Soham

Soham

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Soham is a small town
Town
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

 in the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 county of Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west...

. It lies just off the A142 between Ely
Ely, Cambridgeshire
Ely is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, 14 miles north-northeast of Cambridge and about by road from London. It is built on a Lower Greensand island, which at a maximum elevation of is the highest land in the Fens...

 and Newmarket (Suffolk
Suffolk
Suffolk is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east...

). Its population is 9,102 (2001 census), and it is within the district of East Cambridgeshire
East Cambridgeshire
East Cambridgeshire is a local government district in Cambridgeshire, England. Its council is based in Ely....

.

Archaeology


The region between Devil's Dyke
Devil's Dyke, Cambridgeshire
The Devil's Dyke is an earthwork in the English county of Cambridgeshire. It consists of a long bank and ditch that runs in a south-east direction from the small village of Reach to nearby Woodditton...

 and the line between Littleport and Shippea Hill shows a remarkable amount of archaeological findings of the Stone Age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

, the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 and the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

. A couple of hoards of bronze objects are found in the area of Soham, including one with swords and spearheads of the later Bronze Age as well as a gold torc
Torc
A torc, also spelled torq or torque, is a large, usually rigid, neck ring typically made from strands of metal twisted together. The great majority are open-ended at the front, although many seem designed for near-permanent wear and would have been difficult to remove. Smaller torcs worn around...

, retrieved in 1938.
An extensive ditch
Ditch
A ditch is usually defined as a small to moderate depression created to channel water.In Anglo-Saxon, the word dïc already existed and was pronounced 'deek' in northern England and 'deetch' in the south. The origins of the word lie in digging a trench and forming the upcast soil into a bank...

 system, not visible on aerial photographs, has been identified, as well as a wooden track-way 800 m in length between Fordey Farm (Barway
Barway
Barway is a small village in Cambridgeshire, England, about three miles south of Ely. It is on Soham Lode, which flows into the River Cam....

) and Little Thetford
Little Thetford
Little Thetford is a small village and civil parish south of Ely in Cambridgeshire, England, about by road from London. The village is built on a boulder clay island surrounded by flat fenland countryside, typical of settlements in this part of the East of England...

 with associated shards of later Bronze Age pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 (1935).

St. Felix Of Burgundy 'Apostle Of The East Angles'


St Felix of Burgundy founded an abbey
Abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

 near Soham around 630 AD but it was destroyed by the Danes in 870 AD. Luttingus, a Saxon nobleman built a cathedral and palace at Soham around 900 AD, on the site of the present day Church of St. Andrews and adjacent land.
St. Andrew's Church dates from the 12th century and traces of the Saxon Cathedral still exist within the church. In 1102 Hubert de Burgh, Chief Justice of England, granted 'Ranulph' certain lands in trust for the Church of St. Andrews. Ranulph is recorded as the first Vicar of Soham and had a hand in designing the 'new' Norman Church. The current church is mainly later with the tower being the latest addition in the 15th century. This tower was built to replace a fallen crossing tower and now contains ten bells. The back 6 were cast in 1788 with two new trebles and two bells recast in 1808. There are some pictures and a description of the church at the Cambridgeshire Churches website.

Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa 'The African'


The first black British author and anti-slave activist, Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano also known as Gustavus Vassa, was a prominent African involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade. His autobiography depicted the horrors of slavery and helped influence British lawmakers to abolish the slave trade through the Slave Trade Act of 1807...

, also known as Gustavus Vassa, married local girl Susannah Cullen at St. Andrew's Church, Soham on 7 April 1792 and the couple lived in the town for a while.
They had two daughters, Anna Maria was born on 16 October 1793, and was baptised in St. Andrew's Church on 30 January 1794. Their second child, Joanna Vassa
Joanna Vassa
Joanna Vassa was the only surviving child of the former slave and anti-slavery campaigner Olaudah Equiano. Her grave has recently been rediscovered, but little is known of her life....

 was born on 11 April 1795, and was baptised in St. Andrew's Church on 29 April 1795.

William Case Morris 'Dr Barnardo of Argentina'


The most famous son of Soham was William Case Morris who made his mark many miles away in South America. Born in Soham on 16 February 1864, he and his father left Soham in search of a new life in 1872 after the death of his mother in 1868, finally settling in Argentina in 1874. William was horrified by the terrible poverty of the street children, which led him to found several children's homes in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

. They are credited with saving thousands of youngsters from abject poverty and a life on the streets. Morris returned to Soham shortly before his death on 15 September 1932, and was buried in the Fordham Road cemetery. He is still one of Argentina's best-loved social reformers and is highly regarded, with a statue standing in Buenos Aires as well as railway stations, football stadia and a town near Buenos Aires
William C. Morris, Buenos Aires
William C. Morris is a town in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. It forms part of the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area and is located in the Hurlingham Partido.- Name :...

 named after him. His legacy lives on with the 'Hogar el Alba' children's homes located in Buenos Aires which still help impoverished children.

Soham Rail Disaster


The town narrowly escaped destruction on 2 June 1944, during the Second World War, when a fire
Fire
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition....

 developed on the lead wagon of a heavy ammunition
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

 train
Train
A train is a connected series of vehicles for rail transport that move along a track to transport cargo or passengers from one place to another place. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway.Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate...

 travelling slowly through the town. The town was saved by the bravery of four railway staff, Benjamin Gimbert
Benjamin Gimbert
Benjamin Gimbert GC , an engine driver with the LNER was awarded the George Cross, as was his fireman James Nightall, whose award was posthumous, for saving an ammunition train from a fire on 2 June 1944 during the Soham rail disaster.The citation for the awards read:As an ammunition train was...

 (Driver), James Nightall (Fireman), Frank Bridges (Signalman) and Herbert Clarke (Guard), who uncoupled the rest of the train and drove the engine and lead wagon clear of the town, where it exploded, killing Jim Nightall and Frank Bridges but causing no further deaths. Ben Gimbert survived and spent seven weeks in hospital. Although small in comparison to what would have happened if the entire train had blown up, the explosion caused substantial property damage. Gimbert and Nightall were both awarded the George Cross
George Cross
The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

 (Nightall posthumously).
A permanent memorial was unveiled on 2 June 2007 by HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester is a member of the British Royal Family. Prince Richard is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. He has been Duke of Gloucester since his father's death in 1974. He is currently 20th in the line of succession...

 followed by a service in St. Andrew's Church. The memorial is constructed of Portland Stone
Portland stone
Portland stone is a limestone from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The quarries consist of beds of white-grey limestone separated by chert beds. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major...

 with a bronze inlay depicting interpretive artwork of the damaged train and text detailing the incident.

Soham Murders



In August 2002, Soham became the centre of international media attention due to the Soham murders
Soham murders
The Soham murders was an English murder case in 2002 of two 10-year-old girls in the village of Soham, Cambridgeshire.The victims were Holly Marie Wells and Jessica Aimee Chapman...

. The victims were two 10-year-old girls living in the town, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. They disappeared on the evening of 4 August and were found dead some 10 miles away, near RAF Lakenheath
RAF Lakenheath
RAF Lakenheath, is a Royal Air Force military airbase near Lakenheath in Suffolk, England. Although an RAF station, it hosts United States Air Force units and personnel...

, on 17 August. Ian Huntley, a caretaker from the local college was found guilty of their murders in December 2003 and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with the High Court
High Court of Justice
The High Court of Justice is, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

 later fixing a 40-year minimum term.

Schools in Soham

  • Soham Village College
    Soham Village College
    Soham Village College is a state secondary school with specialist Foundation Technology College and Language College status in Soham, Cambridgeshire, England. It has around 1350 students, aged 11 to 16. It has a wide catchment area which does not include Ely, although some students from Ely and the...

  • St Andrew's Primary School
    St Andrew's Primary School (Soham)
    St Andrew's Primary School is a primary school located in Soham, Cambridgeshire, England. It is twinned with the local parish church of the same name....

  • The Weatheralls Primary School (Soham)

See also

  • List of places in Cambridgeshire
  • Soham Abbey
    Soham Abbey
    Soham Abbey was constructed by St Felix of Burgundy during the early part of the 7th Century and was the first Roman Christian site to be established in Cambridgeshire. It is believed that the church was of a squat, low design with a long north transept and 4/5 bays long with a round tower standing...

  • Soham Lode
  • Soham Town Rangers Football Club
    Soham Town Rangers F.C.
    Soham Town Rangers F.C. is an English football club based in Soham, Cambridgeshire. The club are currently members of Division One North of the Isthmian League and play at Julius Martin Lane.-History:...


External links