Guyhirn is a village near the town of Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, England. It is on the northern bank of the River Nene, at the junction of the A141 with the A47. The population is included in the civil parish of Wisbech St Mary. It is notable chiefly for the Chapel of Ease, a rare example of Interregnum church architecture and as a key transport crossing point of the River Nene.
Church of St Mary Magdalene
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According to A Dictionary of British Place Names, Guyhirn, which was 'La Gyerne' in 1275, derives from the Old French 'guie', which means "a guide" (referencing the control of tidal flow or a "salt-water ditch"), with the Old English 'hyrne', which means an "angle or corner of land".
According to folklore, recorded in the early nineteenth century, Guyhirn was the site of "a severe engagement between a Saxon King and the abbot of Ely... the legend informs us that 5000 men were brought into the field... it arose from disputes respecting the boundaries of property."
The village is on the opposite bank of the River Nene to Ring's End where John Morton, Bishop of Ely, erected a tower house to oversee his new drain, Morton's Leam, one of the oldest fenland drains, in the late fifteenth century.
A river ferry crossing between Guyhirn and Ring's End is known to have existed. It is mentioned in numerous newspaper reports of accidents and drownings. Until its demolition in 1990, for the widening of the A141 for the building of the new road bridge, the Ferry Boat Inn stood on the river's northern bank.
Guyhirne railway station on the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway was opened in 1867. The railway required the building of the first bridge across both Morton's Leam and the River Nene. The railway bridge incorporated a foot bridge, which allowed free passage between Guyhirn and Ring's End for pedestrians. This greatly reduced demand for the ferry.
The first road bridge across the Nene at Guyhirn was officially opened by Sir W. H. Clarke, Chairman of the Isle of Ely County Council, on 22 April 1925. It was the result of a decades long campaign led by local county councillors William Weston and Richard Payne. The bridge's total span was 180 feet, it was built by Messrs Baldry, Yerburgh & Hutchinson and made of reinforced concrete with wrought iron railings each side of the roadway, which was 20 feet wide. This bridge was officially closed on Friday 5th October 1990.
The current bridge carrying the A47 across the river, was officially opened on Friday 10th October 1990 by Malcolm Moss, MP for North East Cambridgeshire. It was built by Beazer Construction East Anglia, of Wisbech, at a cost of £3.65m.
The first chapel in Guyhirn originated in a chantry founded in 1337 by John de Reddik.
Between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, Guyhirn was home to a sect of religious dissenters known as the Culymites. They were named after their founder, David Culy, the son of a Huguenot family that had moved to Guyhirn. Culy became known as the 'Bishop of Guyhirn'. His theology was said to differ little from that of Anabaptists. It was recorded that "most of the inhabitants of [Guyhirn] became his followers, and many also from Whittlesea, Wisbech St. Mary's, Outwell and Upwell" has been estimated that his followers came to number more than 700.
The parish church of St Mary Magdalene was built in 1878, by architect George Gilbert Scott. Since 31 October 1983 it has been designated a Grade II listed building. Now redundant, it was put for sale in 2018 for £75,000.
Guyhirn Chapel of Ease was built at the end of the Cromwellian Commonwealth, although it was not completed until 1660 when the Restoration had returned Anglicanism as the official religious observance. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building, and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.
- Mills, Anthony David (2003); A Dictionary of British Place Names, Oxford University Press, revised edition (2011), p.217. ISBN 019960908X
- Watson, William (1827). An Historical Account of the Ancient Town and Port of Wisbech, in the Isle of Ely, in the County of Cambridge. https://books.google.be/books?id=t7gLAAAAYAAJ: H. & J. Leach. p. 462.CS1 maint: location (link)
- "Guyhirn History", Guyhirn-online, archived from the original on 4 August 2009, retrieved 8 October 2019
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- Keep, David (2004). "Culy, David (d. c. 1725), Independent minister". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6886. Retrieved 26 June 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Peterborough [Eng.]G.C.Caster; Saunders, W. H. Bernard; Sweeting, W. D. (Walter Debenham) (1889). Fenland notes & queries. George A. Smathers Libraries University of Florida. Peterborough [Eng.] G.C.Caster.
- Watson, William (1827). An Historical Account of the Ancient Town and Port of Wisbech, in the Isle of Ely, in the County of Cambridge. https://books.google.be/books?id=t7gLAAAAYAAJ: H. and J. Leach. p. 456.CS1 maint: location (link)
- Jones, Harry. (2004). Free-thinkers & trouble-makers : Fenland dissenters. Spinks, Judi., Wisbech Society. Norfolk: Published by the Wisbech Society & Preservation Trust. ISBN 0-9519220-7-6. OCLC 69785510.
- "Guyhirn Primitive Methodist Chapel". My Primitive Methodiﬆs. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
- "Guyhirn, St Mary Magdalene". www.druidic.org. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- "Church". Guyhirn-online. Archived from the original on 4 August 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- "Church of St Mary Magdalene, Guyhirn, Cambridgeshire". britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- "Historic Grade II listed former church in Guyhirn up for sale for £75,000". www.wisbechstandard.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- Historic England, "Chapel of Ease, Wisbech St Mary (1331986)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 26 March 2015
- Guyhirn Chapel, Guyhirn Chapel, Cambridgeshire, Churches Conservation Trust, retrieved 9 December 2016
Media related to Guyhirn at Wikimedia Commons