A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1932.
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THE BOROUGH OF HUNTINGDON
Huntingdon is pleasantly situated among pastoral scenery on the north bank of the Ouse. It is on Ermine Street, which, running north-west through the town, always formed the main thoroughfare. There is little trace in its vicinity of the settlements of early man, (fn. 3) and during the Roman occupation, though there may have been a small village here, it was insignificant and perhaps a bridgehead to the more important settlement at Godmanchester. (fn. 4)
Huntingdon owes its importance to its position at the crossing of the River Ouse by the much frequented Ermine Street on its way from London to Lincoln and York. On the south side of the crossing ancient roads from the south-east and south-west, and on the north side from the north-east and north-west, converge on Ermine Street and become united to it before it reaches the bridge. The town, by having control of the crossing of the Ouse, was of considerable strategical importance in the time of war, as the Ouse was the first real barrier or defensible line from London on the Ermine Street route to the north. Before St. Ives bridge was built in the 12th century, Huntingdon bridge was probably the lowest bridge on the Ouse, so that a considerable amount of goods from overseas, by way of the Wash and King's Lynn, was unladen on its wharves. The Danes, as a military and trading people, were not slow to see the importance of the site, and it is in connection with the Danish campaigns of the 10th century that we first hear of Huntingdon. The Danes would naturally choose the northern bank of the river, which was the side in touch with their base, in the same way as the site of Godmanchester, lying on the south bank, had been selected on the side nearer the Roman headquarters in London. At Huntingdon the Danes constructed defensive earthworks as a stronghold against the Saxon kings. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that in 921 Edward the Elder, warring against the Danes, entered the 'burh' of Huntingdon and afterwards repaired and restored it. A second entry under the same year relates that he left Huntingdon and marched on to Tempsford. (fn. 5) In 1010 the Danes once more ravaged the whole county. (fn. 6)
Indirect evidence shows that already Huntingdon was a market town, for in 974 a charter to Peterborough states that there was to be no other market than Peterborough between Stamford and Huntingdon. (fn. 7) A charter to Thorney Abbey likewise shows that St. Mary's Priory existed at this date. (fn. 8)
Further evidence of the early importance of the town is the existence of a MINT, but in the absence of documentary evidence it is impossible to assign a date to its establishment. A mint was certainly in activity there shortly after the middle of the 10th century. The earliest coins that bear the name of Huntingdon are of the reign of Eadwig (955–959); it is not impossible that coins of an earlier reign may yet be found, or that some even now exist without the mint signature. In the 10th century the only coin struck for currency in England was the silver penny; it bore on the obverse the king's name and title, sometimes also a somewhat grotesque representation of his portrait, and on the reverse an inscription that served to identify the officer who was responsible for the proper quality of the coins and who was known as Monetarius or Moneyer. Occasionally, as on some coins of Alfred, the mint-name or cipher sufficed; more often, until the reign of Aethelstan, the moneyer's name stood alone. The addition of the name of the mint to that of the moneyer, which was usual in the reign of Aethelstan, was subsequently only occasional until the reign of Edward the Martyr, from which time it was an almost invariable practice.
It is the reign of Aethelstan that has left to us, in the edicts of the Council at Grately, the earliest surviving laws relating to the mints in this country. Under these laws Huntingdon, if it had at that time the status of a burgh, was entitled to have a mint with one moneyer. The penny of Eadwig here illustrated (Fig. 1), which bears the king's title, 'Eadwig Rex,' in a circular inscription round a field bearing a small cross, disposes the reverse legend in three lines, the moneyer's name 'Dun[i]nc Mo[netarius]' being in the upper and lower lines, and the abbreviation of the mint, 'Hun,' between the crosses in the centre. Coins of similar design of the reign of Eadgar reading 'Ingolf Hu' may perhaps be read as the pennies of a moneyer Ingolf of the mint of Huntingdon, but the attribution is not quite free from doubt. Eadgar has left a Huntingdon coinage of perfectly satisfactory nature in his portrait issue; a fine penny is illustrated (Fig. 2) which gives the very full reading 'Pirim Moneta Hunte'; the name of the Monetarius may be either Pirim or Wirim, confusion of P with AngloSaxon Wen is natural and frequent. No Huntingdon coins of Edward the Martyr have yet been found, but that does not necessarily imply that the mint was not in use in his reign.
With the accession of Aethelred II there is evidence of a continuous output of the mint; the occasional omission of a rare type may rather be attributed to loss of specimens than to a break in the continuity of the mint. In this reign, if we exclude a very rare type with the Agnus Dei and Dove, which has been plausibly connected with the Millennium, there are five distinct varieties of design. These five types, which are labelled A to E in the order in which they seem to have come into currency, are all found on Huntingdon coins. A, C and D, which represent a simple cross, CRVX in the angles of a cross, and a long voided cross, are illustrated (Figs. 3, 4, 5); B has the Hand of Providence, and E a cross voided over a quadrilateral. The Huntingdon moneyers of this reign are, with various spellings:—Aethelstan (on types A and E); Aelfnoth (A); Aelfric (B, C, D); Edwine (D); Leofn (D); Leofric (A, C); Manwine (A); Osgod (C, D); Saewine (A, E); Wulfgar (B). The signature of Huntingdon appears on coins of Cnut (1016–1035) of his first (E), third (G) and fifth (H) types. Type E has a crowned profile and voided cross, both in a quatrefoil tressure, G (Fig. 6) shows the portrait wearing a high peaked helmet and on the reverse a voided cross with bosses, and H a profile with sceptre and a plain voided cross. The moneyers are:—Ada (G, H); Eadnoth (E, G); Godeleof (E, G); Godric (E); Leofwine (G); Staner (E); Wulstan (H); Wynsige (G). Wulwine and Wulwi are the names on Huntingdon coins of Harold I; the earlier of the two types of this reign is illustrated (fig. 7); the later type has a long voided cross with a trefoil springing from each angle. Harthacnut's second issue—a profile with sceptre and a small quatrefoil over a voided cross—was struck by two moneyers at Huntingdon, Aelfwine and Wulfwine.
The comparative scarcity of coins of Huntingdon prevents a satisfactory estimate being made from the coins of the number of moneyers employed. Domesday tells us that there were three in the time of the Confessor but not at the time of the Survey. In the Confessor's reign, whose 4th, 6th and 8th types are shown (figs. 8, 9, 10), there appear as moneyers of Huntingdon Wulfwig (on types 1 and 4); Wulfwine (1 and 4); Aelfwine (2, 3, 5); Ulfcetel (2); Godric (5, 7, 8, 9); Godwine (6, 7, 8, 9); Liofric (8); Liofwine (8). From this it is evident that Godric, Godwine and Liofric were at work at the same time; Liofwine may have preceded or followed Liofric. Godwine's name also appears on coins of Harold II (fig. 11). The words 'modo non sunt,' which conclude the phrase in Domesday referring to the moneyers at Huntingdon, are not clear in the light of the coins, for Huntingdon coins are known of all, except the third and seventh, types of the Conqueror. Possibly type VII was in issue when the survey was made and the absence of Huntingdon coins of this type is not caused by the lapse of time. The moneyers are Godric (I, II, IV); Siwate (II); Godwine (IV, V, VI); Aelfwine (VIII). Siwate appears again in the 1st, 2nd and 4th issues of William II, and Aelfwine in his 3rd issue. The coins illustrated are the 1st (fig. 1), 2nd (fig. 2), 4th (fig. 3), 6th (fig. 4), and 8th, or last (fig. 5) of William I and the 1st and 2nd (figs. 6, 7) of William II. One only of the fifteen types of Henry I, the fourteenth, has coins of Huntingdon; there are two moneyers known, [Ael ?] fwine (fig. 8) and Derlig. Of Stephen also a Huntingdon coin is known, struck by the moneyer Godmer during the last issue of the reign (fig. 9). With this issue the mint of Huntingdon comes to a close.
To return to the HISTORY of the borough, according to Ordericus Vitalis, William the Conqueror visited Huntingdon in 1068, on the occasion of his second visit to York, and built the Norman castle there. (fn. 9) The entry relating to Huntingdon in his survey is a long and important one. There is ample evidence both of the devastations which Huntingdon had suffered in the past and of more settled present conditions. In the four quarters or wards, into which the borough was divided, 126 messuages (of which 22 were within the castle site) had apparently disappeared before the time of the Confessor. Only eight messuages had disappeared since his day and the number of burgesses, 256 in all, had not diminished. Mention is made of two churches, and a mill. (fn. 10)
During the anarchy of Stephen's reign figures for the Danegeld show that Huntingdon suffered greatly, especially between 1135 and 1144, the taxable value of the borough being reduced by half. (fn. 11) The dismantling of the castle in the following reign made for more tranquillity in the borough's history. (fn. 12) Henry of Huntingdon, writing about this date, gives a pleasant picture of the town, which he declares to be preeminent both by beauty of position and its own comeliness (decor) and by the vicinity of the fenland (paludum) with its wealth of game and fish. (fn. 13) A vineyard of some size attached to Huntingdon Castle was in cultivation at this time and must have added to the natural beauty of the scenery. (fn. 14) Later it became converted to pasture and was the property of Hinchingbrooke Priory till the Dissolution. (fn. 15)
Huntingdon had a small Jewry in the 12th and 13th centuries. Various references have been found to its chest of charters and in 1272 it was taxed at 3s. (fn. 16) A curious grant may be quoted here, made in 1279 to the bailiffs and good men of Huntingdon for three years, of 1d. for every Jew or Jewess crossing Huntingdon bridge on horseback or of ½d. if on foot. (fn. 17)
In the 13th century Huntingdon covered much the same space as now, but it had attained to a development of which the modern town retains little trace. Whereas to-day two ecclesiastical parishes suffice for the needs of the inhabitants, in the 13th century there existed in this comparatively small area sixteen parishes with their churches. (fn. 18) There were also six religious houses, although three of them were outside the borough boundary, namely, St. Mary's Priory (the most important, owning nine of the sixteen parish churches) in the east where the modern cemetery is, Hinchingbrooke Priory in the west, and St. Margaret's Hospital in the north where the Spittles still stand. Within the borough were St. John's Hospital, a house of Austin Friars and a small leper hospital of St. Giles whose site has not been identified. In addition no fewer than seventeen priories and abbeys (some as far distant as Burton-on-Trent and Stoneley) had small properties in various of the Huntingdon parishes.
Huntingdon, however, was not the trading centre of the shire. Various causes combined against it. Thus, at this time all the inhabitants of the county claimed, in return for repairing the bridge, freedom from toll in Huntingdon, (fn. 19) and though they did not prove over-eager about their side of the bargain (fn. 20) it may be safely assumed that they took full advantage of this privilege. A market or even a fair to which strangers outside the county might also be expected to resort might thus become a very doubtful asset for the borough. But the main cause was that only five miles off, at St. Ives, was a formidable rival in the shape of the important fair held yearly under the auspices of the Abbot of Ramsey, to which merchants from all over the country and from the continent came to traffic in hides, wool and corn. In 1252 the burgesses obtained by royal charter a grant of all tolls imposed on wares brought into St. Ives, undertaking to pay in return an increase of £20 on the yearly rent they already paid to the crown. (fn. 21) The numerous quarrels and lawsuits arising from this grant between the burgesses and the Abbot of Ramsey have been described elsewhere in this history, (fn. 22) but as in 1260 the burgesses valued the income arising from this source at £100, (fn. 23) they had for the moment apparently made a good bargain.
The promising impression gained of Huntingdon during the 13th century was superseded in the following century by something very different. The change was due both to local causes by the failure of one of the most powerful earldoms in the country, the head of which was at one time at Huntingdon Castle, and to the trend of national history. Communication with Lynn by water had begun to be impeded owing, as the burgesses now constantly complained, to the diversion and obstruction of the main stream of the Ouse by millpools, sluices and like encroachments of the Abbot of Ramsey, the Greys and other riparian owners below Huntingdon. (fn. 24) As a result of economic changes, brought about principally by the Hundred Years War and the establishment of the staple, St. Ives fair also steadily declined in importance and was discontinued before the middle of the 14th century. (fn. 25) Huntingdon was left thus without compensation for the loss of tolls and burdened moreover with the heavy increase to her fee farm rent. The final misfortune was the Black Death, which appears to have visited Huntingdon with special severity.
The waning prosperity of the borough is summed up in the preamble to the charter of 1363. Huntingdon, it states, is so weakened by mortal pestilences and other calamities that one-quarter is uninhabited. The remaining residents have scarcely the means of supporting life, and if the heavy taxation is not lightened the whole town will be left desolate. (fn. 26) For obvious reasons the burgesses painted a black tale, but it is a significant fact that by 1364 three parish churches are known to have been derelict for lack of parishioners, while it may be reasonably assumed that eight others, to which no incumbents were appointed from the 14th century onward, had shared the same fate. (fn. 27)
The charter of 1363, while not giving direct relief, was framed to help indirectly. Thus the right of the burgesses to exact 'gernerage,' or garnerage, was emphasized. This was a customary payment taken from all strangers hiring houses in the town to store the corn, malt, wheat, etc., which they brought for sale. Of late years strangers had taken advantage of the town's weakness and refused to pay. This ancient due is specially mentioned in the governing Charter of 1630. (fn. 28)
Another clause, securing to the borough all chattels of felons, fugitives and outlaws found within the borough and liberty, proved of material advantage during the Peasants' Rising in 1381, (fn. 29) for the insurrection was specially serious in this county. The burgesses appear to have acted with great decision in upholding royal authority and received as a reward a further confirmation of their charter and a grant of pavage for five years. (fn. 30)
Huntingdon was in touch with general history in 1397, for it was here that the Duke of Gloucester met the Earls of Arundel and Warwick to hatch with them the conspiracy against his nephew Richard II, which was to end so disastrously in his own death. (fn. 31) In the same year the king borrowed £40 from his good men of Huntingdon, a fairly large sum in comparison with other towns. (fn. 32)
In 1425 the Prioress of Hinchingbrooke complained that certain inhabitants of Huntingdon 'arrayed in manner of war' had broken her close and carried off two of her servants prisoners. What lay behind the story is not clear, but the list of the delinquents and their occupations is interesting, including as it does two glovers, a fisher, a smith, a 'barbour' a 'bocher,' a sawyer, a fuller, four husbandmen, a 'taillour,' a skinner, a 'cordewaner' a chapman, a hosier and a chandler. (fn. 33) In 1436 six naturalised foreigners, including a goldsmith, from Flanders and elsewhere, were allowed to settle in Huntingdon and ply their trades. (fn. 34) In 1461 the Lancastrian Army, marching southward under Queen Margaret, sacked Grantham, Stamford, Peterborough, Hunting don, Melbourne and Royston, on their way to St. Albans, where they defeated Warwick and the Yorkist Army. During the 15th and 16th centuries, complaints of the burden of taxation and the decay of the town are general. Burgesses fled rather than take office and none came to replace them, so that at the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII half the dwelling houses were empty and the doors boarded up, while the remainder were inhabited by very poor people. Four parish churches alone remained, but there was not sufficient congregation 'to sustain and find honestly' more than two priests. (fn. 35)
The Dissolution of the religious houses changed the social history of the town here as elsewhere. The borough benefited from some of the smaller religious properties, but the main interest attached to the Reformation in Huntingdon is that it brought into prominence here the family of Williams alias Cromwell. Sir Oliver Cromwell was made Recorder of the borough in 1596, (fn. 36) and here was born on 25 April 1599 his famous nephew Oliver Cromwell the Protector, who was educated at St. John's Grammar School. He married and settled in the borough (which he represented in the Parliament of 1628) until 1631, when he sold his property here and went to St. Ives and then to Ely. (fn. 37) Speed's Map, here reproduced, shows what the Huntingdon of his day was like.
A quarrel with the mayor and corporation may have hastened Cromwell's retirement from Huntingdon. In the preceding year, when the town received its new charter, a strong opposition party to it, headed by Cromwell, had been formed. They appeared to fear that the changed constitution threatened the rights of the inhabitants of the borough in the common and town lands. Cromwell was so outspoken in his personal denunciation to Lionel Walden (the first mayor) and Bernard the Recorder, that the matter was brought before the Privy Council.
In the Civil War Huntingdon took an active part, owing mainly to its position on a highway. At the beginning of hostilities it was occupied by the Parliamentary party, one of whose generals, the Earl of Manchester, stayed there for some days in September 1644 and garrisoned it. (fn. 38) It was probably by his command that a large encompassing ditch, 'lately scowred and cast up and a breastworke and gate in the roade' found there later by the Royalists, were established. (fn. 39) The strategic value of Huntingdon as 'a strong pass and an inlet to the Eastern Association' was quickly recognised, and in August 1645 the king in person advanced against the town with 4,000 horse soldiers. (fn. 40) According to one who took part in the fray they were met at Stilton by a body of Parliamentarians, who 'a little disputed' Huntingdon, but the town was taken on 24 August with great store of prisoners and arms. (fn. 41) The king rested in Huntingdon for one night.
The town suffered much from these happenings, and in particular the churches of St. John and St. Benedict were shattered. (fn. 42) In 1663 a grant remitting money raised for the militia, describes Huntingdon as 'the poor decayed town, which being on a frequented road, was greatly impoverished by the insolencies of armies, free quarters, etc., during the late wars.' (fn. 43) The following year Charles II, visiting Hinchingbrooke, went abroad in Lord Sandwich's barge attended by the swans. They shot the bridge at Huntingdon, and he was delighted with the picturesque ruins of the ancient town. (fn. 44)
An interesting reference to the Great Plague of 1665 is found in instructions given from London headquarters to the post-master at Huntingdon to air letters over vinegar before sending them on; the London office reported itself to be 'so fumed morning and night that they can hardly see each other, but had the contagion been catching by letters they had been dead long ago.' (fn. 45) Huntingdon seems to have escaped, though Ramsey, close by, was heavily visited. (fn. 46)
The 17th-century diarists have something to say of the town. Pepys, the greatest of them, a Huntingdonshire man, was there constantly and relates how, for instance, he breakfasted on roast beef at the Crown or drank ale at the Chequers, or walked in the meadows of Port Holme where the country maids milked the cows and brought their milk home in pomp with music going before them. (fn. 47) John Evelyn also visited this 'fair and ancient' town. (fn. 48)
Huntingdon appears to have been definitely nonconformist in sympathy. Thomas Povey writes in 1664 that the spirit of Oliver Cromwell still hovered over his birthplace, and out of four hundred families only twenty were communicants. (fn. 49) George Fox, the Quaker, visited the town towards the close of 1656, and was 'received very lovingly' by the mayor, whose wife was converted on this occasion. (fn. 50) In 1658 there was a Quaker in Huntingdon gaol for conscience' sake. (fn. 51)
The mediæval superstition about witches lingered long in Huntingdon. In 1593 John Samuel, his wife and his daughter were all executed for witchcraft, (fn. 52) while in 1646 no fewer than eight persons were brought before the local justices at Hartford, tried, and condemned for witchcraft. The pseudo-confessions forced from these victims illustrates the appalling ignorance of the times; Elizabeth Weed sold herself to the devil to bring about the death of a child whose father had angered her in some manner she had forgotten; John Winnick sold his soul to recover a lost purse, but made no use of his power for evil—and so on. (fn. 53) It is almost incredible that at the beginning of the following century a woman and her nine-year-old daughter were executed at Huntingdon for the same pretended crime. (fn. 54)
In the 18th century the TOWN OF HUNTINGDON began to assume the appearance that it has at the present day. Originally it extended in length along the High Street from the bridge to a point called Balmeshole (Baldewyneshowa, Baudewenho, Bawynhoo, Bohn Holle, xii-xix century), where a small stream, now carried underground, crossed the road. As was usual in small market towns, the width was limited apparently by the boundaries of the gardens and paddocks of the houses on each side of the road. In the 11th century the town was divided into four ferlings or wards, which it is thought were formed by the intersection of the High Street possibly with George Street and St. Germains Street.
At first, no doubt, Ermine Street crossed the river by a ford, which appears to have been some way west of the existing bridge. A timber bridge, possibly built about the time of Edward the Elder, stood a few yards west of the present structure. Its repair was for a long time a question of dispute, and in 1259 the matter was settled by judgment of the court, whereby it was ordered that the county should keep it in repair and in return be free of toll in Huntingdon. (fn. 55) The bridge was evidently out of repair throughout the latter part of the 13th century. In 1273 the Bishop of Lincoln warned those who had taken the material collected for rebuilding it, to return what they had taken, under pain of excommunication. In 1293 part of the bridge was carried away by a flood, and in the same year the bishop granted an indulgence to those contributing to its repair. (fn. 57) King Edward I in 1300 gave 24 oaks for the repair of Huntingdon Bridge, (fn. 58) which was still in a ruinous condition in 1329, when it was said to have been broken in many places and was threatening to fall down. Up to this time it would seem that the bridge continued to be of timber. King Edward's gift of 24 oaks, although not conclusive proof, is certainly indicative of timber construction, and had the bridge been begun in stone in 1300, as has been suggested, it would scarcely have been in a ruinous condition some 29 years later. Considerable sums seem to have accumulated by testamentary bequests and otherwise for the use of the bridge, and in 1329 Philip de Raveley, chaplain, warden of the bridge, was ordered to collect them and apply them to its repair. He was further ordered, with any surplus, to build a chapel to St. Thomas the Martyr and St. Katherine the Virgin, wherein a chaplain, maintained out of the alms of those coming to the bridge, was daily to celebrate divine service for the faithful departed. (fn. 59) One of the chief difficulties regarding the old bridge appears to have been that when the river was in flood the water flowed over the low land on the south side, and carts and other traffic were often carried away. To obviate this trouble, Adam, master of the Hospital of St. John of Huntingdon, who succeeded Raveley as warden of the bridge and chapel in October 1331, (fn. 60) petitioned the king for leave to construct a causeway 30 perches in length and 30 ft. in width from the bridge to Godmanchester over the king's land. An inquiry was made in November 1331, at which it appeared that Godmanchester was held at a fee farm rent, and as the proposed causeway would be built on part of the common pasture of the town, the men of Godmanchester would be damaged to the extent of 3d. a year. Permission was granted to make the causeway and authority given to rebuild the bridge out of the charitable bequests which had been made. (fn. 61)
The date 1332 may be taken as that of the building of the present bridge, which was built a few yards east of the old bridge. (fn. 62) The chapel was in 1337 granted to the master and brethren of the Hospital of St. John with licence to appropriate it. (fn. 63) In 1363 the bridge was again said to be in a dangerous state, and a commission was issued to inquire what funds there were to repair it. (fn. 64) Pontage was granted to the burgesses of Huntingdon at various times in the 14th and 15th centuries, (fn. 65) and in 1425 the bishop granted an indulgence for the repair of the bridge. (fn. 66) It was said to be in a ruinous state in 1443, and the county was ordered to repair it in accordance with the proceedings before the justices in eyre of the time of Edward III. (fn. 67) Again in 1533 (fn. 68) and 1565 the justices of the peace for the county received a like order. (fn. 69)
The bridge is of six arches and faced with ashlar. The parapets are carried round the outer edge of the piers, forming refuges for foot passengers, those at the northern end being triangular and those at the southern end semi-hexagonal. The western parapets of the second and third arches from the north are carried on a corbel table of trefoiled arches. The fourth arch has obviously been taken down and rebuilt, (fn. 70) and all the parapets have been reset in recent years. In the middle of the bridge are marks on the parapets where a chain has been fixed to block the passage, approximately on the boundary line between Huntingdon and Godmanchester. The small chapel on the bridge dedicated to St. Thomas the Martyr and St. Katherine the Virgin, probably on the east side of the northern end, for it stood in the parish of St. Clement, was built shortly before 1334, (fn. 71) and alms were ordered to be collected for rebuilding it in 1370. (fn. 72)
Passing northward from the bridge, on the west side of High Street stands the Old Bridge Hotel, an early 19th-century house, formerly the residence of the Vesey family. Beyond it is a lane which gives access to the castle, already described. The castle covered the line of Ermine Street, and the present road follows the line of the road made for the new bridge built c. 1332. Higher up is Castle Hill House at the corner of St. Mary's Street (called Coblers Lane (fn. 73) on Speed's map). It is a yellow brick house, built about 1787 by Owsley Rowley, and afterwards inhabited by Mr. Vanteusen Cole, Admiral Montagu (c. 1805) and Sir John Arundel (d. 1837). From the latter it was purchased by Mr. David Veasey, who made additions to it, and his son, Archdeacon Veasey, (fn. 74) resided here until his death in 1916. The present owner, Mr. Howard Coote, has considerably altered and improved the property. The house stands in beautiful grounds containing various ancient relies. Further north on this side, No. 28 High Street, is a good red brick house of the 18th century, and next door, No. 29, is what is called Cowper House. This was the residence of the Unwin family, with whom the poet Cowper lived from 1765 to 1767. The Rev. Morley Unwin, master of the free school, was lecturer at Huntingdon from 1734 until his death in 1767. The house, which bears a tablet commemorating Cowper's residence in it, is of early 18th-century date. It is of red brick with modillioned cornice and large central pediment. The avenue of limes at the back of the High Street, to which the Unwins' house had access and where Cowper used to meditate, is still known as Cowper's Walk. Cowper described Huntingdon as one of the neatest towns in England, and his opinion is echoed by Cobbett, who adds, 'All that I have seen of Huntingdon I like exceedingly. It is one of those pretty, clean, unstenshed, unconfined places that tend to lengthen life and make it happy.' (fn. 75) No. 35 High Street has a front of red brick of about 1730. The back part is largely of timber and plaster, and one of the internal beams has painted on it T.G.B. 1674. It was owned and occupied by Dr. Michael Foster, father of Sir Michael Foster the eminent surgeon and scientist. The Literary and Scientific Institution founded by Robert Fox, the historian of Godmanchester, in 1842, has a yellow brick front with stuccoed Corinthian pilasters, the cornice being surmounted by a figure of Minerva. Nos. 40, 41 and 44 (the Queen's Head Inn) are all 17th-century houses. No. 40 had the date 1617 and the letters B.I. cut in a red brick panel in the back gable. Beyond this house is what remains of St. Benedict's Churchyard. In the north part of the churchyard is a small 18th-century building formerly occupied by Jenkinson, an early Huntingdon printer; northward stood the Rectory House, now 48 High Street. Further north again was the inn known in 1724 as the Black Swan (fn. 76) and in 1770 as the Golden Lion, and more recently as the Crown, the older Crown on the opposite side of the street having ceased to be an inn. At the south corner of All Saints' Passage is a house built about 1660–70 and added to in the 18th century. In 1843 it was occupied by one Morton, who gave his name to Morton's or Sherman's Lane.
On the east side of the High Street, starting from the bridge, we pass Bosworth House, a plain 19th-century building of yellow brick. It was owned in 1843 by Mr. James Frederick Howson, and is now occupied by Dr. Charles E. Hicks. A little to the north is Orchard House, an 18th-century house in which lived in 1843 Mr. Charles Margetts, a member of an old Huntingdonshire family. An archway here opens into Orchard Lane which led to Temple Close, doubtless the property of the Knights Templars, (fn. 77) which is now covered with modern houses. At the north corner of Orchard Lane is a house (No. 155) which marks the site of the old county gaol. There still remains a barred window near the ground level which lights a vaulted cellar. The keeper's house was against the street and the gaol behind it. A new gaol was built on another site in 1828, when these premises passed into private occupation. John Cole, who published various county histories, was keeper of the gaol in 1820. A little to the north is St. Clement's Passage, a modern name for what was formerly called Mutton Alley or Lane, where stood one of the two town pumps, the other being on Market Hill. (fn. 78) At the east end of Mutton Alley are some old thatched cottages. St. Mary's Church stands a little higher up the road, and adjoining it on the north is a 17th-century timber-framed and plastered house with projecting upper floor, the front of which was largely altered in the 18th century. This house was formerly the Bull Inn, (fn. 79) which is said to have been the haunt of Dick Turpin. St. Mary's Vicarage is a plain 19th-century yellow brick building which replaced a timber house. The Hartford road runs off eastward, passing through Newton, a modern suburb where a housing scheme has been carried out. Near the west end of Hartford Road and abutting on the northern wall of St. Mary's churchyard was a building which in coaching days was known as Ashby's Waggon Office. Nos. 114 and 115 High Street, now two shops at one time formed the Crown Hotel. The archway to the street can still be identified, but it is now divided by a wall down the middle. Over the door at the back is a stone inscribed 'The Kitchen 1776.' The Crown is mentioned in the latter half of the 15th century, when William Moyne bought it for £200. In the following century it belonged to the Keaches, and was said to be in Germaynes (once Priory) Lane. (fn. 80) In 1612 Isabella David, daughter of John Todd, succeeded her father, who held it in free burgage.
On the south side of the Market Hill stands the Court Hall, a building of three stories; the central projecting block was formerly carried on four double columns and the wings surrounded by a similar colonnade, but almost the whole of the lower part has now been inclosed. The walls are stuccoed and painted, and the roofs are of slate. The whole is surmounted by a cupola. It was built in 1745 on the site of an earlier Court House which had a range of stalls beneath, and it was altered and enlarged in 1817. The main staircase is of late 17th-century date, and probably came from the earlier building. On the ground floor is a large entrance hall, with two courts and cells for prisoners. Above is a large assembly room containing paintings of Kings George II and III and other celebrities, which became a social centre for the county. Adjoining it is a smaller hall or council chamber.
The north side of the Market Hill is occupied by All Saints' Church; and in the north-west corner is Walden House, a large red brick building with stone and plastered dressings, Ionic pilasters at the angles, and modillioned eaves. It was built by one of the Walden family late in the 17th century, probably on the site of an earlier house, a few features of which have been reused internally. Lionel Walden was M.P. for Huntingdon 1661, 1679 and 1685; and another Lionel Walden, who died in London in 1719, founded a free school in the town. The house adjoining on the south side, now the County Club, was the residence in 1843 of Samuel Cooch and later of Robert Margetts.
Still farther south is the Falcon Inn, largely of timber and plaster, but partly of brick, which was in existence in 1554. The present building dates from late in the 16th century and has a simple but interesting gateway to the Market Hill; it was originally larger and perhaps included the site of the County Club. It was here that the Cromwellian Commissioners sat, in 1649. (fn. 81) Southward again is a house with a modern yellow brick front masking an older timber building of late 17th-century date.
The Fountain Inn stood on the site of Messrs. Murkett Bros.' premises on the east side of Market Hill. Next to it on the north is a house with the initials MP or IMP 1727 in the gable and on a rainwater head at the back, which was Pashlers Bank and later a girls' school kept by Miss Wellington.
At the north end of Market Place is George Street (formerly Brampton Lane), leading to Brampton, which passes the modern church of St. John on the north side in 1928 converted into the Conservative club and hall, the County Hospital on the south side, built in 1853 and enlarged ten years later. It leads to the railway station and so continues to Hinchingbrooke and Brampton.
From the south-west corner of the Market Hill, Princes Street with its modern houses extends in a southerly direction to the Mill Common and the river. On the east side of the common is the Huntingdon Archdeaconry Library, a modern building (1890), which houses the library founded by William Wake, Bishop of Lincoln (1705–16).
Continuing along the High Street from the north-east corner of the Market Place, we have on the eastern side the Hospital of St. John, said to have been founded by David Earl of Huntingdon. The existing remains consist of the two western bays of the hall, the arches of which on the south are semicircular resting on round columns with scalloped capitals, and date from the foundation of the house; those on the north are a little later and have pointed arches resting on round columns with bell-capitals, one of which has carved stiff foliage. The west wall has a blocked doorway of three orders, two of them carved with the cheveron ornament, and a small window with cheveron ornament in the arch and jambs. The upper part, which is practically all modern, has a wall arcade of five arches, two of them pierced for windows, and above this a vesics-shaped opening. Evidently the hall was formerly one bay longer, which was cut off by a wall of uncertain date. This wall has a doorway largely of the 12th century, reset, and a reset archway of early 13th century. (fn. 82) The west front of the building, next the street, had been cased in red brick and completely lost to view until 1874, when the brickwork was removed exposing the earlier work, which, however, was taken down and rebuilt. The building now forms part of the Grammar School, the master's house being on the north side of the yard, and the school buildings farther east. Here Oliver Cromwell was educated under the celebrated Dr. Beard, who doubtless lived in the rambling building, erected in 1561, which preceded the present house.
Ambury House, No. 89 High Street, is a large early 19th-century house with a plastered front, at one time the residence of the Sweeting family.
Cromwell House occupies the site of the Augustinian Friary (fn. 83) which, after the Dissolution, was granted in 1540 to Thomas Ardern and Richard Long. The grant comprised the house and site of the Austin Friars, including a church, dove house close, six acres of meadow in Brampton and land in Huntingdon. (fn. 84) They alienated the property two years later to Philip Clampe and Alice his wife. (fn. 85) By 1568 it had passed to Sir Henry Cromwell, owner of Hinchingbrooke Priory (q.v.), who in that year made a settlement of it with remainder to his second son Robert Cromwell. (fn. 86) Robert enjoyed the property during his father's lifetime. He pulled down the old Friary and built a house in which, on 25 April 1599, his famous son Oliver was born. (fn. 87) Robert Cromwell died in 1617, (fn. 88) and in 1631 Oliver Cromwell combined with his mother and uncle Henry Cromwell (who had a contingent remainder under the terms of Sir Henry Cromwell's settlement) to sell this property to Richard Oakely and Richard Owen. Its history during the next century has not been traced, but in 1724 it was the property of Edward Audley, draper, who had rebuilt the house with the exception of the chamber in which Oliver was born and the room under it; he probably completely altered even these. He transferred the house in 1758 to Dr. Raite and Edward Ferrar. It ultimately went to Dr. George Raite, who with his wife conveyed it to the Charity for the Widows and Orphans of Clergy in 1780. The charity sold the house in 1793 to Mr. Maule, solicitor, who in 1795 sold it to Alexander Peterkin, who kept a boys' school here. From him it was purchased by Mr. Rust in 1810, who rearranged the house and pulled down the two remaining rooms of the old house.
The house was subsequently occupied and altered by the Bernards and by Mr. F. B. Thackray, who finally reduced it to its present form. Roughly speaking, the ancient house occupied the site of the present entrance hall, the room to the south of it, the lobby behind and a portion of the kitchen yard southward of these rooms; probably a little kitchen or scullery stood behind, approximately on the site of the present kitchen. There would be bedrooms above and perhaps attics in the roof. If any part of the old house remains above the foundations it is in the floor and front wall of the bedroom over the entrance hall in which, by a slender tradition, Oliver is said to have been born. It is doubtful, however, if even these parts go back beyond 1724, although some old timbers may have been reused. Below the floors, however, the lower parts of some ancient walls remain; there are the jambs of an old doorway just below the door into the present kitchen, and the base of the wall extends for some distance on either side. There is the base of a buttress below the south-east corner of the present staircase The lower part of the wall separating the kitchen yard from the front garden is also ancient. The floor of the Cromwells' house was about 18 in. below the present floor. In the porch of the back door are some finely moulded 14th-century oak beams reused from other parts of the house, and a stone carved with the ball-flower ornament.
At the north corner of George Street is the George Hotel, the greater part of which was rebuilt about 1865, but the northern range dates from the early 17th century and the slightly later western range has an open gallery towards the courtyard approached by an outside staircase. A small part of the stable buildings is of stone, but probably not earlier than the 18th century. The hotel is said to occupy the site of St. George's Church, but this is improbable. The family of Druel owned it in 1510 and in 1574 a member of that family sold it to Henry Cromwell. John Goldsborough held it at his death in 1640. It was here that King Charles is said to have made his quarters on 25 August 1645, (fn. 89) and here alternately with the Fountain Inn the borough courts were held while the new Shire Hall was being built. A fine house in George Street occupied by the Hussey family was destroyed in making the railway.
Further north is a group of 16th-century houses much altered. William Cowper lived in one of them for a short period. Ferrar House is a fine red brick house of two stories with modillioned eaves and a front door with semi-circular canopy. Inside, there is a good staircase with a small gallery at the top; and there are two carved chimney pieces (one with the arms of Ferrar impaling Beverley) and some moulded wall panelling. The front part of the house was evidently built by Edward Ferrar (d. 1730), and a back addition by his son, Edward Ferrar the younger, after his marriage to Love Beverley in 1728. At this point a small street branches off towards Views Common, and at the angle is Whitwell House, a red brick building of early 18th-century date, facing south, and having a small garden in front. One of the lead rain-water heads has the initials "E.A. 1727," probably for Edward Audley. Later it was the property of John Whitwell, the scientist, who is said to have enlarged it. A little farther north another red brick house faces south which is known as Montagu House. At one time it was occupied by the Maule family, and later as a school by the Misses Fox.
This brings us to the point formerly known as Balmshole, where the stream crossed the road diagonally and probably formed the northern boundary of the early town. Although now covered in, the stream was presumably crossed by a wooden bridge in 1645 when King Charles I entered Huntingdon on the afternoon of Sunday, 24 August.
During the 18th century, races were established at Huntingdon, and in 1760, according to that notable authority Horace Walpole, they ranked with the Derby among the fashionable events of the year. (fn. 90) They were held on Port Holm, a meadow at the foot of Castle Hill, surrounded by the Ouse and described by Camden as the 'largest and most flowery spot the sun ever beheld.' (fn. 91) Port Holm, which was not borough property but belonged from time immemorial to the lords of Brampton Manor, (fn. 92) provided a racecourse about two miles in circumference. The races were held for three days at the end of July or beginning of August and were marked by public balls and other social events largely attended by the neighbouring gentry. (fn. 93)
Huntingdon had been a recognised post town on the high road to Scotland since the early 16th century, when posts were pre-eminently for the conveyance of persons or packets connected with the king's service and not for the benefit of the public at large. (fn. 94) But with the general increase of travelling, Huntingdon now became an important coaching centre and had at one time as many as six coaches posting daily to London, besides others for Peterborough, York, Boston, Edinburgh, Northampton, Cambridge, Leicester and Stamford. Daily vans and wagons also went to and from London. (fn. 95) Dick Turpin, the highwayman, rode through Huntingdon on one of his famous alibi journeys. (fn. 96)
The history of Huntingdon since the beginning of the 19th century has been one of progress, slow but steady. This is well shown by the population returns, which have risen from 2,035 persons in 1801 to 3,267 in 1831, 4,003 in 1911 and 4,194 in 1921. (fn. 97) Of the public institutions added in the early part of the 19th century, the theatre was built in 1800, a workhouse four years later, an infirmary in 1831 and a hospital in 1853. The earlier prosperity was certainly due to Huntingdon's importance as a posting town, which practically ceased later in the century when travel by road was superseded by the railways. Huntingdon became a station on the main line of the Great Northern (now a section of the London and North Eastern Railway) opened on 11 August 1830, and in addition is now on a branch line of the London Midland and Scottish Railway to Kettering and the Midlands, and of the London and North Eastern Railway to St. Ives and Cambridge. It is interesting to notice that the revolution brought about by motor traffic in the 20th century may once more restore importance to Huntingdon from its position on the Old North Road.
Huntingdon has always remained an agricultural town, and no trade or manufacture has been carried on to any important extent. (fn. 98) There are at present in Huntingdon two breweries, a flour mill, a saw mill, timber yard, three motor car building works and two nursery gardens.
Singularly little change has taken place in the appearance of Huntingdon over the centuries. The 1,074 acres contained in its boundaries are still mainly agricultural, the inhabited part still mainly concentrated along the mile of Ermine Street stretching from the bridge to the northern boundary of the town, with small streets and lanes branching off at right angles.
In addition to the borough prison, the county gaol was at Huntingdon within the site of the castle. (fn. 99) In 1179 repairs to its fabric cost £16 17s. 10d.; two oaks were given from Weybridge Forest for the same purpose in 1248, while in 1365, the gaol being too weak and ruinous to keep prisoners in safe custody, £20 was granted, which proving insufficient, the Prior of Huntingdon was allowed to supervise repairs up to £45. (fn. 100) An interesting account of repairs to the county gaol stocks in 1490 includes the hewing, carriage and workmanship of a great oak, three pairs of iron gyves, great bolts, iron chains and three locks costing in all 42s. 8d. (fn. 101) The county gallows were outside the northern boundary of the town. In 1406 a malefactor was condemned to be 'drawn from the bridge of Huntingdon through the middle of the town to the gallows without the town and there hanged.' (fn. 102)
The following field and place names have been found in Huntingdon documents:—Bohn Holle, Vineyard, le Vyneyerde (xii–xvi cent.); Bokelond, (fn. 103) Dunnesmerches, Grymesdich, Huysholm, Medeheghes, Mildecrosse, Portemere, Smerehil, Warmanes Grene (xiii cent.); Bedewelle lagen, Hangendewong, Penicroft, Stoupendecros, Walschewelwes, Wrongmoor (xiv cent.); (fn. 104) Kymellis croft, Swynfenlane (xv cent.); Cowceholme, Dekons Thynge, (fn. 105) Fayredole (xvi cent.); Coblers lane, le Denehaye, Hencroft Leghes, Quayles meadow, Stanton Butt (xvii cent.); Fardell Stile Close, Rabys Close (xviii cent.).
CASTLE AND HONOUR
Huntingdon gave its name to and was the early caput of the Earls of Huntingdon. (fn. 106) The Norman Castle of Huntingdon was built about 1068 on the site of the ancient Saxon 'burh.' (fn. 107) It is mentioned in Domesday as 'the messuage with house free of all customary payment' within the castle site 'now held by Countess Judith,' (fn. 108) widow of Waltheof and niece of the Conqueror. During the civil wars in Stephen's reign, David, King of Scotland, then holding the castle in right of his wife, took up arms for the Empress Maud, and Huntingdon suffered severely. Stephen came to an understanding with David, and Henry, David's son, did homage, and Stephen gave him the borough of Huntingdon in augmentation of the honour. (fn. 109)
The kings of Scotland retained their title to Huntingdon, and in 1173, when Henry, eldest son of Henry II, was in active rebellion against his father, the Justiciar, Richard de Luci, besieged Huntingdon Castle, which was held for William the Lion, who had sided with the rebel prince. The chronicler Walter de Coventry says that Richard de Luci on 18 June 1173, having first thrown up a siege castle in front of the gates, abandoned the siege to Simon de St. Lis recommending him to win his inheritance. The castle was still uncaptured on 20 July, when Henry II, having done penance at the tomb of Becket, arrived at Huntingdon. It surrendered to him on the following day, and the spirit of the times saw in this a direct result of his penance. (fn. 110) Henry now ordered the castle to be dismantled, (fn. 111) and an entry in the Pipe Rolls of the same year of 7s. 8d. for hooks for pulling down the palisades of the castle indicates that his orders were partially carried out. (fn. 112)
The castle continued to be held by the Earls of Huntingdon until the division of the honour on the death of John le Scot (1237). It then seems to have formed a part of the Brus purparty. After the forfeiture by Robert Brus the younger in 1306, it was granted by Edward III to Mary de Sancto Paulo, Countess of Pembroke, for life. (fn. 113) Subject to her life interest it was granted to William de Clinton when he was created Earl of Huntingdon in 1337. (fn. 114) On his death without issue in 1354 it reverted to the crown. Although dismantled, the castle was not wholly destroyed, for the chapel there was granted in 1327 to the prior and convent of Huntingdon, (fn. 115) and as we have already seen, the county gaol was maintained here. It is probable also that one of the courts of the honour, known as the 'Baronsmote,' was held here. (fn. 116) Wardens of the castle and honour were appointed throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, and Leland, writing in the middle of the 16th century, stated that traces of the masonry of the castle still existed. The castle, with the honour of Huntingdon, was leased to Sir Robert Rich, at a rent of £18 18s., early in the 17th century, and in 1629 it was granted to Gilbert North, gentleman of the privy chamber, his heirs and assigns, (fn. 117) possibly on behalf of Sir Robert Bernard of that date, who, it is said, purchased the honour and Castle Hill from the crown. (fn. 118) Sir Robert Bernard, his grandson, was holding in 1685, (fn. 119) and the honour has followed the descent of Brampton (q.v.) from that date, and is now owned by the Duke of Manchester. The site of the castle followed the same descent until the East Anglian Railway acquired land for their lines, from Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow in 1847, which cut the site in two. A windmill was erected on top of the castle mound and was leased from the Bernards and their descendants. In 1866 William, Duke of Manchester, sold the outlying portion of the site north of a footpath crossing the northern part of the site to Mr. David Veasey, of Castle Hill House. At the same time he leased to Mr. Veasey the main part of the site, containing about 3½ acres, excepting the windmill and right of way to it, for 21 years. Mr. Veasey bought up the leasehold interest in the mill site in 1871, and in 1875 the mill was pulled down. In 1918 Mr. David Vesey, grandson of the above Mr. David Veasey, purchased the main site and the site of the mill from the Duke of Manchester, and on 23 October in that year he presented them to the Corporation of Huntingdon in memory of his father, Archdeacon Francis Gerald Vesey. The small portion of the site south of the railway line was purchased in 1922 by Mr. W. E. Driver, of Huntingdon. (fn. 120) The northern portion was sold by Mr. Vesey in 1917 to Mr. Howard Coote.
Huntingdon was a royal borough at Domesday, and was then divided into four wards, which included the site of the castle. (fn. 121) No map has been found earlier than the 16th century, but St. Mary's Priory, St. Margaret's Hospital, and Hinchingbrooke Priory were said to be outside Huntingdon. (fn. 122) The names Kingsdech and Grymesdich, found in the 13th century, probably indicate boundaries.
A very early 16th-century map exists, made on the occasion of a suit brought by Huntingdon and Godmanchester conjointly against Ramsey for damming the Ouse to their detriment. (fn. 123) Unfortunately, it represents very little of Huntingdon north of the bridge, its main purpose being to show the position of floodgates, mill streams, etc., on the river east of the bridge and of the meadows on the south. Speed's map (1610) is the earliest map of the borough as such, and shows how little alteration there has been in its bounds.
As a royal borough Huntingdon was subject to certain forms of medieval taxation. Of these the aid (auxilium) was fixed in 1130–31, and again in 1155–6 at £8, and in 1159–60 at 10 marks. (fn. 124) The donum about the same date was fixed at £10 and upwards. (fn. 125) The assisa burgi was 40 marks in 1172–73. (fn. 126) Huntingdon was also liable to tallage, and was assessed at £36 3s. 4d. in 1187, £21 2s. 2d. in 1206, 30 marks in 1214, and 25 marks in 1218. (fn. 127)
The most individual and permanent contribution to the crown was the fee farm rent (firma burgi) by which the borough was held of the crown. Of this rent the Earl took the third penny (tertius denarius redditus). (fn. 128) At the time of the Domesday Survey (1086) the rent was £30, of which the King took £20, and the earl £10, or as much as each could collect. (fn. 129) The farm was increased by £10 when the borough received its charter from John in 1205, and again by £20 when the burgesses received in return the tolls of St. Ives, both during fairs and other times. (fn. 130) This increase of the fee farm rent was the subject of much subsequent trouble, both with the town of St. Ives and because of the extra strain on the resources of the burgesses. The amount of the fee farm rent as stated in later documents is confused; in 1284 £50 ancient fee farm plus £10 increment is given, in 1363 £45 plus £20 increment, but by the 15th century, as a result of various remissions, it seems to have hardened down to £41, at which sum it still remained in 1663.
In that year, although the governing charter of 1630 had explicitly remitted all fee farm rents, it was granted to the Earl of Sandwich, and was still being paid in 1825. A bye-law of 1680 enacted that the inhabitants of the borough were to grind their corn at the Town Water Mills, under pain of a fine of 10s., as this was the borough's main source of revenue for the payment of their 'great fee farm rent.' (fn. 131)
The fee-farm was granted in dower to Eleanor, wife of Henry III, and in 1267, during her lifetime, was attached to the newly-formed Duchy of Lancaster, conferred at that date on Edmund Crouchback, her second son. It subsequently remained attached to the Duchy. (fn. 132)
A small portion of the fee farm rent (possibly the survival of the third penny of the rent granted to the earl) was held with the honour of Huntingdon. On the death of the Earl of Chester in 1237 the rent, which was under £6, was divided between two of his coheirs, Isabel, wife of Robert de Brus, and Devorgilla, wife of John de Balliol, both of whose descendants were to become kings of Scotland. Robert de Brus the elder died in 1304, seised of 56s. 8d. rent of the farm of the borough, which returned to the crown on the forfeiture of his son Robert de Brus the younger. (fn. 133) Devorgilla de Balliol's moiety was granted by Edward I to John de Britannia, Earl of Richmond, in 1305, and in accordance with the grant reverted to the crown in default of his heirs. (fn. 134)
The rent known as hagable was paid by tenants of land within the borough to the borough officials. There were eighty haws (hagae) in Huntingdon at Domesday situated in the two wards of the borough not occupied by the castle. (fn. 135) This rent was paid by the religious houses owning land in the borough as well as by private individuals, (fn. 136) and the money went to the payment of the fee farm rent. (fn. 137)
Huntingdon, as an ancient borough by prescription, claimed certain liberties as from time immemorial. Between the early 13th and the late 18th centuries these liberties were confirmed and greatly extended by various royal charters. It might be well to summarise these governing charters before dealing with their contents. The earliest is dated 7 August 1205, and was followed on 5 March 1252 by a grant dealing exclusively with markets and fairs. (fn. 138) A charter dated 10 April 1348 confirmed that of 1205, with additional privileges further augmented by a charter of 15 October 1363. On 10 December 1377 Richard II inspected and confirmed the charters of 1348 and 1363, and in 1381 he inspected and confirmed his own charter of 1377, and also that received by Huntingdon in 1252. The charter of 1381, which thus embraced all the former charters to Huntingdon, was inspected and confirmed by charter dated 12 February 1402, which in turn received inspection and confirmation on 4 July 1424. Richard III confirmed the last-named charter on 1 March 1484 with additional privileges. All these charters were superseded by the charter of incorporation granted 15 July 1630 and renewed on 9 July 1686. (fn. 139)
Contemporary copies of all these charters, with the exception of that of 1424, (fn. 140) are to be found on public records. No originals have been found among the borough archives, though they seem to have been in existence at the beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 141)
Turning to the privileges conferred by these charters. The earliest, that of 1205, conferred in general terms on the borough of Huntingdon and all burgesses dwelling therein all the liberties and customs common to other English free boroughs, the sheriff being forbidden to interfere with such customs. (fn. 142) The lack of specific mention of rights in this charter troubled the burgesses, and as a result of their petitions (fn. 143) the charter received in 1348 enumerated certain franchises. The bailiffs of Huntingdon, and not the sheriff or king's officer, were to answer at the Exchequer for all demands touching the town, were to have returns of all writs and summons. There was to be a town gaol where such transgressors as could not be dealt with by the bailiffs could be kept until delivered by the king's justices. The burgesses were to be quit of toll, murage, pavage, pontage, passage and lastage throughout the kingdom; they were to have cognisance of all pleas arising within the town or touching any tenants or residents there; they were also not to be put on juries with or tried by 'foreigners' (i.e., persons not burgesses) on any plea arising within the borough unless the matter touched the king or his heirs or the commonalty of the borough. (fn. 144)
These privileges were further extended in 1363. The borough was henceforward to have cognisance of all pleas arising within the borough, whether concerning residents or non-residents, and all fines, ransoms, amercements, etc. It was expressly stated that the chattels of felons, fugitives, and outlaws found in the town should belong to the town, and that the payment of ancient customs be enforced. (fn. 145)
The charter of 1484, while confirming the above privileges, marked a further stage in self-government, for it decreed that henceforward the bailiff and burgesses of Huntingdon should form one corporate body with (1) power to acquire in mortmain lands, rents and other possessions, (2) freedom from prises and forest tolls, (3) freedom from purveyance and pre-emption, (4) right of free warren. (fn. 146)
This charter was superseded in 1630 when Huntingdon received its present governing charter. The corporation was then declared to consist of the mayor, aldermen and burgesses, whose functions were defined and the constitution of their office laid down. (fn. 147) No further privileges were added, but the charter was expressly stated to be of the same effect as though all former grants had been word for word and severally recited. (fn. 148) Huntingdon was among the boroughs which, following the example of London, yielded up their charter to a crown bent on securing a Parliament favourable to its own policy. The charter of renewal received from James II in 1686 reserved to the crown the nomination of the first governing body, but was otherwise merely confirmatory of that of 1630. (fn. 149)
Burgess-ship was heritable from both parents; the candidate was admitted at the borough court on payment of a fine, and enrolment was a necessity. Occasional instances of burgesses purchasing their freedom were found by Griffiths among early Huntingdon records not now available; the earliest admission found among them to freedom of the borough was 1367. (fn. 150) In the 16th century it was stated that no burgess might implead or sue a fellow burgess outside the borough courts on pain of losing his freedom. (fn. 151) The governing charter of 1630 made no provision for the qualification or election of burgesses, and this was supplied by bye-laws passed by the corporation in 1680. These bye-laws enacted that burgesses should be men of honest condition and should be elected at the court leet, paying on election £20 to the corporation, 12s. to the chamberlain for buckets and scoops, 2s. 6d. to the town clerk and 2s. each to the serjeants. Their sons were not to be sworn in before reaching the age of 21, and were to pay 2s. each to the town clerk, serjeants and chamberlain. (fn. 152) In the 18th century the mayor also received a small fee (4s. 2d.) on swearing a burgess by birth, and was allowed £20 per annum (later increased to £60) in lieu of fees on purchase. (fn. 153) The number of burgesses has varied; 256 are mentioned in Domesday; in 1522, when the town was admittedly in a bad way, there were 54 burgesses, while in 1705 at the contested election 210 recorded their votes. (fn. 154)
The burgesses appear to have been the governing body of the borough from the time of the Domesday Survey (1086) (fn. 155) until the early part of the 13th century, and to them writs, etc., were addressed. In the 13th century we have reference to the bailiffs as the chief officers (fn. 156) and the title of the governing body becomes either the bailiffs and burgesses or continues as the burgesses only. Possibly the chief burgesses became known as the bailiffs after the charter of King John to the borough. In 1484 Richard III incorporated the borough under the title of the bailiffs and burgesses of Huntingdon. (fn. 157) The two bailiffs with a common council managed all the affairs of the borough, both civil and financial, and continued until superseded by the mayor, aldermen and burgesses elected under the charter of 1630.
The offices of chamberlain and coroner were of ancient importance. In 1154–5 allowances were made by the crown to the chamberlains of the borough for the mill of Huntingdon. (fn. 158) It was claimed in the 13th century that the two coroners held office by prescriptive right from time immemorial. (fn. 159) The duties of both these officers appear to have partly covered those from which the sheriff was excluded. (fn. 160) Under the governing charter of 1630 the mayor was to act as coroner. In the 15th and 16th centuries mention is made of a town clerk acting under the bailiffs (fn. 161) and in the 15th century there was a recorder (fn. 162) who held office in the original sense of one who sets down or records. The office of recorder carried in 1596 an annual allowance of 40s. (fn. 163) Under the charter of 1630 the office assumed its modern form; the recorder, a legal expert, was elected for life by the mayor and aldermen and became ex officio a member of the common council and Justice of the Peace. (fn. 164)
In the governing charter of 1630 these officials disappear or assume different functions. The title of the corporation is changed to that of the mayor, aldermen and burgesses of Huntingdon. The town is to be governed by a common council composed of twelve aldermen, drawn from 'the better burgesses,' a mayor and a recorder. Rules are laid down for the annual election of the mayor from among the senior aldermen, a town clerk, two serjeants at mace, a gaol keeper, beadles, constables and, if necessary, other inferior officers. There was also to be a high steward. (fn. 165)
This charter was supplemented and enforced by bye-laws made in 1680. Under these, the aldermen might fine any of their number refusing to take on the office of mayor. Any alderman residing six months out of the borough was disqualified; they were to be fined for non-attendance at the council or for incivility to the mayor; (fn. 166) both they and the mayor were to provide themselves with gowns. The mayor was to be assisted by a chamberlain who also received fines and disbursed corporation funds. (fn. 167)
In the 13th century the burgesses claimed a view of frankpledge and court leet, held twice yearly and dealing, among other business, with such matters as a sheriff usually dealt with. (fn. 168) This privilege was ratified in royal charters to the borough and in 1630 the right to hold a court of pleas was affirmed. No early court rolls have been found, but rolls of the 14th-century were seen by Griffiths and quoted in his book. The courts were held twice yearly at Michaelmas and Easter. In 1825 the court of pleas with the court leet and view of frankpledge was still held and the names of inhabitants called over once a year; those who answered were said to pay 1d., those who were absent 2d. At the court of pleas in the 18th century the members of parliament for the borough were nominated. (fn. 169)
The borough had a common seal from the 15th century onwards. (fn. 170) A replica of the seal, taken 22 August 1613, is given in Camden's Visitations of Huntingdonshire. (fn. 171) The charter of 1630 confirmed their right to a common seal with power to break, change or make anew. (fn. 172) The corporation has at present two seals; the larger is of silver, in the centre a tree thereon a bird, on the dexter side a leaping deer attacked by two hounds, on the sinister a man in a long coat, carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows, with a legend and date 1628. The second seal is smaller and of similar design, dated 1634. The borough insignia also includes a mace, a mayor's chain and badge.
The general law of inheritance in Huntingdon was from father to eldest son, and in default of heirs of the latter to his brothers and their heirs in degree of seniority with eventual remainder to sisters. (fn. 173) According to the custom of the borough it was possible to devise land away by will. (fn. 174)
In the 13th century the borough claimed the right of gallows, tumbril and pillory. (fn. 175)
From the 13th to the 19th century Huntingdon exercised the right of returning two members to Parliament. The earliest returns found are those for 1295, when Nicholas Caperoun and Richard le Teynturer were elected. (fn. 176) The expenses of members attending parliament were heavy and were met by a grant of 2s. a day from the Royal Treasury. The number of days varied: in 1362 Huntingdon's members claimed expenses for 40 days, in 1376 for 78 days, while expenses for 107 days were claimed in 1388. (fn. 177)
In 1832 the borough was united to Godmanchester for parliamentary purposes, still retaining its two members, but under the Representation of the People Act 1867 the number was reduced to one, and by the Redistribution of Seats Act in 1885 both boroughs were merged, for parliamentary representation, in the county.
In 1252 Huntingdon was granted a yearly fair for ten days from Monday next before Ascension. (fn. 178) The proximity of St. Ives fair prevented that of Huntingdon from becoming important in medieval times. It was confirmed to the borough in general terms in 1630. (fn. 179) At present there are four fairs: on the Saturday before Michaelmas, third Saturday in November, Tuesday before Easter and the second Tuesday in May, which are very little used. (fn. 180)
Huntingdon had also the right to a market. References to it are scanty, but the old courthouse, mentioned in the 16th century, had a range of stalls underneath on which the wares were displayed on market day. (fn. 181) The charter of 1630 appointed the mayor to act as clerk of the market. Weekly markets are now held on Saturdays.
Huntingdon as a county town and market had, under the statute of 1495, custody of the public weights and measures. (fn. 182) There is a reference in the 11th century to a corn measure known as the 'common ring of Huntingdon.' (fn. 183)
There was a gild of weavers in Huntingdon of which the first mention is found in 1131 when the gildsmen paid 40s. to have their gild. (fn. 184) In 1220 the weavers of St. Neots brought a suit against the weavers of Huntingdon who had exacted an aid from them towards their rent. (fn. 185) There was a gild of Corpus Christi in the town in 1528, and at the same date we have references to the gild of St. George in St. Mary's Church and the gild of St. Anne in St. Benedict's Church. (fn. 186)
According to the Domesday Survey the burgesses of Huntingdon cultivated on lease from the king and the earl two ploughlands, 40 acres of land and 10 of meadow. (fn. 187) This appears to have been the origin of the common land which was confirmed to the town in general terms in the 1205 and subsequent charters. This right of common pasture was highly valued by the burgesses, and it was partly fear lest it might be endangered which led to the opposition to the new constitution in 1630. (fn. 188) The bye-laws of 1680 define the common lands as being the Mill Common, the Fardell, the Gravel and other grounds lying between the high way to Hinchingbrooke, Stukeley Fields and Woolley. (fn. 189) On these lands the burgesses or their widows, being householders paying lot and scot, might feed three milch cows or heifers, but no steers. Four cow commons were disposed of by the mayor among poor inhabitants having no common and six by the chamberlain. In 1725 and again in 1780 the commons were said to include 200 or 300 acres of pasture entirely under the control of the common council. It was then stated to be fraudulent for any commoner, having no animals of his own, to transfer his rights of common to others. At the earlier date every commoner had to have a yard or back side belonging to his house, and could pasture three cows, two horses or forty sheep. (fn. 190)
Huntingdon had a free fishery of which mention is first found in Domesday when three fishermen, paying 3s. rent, were entered with the common lands there. (fn. 191) In the 13th century the boundaries of their fishing are given as from Huntingdon Bridge to 'Sweteweyr' on one side and to 'Halvisbrigg' on the other. (fn. 192) There is a lease, dated 1671, of the borough fishery (which was said to go with the mills) to Lionel Walden for twenty-one years. The rent was 10s. yearly with a dish of fish worth 6s. 8d. to be paid to the mayor on the day he held his court leet. (fn. 193)
A mill was included in the royal demesne in 1086 for which the burgesses rendered 40s. to the king and 30s. to the earl. (fn. 194) It has continued to belong to the borough, and in the 17th century it formed the most important source of income from which the corporation paid its fee farm rent. (fn. 195) The tithes of the mill were granted to the Priory of Huntingdon. According to Carruthers they were sold by the last prior to the borough, but they appear in the list of the prior's possessions, (fn. 196) and in 1616 were granted by letters patent to Francis Morrice and others. They were the property of the Earl of Sandwich at the beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 197)
There were three sokes or liberties within the borough, of which two belonged to St. Mary's Priory and Ramsey Abbey respectively. (fn. 198) The third appears under various spellings of Baldwins hoo. In 1279 it is described as a street (vicus) which is called Baldewinhoe and was held by the lady Devorgilla. It was parcel of the honour of Huntingdon and pertained to Great Stukeley. The prior of Huntingdon held in free alms nine messuages with their curtilages containing 2½ acres. Land in it formed part of the endowment of St. Margaret's Hospital by Malcolm of Scotland in the 12th century. (fn. 199) It extended into St. Michael and St. Edmund's parishes (fn. 200) and in Speed's map under the name Bohn Holle marks the northern limit of the town.
A priory of Benedictine nuns, known until the 15th century as St. James-extra-Huntingdon and since as HINCHINGBROOKE PRIORY (Hychelingbrok, xiii cent.; Inchinbrok, xiv cent.; Fynchyngbroke, Fynchynbrok, Fincheynbrok, xv cent.; Hynchenbrok, xvi cent.) lay to the west of the town boundaries. The few historical facts relating to the priory have already been given. (fn. 201) The patronage was attached to the Honour of Huntingdon whose holders were great benefactors to the nunnery in the 12th century, William the Lion granting them lands here. (fn. 202) In 1199 King John remitted 15s. rent due from 60 acres of meadow before their gates. (fn. 203) These royal gifts were supplemented by numerous private benefactions, (fn. 204) until at the Dissolution the temporalities included in Huntingdon 90 acres of arable and 20 acres of meadow, the vineyard pasture, a close and dovecot near the priory and a profit of 20d. from courts. (fn. 205)
In December 1535 Dr. Leigh visited the priory, where the last prioress lay dying. He commissioned the Prior of Huntingdon to take an inventory of the priory's goods and lock the coffers till Cromwell's pleasure was known (fn. 206) and the following year Hinchingbrooke suffered the fate of the smaller houses and was suppressed. (fn. 207)
In 1538 Richard Williams alias Cromwell received a royal grant of the priory with its 'church, steeple, churchyard and house and all lands.' (fn. 208)
Sir Richard Cromwell died in 1544. He had acquired Ramsey Abbey and lands of other religious houses and does not appear to have lived at Hinchingbrooke, which was about this time occupied by William Cook, who sublet part of the house and barn together with the stable, gate-house and great close. (fn. 209) Sir Henry, eldest son of Sir Richard, used Hinchingbrooke as a winter residence. He pulled down part of the nunnery and erected a fine Elizabethan house surrounded by an open court in its place. The new building was mainly composed of materials brought from Barnwell Priory, particularly the gilded roof of the great dining-hall. (fn. 210) On account of his profuse liberality and magnificence Sir Henry Cromwell was known in his day as the Golden Knight, and it is related of him that in his progresses from Hinchingbrooke to Ramsey Abbey, his summer residence, he threw money out of his coach to the people who collected to see him pass. (fn. 211) He was four times sheriff for the county and once returned as member. (fn. 212) He entertained Queen Elizabeth here in 1564 when she knighted him. James I also spent a night here, 27 April 1603, when progressing south to take possession of the English throne. Sir Oliver on this occasion made many presents to the king, 'a cup of gold, goodly horses, deepe-mouthed hounds, divers hawkes of excellent winge,' while a deputation of the heads of Cambridge University, clad in scarlet gowns and corner caps, attended to present a learned oration in Latin. (fn. 213) In return for this gratification of his favourite foibles James I on his Coronation Day, 24 July 1603, made Sir Oliver a Knight of the Bath. (fn. 214)
Sir Henry died a few months later on 6 January 1604 and was buried in All Saints' Church, Huntingdon. (fn. 215) His lavish methods appear already to have impaired the family fortunes and the circumstances of Sir Oliver Cromwell, his eldest son, to whom Hinchingbrooke now passed, shortly became hopelessly embarrassed. (fn. 216) He carried on the family tradition of entertaining royalty, and James I was constantly there. The king indeed seems to have treated the place as his own: in 1614 he is found appointing a Keeper of the Wardrobe to act both at Royston (where he had his own hunting box) and Hinchingbrooke; (fn. 217) in 1620 he advanced £20 from the royal treasury and 20 timber trees to build a bridge for his own use there; (fn. 218) in October 1623 he issued instructions to Sir Oliver to kill as many pheasants in the outwoods as possible but none in the park, pending his arrival. (fn. 219)
His embarrassments must necessarily have made a bad host of Sir Oliver Cromwell, and the king appears to have conceived some idea of buying Hinchingbrooke outright. This appears from a pathetic letter written early in 1623 by Cromwell, who says he has asked no more for his house than a penny for a pennyworth and begs payment either in money or land as his creditors are pressing him and his friends begin to think him out of favour. (fn. 220) The matter still remained unsettled in November 1624 when Cromwell asked whether the king would accept of his land at a reasonable price. (fn. 221) The death of James I in March 1625 put an end to the question of the royal purchase and Hinchingbrooke was eventually sold to Sir Sidney Montagu on 20 June 1627. (fn. 222) Sir Sidney Montagu was one of the Masters of Requests to Charles I and an ardent supporter of the royalist side in the Civil War. He died in 1644 and the estate passed to his son Edward Montagu, who served on the Parliamentarian side during the first Civil War. Charles I slept at Hinchinbrooke in 1647 on his way from Holmby to Newmarket, a prisoner in the hands of Cornet Joyce, (fn. 223) and was treated with the greatest consideration by Lady Montagu in the absence of her husband. Edward Montagu took no active share in the second war nor in the king's trial. With General Monk he was mainly instrumental in bringing about the Restoration and was rewarded, on 12 July 1660, with the title Baron Montagu of St. Neots, Viscount Hinchinbrooke and Earl of Sandwich. Hinchinbrooke has remained the seat of the Earls of Sandwich till the present day. (fn. 224)
The Earl of Sandwich was second cousin to and patron of Samuel Pepys and Hinchinbrooke and its owner figure largely in his Diary. The earl immediately started elaborate alterations and additions to the Elizabethan mansion: under 9 December 1660 Pepys notes that he (Pepys) has commissioned Mr. Kennard, master joiner at Whitehall, to go to Hinchingbrooke about the alterations, (fn. 225) and nearly twelve months later he complains that they are very backward. (fn. 226) On 15 October 1664 he visited Hinchinbrooke and found the 'water-works and the Ora, which is very fine; and so is the house all over, but I am sorry to think of the money at this time spent therein.' (fn. 227)
There are few visible remains of the Benedictine nunnery, but a considerable number of 12th and 13th-century stones lying in a ditch on the south side of the garden were, no doubt, from its early buildings.
The claustral buildings of the nunnery were on the north side of the church, and in building his new house Sir Henry seems to have found the north wall of the church still standing, and against it, on the site of the church, he built two rooms (now the library), (fn. 228) and on the other side, on the site of the cloister, he built a staircase, etc.; the eastern wall and some other parts of the eastern range of the nunnery remained, and these he converted into drawing room and private dining room, etc., with a long gallery over them. Of the northern range nothing remains, but here Sir Henry built the hall of his house, enriching it with a fine bay window and building another bay window at the northern end of his drawing room and long gallery; he retained an inner courtyard on the site of the cloister, the western wall of which appears to be ancient, but Sir Henry probably built kitchens and offices on the west of it (now the dining room), and a tower at the south-west corner; he built a range of offices extending northward from the north-west corner of the house, a range of outbuildings near it, and a large gate-house on the north side of his entrance courtyard.
Sir Henry lived to a great age, and before his death he apparently made over the house to his son, Sir Oliver, who, in 1602, built a large semi-circular bowwindow on the east side of the long gallery, supporting it upon an open loggia below.
Edward Earl of Sandwich made considerable alterations here in 1661, adding two stories to the western range (fn. 229) together with an addition at the northwest corner, formed a kitchen in the projecting northern wing, and rebuilt the staircase. (fn. 230) He appears to have done other works, including the building of the garden wall next the road (fn. 231) in 1663–4.
In 1760 the 4th earl made some alterations and is said to have added two or three rooms, but probably the work was chiefly of the nature of readjustment rather than actual addition.
The eastern range was severely damaged by fire on the 22 January 1830, but the pictures and furniture were nearly all saved. The fire started in the fireplace of 'the great-bow room' (i.e., the bedroom formed in the end of the long gallery), (fn. 232) whereupon the house was largely reconstructed under Edward Blore, the architect, and completed in 1832. The east and south fronts were now largely refaced, and the semi-circular bow-window of 1602 was taken down and rebuilt on the south front. A tower was built at the north-west corner, reducing the length of the hall, which was much altered.
The 7th earl, in 1864, built a billiard room in the inner court, and a belfry on the roof, etc., but these have since been pulled down. He also formed a garden doorway on the south front, using some 13th-century stones for the purpose.
The 8th earl about 1885 added a tank room to Blore's tower; in 1894–1896 he built a large western wing including an open cloister, formed a fine dining room out of the old servants' quarters in the western range, took down an internal wall and added the old drawing room to the library, and pulled down the billiard room in the inner court. In 1909 he roofed in the inner court and formed it into a hall. He also rebuilt the upper part of the laundry and brew-house, almost entirely rebuilt the stables, and made the well in the stable yard on the spot where a magnificent cedear-tree (uprooted in the storm of 25 March 1895) had formerly stood.
The entrance or north front consists of three parts. The central portion is the hall with a modern doorway and porch dated 1832, and a large transomed bay window above which are panels containing a crowned rose and obliterated shields of arms; (fn. 233) the bay is carried up as a window to the floor above, and is finished with an embattled parapet having a band of traceried panels below the merlons and a string-course ornamented with roses, portcullises, falcons, etc., and a badge of two sprigs issuing from a piece of armour.
The eastern portion (the gable end of the eastern range) has a fine bay window of two stories ornamented with similar badges to those on the other bay, the panels between the windows having a shield of arms supported by two angels, and a portcullis on one side and a crowned harp between the letters E.R. on the other; the side panels have shields of arms; (fn. 234) the whole of these panels have been much modernised, and are largely of Roman cement; this window is also carried up with a larger transomed window above; and the gable behind, which is entirely of 1832, incorporates an earlier panel carved with a rose-ensoleil; the previous gable, a classical pediment, has been set upon a wall eastward of the gate-house. The western portion is a tower added by Blore, having a two-light window in the ground story, a projecting oriel-window above, and a two-light with ogee labelmoulding in the next story.
The east front, also in three portions, has at the northern end two three-light windows with transoms, lighting the yellow drawing room (at one time the dining room) and flanking a large modern chimney stack, and above them are two smaller windows; further south are two shorter three-light windows with two transomed three-light windows above them. This portion represents the original long gallery, and a large part of it was occupied by the bow-window of 1602 flanked on either side by a transomed five-light window above and smaller windows below, while at the south-east corner was a small projection, perhaps a garderobe, but now entirely gone. (fn. 235) The present front is entirely by Blore, who has increased the height of the yellow drawing room so that the floor above cuts across the lower part of the northern bay window of the long gallery.
The next portion projects ten feet in front of the last. It is of red bricks and has a stepped gable. At one time there was a large projecting two-storied bow-window in front of it, (fn. 236) but this had gone before 1787, (fn. 237) and the present windows are of late 18th-century date. At the north-east corner is the date 1531 on a reused stone in the string-course below the parapet. The southern end of this front is occupied by a large bow-window projecting from the end wall of the library (formerly this end was the drawing room). It is faced with red bricks and has windows of late 18th-century date, but is represented on early prints in much its present form but with larger and transomed windows. (fn. 238)
The south front of the present library is faced with ashlar and is entirely Blore's work, who rebuilt the great semi-circular bow-window of 1602 at the eastern end. This window, which is entirely of ashlar, has five round-headed windows (originally there were seven and they were open arches); in the spandrels of the arches are shields representing the Cromwell, Warren, Bromley and Hooftman families. In a band of stonework above there are three shields, viz.: in the centre Williams alias Cromwell with ten quarterings, and on either side (1) Williams alias Cromwell and (2) Warren. The upper story has a two-light transomed window with square head over each of the arches below, and above these is a frieze and cornice inscribed 'ANNO DOMINI 1602' and 'O.C.' and 'E.A.C.,' for Sir Oliver and his two wives, surmounted by a parapet partly balustraded and partly panelled with Elizabethan strapwork; on the parapet are four obelisks and a large shield of arms of Queen Elizabeth with a lion and dragon as supporters.
The western wall of the library is of rubble and may be part of the church of the nunnery, but two 16th-century windows have been inserted in it, and these have now been blocked by a chimney stack added by Blore.
The library stands to the south of the main part of the house, and behind it is the staircase, westward of which is a room called the garden room, and the garden lobby, the front wall of which is thick and perhaps part of the nunnery but faced with reused material probably by Sir Henry Cromwell; the windows are largely modern and the doorway is of 13th-century material reused by the 7th earl.
At the south-west corner stands a low tower of three stories, built chiefly of reused stonework but partly of red brick; all the windows are modern, and on the west face a large two-storied porch projects to the west, and there is a small modern balcony to the first-floor room. The ground floor room called the Oak Room has 16th-century beams and the room at the top of the tower has beams and curved braces of the same date. The main wall of the west front is of stone below, of 16th-century date, in which are large fourlight windows with transoms, but the two upper stories are of brick, built in 1661, and the windows are three-lights and two-lights. The return wing at the north is similar, and in the angle is part of a large stone chimney, possibly belonging to Sir Henry's kitchen.
Projecting to the west from the north-west corner of the house is a wing built by the 8th earl in 1894–1896 for servants' quarters. It is of red brick with stone dressings, and in front of it is a covered walk fronted with seven semi-circular arches on circular columns.
The ancient wing projecting northward from the north-west corner of the house is commonly called 'The Nunnery,' but was doubtless built by Sir Henry Cromwell as servants' quarters. The lower part is chiefly of red brick, but the upper story, apparently a later addition, is of reused stone. On the east front, about the middle, are four four-centred wall arches carried on five buttresses, and there are five 16th-century windows and a sixth now blocked, and two blocked doorways of similar date; above these, the first floor has seven windows of 17th-century date much altered, and the whole is surmounted by an embattled brick parapet. The west front has been much altered and is largely of reused stonework; the lower parts of two large chimney stacks remain, but all the windows and doorways are modern. The building was originally roofed with eight parallel roofs running across with gables over the two side walls; six of these remain, rising from behind the parapet on the east front but fully exposed and finished with halftimber and plaster on the west. The two western bays were apparently destroyed by the fire of 1830.
Internally the house has been much altered. The hall and drawing rooms are practically of 1830, and the billiard room presents no ancient features. The present library has been formed by uniting the old drawing room on the east to the library on the west, and the northern wall separating them from the rest of the house is thick and was probably the northern wall of the nuns' church; in the length adjoining the billiard room is a narrow cupboard which may have formed part of the night-stairs from the nuns' dormitory, and on the floor above is part of an early doorway, perhaps the upper door of the stairs. Not far from the latter is a 16th-century doorway opening on to the staircase.
The chimney piece of the library which is dated 1580, was brought from Holland, and some ancient panels of various dates have been worked into the doors and bookcases of the same room.
The staircase is modern, but some of the panelling on the walls is ancient and has carved ornament and the initials 'E.S.' and 'E.S.I.' for the first earl and his countess, and some other parts of the adjacent woodwork are of similar date. In May 1834, two stone coffins with skeletons, perhaps of prioresses, were found under the floor below the stairs, formerly the south walk of the cloister, and these still remain in their original position.
The old north-west wing contains a large kitchen fireplace and chimney and two doorways of 1661.
The outbuilding consisting of bake-house, brewhouse, etc., as regards the lower part is of stone, and was doubtless built by Sir Henry Cromwell, but the upper part was rebuilt in 1894–1896.
The gate-house on the north side of the entrance court-yard was evidently built by Sir Henry Cromwell; it is of reused stone chiefly of late 15th and early 16th-century date. The northern side has a large central and two smaller archways; the former has a two-centred moulded arch with a crocketed label; immediately above the arch is a band of subcusped quatrefoils and carved paterae, (fn. 239) the middle part of which projects as for an oriel window; the spandrels between the arch and the ornamental band are richly panelled with tracery, and on either side of them are corbel-shafts supporting large figures of wild-men holding uprooted trees. The smaller side archways have moulded arches with labels ornamented with carved paterae; that on the east opens into a footway separated from the carriage-way by an oak balustrade, and that on the west is a modern sham. The southern side has one large arch similar in detail to that on the north and having a similar ornamental band above it and wild-men on the sides. The gate-house originally extended farther to the west, having a porter's room on that side, and it had an upper story with projecting eaves and five timber gables over the two main fronts. (fn. 240)
The wall running south-east from the gate-house is composed of reused material—in it is a doorway largely of 13th-century stones but having three 12thcentury capitals and over it is the 17th-century pediment from the north gable of the long gallery. (fn. 241) Near this wall is a 13th-century effigy of a man in armour; and two stone coffins.
The terrace wall, next the road, called by Pepys 'the wall on the mount,' is of 1663–4, and built largely of old material; but the southern part is of a slightly later date.