Parson Drove in Cambridgeshire, is a very long village, with an ancient church St John’s at one end, and the curious building on the village sign at the other end. Again this is a village we often travel through and I have visited St John’s Church a couple of times, but never really thought about the village. On Sunday we were driving through and I realised that there was a village sign, no church depicted, but the curious little building you can see situated on the village green is.
Its not a brilliant photo of the building, but I was hanging out of the car window trying to take a photo of the sign and building at the same time…… husband said he couldn’t stop because there was a car up his ***** Again I have seen this little building plenty of times, but I’ve always thought it was a small chapel……. how wrong could I be. The name of the building is The Cage, it’s the village lockup…… I never knew that…… all the ones I have seen before have been round and made of stone.
The Cage was built in 1829 by John Peck as an overnight lock up for local criminals and animals. Then for 95 years it housed the Fire Pump and later a wartime Police Post, but now is a small museum. Queen Victoria`s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 caused a public subscription to be made for the purchase of a clock and tower, this was built into the roof of The Cage.
I found that the village, which was an outpost to the Fens, is named after the central road around which the village developed, formerly a green drove wider than it is now. A couple of interesting facts, the last working woad mill in Britain was in Parson Drove, and didn’t close until 1910. It stood opposite St John the Baptist church. Also Samuel Pepys wrote about Parson Drove in his diaries in 1663, describing it as a “heathen place” where he stayed on 17 and 18 September, and apparently had his horse stolen. The only thing I am not sure of is the shell on the sign, it could be something to do with the Romans as they originally farmed the area. The photo below of St John’s in the snow was taken in 2013, but its the only way you really get to see the church due to the trees.