Located in the East of England, Peterborough is the largest city within the county of Cambridgeshire and is situated on the River Nene. The birthplace of the famous poet John Clare, Peterborough offers attractions such as the beautiful Cathedral, the Thorney Heritage Museum and the Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, as well as being home to the Nene Valley Railway. With Queensgate just one of the many retail facilities on offer in the city, together with an array of restaurants and bars, visitors can enjoy relaxing walks whilst exploring the many nature reserves and parklands that are located in Peterborough.
With evidence of settlements in the area of Peterborough dating back to the Bronze Age, Roman occupation took place during the 1st and 2nd century, which saw the establishment of a garrison town and Peterborough became a key location of the production of ceramics.
Peterborough was known as Medeshamstede by the Anglo Saxons, who in 655AD built a monastery on the site. Sadly destroyed when the Vikings invaded, the Abbey Church was then built on the site of the present Cathedral. Construction of the Cathedral itself dates back to the early 1100’s with work completed by 1238. In 1541 it became of the Diocese of Peterborough and at this time Peterborough was also awarded city status. The Peterborough Chronicle famously contains information written by Monks about the history of England following the Norman Conquest – the only known prose completed during this period.
Crowland and Stamford were Royalist strongholds at the time of the Civil War, and following defeat the Royalists fled to Burghley House and would later be sent to Cambridge following their subsequent capture.
Peterborough as a city enjoyed further growth following the establishment of the Great Northern Railway, with the city becoming an industrial focus on the main line which ran from London to York. With these transport links attracting additional companies in the area, Peterborough also developed as the largest producer of bricks in the UK. Company’s such as Perkins Engines were established, who would become a major employer in the area, as well as the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, which was founded at the Corn Exchange in 1860.
John Clare was born in Helpston, in the Soke of Peterborough in 1793. The son of a farm worker, he began to write sonnets and poems to raise funds for his family, and his work was published by Taylor & Hessey in 1820 in the form of Clare’s Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery. With his work that followed continuing to be inspired by the English countryside including Village Minstrel, he would become recognised as some of the most important poets in the 19th century.
Peterborough is a historic and cultural city and is home to the East of England Show and the Peterborough Festival, it has also been a focus in popular culture.
Films & TV
The Barchester Chronicles (1982) – Nigel Hawthorne and Donald Pleasence starred in this BBC serial drama, which was directed by David Giles. The series was an adaptation of the The Warden and Barchester Towers by Antony Trollope and was filmed extensively in Peterborough Cathedral and the surrounding area.
Golden Eye (1995) – part of the James Bond series, Golden Eye starred Pierce Brosnan and featured scenes of a soviet armoured train in the action thriller, which were actually shot on the Nene Valley Railway.
The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission (1985) – The Nene Valley Railway and Ferry Meadows would provide the perfect locations for some of the scenes for the wartime film which starred Lee Marvin
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005) by Marina Lewycka is actually set in Peterborough, with family ties, secrets and sibling rivalry all featured in this humorous novel.
Aston Merrygold – was born in Peterborough on the 13 February 1988, famously part of the boy band JLS, he is currently working on a solo album and has also worked as a TV presenter.
Sir Henry Royce – 1st Baronet of Seaton was born in Peterborough in 1863, an Engineer and designer he founded the Rolls-Royce Company together with Charles Stewart Rolls.
George Alcock – born on 28th August 1912 in Peterborough, Alcock is recognised as one of the most notable English Astronomers, he was responsible for the discovery of many novae and an amazing 5 comets, the asteroid 3174 Alcock is also named after him.
Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery
Dating back to 1816, the site was previously an infirmary and today is home to collections which include archaeology, roman pottery, the Norman Cross and John Clare manuscripts, with over 227,000 artefacts featured in its many displays.
The Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew in Peterborough dates back to 1118, with statues of the 3 Saints found on the West Front of one of the finest examples of Norman architecture. The Cathedral features 3 magnificent and distinctive arches, with the breath-taking building one of Peterborough’s most striking. The Cathedral is the final resting place of Katherine of Aragon and more can be learnt about the Cathedral’s fascinating history through its organised tours.
Longthorpe Tower – this English Heritage landmark dates back to 1310 and is a fortified manor house, built by Robert Thorpe. A trip to Longthorpe Tower provides for a chance to explore this three story tower which houses and amazing collection of medieval wall paintings.