Earith lies next to the River Great Ouse and where the artificial Old Bedford River starts (cut in 1630 to drain the Great Level in the Fens).
Earith is 11 miles from Huntingdon and 15 miles from Cambridge.
It has the remains of an English Civil War fort known as the Earith Bulwark.
The A1123 main road next to the River Great Ouse can become flooded and impassable after a period of very heavy rainfall.
See a children’s activity club that ran from 2007 to 2012 Earith Storykeepers.
1. The early years of John (Jack) Wales, born in 1925 in Earith – editor’s note:
I can remember meeting John Wales when we used to meet up to organise the Remembrance Service at St Mary’s Parish Church.
He used to come round to our house and every time he would be telling us stories of his army days in the Black Watch and his early life in Earith village.
So one day I suggested getting some of these stories written down and put on this website.
He agreed and here we have a random selection of his jottings and also from a small booklet that was published.
All of these pages reveal what life was like in a rural village in the 1930s and 1940s and a bit beyond.
When John was doing his Remembrance duties, I can see him with a British Forces officer’s cane and he would ‘herd’ the uniformed youngsters with it.
He looked quite stern, but he had a gentle heart and when he read the names of the fallen soldiers he would hide a tear coming from his eyes.
I remember one story when he was in the Home Guard and the troop were on a training exercise and he had to miss it because he was ill.
A soldier took John’s place in the training which involved swimming across a river with a certain piece of equipment and unfortunately, the replacement drowned.
John took this very badly, thinking that he had failed the group.
The rest of the article is written by John Wales while in the 3rd form at Huntingdon Grammar School:
My surroundings were Earith High Street in the 1930s.
I was born in the hamlet of Earith, which is on the extreme eastern border of Huntingdonshire.
Its population comprises about five to six hundred people, most of which are farmers and labourers.
Earith has no church of its own but shares one with the adjoining village of Bluntisham. It has three chapels, one of which is a Quaker chapel and there is no industrial life whatsoever.
John Wale’s house
Our house, which is situated on the High Street, commands an excellent view of the fens, and it overlooks the river Ouse.
It was built in the year 1927, and it has a short drive leading up to it.
Flower beds flank the drive on both sides and in front of it is a privet hedge which covers up a low wall.
At the back of the house, there is a large lawn upon which we play tennis and golf.
At the right-hand side of the back door is a bird aviary, a rabbit hutch with a lamb in it and a dog kennel with a black and white sheepdog.
At the rear of the garden, we have an extensive yard where my father, who is a farmer, keeps his stock.
The stock plays an important part in my next chapters, as you will see…
Young memories of Earith, Cambridgeshire
My earliest recollection seems to be going to view the house with my elder sister.
Then I flash on to where we are in our new home and I am helping, or at least trying to help at that early age, my father to clean the horses and feed some little lambs with a babies bottle.
Then I flash on once more to when I am learning to ice skate with my father and uncle, and again to where I am riding one of our young ponies.
Then I started school with my friend from next door, sitting at little desks in little armchairs, playing with Plasticine and sand, writing simple words and working out easy sums.
Rats and pigs in the house
Then I remember when several pigs amounting to about ten, escaped from the bottom yard and found their way into the Drawing Room of the house.
Likewise, a number of fowls did the same thing and even two rats who were hunted out of the yard by some ferrets took refuge under the house.
On finding this out, we put the ferrets under the house as well, and the rats, therefore, took refuge again, this time in the house and in no less a place than the piano!
On hearing the piano playing on its own accord, we called the dog in and opened the top of the piano.
Then after a few kicks and a few notes being played, the two rats came forth and were immediately seized upon by the waiting dog!
2. Earith National fishing attraction – how come?
Earith, which is on the river Ouse, is noted as a holiday resort and in the summer months, many people enjoy fishing, boating and swimming in this river.
John, continuing his walk around Earith:
That’s the ‘Riverview’ you can see sticking up and our house was next door and you can see the men fishing.
It was lovely in those days, the evenings used to be long evenings.
The local lads had peaked caps on.
The fishermen, even before the coach loads came down, mother used to take them in because the ‘Riverview’ – I keep calling it that because that’s what you know it as, but it was the Guest house – and Mrs Mayle would take in these fishermen.
Then she’d be full up, she could only take about 5 or 6, so she’d come and see Mother, she’d have a spare bedroom.
And we got to know some of these people so well, we knew them for years and every year they’d ring directly to mother because they lived well with us, you know, home-cooked ham and eggs for breakfast, mainly from the North- Lancashire people.
Coach loads used to come to Earith from places like Nottingham and Sheffield to do fishing.
* On a family holiday with Florence Wales, Roy Goodrick, Bill Anderson, Jack Wales, William Wales, Les Gunnell, Two cousins, and Peter Norman.
(Extracts from ‘Keeping Time by the Crows’ University of Cambridge
John Wales retains copyright on original contributions).
3. Elizabethan Shilling found in Earith
A well-worn Queen Elizabethan Shilling dated 1566 was found in Earith Fen.
It was found by John Wales in 1933 in North Halls field, Earith Fen.
[Editor’s note:] How much was that worth in Elizabethan days:
- About three and a half days pay* for a Pikeman in the army. (* After some money had been taken off for his food.)
- 3 or 4 days for an unskilled labourer.
- Whereas a successful merchant could get up to £100,000 in a year! Remember that there were 20 shillings to a pound, so a Pikeman or labourer would have to work 571428 days to equal it – that is about 1565 years without a day off!
See next article  Old Bridges at Earith