Capturing Cambridge
  • search
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Jenny Lind - soprano

Peas Hill (Union Street)

Peas Hill (East Side)


Cambridge Town Treasurers’  Accounts lists the cost of making a bull-ring which was set up on Peas Hill.

1626: Cambridge Fish Market

The origin of the name Peas Hill lay in its being originally the fish-market, or ‘Pescheria’ (piscaria) of Cambridge. It was at this time that the well documented event of the ‘Book Fish‘ happened.

Peas Hill – The Cambridge Fish Market, from Leaflets of Local Lore by Urbs Camboritum (Cambs Collection)


Again, 9s 6d recorded in Town Treasurers Accounts ‘for setting down ye Bull ring on ye pease hill.’

See Enid Porter, Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore p229.

1664/5: 9 March

John Patteson an Attorney at Law stood in the Pillory on the Pease hill in Cambridge from about quarter after 11 in the forenoone to about halfe an houre after 12 of the clock haveing fastned to the fore part of his hat being on his head a paper written in capitall letters 9 (a common Barrettor). (Diary of John Newton) [Barretry is the act of bringing groundless law suits.]

Battle of Peas Hill

The Battle of Peas Hill c.1824

On the 1903 OS map of Cambridge the part of modern Peas Hill from St Edwards Passage north to Market Hill is known as Union Street. The 1851 census places several properties in Union Street which are subsequently listed in Peas Hill. There seems to have been some confusion over the years.

The following are  the properties listed in the 1851 census for Union Street, and then following on in the returns for Peas Hill. The addresses in square brackets are the addresses of those shopkeepers in succeeding  censuses. Some of these properties have their own entries on Capturing Cambridge, and so will be found at those addresses. However, in order to make the enumeration issues more explicit, the entire 1851 list has been kept here.


John Kelly, 40, publican


William Burnett, 27, grocer


Barbah Wand, 36, independent


John Hatt, 45, bookseller


John Morgan, 45, watch maker


Ann Ballard, 60, independent


Ann Shildrick, 56, independent


Mary Eccles, 75, independent


Elizabeth Gaulding, 40, tayloress


Sarah Addison, 36, schoolmistress


George Kent, 59, ??man


Edward Bell, 47, seedsman,

Edward Bell, 14,

Charlotte, 40 bonnet maker,

William, 18, land surveyor,

Sarah, 14, bonnet maker,

James, 12,

John, 11,

Charlotte, 9,

Alfred, 7,

Alica, 4 mos,

Charles, 2,

Eliza, 9 mos[?]

Ann Carter, 21, servant

Sophia Turner, 21, servant

In 1851 the Bell family are living at 3 Free School Lane

Edward’s father was William Bell: b Cambridge c. 1758, d, Cambridge May 1814. His mother was Susanna Gillam b 1758 Cambridge, d. Dec 1832 Trumpington Street, Cambridge. They had married at St Edward, Cambridge 11.9.1788.


Thomas Christmas, 55, ironmonger


Henry Marshall, 40, cheesemonger

1851: Union Street / Peas Hill

(from north after 34 Market Hill)

(1 Union Street) [1 Peas Hill]

R Oadams, widow, 49, box maker, b Burwell

(2 Union Street)

James Creek, 44, fruiterer, b Cambridge


Henry Over, 43, cook confectioner pastrycook employing 1 man, b Warwicks


John Major, boot maker, 59, b Leics


Henry Freeman, 53, basket maker employing 1 man, b Cambridge


Ann Pink, widow, 33, cork cutter employing 2 men, b Middlesex

Alfred Stanley, brother, 24, scale maker, b London

Caroline Stanley, sister, 22, b London

Caroline E Stanley, niece, 8, b Middlesex

[Ann Pink is the friend of Josiah Chater whose house he went to on 12 March 1849 when he wanted to be able to listen to the famous soprano Jenny Lind who was performing just over the back of the property in the Town Hall]


William Livermore, 47, baker employing 1 man and boy, b Duxford


George Miller, 54, brazier, b Cambridge


Eliz Haslop, widow, 49, butcher, b Yorks

(11) Bell Inn [14 Peas Hill]

John Manser, 36, licensed victualler, b Cambridge

(Union Street)

Richard Smith, 33, draper, Lincs

(2 Peas Hill) [2 Peas Hill]

Frederick Hayles, 39, shoemaker employing 1 man, b Fordham

(Peas Hill)

Barbara Wood, 96, retired college cook, b Lincs

(Peas Hill)

Dorothy Aves, 74, annuitant, b Yorks

(3 Peas Hill) [3 Peas Hill]

John Hatt, 60, bookseller, b Brentford

(Peas Hill)

Elizabeth Hollings, 34, plain needle work,  b Surrey

(Peas Hill)

John Hammond, 45, cordwainer, b Suffolk

(Peas Hill)

Alfred la Bowe, 30, cabinet maker, b Wisbech

(Peas Hill)

Martha Wilson, widow, 49, charwoman, b Bottisham

(Peas Hill)

Anne Ballard, 73, landed proprietor, b Lincs

(Peas Hill) [4 Peas Hill]

Thomas Travil, watchmaker, 34, watchmaker, b Manchester

(Peas Hill) [5 Peas Hill]

James Squires, 31, chemist and druggist, b Herts

(Peas Hill) [6 Peas Hill]

Thomas Argent Saunders Christmas, 43, ironmonger, b Cambridge

(Peas Hill) [7 Peas Hill]

Henry Marshall, 32, cheesemonger employing 5 persons, b Cambridge

1861: Peas Hill

Bell Public House (14 Peas Hill)

William Whybrow, 26, publican, b Sutton

1881: Union Street

  1. Simon Harris, 50, jeweller


2. Thomas Pont, 64, dyer


3. John Pink, 47, librarian


4. Caroline Stanley, 55, cork dealer, b Middlesex


5. & 6. William Smith, 46, butcher and fishmonger, b Norfolk


7. George M Pryor, 43, butcher, b Cambridge


8. William Weatherhead, 48, bookseller, b Herts


9. James H Pigg, 35, grocer, b Fulbourn

Caroline, 36, b Cambridge

Charles H, 6, b Cambridge

Gertrude A, 5, b Cambridge

Alice Louise, 4, b Cambridge

Henry H, 2, b Cambridge

George Wallis, 19, grocers assistant, b Witchford

Walter Wallis, 17, grocers apprentice, b Witchford

Frank Abblett[sic], 17, grocers assistant, b Whaddon

[In 1871 Frank Ablett is living at North Road Farm Whaddon with his family. In 1891 he is back there and described as ‘farmer’s son.’

Eliza Ruffle, 21, general servant, b Essex

Emily Fordham, 18, nursemaid, b Hadstock

1891: Union Street

  1. Simon Harris, 60, jeweller and tobacconist, b Poland

2. Thomas H Pont, 74, dyer, b Cambridge

3. John Pink, 57, librarian, b Cambridge

Mr John Pink: Founding Father of Cambridge’s Public Libraries, 1833-1906

4. Isaac Jones, 32, boot warehouseman, b Herts

6. James F Marshall, 61, wine spirit beer merchant, b Trumpington

7. George Sennitt, 49, butcher, b Stretham

8. William Weatherhead, 58, bookseller and stationer, b Herts

9. James Pigg, 44, grocer, b Fulbourn

10. The Bell: Jane Codling, widow, 55, publican, b Cambridge

Peas Hill market c.1900 (Cambridgeshire Collection)

The Bell and Pump (MoC137/55)

Peas Hill 1904, premises of E Bell and Son, damaged and demolished in 1904 (Cambridgeshire Collection)


Peas Hill, east side in 1904 (photo T Hayles)

A fire in 1904 destroyed Bell’s granary on the corner of Peas Hill and Wheeler Street. The public library was threatened. In 1907 it was agreed by the council that the whole site should be redeveloped to extend the Central Library.

Demolition of Bell’s granary, Peas Hill (MoC 62/55)

Peas Hill, 1903 (MoC181/71;235/72)

Peas Hill 1908 (MoC63/55) Fish market in progress on right

Peas Hill circa 1910 (MoC23/76)

Peas Hill (MoC628/55)

1913: Peas Hill

(from south)

14. Charles Frederick Hull, Bell Inn

Side Entrance to Guildhall

15. Jennings Bros, cheesemongers and provision merchants

Mrs E Luckett, university lodging house keeper

16. Albert Shelton Weatherhead, bookseller and stationer

Miss Weatherhead

17. G H Sennitt, butcher

Alfred Langford Sennitt

18. –

19. Pollard and Co, confectioners

20. London Central Meat Co.

21. G P Sennitt and Son, poulterers and game dealers and fishmongers

22. A W Rose (late Lawrence and Rose) pork putchers

23. E Proctor and Son, tobacconists

19/9/1927: Premises in Peas Hill, Cambridge, may be acquired for the purpose of extending the Guildhall. Trinity Hall, the owners of nos 15 & 16 will sell for £5,500; Mr Sennitt will sell no. 17 for £3,500, the price to include compensation for disturbance of the business and the tenant to have the option of hiring the premises until required by the Corporation. Corpus Christi College has agreed £2,200 for no. 19. The Council is to apply to the Minister of Health for sanction to borrow the sum of £11,700 for the purchase (Cam.News)

23/1/1928: An inquiry was held into Cambridge council’s application to borrow money for the purchase of property in Peas Hill for an extension of the Guildhall. There was an increase of administrative staff and the offices were not adequate to enable the duties to be carried out efficiently. With the acquisition of the property the Corporation would hold the entire island site which would facilitate the suggested scheme for the reconstruction of the Guildhall. They had been met in a conciliatory spirit by the owners of the property and a favourable provisional agreement had been arrived at. (Cam.News)

9/12/1932: A Cambridge man told the bankruptcy court he had started as a second-hand bookseller from a stall on Market Hill. Then he took a shop at 17 Peas Hill selling antiquarian books. But a slump in trade 18 months ago meant Americans were not buying books so he had to borrow from moneylenders. (Cam.News)


Bell Inn and shops on Peas Hill (MoC P.B.143.82)

Peas Hill, 1934 (MoC)


East side of Peas Hill before demolition in 1935

1962: –

Peas Hill, (MoC)

Peas Hill, 1970 (MoC29/89/70)


Do you have any information about the people or places in this article? If so, then please let us know using the Contact page or by emailing

Dear Visitor,


Thank you for exploring historical Cambridgeshire! We hope you enjoy your visit.


Did you know that we are a small, independent Museum and that we rely on donations from people like you to survive?


If you love Capturing Cambridge, and you are able to, we’d appreciate your support today.


Every donation makes a world of difference.


Thank you,

The Museum of Cambridge