Linton in Pictures
A History of Linton
in Photographs
Available here
REVERENDS EDMUND FISHER senior and EDMUND FISHER junior

From the French Revolution in 1789 until the Great Exhibition of 1851 the Fishers of Linton House exercised a dominant role in Linton affairs. The Fisher family resided there from 1789 and the house became known as the Vicarage since Linton had no suitable house for a vicar at that time.

Edmund Fisher senior had purchased the property, which at that period only extended to the river for £375. Fisher senior was already vicar of Duxford St. Peter’s and had married Sarah Trott, the only child of the wealthy Richard Trott of Duxford in 1764. The Trott Manors covered over 1100 acres in 1830 at the time of the Duxford Enclosure, and incorporated most of the present day airport site.

Two years after the death of his wife in 1787, and within weeks of the death of his father in law, the grieving Fisher senior moved to Linton with his four surviving children. Mary was 24 years of age, Judith 17, Edmund junior 15 and the youngest, Ann only 13 years old, four other children had died very young.

The Church at this time was very different from our present building. Boards above the Chancel arch displayed the Ten Commandments in bright gilded letters, the Church windows were largely of plain glass and some were boarded up. The pulpit was a north facing three decker located against a large pier on the south aisle. This pier was taken down in 1870 but you can still see the width of the arch if you stand in the south aisle.

The Church was filled with large dark breast high pews most of which faced south. The 13th century font was located under the second arch from the west, by the north aisle. The present Sclater- Bacon Memorial was sited under the south Chancel arch, churchgoers had a clear view of the magnificent Millicent Memorial, and the Flack and Lone Memorials were all located in the Chancel. The tower was blocked off by pews and Edmund Fisher’s first act was to authorise the construction of the West Gallery in June,1790. Stairs near the present half arch in the south aisle gave access to this gallery. A clarinet player used the gallery to lead the choir until Edmund Fisher junior purchased a finger organ for £130 in 1847. The Royal Arms were placed on the front of the new gallery and a gilt faced clock was fitted above.

On 13 October 1798 an event took place on the front lawn of Linton House. The family turned out to celebrate Nelson’s victory at the Nile over the Franco-Spanish fleet. The Cambridge Chronicle reported that, “ the illuminations were such as have seldom been seen, the devices too various to be easily described” and commented that the vicar was distantly related to the gallant Admiral.

Edmund Fisher senior resigned as vicar in March, 1800 but lived on in Linton House until his death in 1819 at the grand age of 90. Edmund Fisher junior, the new vicar was 26 years old and immediately married Mary Collin, the daughter of a Saffron Walden land agent in April 1800. Edmund junior needed to be more dynamic than his father since the Church was now challenged by a vibrant Congregational Chapel led by the newly installed Minister, Thomas Hopkins.

Edmund Fisher junior, like the rest of the landed classes was also threatened by the social and revolutionary movements arising from the French Wars, which lasted from 1793 to 1815. The harsh Corn Laws (1815 to 1846), the economic depression of the late 1810’s and early 1820’s and the ruinously expensive Poor Laws all made his tenure of office very difficult. Law and order often broke down in the immediate post-war period and Fisher was a leading member of the Linton Association, formed by local gentry in 1818 to curb crime by offering rewards to informants.

In 1833 a mob assaulted the local magistrates near the old Crown by the Market Place and broke down the main gates of Linton House. Fisher bravely faced their anger and successfully dispersed them, the eight leaders were later jailed for between 12 to 24 months.

We need to judge Fisher’s achievements against this unstable background. He founded a Sunday School in 1807. A superintendent and two mistresses taught the catechism to over 80 children in 1833. In 1830 he introduced a series of Sacred Concerts which were held in the Church to raise funds for Addenbrooke’s hospital. The Linton and Walden choirs performed the works of Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Hayden and the orchestra consisted of fifty musicians.

The Church was re-decorated in 1829 when three workmen took twelve days to whitewash the walls and colour the ceilings at a cost of just over £47. A small clock bell was erected on the tower in 1810 and a man was paid 2/- in July, 1830 to ring the bell to commemorate the funeral of George IV.

The near doubling of the local population between 1800 and 1850, from around 1,100 inhabitants to over 2,000 placed immense pressure on Church accommodation. The old fashioned pews were the cause of cramped conditions but the pew rent system made their removal impractical at this time.

Fisher resolved the immediate problem by securing the construction of a Singing Gallery in 1831-1832 positioned along the northern aisle. It was built by Daniel Day (Paintin’s today) at a total cost of £150-2-11d and provided space for over 100 children. £60 of the cost came from a grant made by the Incorporated Society for the Building and Enlarging of Churches. Access to the gallery was by stairs from the north aisle, close to the north door.

Pressure on burial ground space was resolved by securing land at Enclosure to enlarge the churchyard in 1840. The new ground was consecrated in 1849 and consisted of the area between the school /river pathway and the line of trees half way to the Camping Close.

Edmund Fisher was instrumental in securing the agreement of Pembroke College and the Keene Linton lords to the Enclosure of Linton in 1838 to 1840, and also implemented the Computation of Church Tithes in 1841(gave a monetary value in place of produce).

Fisher farmed the Pembroke Rectory lands from his main farm house at the Guildhall, and was fully trusted by the College to represent their best interests. His lasting legacy to the village was the National Church School which he founded in 1840, the land was donated Linton lords. This is the site of the present day Infants School. The £300 annual cost of running this new school was partly met by subscriptions and partly by the one penny weekly fees paid by the eighty scholars.

Edmund Fisher retired in October, 1844 at the age of 70 years and a full congregation assembled for his last sermon. By this time Linton Church communicants numbered 130, up from the 60 of 1800. The three Sunday services attracted a combined congregation of 550 adults and children. The Church was overcrowded , yet many pews were half empty. The Cambridge paper said that the Reverend Fisher had the respect of both churchmen and dissenters, he was a kind and liberal man.

Two of his four children survived him, his sons Richard Trott Fisher and Horatio Nelson Fisher, the latter born in January 1806 soon after Trafalgar. Tragically, Edmund’s wife had died in 1807 at the young age of 27 years leaving four children under the age of six years. Fisher never re-married and depended in later life on the support of his unmarried daughter, Mary. She ran the household but passed away in 1839 at the age of 37 years. Her name appears with those of her parents on the Memorial positioned on the south wall of the Church.

In 1846 Fisher bought the whole of the Bull Estate for £1500 and this purchase extended the garden of Linton House across the river into the present day orchard. In September, 1846 Fisher he had his portrait painted by Mr. Whittle and this sketch of a “pot bellied” figure is our only visual record of this esteemed gentleman.

Edmund Fisher junior died on December 8th, 1851 and Linton House was sold to Miss Sophia Keene in October, 1852. Linton still lacked a house for the vicar and we had to wait until 1896 before the vicarage issue was resolved.

Memorial
Sacred
To the Memory of
EDMUND FISHER
Vicar of this Parish from 1800 to 1844
He died,
Beloved and Respected
December 8th 1851, aged 77 years.

Also of Mary, his wife,
Who died September 17th, 1807
Aged 27 years

Also of Mary, their only daughter,
who died November 12th, 1839
aged 37 years.