Chatteris would have been a seaside town in Neolithic times, as it perched on the edge of a vast tract of salt marshes.
Chatteris has been inhabited since the very earliest humans came to Britain. We have flint tools dating back 780,000 years. Our Museum also has some very rare bronze age weapons and a shield. Chatteris was an Island surrounded by salt marshes and fresh water channels which formed what we call the Fens in Neolithic times. The sea eventually encroached inland as far south as Denny Abbey, just north of Cambridge.
Today, this busy little town is 50 miles from the nearest beach!
St Huna, one of the earliest Christian saints, set up a hermitage here on Honey Hill in 679 AD. The town we see today grew around the abbey of St Mary, one of only two Anglo Saxon abbeys in eastern Britain run entirely by nuns. A market place formed in front of the Abbey, which was founded in 980AD, and 'droves' evolved to connect the abbey to the other settlements in the Fens. A Chatteris man, a monk called Bricstan was released from prison by King Henry I's wife in the 12th century, after his chains were miraculously broken off by three saints in a 'vision'. The church of St Peter and St Paul was first recorded in 1162 but was rebuilt in 1352. Although there is little sign of the abbey remaining, Chatteris is still well connected and is an ideal base for touring the Fens and south Cambridgeshire. Chatteris is reputed to be the last refuge of Boudicca as she fled from the Romans in 61 AD.
Chatteris has a strong community spirit that is reflected in the organisation and support for local events with an annual festival held the last weekend in June with a walking parade thorough the town and is followed by events for all ages including the popular September Heritage Open weekends. On the 1st Saturday in December, the Christmas lights switch-on is one of the big events of the year and the quality of the display is the envy of many larger towns.
The Old Railway Line Footpath and Bridleway which runs from Chatteris to Somersham is an ideal way to access the countryside and is very popular, particularly with dog walkers. It now leads to a new pocket park with wild life areas for all the family to enjoy.
The Greenwich Meridian Trail which runs from Brighton to the Yorkshire coast, comes through Chatteris from Somersham on the old railway line public footpath and makes its way to March. Walkers are welcome to visit the Museum and Library on route where other walking routes are available. There is a Mini Guide and Town Trail, Chatteris Quirks and Curiosities Trail, A Stroll Around Hive End and The Millennium Trail which goes along the fen edge footpaths.
Chatteris regularly achieves honours for its wonderful displays of flowers and excellent community involvement in the Anglia in Bloom competition.
The Angling Trust has held many national events in the rivers and lakes around Chatteris, in particular the annual British Pike Championships. The town has many fine open spaces providing recreational areas and good play facilities. These include skate parks, multi-use games areas, and traditional play for all age groups. The 'parkour' is also available at Wenny Road Recreation Ground.
Chatteris Market is held every Friday in Park Street, offering locally grown tasty fruit and Vegetables, flowers and plants and locally sourced meats and fish. If you've got a few hours to spare come and experience the hustle and bustle of this busy little market town and discover the hidden treasures it has to offer.