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Reach, Cambridgeshire

Reach is a small fen-edge village and civil parish in East Cambridgeshire, England.

Reach is located at the north end of Devil's Dyke, about 1.5 miles west of Burwell. The dyke split the settlement in two (East Reach and West Reach) until part of it was refilled to create the current Fair Green in the 18th century. East Reach has since vanished, filled in by arable land. The village was a thriving port in Roman times, and was home to a large Roman villa and baths. It was an important economic centre; goods were loaded at its common hythe (wharf) for transport into the fen waterway system from at least 1100, and it was a large producer of clunch; a new wood has been planted on the old clunch pits, where chalky cliffs are still visible from early quarrying. Its use as a port continued until about 200 years ago. Reach Lode, a Roman canal, still exists, and is still navigable. The village church, originally Holy Trinity School Church and latterly called St Etheldreda's , was built in 1860 on the site of the former chapel of St John. The ruined perpendicular arch of the old chapel is still visible behind the new church.

On village signs the name of the village is spelled 'Reche'.

The village is scene of the Reach Fair, one of England's oldest festivals. The Fair was originally held annually at Rogationtide (which replaced the pagan festival of May Day) and is now held every May Day Bank Holiday. Officially run by the Cambridge Corporation and opened annually by the Mayor of Cambridge, it has been an annual event for over 800 years since receiving its charter in 1201 from King John. Reach Fair was historically a grand regional occasion, hosting feasting and parades over three days. The Fair is held on the central Fair Green, and probably extended down further to Reach Lode in its earlier days. In 2001, on the 800th anniversary of the fair, a plaque was unveiled on Hill Farm , one of the Fair Green's older buildings commemorating the charter.

The village pub, The Dyke's End was saved from closure by a village co-operative (named Reach for a pint).

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