Huntingdon is a bustling historic market town near Cambridge, with excellent road and rail links to London. The town straddles the ancient Roman Road of Ermine Street (part of the Great North Road), where it crosses the River Great Ouse. The name Huntingdon derives from the old English term 'huntedun', which means 'Hunte's hill'.
Huntingdon Town Square © Travel About Britain
The town started life as a settlement along Ermine Street, expanding in the 19th-c. after the railway arrived. There are many old buildings of interest dotted around the town centre, several of which are closely associated with Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1658), who was born and brought up in Huntingdon.
The town's ancient market square is surrounded by several buildings of note, including a fine Town Hall (built in 1745), the Medieval All Saints Church and the Cromwell Museum (shown above). Also facing the market square is the old Falcon Inn, once used as Cromwell's main headquarters during the Civil War. In the centre of the square sits the town's war memorial, sculpted by K. Scott (widow of Scott-of-the-Antarctic). Just behind the Town Hall, in a narrow passageway (once commonplace in the town), is a traditional old pub called the Market Inn, complete with its original timber-framed upper storey.
The town has a good variety of shops and outlets. A regular weekly market is held on Wednesday and Saturday (8am to 4pm).
Huntingdon has a small park near the town with a small maze and traditional bandstand. There is also the very pleasant Riverside Park, from which a pathway runs alongside the river through a lovely tree lined nature reserve to the parish church at Hartford Village.
To the south of Huntingdon, across the old town bridge, lies Godmanchester, a much older Roman settlement (originally called "Durovigutum"), built to guard the river crossing and the important crossroads of the 'London to York' and 'Chester to Colchester' roads.
Anyone wishing to see all the important sites in the town should pick up a copy of the 'Huntingdon Town Trail' leaflet available from the Library or the Cromwell Museum.
Tourist Information Centre:
|The Library, Princes Street, Huntingdon PE29 3PH - Tel: 01480 388588|
The 14th-c stone bridge over the Great Ouse is an odd mix of styles. The bridge was a joint construction between Godmanchester and Huntingdon, who each had different ideas on how it should be completed.
The George Hotel an old coaching inn that once served travelers and stage coaches on the Great North Road (Ermine Street) during the 17th & 18th centuries. Once owned by Oliver Cromwell's Grandfather, it is laid out in a classical Tudor pattern, with galleries overlooking a central courtyard, where plays were once performed; a precursor to Shakespearian style theater layout. The hotel is reputedly said to have been frequented by the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin.
The 15th-C. All Saints Church, located to the north of the market square, is one of only two surviving medieval churches in the town. Much altered over the years it has some very interesting stain glass windows (several by Kempe) and a fine Victorian organ with decorated pipes. The church contains the Cromwell family burial vault, in which Oliver's father and grandfather are interned. Just inside the doorway (on the left) is the original font in which Oliver Cromwell was baptized as a child (originally from St John,s Church, which was demolished after irreparable damage during the Civil War).
The coffin of Mary Queen of Scots rested in the Church Chancel, on its way to London from Peterborough for reburial at Westminster Abbey. A site that would have almost certainly been witnessed by Oliver Cromwell who was 13 at the time and attending the school opposite.
Standing directly opposite All Saints Church by the market square is the old grammar school once attended by Cromwell, and also by Samuel Pepys, the Restoration diarist. Today it houses the Cromwell Museum, which contains one of the most complete public collections relating to Oliver Cromwell, including several important paintings.
The site where Huntingdon's castle once stood, on the banks of the Great Ouse. Originally of timber construction, it was built in 1068 by William I, over the site of the old Saxon town. Although the main palisade was destroyed following a siege in 1174, the site remained occupied as a seat of power until the 17th C. Today just the earthworks remain, forming a public park.
Originally a priory, the property passed to the Cromwell family in 1536. Rebuilt by Oliver Cromwell's Great Grandfather, the house later became the residence of the Earls of Sandwich. Open to the public in the mid-summer on Sundays for Tours and Teas.
Opening times: mid
June to end August, Sundays and BH only 2pm - 5pm - Admission
Location: Brampton Rd, Huntingdon PE29 3BN
Tel: 01480 375678
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