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Market town
Cmglee Huntingdon town hall war memorial.jpg
Huntingdon Town Hall and The Thinking Soldier War Memorial
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Population23,732 2011 Census
OS grid referenceTL245725
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtPE26, PE28, PE29
Dialling code01480
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
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Huntingdon is a market town in Cambridgeshire, England, chartered by King John in 1205. Having been the county town of historic Huntingdonshire, it is now the seat of the Huntingdonshire District Council. It was the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell in 1599, who became its Member of Parliament (MP) in the 17th century. The former Conservative Prime Minister (1990–1997) John Major served as MP for Huntingdon from 1979 until his retirement in 2001.


Huntingdon was founded by the Anglo-Saxons and Danes. It is first mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 921, where it appears as Huntandun. It appears as Huntedun in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name means "The huntsman's hill" or possibly "Hunta's hill".[1]

Huntingdon seems to have been a staging post for Danish raids outside East Anglia until 917, when the Danes moved to Tempsford, now in Bedfordshire, before they were crushed by Edward the Elder. It prospered successively as a bridging point of the River Great Ouse, a market town, and in the 18th and 19th centuries a coaching centre, notably at the George Hotel. The town has a well-preserved medieval bridge that used to serve as the main route of Ermine Street over the river. The bridge only ceased to be the sole crossing point to Godmanchester in 1975, with the advent of what is now the A14 bypass.

Sebastopol cannon

The town's valuable trading position was secured by Huntingdon Castle, of which only the earthworks of the motte survive. The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and home to a beacon used to mark the 400th anniversary of the Spanish Armada.

In 1746, the nurserymen Wood and Ingram of nearby Brampton developed an elm-tree cultivar, Ulmus × hollandica 'Vegeta', which they named the Huntingdon Elm after the town.[2]

Original documents on Huntingdon's history, including the borough charter of 1205, are held by Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies at the County Record Office, Huntingdon.[3]

Parts of Huntingdon, including the centre, were struck by an F1/T3 tornado on 23 November 1981, during a record-breaking nationwide tornado outbreak on that day.[4] The centre suffered moderate damage.

Huntingdon welcome sign

Between the railway station and the old hospital building stands a replica cannon installed in the 1990s to replace one from the Crimean War, scrapped for the war effort in the Second World War. However, it faces in the opposite direction from the original. St Mary's Street drill hall was built in the late 19th century.[5]

George Hotel

The George Hotel on the corner of High Street and George Street was once a posting house. It was named after Saint George of England in 1574 and bought some 25 years later by Henry Cromwell, grandfather of Oliver Cromwell. Charles I made the George his headquarters in 1645. Later the highwayman Dick Turpin is said to have been a customer, when it was a coaching inn on the Great North Road. Two wings of the inn burnt down in the mid-19th century, but two were saved, including one with a balcony overlooking the yard. Since 1959, the courtyard and balcony have been used for Shakespeare performances by a company run by the Shakespeare at the George Trust.[6]


Huntingdon has a town council with 19 councillors, as elsewhere elected every four years.[7] Two of them serve also as mayor and deputy mayor.[8] Meetings are normally held once a month at Huntingdon Town Hall.[9]

Huntingdonshire District Council has three wards: Huntingdon North, Huntingdon East and Huntingdon West.[10] The Huntingdon East ward has three councillors and the other wards by two each.[11] The main offices of Huntingdonshire District Council are in Huntingdon itself.

The highest local-government tier is Cambridgeshire County Council based in Cambridge, providing county-wide services such as major roads, fire and rescue, education, social services, libraries and heritage protection.[12] Huntingdon is one of 60 electoral divisions,[10] represented by two county councillors.[13]

Huntingdon lies in the parliamentary constituency of Huntingdon,[10] represented by Jonathan Djanogly MP (Conservative) since 2001. The previous member was the former prime minister John Major (Conservative), who held it from 1979 to 2001.


The town lies on the north bank of the River Great Ouse opposite Godmanchester and close to the market town of St Ives to the east and the village of Brampton to the west. Huntingdon incorporates the village of Hartford to the east and the developing areas of Oxmoor, Stukeley Meadows and Hinchingbrooke to the north and west.

Between Godmanchester, Huntingdon and Brampton lies Portholme Meadow, England's largest.[14] Its 257 acres (104 hectares) contain many rare species of grass, flowers and dragonfly. It is the only known British habitat of the marsh dandelion. It acts as a natural reservoir for water in times of flood, enabling the river to run off slowly, so helping to preclude flooding in nearby towns. It has also served as a horse racecourse and once was a centre for aviation.


Huntingdon is home to many local businesses, including Huntingdon Racecourse. Hinchingbrooke Business Park also contains offices and warehouses.


The nearest weather station for long-term data is at RAF Wyton, 3 mi (5 km) north-east of the town centre. More recently Monks Wood, 5 mi (8 km) to the north-west, has also provided data.

Like most of Britain, Huntingdon has a temperate, maritime climate free of temperature extremes, with rainfall spread fairly evenly over the year. The absolute maximum recorded at Wyton was 35.4 °C (95.7 °F)[15] in August 1990; the temperature at Monks Wood rose in July 2006 to 35.1 °C (95.2 °F).[16] The mean annual warmest day is 29.7 °C (85.5 °F),[17] and on 16 days a year will rise to 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or above.[18]

Typically 43.2 nights of the year report an air frost.[19] The absolute minimum at Wyton was −16.1 °C (3.0 °F)[20] in January 1982. The mean for the annual coldest night of the year is −7.7 °C (18.1 °F).[21]

With annual rainfall at under 550 millimetres (21+12 inches) a year,[22] the Huntingdon area is among the driest in the UK – 103.4 days on average record at least 1 mm of rain.[23] All averages mentioned refer to the period 1971–2000.



Between 1801 and 1901, the current area of Huntingdon consisted of four parishes: Huntingdon All Saints, Huntingdon St Benedict, Huntingdon St John and Huntingdon St Mary. The populations of these were counted in the ten-year UK census and ranged in the period between 2,368 in 1801 and 4,735 in 1891.[24] (The census was omitted in 1941.)

Huntingdon 4,464 4,644 4,570 5,282 14,648 15,451 20,099 23,732

All population census figures are taken from the report Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011 by Cambridgeshire Insight.[24] For the censuses of 1961 and 1971, Huntingdon was combined with Godmanchester.

In 2011, the parish covered an area of 2,765 acres (1,119 hectares).[24] The population density in that year was 5,493.1 inhabitants per square mile (2,120.9 inhabitants per square kilometre).

Culture and community

The former Literary and Scientific Institute is now Commemoration Hall.

The Old Bridge across the Great Ouse, to Godmanchester.

There are two RAF stations within 4 mi (6 km) of the town: RAF Brampton, once home to Headquarters RAF Support Command closed in 2013; RAF Wyton, once a major flying station but now also part of the DLO; and RAF Alconbury currently occupied by the United States Air Force.

Part of the medieval infirmary hall of St Johns in the market place became Huntingdon Grammar School. It was attended by Cromwell and by the diarist Samuel Pepys. The building is now the Cromwell Museum, run by Cambridgeshire County Council.

Interior of the Cromwell Museum


Hinchingbrooke House, once a convent, is said to be haunted. The bridge over the Alconbury Brook named Nun's Bridge is said also to be haunted, by one of the nuns who once lived at the convent that is now Hinchingbrooke House.[25] She is said often to be accompanied by another ghost that resembles a nurse. The myth goes that the nun had a monk-lover who caused them to be murdered. In 1965 a married couple reported seeing the ghosts on the bridge and again when they returned home the same night.[citation needed]


The local primary schools are Hartford Junior School, Huntingdon Primary School, Thongsley Fields Primary School, St John's Primary School, Stukeley Meadows Primary School and Cromwell Academy Primary School. Spring Common School is a special-needs school. Secondary schools include St Peter's School and Hinchingbrooke School. Further education colleges include Huntingdonshire Regional College, Hinchingbrooke School sixth-form college and St Peter's sixth form.



Huntingdon railway station has direct services to London Kings Cross station, some trains taking less than 45 minutes. It is served by Great Northern. Thameslink services between Horsham in West Sussex and Peterborough via Blackfriars and St Pancras in London run every half hour.


There are direct bus services to Peterborough, St Neots, Ramsey, St Ives and Cambridge, and within the town and to Hinchingbrooke Hospital. Most buses are provided by Stagecoach East and Whippet.


Luton and Stansted airports are within 40 miles (64 km).

Huntingdon town centre, looking North along the High Street towards All Saints' Church.

Religious sites

Once with more in the town, there are four Church of England churches in Huntingdon, which together with those in the adjacent villages Great and Little Stukeley are members of the Huntingdon Team Ministry[26] in the Diocese of Ely. The four are All Saints' (next to the Market Square), St Mary's (opposite Pathfinder House), St Barnabas (on the Oxmoor estate) and All Saints', Hartford.

Huntingdon Methodist Church is in the High Street.[27] Medway Christian Fellowship is based on Medway Road.[28]


The highest-ranking football club, Huntingdon Town, plays in the United Counties League. Huntingdon United RGE plays in the Cambridgeshire League.

Notable residents

Names are in birth order. Data are from the subject's Wikipedia article except where referenced.

Arts and entertainment

  • Henry Compton (Charles Mackenzie, 1805–1877), actor, born in Huntingdon
  • George Mackley (1900–1983), wood engraver, born in Huntingdon
  • Terry Reid, (born 1949), rock vocalist and guitarist, born in Huntingdon
  • The Charlottes (formed 1988), indie rock band formed in Huntingdon.
  • Ceara O'Neill (born 1990), actor and musician, born in Huntingdon
  • Himesh Patel (born 1990), actor, born in Huntingdon




Science and engineering


International relations

Twin towns


See also


  1. Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p. 258.
  2. Louis John Drake, Wood and Ingram: A Huntingdonshire Nursery 1742-1950.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 December 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "European Severe Weather Database".
  5. "The Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalions 1914–1919". Porch Museum. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  6. "Shakespeare at the George". Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  7. "Huntingdon Town Council: Councillors". Huntingdon Town Council. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  8. "Huntingdon Town Council: Mayor of Huntingdon". Huntingdon Town Council. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  9. "Huntingdon Town Council: council meetings". Huntingdon Town Council. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Ordnance Survey Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  11. "Huntingdonshire District Council: Councillors". Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  12. "Cambridgeshire County Council". Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  13. "Cambridgeshire County Council: Councillors". Cambridgeshire County Council. Archived from the original on 22 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  15. "> 1990 Maximum". Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  16. "> July 2006". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  17. "> The mean annual warmest day". Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  18. ">25c days". Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  19. "air frost incidence". Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  20. "1982 minimum". Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  21. "Mean annual coldest night". Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  22. "Annual average rainfall". Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  23. "Annual average wetdays". Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 "Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011". Cambridgeshire Insight. Archived from the original (xlsx – download) on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  27. "Home". Huntingdon Methodist Church. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  28. "Medway Christian Fellowship – Love Oxmoor – A church in the heart of the community". Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  29. Rootsweb Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  30. BCW Project Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  31. Chelsea info Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  32. "Huntingdon and Godmanchester's Twin Towns". Huntingdon Town Council. Retrieved 8 May 2021.

External links

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