Little Downham (Population 1900)
The Parish of Little Downham comprises of two villages (Little Downham and Pymoor) and three settlements (Oxlode, Hundred Foot Bank and The Droves). It has a total population of approximately 2660 with around 35 miles of footpaths spanning the parish and is the largest farming parish in East Cambridgeshire with over 10,000 acres of arable farming land.
Historically known as Downham-in-the-Isle because it once stood on an island alongside Ely amidst the fen waters, Little Downham is a linear village set on slightly elevated ground approximately 2 miles north-west of Ely. The village is well served with a good range of facilities such as mini supermarket, outreach post office (15 hrs per week), butchers, hairdressers, primary school, two pubs, petrol station, a church, a chapel, village hall , recreation field and play area. Within the village hall is the Little Downham Book Café (library and East Cambs online internet access point) that is open three times a week on Monday evenings, Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings. The amenity is run by volunteer staff and has a friendly atmosphere where local folk enjoy meeting friends and having homemade cakes and teas.
There are several grade listed buildings throughout the village including the Grade I listed mediaeval Church of St Leonard’s that dates from the 13th century and Grade II listed Bishop’s Palace. The Annual Little Downham Organs and Bygones event is held towards the end of March and is a popular occasion attracting vintage items and vehicles from around the country. In July the Good Companions (over 50s group) holds a Flower and Produce Show that is open to everyone, including the regular fun feature of local rivalry between Little Downham and Pymoor growers.
Information about Little Downham’s history can be viewed on the www.ccan.co.uk website.
Little Downham has the first dedicated Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in East Cambridgeshire. Situated adjacent to the Bishop’s Walk, the LNR was declared by Little Downham Parish Council in 2003 and consists of four areas of land measuring a total of 17 acres (Pingle Wood, Myles Meadow, Holts Spinney and Holts Meadows). North of the LNR sits a newly established Community Orchard of Cambridgeshire variety apple and gage trees that were planted by parishioners in 2005. Through a pleasant network of walkways in and around the LNR and Community Orchard, one can also enjoy the serene view of Ely Cathedral to the south. The trees and Cartshed in Pingle Wood were planted and built by parishioners in 1995 and 2001 respectively. Cattle graze in Myles Meadow from May to October each year and Holts Meadow pond is home to the Great Crested Newt as well as one of only five national habitats of the Scarce Chaser Dragonfly.
Little Downham is situated on Route 11 of the National Cycle Network that travels north and south through East Cambridgeshire. A public transport bus service also runs through the parish to Ely and back six days a week.