Ramsey Town Story
Ramsey is a small, heritage-rich market town that grew up around its Abbey, once one of the most important monastic institutions in England. By the 12th century there were 80 monks in a prospering town with a weekly market and an annual three day fair. This all changed with the Dissolution in 1539 and Ramsey’s fortunes waned until the fens were drained in the 17th and 18thcenturies. Many people were drawn to the rich, reclaimed agricultural land, including the Fellowes family, whose ancestor, Lord De Ramsey, still lives on his estate near Ramsey today – the venue of the annual festival, The Secret Garden Party.
You can still catch glimpses of the splendour that was once the Abbey at the Abbey Gatehouse, Lady Chapel and St Thomas a Becket church.
Both the town and the Abbey have associations with the Cromwells, notably the Lord Protector’s uncle who remained steadfastly loyal to the Crown. His summer residence was at the Abbey and he is buried along with many other Cromwells, at the parish church of St Thomas a Becket.
Water has played an interesting part in Ramsey’s history. In medieval times Ramsey was an island and after the fens were drained there were docks at each end of the town connecting the river that ran down the centre of the Great Whyte. The river was covered in 1852 which explains why the Great Whyte is an unusually long and wide street.
You can see where the river goes under the town by taking our Waterways Trail for a stroll through history.
Since the 1900s Ramsey’s centre has remained largely unaltered and retains its market town feel with family run shops and cafes.
The centre of Ramsey was designated a Conservation Area in 1975 and 60 properties are included on the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. There are also two scheduled ancient monuments – Ramsey Abbey and Booth’s Hill.
For more information on the history of Ramsey, download the Historic Town Trail or take a look at these websites