Cromwell House, Ely


A building is mentioned in a survey in 1416 in the reign of King Henry V that seems to be the Rectory, Cromwell House and today The Tourist Information Centre. At the beginning of the 20th century it was altered to the Victorian fashion of imitating Tudor half-timbering.

The lease was transferred to Oliver Cromwell in 1636 when his uncle died. It was then known as the Rectory and Parsonage of ye Holy Trinity and St Mary’s called the Sextry in Ely.

Cromwell lived there for 10 or 11 years and several of his children were baptised at the adjoining St Mary’s church. An inscription on a plate sited on the house describes him as “Collector of the tithes” when he was actually farming the tithes of the two parishes of St Mary and Holy Trinity. He collected the tithes from the parishioners and then paid the church. The profit was his salary. A survey by Thomas Bullis 1679 says about the parsonage “now in lease to ye Lady Skipworth, now in the occupacion of Jonas Dench, gen”. In 1779 Thomas Page surrendered to John Waddington “all that the Rectory of the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Mary the Virgin within the Town of Ely”.

The Dean and Chapter sold the house in 1843 to Joseph Rushbrook who used the building as an inn and named it “The Cromwell Arms”. He made his own beer but was refused a spirit licence until 1864 when he dealt in wines and spirits from overseas. Rushbrook eventually became bankrupt in 1871 and the house was passed to Henry Lawrence. In 1890 it belonged to Dr Beckett, the local Medical Officer and in 1905 sold by his widow to Dr Punchard. The Revd. Elgood G. Punchard was the first of many vicars of St Mary’s to lodge at the Vicarage.

Those who lived in Cromwell House are:

 The Revd. S. Addleshaw 1915-1929

 The Revd. Elliot Simpson 1929-1937

 The Revd. M. Hinton Knowles 1937-1945

 The Revd. John B. Rowsell 1945-1963

 The Revd. John M.E. Bagley 1963-1974

 The Revd. Neil Munt 1974- 1986