell has an entry in the Domesday Book of 1085. In the great book Outwell is recorded by the name of Utwella and Wtwella. The parish was in the custody William de Warenne. The survey also records 16 bordars with lands worth 5s. as belonging to Saint Benedict's abbey in Ramsey.
Drainage and Flooding
In the Middle Ages the River Nene determined the entail layout of Outwell. Since that time, the Landscape of the whole district has consequently been much altered by the construction of several large drains which run through the parish. In the 17th century Popham's Eau was cut to provide a conduit for the waters of the old River Nene into the River Great Ouse at Salter's Lode. This was followed by many alterations and new drains being dug. In May 1862 one sixth of the Parish of Outwell was inundated with water when the Middle Level Drain burst through its banks. It took three years before the area had fully recovered from the flood. Also constructed across the parish was the Wisbech Canal, now disused, which followed the course of the Well Stream as far as Outwell church and then struck across in a south-easterly direction to join Popham's Eau at Nordelph.
One consequence of all the drains and watercourse around this part of the Fens is the sport of Fen skating. During the cold winters of the 1820s and 1830s there were a number of fenmen who made a name for themselves as skaters. They included James May of Upwell
Beaupré Hall was a large 16th-century manor house on the outskirts of Outwell, built by the Beaupre family, who also financed the many chapels in the church at Outwell. It was later lived in by Robert Bell during the reign of Elizabeth I. In decline since the Victorian era, during Second World War, the hall was commandeered by the RAF and later used for holiday housing. From this point the Hall fell into a state of further disrepair until its demolition in 1966.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place-names: by James Rye: Published by Larks press, Dereham, Norfolk, 2000 ; ISBN 0-948400-15-3
- The Domesday Book, England's Heritage, Then and Now, (Editor: Thomas Hinde), Norfolk, page 192, Outwell, ISBN 1-85833-440-3
- N & A Goodman 1882 Handbook of fen skating. London.
- A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume IV
- Worsley, G., England's Lost Houses, Aurum Press Limited, 2002