Do you remember Huntingdon Grammar School? Memories needed for new book

WORK has begun on a new book that will celebrate the history of Hinchingbrooke School.

For more than four centuries, Huntingdon has enjoyed continuous education provision, starting with Huntingdon Grammar School in what is now the Cromwell Museum.

The school, which taught the likes of Oliver Cromwell and Samuel Pepys, was founded in 1565. It moved to premises on Brampton Road in 1939 – on the day war was declared – before moving once more, somewhat controversially at the time, into its current home at Hinchingbrooke House.

Now, a committee of “Old Huntingdonians” led by local Lib Dem leader Peter Downes has commissioned two authors to write a definitive history on the subject.

Councillor Downes, who represents Brampton on Huntingdonshire District Council, wrote a history of the school 25 years ago, to commemorate its 425th anniversary but admits it was a “slim volume”.

Of the new book he said: “In 2015, Hinchingbrooke School will be 450 years old. There has been continuous education from the grammar school since 1565, in what is now the Cromwell Museum. It moved around the town and is now at Hinchingbrooke.

“We will be celebrating the 450th anniversary with lots of events nearer the time. We are starting off with a new history of the school, its place in history and how the school has been involved in a lot of social and historical changes. The book will not be just about the school but its historical context; we thought that was quite an interesting way of doing it.

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“We have commissioned two experienced authors, Alan Akeroyd and Caroline Clifford, who have both written books about Huntingdon before.

“We are trying to track down Old Huntingdonians and we would like to speak to the oldest living ex-pupils; we have got one who we think is 96.

“There will be elements of memories in the book but it is going to be a serious history but we want to breathe life into it with anecdotes from past pupils. Maybe there are people who were taught at the grammar school before it moved out of Huntingdon town centre to Brampton Road.

“The book has only just been commissioned but what we want to do is show how it changed as society changed. For example, in 1902 it became a mixed school, teaching boys and girls. It changed from a grammar school to a county school to a comprehensive and it was the first to have local management.

“There are some quite interesting aspects to the school’s development.

“You can’t write this overnight, not if it’s a serious history, which is why we have started it now.”

If you would like to submit some thoughts about Huntingdon Grammar School or Hinchingbrooke School, please send them to the Chairman of the editorial committee, Peter Downes, either by e-mail to