Fascinating history behind village sign in Perry

The Perry village sign has an interesting history.

The Perry village sign has an interesting history. - Credit: ARCHANT

The village of Perry lies approximately six miles south-west of Huntingdon and has a population of 1,796, according to the 2011 Census.

Perry is on the shore of the Grafham Water reservoir and before becoming a parish in its own right, the village was divided into West Perry (in the parish of Great Staughton and East Perry (in the parish of Grafham). 

West Perry was listed in the Domesday Book in the Hundred of Toseland and the name of the settlement was written as Pirie. In 1086, there was just one manor at West Perry; the annual rent paid to the lord of the manor in 1066 was £2. There were six households at West Perry with an estimated population of 21 to 30 people.

The village sign tells the story of Perry from its agricultural roots mentioned in Domesday Book. It depicts land for two ploughs, woodland pasture one league long and four acres of meadow. The upper half of the sign relates specifically to the village before the opening of Grafham Water in 1966.

The shield bears three golden pears (perry being a traditional drink made from fermented pears). The bishop’s crook acknowledges Warden Abbey which used to stand to the south-east side of the village and whose monks, in 1208 were managing Perry Wood.

During the World War Two, Gaynes Hall was used for training secret agents, and was known to Hitler as The Hornets Nest – and is represented at the top of the shield by a hornet. After the war, Gaynes Hall became a young offenders institution, symbolised by the key, which also has a relevance to HMP Littlehey, opened in 1988.

At the start of the 20th Century, the two public houses in the village were The Fox (now demolished) and The Wheatsheaf Beside the Wheatsheaf on the sign stands a pheasant since, for many years, these common visitors to the village were reared in Perry Wood. The lower half of the sign depicts the arrival of Graham Water and its subsequent development as a centre of national importance for water sports (particularly sailing), trout fishing and bird watching.

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There is more information about Perry Parish Council on the council website and we thank them for the information in this article.