I must have passed through Peterborough station countless time in my life, although I have never changed trains there. If you have time to kill, then consider a visit to the art gallery that lies directly opposite the station (and to the right a few yards). The 'Bakehouse' of the Great Northern hotel has been converted to a gallery space. The very high brick walls make a great backdrop for the display of a complete mis-match of works by mostly local artists.
At least a brief visit will be a little more profitable than trying to waste an hour looking at leaflets in the booking hall (the only section of the station that has any warmth) or getting a cup of something brown and worrying in the grotty cafe (laugingly call the 'upper crust' or some such marketeering nonsense).
My daddy says he went to St Botolph's school as a kid, and that this place was jsy fields that he used to catch grasshoppers in.
Now it is a housing estate, with a kind of village green and this market cross in the centre. I don't think there has ever been a market here in modern days, but it was a nice walk up from the choo-choo station at Orton Mere.
Dad says there is also a great pub nearby called 'The Botolph arms'
(directions - Take Oundle road out of the Centre of Peterborough, the estate is opposite Orton Longueville - look for the pub sign)
If you are in Peterbotough for the first weekend in may try and get to the village of stilton, which gives it's name to the cheese. On the mayday bank holiday, 1st Monday in may, they have there annual cheese rolling race. The race now uses wooden cheeses rather than actual rounds of stilton. It does however give locals the opportunity to enjoy the excesses of Englishness and a must for visitors to the area. Teams from all over the loca area race down the main street of the village pushing their cheeses. At the end of the race the tradition is then to retire to one of the local pubs (several are quite pleasant) and drink more beer than is actually good for you. This is of course not compulsory.
The county around peterborough is scattered with ex-WWII airfileds many of which are marked with memorials to the squadrons who flew from them. This stretches all the way down the the US war cemetry just north of Cambridge. If you have you own transport and are interested in the second world war there are many memorials spread around the area which could add up to an interesting day out. The nearest to peterborough lies on the old A1 road between the villages of stilton and sawtry.
Burger King has it's normal signage hanging over 8, Cathedral square in the centre of Peterborough. Loud, red and inappropriate as always.
The floors above the fatty temple are however quite a surprise. There are three floors of finely detailed wooden or plaster carvings in a delicate wooden-framed looking building. I suspect the carvings are early 20th century, but no-one seems to know.
I admit that I have drawn a blank and have so far failed to find out the background.. Do take a look, however, but skip the triple cheese whoppergreaseburger.
Each winter, on the weekend after Plough Monday (in January), the town of Whittlesey holds this unique agricultural festival. Its roots go back to very ancient times. Plough Monday is the first Monday following Twelfth Night.
A man known as the Straw Bear dresses from head to toe in straw from the last harvest, and leads a procession through the streets of the town. Behind him are various folk musicians, dancers, and other performers. Most are dressed in strange, eccentric costumes.
Next day, the Festival continues at St Harry Smith Community College, on the edge of town. Finally, the Straw Bear costume is ceremonially burned. You have to see this to believe it.
This year's festival is from January 13-15th.
Peterborough is near the edge of what used to be called the Fens. These wetlands were drained in the 18th and 19th centuries to create some of Britain's most fertile farmlands.
In 1982, archeologists uncovered the remains of a Bronze Age village, southeast of Peterborough. Dating to about 1350 BC, long before Roman occupation, this village has been partly reconstructed. Inside the main building are ancient timbers, the stumps of trees that were cut down to construct the village.
Waterlogged conditions preserved these timbers for thousands of years. But now, as they dry out, they deteriorate. In time, there will be nothing left, unless action is taken to protect them. See the web site for more information on how to help.
The Sikh community in Peterborough has taken over the old nighclub on Boongate as it's new Gurdwara.
It is somewhat ironic that a club (trust me I know) where all sorts of immoral happenings went on is now a spiritually calming place of worship where drink, drugs and tobacco are banned.
The mirrors over the walls remain, and the basic layout where the dancefloor and DJ sets were still remain. It has however been transformed into a very peaceful & soothing place of worship where the Holy book (the Guru Granth sahib) can be read.
The Sikhs are a wonderfully hospitable people and from Friday to Sunday they will virtually force you to have a meal in the communal Langar (dining area). The veg. thali that was served was one of the best Indian meals I have ever had.
Feel free to ring up, or just turn up - you will find it a very fulfilling experience.
The address is :
Singh Sabha Gurdwara
The village of Longthorpe lies about 3 miles to the west of the centre of the city.
If you go at the weekend in the summer (especially Sundays) then you will find several points of interest during a short walk.
1. If you follow the signs to Longthorpe Tower then you can visit this english Heritage site. It is a fortified manor house with domestic painting on the walls themselves, that have been very well preserved. It is upposed to be one of the best example in Europe.
2. Heading back to the main road and turning right towards town there is the pretty "Chain Cottage". Further along on the right hand side is the ancient church.
3. A couple of hundred yards towards town is thatched post office, and on the opposite side of the road "Foxgloves" cottage, that has been used as the cover for a box of chocolates.
4. Heading past the post office and right at the sharp turn, there lies a pillar in the garden of a home which marks where Mary Queen of Scots was rested on her way to her burial place in Peterborough cathedral.
5.Head across the village green and cutting through the modern houses you will find the Longthorpe fishponds, and a grotto with fresh water spring. Local legend says that this cave was connected by tunnel all the way to the Cathedral. The spring was commercial at some point and it was claimed had amazing healing properties.
6. From there away to the left is Thorpe Hall. You can walk across the fields to reach this stately home which is now used as a hospice.
7. On reaching Thorpe hall you can see the grounds, garden centre and minature railway in the old garden
8. It is then possible to return to the Tower back along the main Thorpe road, or turn right and head back into the centre of town.
Enjoy your walk
I was very nearly born here, but was switched at the last moment to a place up the road.
I the place should have become the main site for Peterborough Museum, after part of the grounds was sold for office development. It never happened, the council just trousered the money.
The place was eventually sold to the Sue Ryder foundation who run the place as a hospice. You can however visit the grounds, which are impressive and by arrangement some of the ground floor rooms.
Thorpe Hall itself is an example of a Cromwellian mansion - the only one in the United Kingdom still standing in its own grounds. It was built for Oliver St John, a member of Oliver Cromwell's Lord Chief Justice, in 1652. There is impressive wood carving in the Chapel, a the Great Hall and intimate Parlour.
The look of the place is somewhat unusual as the architect was ordered to borrow from the Dutch and Italian architectural traditions - and he thus came up with something quite unique.
The Garden centre, shops and on Sunday minature railway can all be visited.
I find I have quite a special connection to this place as various member of my family have been born, married or departed within its walls over the last 40 years or so.
On a monthly basis the Peterborough museum offers 'Ghost walks' around the centre of town.
I've not been on one myself, but I'm told they are very good. The tour does not offer 'gimmicks' such as out-of-work actors jumping out at you, as happens elsewhere.
All the stories have a provenance of sorts, in that they have been researched carefully.
The tour lasts about two hours, but is not recommeneded for those under 10, or those of a nervous disposition !
I'm not a great fan of modern art but the sculpture park is well spaced out and provides a good diversion for a walk.
The following is adapted from the information leaflet :
The range of the work is wide. Some pieces are by artists whose roots are in Nigeria and the West Indies. Other sculptors draw their inspiration from the English countryside. Some artists are in the early stages of their career. The work of others, like Barry Flanagan, Anthony Gormley, John Maine and Sir Anthony Caro, is widely known and respected. It is important to see the sculptures for yourself and form your own view of what each is about.
There are nineteen pieces at Thorpe Meadows in the Nene Park, including work by Angus, Caro, Douglas-Camp, Grandjean, Gormley, Pope and Ryan. Most are on the south side of the rowing course.
Head out of town over cresent bridge towards Longthorpe Parkway and turn left into the rowing centre/ Butterfly Hotel.
Alternatively you can walk it from town (about a mile and a half) by heading to ASDA turning upstream and then keeping by the north River Bank. You will see stuff off to your right after a mile or so.
Whittlesey is a small town about six miles southeast of Peterborough. Its main industry is the brickyard. It has a typical town square, and a fine parish church.