March, a Cambridgeshire market town in the Fenland district, was once an island surrounded by marshes, and occupied the second largest island in the Great Level. As the land drained, the town grew and prospered as a trading and religious centre on the banks of the River Nene.
There are many beautiful architectural gems throughout the town, notably at the oldest church in March, St Wendreda’s, which is dedicated to the towns saint who was a 7th century Anglo-Saxon nun. It is believed she may have been a daughter of King Anna of East Anglia and sister to Etheldreda, abbesses of Ely. The saint's relics were enshrined in gold in Ely Cathedral, until in 1016 they were carried off to battle. They were returned to March in 1343, but their final resting place is unknown. The church is regarded as one of the best of its kind and is known for its magnificent double hammer beam roof, celebrating the saint with 118 angels, carved from oak
A gilded Memorial Fountain can also be seen on Broad Street, near the War Memorial, which commemorates the Coronation of King George V in 1911. The elaborate open-sided octagonal memorial and domed roof originally contained a drinking fountain and water troughs for animals, though these were removed in the 20th century
With a long history of trading, March was a minor trading port along the River Nene during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. A Market Cross suggests the existence of a market in the early 16th century, and in 1669, the town successfully petitioned King Charles II and by 1670 a Royal Charter to hold a market with two annual fairs was granted.
On of these fairs, the annual St George’s Day Fayre is a popular day filled with stalls, activities and entertainment. The Market Place project has worked with local people to bring creativity to the Fayre too! Market Place has worked with young people to create their own graffiti with an award winning artist Si Mitchell, learnt how to make and design graphic novels & bought the ‘United Nations Bureau of Significant Inspiration’ who’d recognised March as a hotbed of inspiration along for a brilliant day too
We’ve also shared Musical Memories at part of our ‘Talkin ‘Bout My Generation’ project which captured teenage musical memories from the 1960s, 70s and 80s in the Fens and have hosted several boot camps to help local creative practitioners in their work
See more of the events Market Place has hosted in March here
Learn more about The Library Presents events taking place in March, in partnership with Babylon Arts in the program HERE