Do you have items of history for nostalgia group?

This map shows how Huntingdon would have looked 300 years ago.

This map shows how Huntingdon would have looked 300 years ago. - Credit: KARL BROCKETT

In days gone by, the town of Huntingdon sat in some amazing scenery. The original settlements were based around Ermine Street, which ran north-west through the town and formed the main thoroughfare.  

Before the St Ives bridge was built in the 12th Century, Huntingdon probably had the lowest bridge on the Great River Ouse and the Danes, who were keen to exploit military and trading opportunities, were not slow to recognise this fact. 

The borough was conquered in 1068 and a Norman castle was built. 

An old map showing the location of the castle and how the land would have looked.

An old map showing the location of the castle and how the land would have looked. - Credit: KARL BROCKETT

When Henry II arrived in 1173, he ordered the castle to be demolished.  

Huntingdon was classed as a royal borough in the Doomsday Book and the area was divided into four wards, which included the castle. 

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In 1593, like lots of other places, there is mention in the town's history of medieval witchcraft trials. This seems to have continued over many years and documents show some disturbing evidence of the panic and hysteria sweeping the whole country at this time.

 No fewer than eight people were bought before the Hartford local justices and condemned in 1646. 

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Another thing worth mentioning is the Falcon Inn, in Huntingdon which dates back to approximately 1554. This is a great landmark in the town and has a long history. 

It has boundary gates leading onto the Market Hill. It was probably larger years ago and perhaps also included the site of the country club where the Cromwellian Commission sat and discussed their plans in 1649.

Horse racing came to Huntingdon in the 19th Century and by 1888, stewards were employed on race days and in 1891, the course saw the arrival of police officers to control the crowds. The sport continued to grow in popularity with the public and in 1907, the racecourse committee introduced prize money. 

I hope you are all inspired to do a bit more research into these topics after reading this brief introduction to the history of Huntingdon.

This column was intended to spark your interest, but if you have any items of interest on the history of Huntingdonshire, please feel free to visit our Huntingdonshire Community Nostalgia Group Facebook page.

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