Castor and Ailsworth, Northamptonshire

St. Kyneburga parish church, Castor

Castor is a village about 4 miles west of the city of Peterborough and was once in what was known as the Soke of Peterborough, an area which was considered part of Northamptonshire, but is now in Cambridgeshire. Ailsworth or Ailesworth is a village within the parish.

The area dates back to roman times where there was a considerable settlement. A huge palace type structure was extensively excavated in the 1820s by Edmund Artis, the agent for the Fitzwilliam estate at nearby Milton and part of the ruins are thought to have been converted in the 7th century into the nunnery of St Kyneburgha, which was founded before 664.

Kyneburgha (who died around 680) and Kyneswide were sisters and the daughters of King Penda of Mercia. Kyneburgha married Alhfrith of Deira, co-regent of Northumbria who later founded an abbey for both monks and nuns in Castor, and she became its first abbess. She was buried in the church, but her remains were moved before 972 to Peterborough Abbey, now the Cathedral. She had been one of the signatories, together with her brother Wulfhere, of the founding charter of Peterborough Abbey, dated 664.

Castor church, dedictated to St Kyneburgha has remarkable Romanesque architecture and excellent medieval wall paintings and is a Grade I listed building. Interestingly, it is the only Church of that name anywhere in the world.

The Culpins moved to the area from the early 1800s. William moved to Upton a village near to castor in the early 1800s and Richard (born xx) moved a little later to work on the expanding Milton estate.

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Culpin families in this area originated from Woodnewton, in Northamptonshire