St Mary Magdalene, Warboys
Warboys is a large village in Huntingdonshire on the edge of the fens, between Ramsey and St Ives. Warboys enjoys the rather dubious distinction of being the last recorded place from which witches were taken and hanged: three of them hanged at Huntingdon in 1593 after being found guilty of witchcraft at the Assizes.
The name of Warboys is partly Old English and partly Norman-French and means "Look-Out Wood" (weard + bois), though its name in the Domesday Book of 1086 shows that it was once wholly English: Wardebusc ("ward bush").
In recent years the village has grown a great deal as a residential area and its small central core of streets with their shops have almost a town-like appearance with, at its heart, a tall Victorian clock tower with a gabled roof. Older buildings of interest include the 16th Century manor house and church whose splendid 13th Century tower and spire is one of the finest in the county.
Close to the village is Pingle Wood Cutting a nature reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust and noted for its masses of quite rare spotted orchids and, just off the nature trail, are a few of the even rarer bee orchids.
The parish church is St Mary Magdalene. Nothing now remains of the church which existed as the time of the Domesday survey of 1086; the earliest church of which there is now evidence was built in the middle of the 12th century, probably when the church and its possessions were granted by Abbot Walter to the almonry of Ramsey Abbey. This church consisted of the present nave and a north aisle. The chancel arch, the responds at each end of the north aisle and a small piece of walling at the south-west corner of the nave of this church still survive.
The chancel was rebuilt and shortened before the beginning of the 19th century and, in 1832, it was extended eastwards apparently to its original length and considerably altered. The spire was restored in 1898 and in 1926 the tower and south aisle were underpinned. The additions of 1832 (except those to the chancel) were removed and the floor restored to its former level.
The northeast part of the parish is in the Fenland, with the higher land to the south being of stiff clay. Warboys Wood is the only remaining piece of woodland.
The village grew up at the foot of a fork formed at the junction of the main road from St Ives to Ramsey, with a branch road leading eastwards over Warboys Heath on to Fenton. The main road, as it passes through the village, is called Church Street, and the branch road is High Street. The church is at the south end of the village. There are three or four old cottages in the village, including the White Hart Inn on the north side of the High Street - a 17th-century brick house with a thatched roof.
Warboys is famed for the trial of the so-called "Witches of Warboys", taken up in Warboys in 1593, during the reign of Queen Bess, convicted at the Huntingdon Assizes and hanged in Huntingdon.
In 1774 an Act of Parliament was passed for draining certain lands in Warboys, including 300 acres called High Fen and 60 acres that were part of New Pasture. In 1795, an Act was passed for dividing, enclosing and draining the open common fields in Warboys. A further Act was passed in 1798 to amend the previous Act as regards the lands allotted in lieu of tithes.
A local landmark is the clock tower, built in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria on the throne.
In Second World War, the RAF operated a bomber airfield just south west of the village called RAF Warboys. Wellingtons operated there from 1942 until early 1943 when they were replaced by Lancasters. After early 1944, the airfield was used for training until flying operations ended late in 1945. All the buildings and land were sold by 1964.
Warboys Youth Action is a charity established in 1993 and exists to promote the moral, physical and spiritual well being of those between 11 and 18 years of age who live in the parish. With a reputation as the provider of a youth club which was housed in part of the old school at the rear of the library.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- Warboys Parish Council
- Church website
- Village related information
- Warboys Village History and Directory
- Victoria County History entry for Warboys