Huntindonshire Back to Homepage >>

County-landscape

. Huntingdonshire is mostly a low plain sinking into fenland in the east it is drained by the River Ouse which is a beautiful river though prone to flooding, its dense reed beds attract many wading birds. The land bordering the River Ouse in the south comprises fertile meadows.

. The centre and west of the county is a mixture of mostly open farming country and some woodland, it is gently undulating country with good clay soil. in the north- east the well-drained Fenland provides good grazing land. This is almost all dairy country.

. William Cobbett eulogized the country between Huntingdon and Godmanchester as "the most beautiful scene and by far the most beautiful meadows that I ever saw in my life".

County-facts

Origin of name: From the Old English Huntersdune meaning "a good base wherefrom to mount a hunting expedition" or "huntman's Hill".

Name first recorded: 1011 as Huntadunscir.

Motto: Lahore Omnia Florent ("All Things Prosper by Industry").

COUNTY TOWN

HUNTINGDON Attractive town of Roman origins.

Other Towns

GODMANCHESTER Once a Roman military station, nowadays a treasure-trove of architectural styles including Island Hall, a mid-1 Sth-century mansion.

HEMINGFORD GREY Pretty village with church beside the River Ouse with a 12th-century moated mansion.

KIMBOLTON The castle was Catherine of Aragon's last home and is now a public school, it was originally a medieval mansion, later rebuilt by Sir John Vanbrugh.

ST IVES A medieval chapel survives in the centre of a six- arched 1 Sth-century bridge over the Great Ouse. St NEOTS Ancient market town with fascinating old inns and a market square beside the Ouse.

. Alwalton . Buckden . Ramsey . Sawtrey . Stukeley . Warboys

COUNTY RIVERS

Nene, Ouse, Kym.

HIGHEST POINT

Near Covington at 256 feet.

county-calendar

. Whitsun: Dicing For Bibles - St Ives. Bibles are given to twelve boys and girls of "good report".

. 4th week in April: National Pig Fair - Alwalton.

. June: Ruth Madoc Golf Tournament, Old Nene Golf Club, Ramsey.

. Mid-July & mid-November: Huntingdon Fair - Huntingdon.

. August: St Neots Carnival - St Neots.

. Late July: Tilbrook Country Fayre - Kimbolton.

. East of England Show at Stanground.

famous-names

. Tory Prime Minister John Major represents the constituents of Huntingdon.

. Oliver Cromwell represented Huntingdon in parliament, becoming Lord Protector of the Commonwealth after the execution of Charles I.

. Archetypal Welsh actress Ruth 'Hi-de-hi' Madoc lives in Huntingdon.

. Robin Hood was known as Earl of Huntingdon.

local-government

The County of Huntingdonshire is served by a two-tier structure provided by Cambridgeshire County Council and Huntingdonshire district council. The Huntingdonshire villages of Old Fletton, Or-ton Longueville, Orton Waterville , Water Newton , Woodston and Stanground are governed by single- tier Peterborough Council. Everton and Gibraltar are detached Huntingdonshire in Bedfordshire and administered by that County's council and Mid- Bedfordshire District Council.

intro

DRIVE UP THE Al to Peterborough and your eyes if not your nose will lead you to Stilton - yes, this the home of Britain 's most famous blue-veined cheese. Actually if truth be told the cheese used to be sold here but was originally made at Wymondham in Norfolk , but that doesn't have the same ring about it does it? This is also hunting country and some wag once suggested that fox- hunting was its chief industry. Once upon a time the upland part of the county was indeed a forest and well adapted for the hunting whence the county took its name. Today the county is more associated with the growing and processing of sugar-beet.

towns-and-villages

The small county town of Huntingdon was the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, and the grammar school, which both he and the diarist Samuel Pepys attended, is now occupied by the Cromwell Museum . The west end of the building incorporates a 12th- century Hospital of St John . The house in which the Lord Protector was born still stands in the High Street and is marked with a plaque, while the birthplace of Pepys stands near a roundabout, a mile outside the town at the village of Brampton , and is open to the public by written arrangement. Godmanchester, on the banks of the Great Ouse, was originally a Roman settlement established on Ermine Street. Its cobblestone church dates from the 13th century, but has a 17th-century tower and 15th century misericords. The 14th-century bridge crossing the River Ouse was reputedly built simultaneously from both banks, but without sufficient consultation, so that it is visibly misaligned in the centre. The medieval causeway has some pleasing houses and a Chinese Bridge which leads to islands in the river.

Although the rapid industrial expansion of Peterborough in Northamptonshire with its engineering and agri- business, has led to many north Huntingdonshire villages being absorbed into its suburbs, there are still one or two which exhibit a special charm. Yaxley is especially pretty and still maintains its independence from the encroaching city, with timbered buildings and brick and tile cottages, along with a church which has a tall Perpendicular steeple, medieval wall paintings and a 15th-century chancel screen. Old Fletton, although now an untidy suburb, has some Saxon carvings that were possibly removed from the monastery at Peterborough at the time of the Dissolution. The village is also noted for the pale bricks which have been made here since the 1880s.

local-history

Flag Fen is the only place in the country where you can see the timbers of a Bronze Age village. The site was discovered in 1982 and was a defensive man-made island built in the marshes from over a million timbers. After the Danes invaded the region in AD870, they were eventually expelled by Edward the Elder in AD921. Oswald, Archbishop of York began the building of Ramsey Abbey in AD967 and it was consecrated in AD974. It was once one of England 's richest abbeys. A ploughman subsequently discovered a body in a field at the aptly named village of Slepe , and then, in a dream, had the revelation that these were the remains of St Ivo, a Persian archbishop who had preached the Gospel in England . The relics were conveyed to Ramsey Abbey, where a number of miracles were later attributed to their presence. As a result, the name of the village of Slepe was changed to St Ives. The Earldom of Huntingdon fell to Scottish kings for a while and Stuart monarchs often visited the shire.

The final battle of the Civil War took place at St Neots in July, 1648. The Parliamentary forces, under Colonel Scroop, defeated the Royalists, led by the Earl of Holland, and they were forced to flee. During the Napoleonic Wars, a substantial number of French prisoners were confined at the village of Norman Cross.

Prior to the draining of the Fenland in the northeast during the 17th century, other major activities included turf-cutting, reed-cutting for thatch and for the manufacture of horse-collars. Saltpetre - a white crystalline saltyn substance used as constituent of gunpowder and in preserving meat - was also made during the 17th century, with lace-making and straw-plaiting following on during the next hundred years. Huntingdonshire was also particularly noteworthy in the great days of the coaching age of the 1700s to the mid- 1800s, since all northbound traffic from London passed through the shire, and the two major roads from York met at the Wheatsheaf Inn at Alconbury, later to become the site of a major airbase.

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