Facts about Wisbech
Wisbech is also known as ‘the capital of the fens’ is a Fenland market town, inland port and civil parish in the Fens of the Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire, England. It had a population of 31,573 in 2011. The town lies in the far north-east of the county, bordering Norfolk and only 5 miles south of Lincolnshire. The tidal River Nene running through the town centre is spanned by two bridges. Before the Local Government Act, 1972 came into force in 1974 Wisbech was a municipal borough.
Wisbece was recorded in the 1086 Domesday. The name Wisbech is believed to mean “on the back of the River Ouse”, Ouse being a common Celtic word relating to water, and the name of a river that once flowed through the town. Alternatively, the first element may derive from the River Wissey, which used to run to Wisbech, or possibly ‘marshy-meadow valley or ridge’, from Old English wisc + bece or baec.
Richard I gave Wisbeach/Wisbech a charter. King John of England visited the castle on 12 October 1216 as he came from Bishop’s Lynn. Tradition has it that his baggage train was lost to the incoming tide of The Wash. Treasure hunters still seek the lost royal treasure. Twenty years later the castle was ‘utterly destroyed’ by marine flooding; however, it was rebuilt by 1246 when the constable or keeper was Wm Justice.