Large village with historic links to witchcraft

The Warboys Clock Tower. 

The Warboys Clock Tower. - Credit: ARCHANT

Warboys is a large village, with a population of 3,994, according to the 2011 Census, and it lies seven miles north-east of Huntingdon.

The village was first recorded in a Saxton charter of 974 where it appears as Wardebusc/Weardebusc, which is thought to mean 'beacon with bushes' and it is also listed in the Domesday Book. In 1086, there was just one manor at Warboys; the annual rent paid to the lord of the manor was £12. There are 48 households recorded at this time, so the population was probably between 168 and 240 people.

There are three churches in the village, the first of which is St Mary Magalene which is at the south end of the village, but nothing remains of the church which existed as the time of the Domesday survey of 1086, but there are some remains of a 12th Century church. 

The chancel arch, the responds at each end of the north aisle and a small piece of wall at the south-west corner of the nave still survive. The spire was restored in 1898, and in 1926, the tower and south aisle were underpinned. 

The Baptist Church came into being in 1644. The current chapel was built in 1831 and in 1899 it was modified. The chapel became well known because of its baptisms in the weir (village pond); in 1905 approximately 3,000 people came to watch the baptisms at the weir.

Warboys Methodist Church was originally a wooden chapel built in 1900. In 1938 it was replaced by the current brick-built chapel, which was brought brick by brick from Great Raveley.

One of the central features of the village is the clock tower, built in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria on the throne. 

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During World War Two, the RAF operated a bomber airfield just south-west of the village, RAF Warboys. Wellingtons operated there from 1942 until early 1943 when they were replaced by Lancasters. After early 1944, the airfield was used for training until flying operations ended late in 1945. All the buildings and land were later sold off. 

The Witches of Warboys

Alice Samuel and her family were accused of, and executed for, witchcraft between 1589 and 1593 in Warboys. 

The first allegations were made in November 1589 by Jane Throckmorton, the nine-year-old daughter of Robert Throckmorton who was the Squire of Warboys. The child started suffering from fits and accused 76-year-old Alice Samuel of bewitching her. 

Subsequently, 12 servants in the Throckmorton household and five of the Throckmorton daughters experienced fits and blamed their torment on Alice Samuel's witchcraft. A Dr Barrow, of Cambridge, sent medicine, but nothing seem to help.

The Throckmorton children had shown all of the signs of being possessed. Within two months, all the sisters, ranging in age from nine to 15, were having violent fits several times a day,  but they later claimed to have no memory. 

Alice admitted witchcraft, which she retracted the next day, however, she confessed again when she was brought before the Bishop of Lincoln, and taken to Huntingdon where she was imprisoned with her daughter and husband. 

In April 1593, Alice Samuel, her daughter Agnes, and her husband John were hanged for witchcraft. They were convicted of the bewitching of the five daughters of Robert Throckmorton of Warboys, and the bewitching to death of Lady Cromwell, second wife of Sir Henry Cromwell of Hinchingbrooke. 

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