A Timeline of Soham History

1628 AD - Sir Robert Heath was ordered to set aside Common Land at Soham

In 1628 Sir Robert Heath, the then Lord of the Manor, exhibited a bill against some of the tenants of the Manor, saying that they had surcharged the common with cattle, and the purpose of the bill was to see that everyone had their fair share of the 9400 acres of marsh and fen grounds which lay waste and common. 1500 acres in Metlam Fen and 500 acres in Barroway Fen were subsequently enclosed and handed down via his descendants to Sir Thomas Chicheley. 420 acres (of the 1500) were later taken by the drainage undertakers and the tenants threw down the enclosures.

C.1650 AD - Oliver Cromwell

The people of Soham remained quite resistant to Puritanism and the town was known as a Royalist stronghold. The Royal Arms, now The Fountain was established during this period and is rumoured to house a secret passage which then served as an escape route.

1664 AD - Sir Thomas Chichely & Sir Jonas Moore Established the Commons

By Deed Poll of 20 December 1664 it was agreed that to every acre of arable land in the fields there should, upon the division, be allowed half an acre in the common; and they ordered that 100 acres of the said common - 50 acres in Horsecroft next Down field, 20 acres in the Moore, and 30 acres in the borders next Metlam field, should be allotted and set out for working horses of such persons as shall plough or work in Soham fields, and no other cattle, they owning or farming six acres, at the least, in the fields.

1686 AD - Soham Free School was Founded

C.1720 AD - Reginald Hawkins, Vicar of Soham, Builds St. Andrew's House

C.1740 AD - Drainage of the Fens

Viscount Townshend inherited the Royal Manor of Soham c. 1740 and set about improving the land for agriculture using the method of banking and ditching introduced by the Romans. Parts of the Mere were originally drained during this period but the area was still subject to inundations until the arrival of the Steam Pump.

18th Century - Andrew Fuller 'English Baptist Divine'

Andrew Fuller was born on the 5th February 1754 at Wicken. in his boyhood and youth he worked on his father’s farm, his parents, were poor farmers who rented a succession of dairy farms. In 1761 his parents decided to move a short distance to Soham, where he and his family began to attend the local Calvinistic Baptist Church which had been formed in 1752 at Brook Dam. Fuller was converted in November 1769 and after being baptized at the age of 17 he became a member of the Church. His gifts as an exhorter met with so much approval that, in the Spring of 1775, he was called and ordained as pastor of the Soham congregation. He later he became close friends with William Carey and helped him in his cause for foreign missions. He is still relatively unknown, being greatly overshadowed by the more famous George Whitefield and the Wesley Brothers who also ministered at the time, but is still affectionately called 'The English Baptist Divine'.

1776 AD - Poverty

Soham had the largest workhouse in the county which housed sixty residents at this time. Workhouse expenses included; carriage of water, turf and sedge for fuel, shoes, gowns, breeches, sundry maintenance, earthenware, dishes, spoons, medicines for widows in confinement, and coffins, plus a wage for the master, and provisions which consisted of cheese, flour, malt, barley, milk, onions and a little meat, besides what vegetables were grown on site.


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