Downham in 1839
Downham is in Clackclose hundred, near the right bank of the Great Ouse, 84 miles from London. This is a very ancient town ; according to Spelman it had the grant of a market as far back as the time of Edward the Confessor. The area of the parish is 2,880 acres; the population, in 1831, was 2,198, more than one-fourth agricultural.
The town consists of three streets, which are well paved. The church is an ancient building, with a low embattled tower : there are also several dissenting places of worship. There are mustard works and oil-mills in the neighbourhood, and a considerable bell-foundry in the town. The market, which is on Saturday, is well supplied with fish and fowl from the Fens. There are two if not three fairs in the year ; one of which is one of the largest horse-fairs in the kingdom.
The living is a rectory, of the clear yearly value of £403, with a glebe-house. There were, in 1833, a national school for 60 girls ; three other day-schools, with 160 children ; a boarding-school, with 89 boys ; and two Sunday-schools, with 137 children.