Sawtry has an interesting church and abbey history
- Credit: HUNTS POST
The village of Sawtry lies approximately eight miles north of Huntingdon and the population, according to the 2011 Census, was 6,536.
Sawtry was listed as Saltrede in the Domesday Book in the Hundred of Normancross in Huntingdonshire, containing four manors. By 1086 there were three churches and two priests at Sawtry.
During the Dark Ages, Sawtry was divided into three parishes of All Saints, St. Andrew and Judith.
Sawtry originally got its name from the fact that it was a trading centre for salt, an essential commodity in the Middle Ages.
Until the year 1880, there were two churches in Sawtry, All Saints' and St Andrew's.
Both were demolished and the materials used in the erection of the new Church of All Saints, which was dedicated on September 14 1880 by the Bishop of Ely.
There are windows and memorials from St Andrews in the All Saints Church, so more history is contained within the walls, perpetuating the worship communities of time gone by.
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There is a medieval full-length brass of Sir William le Moyne, a Lord of the Manor, dating from 1404 and medieval stained glass from one of the three manors of Sawtry.
The church of St Andrews was never replaced and all that remains of it is a part of the churchyard.
The Sawtry Cistercian Abbey of St Mary was founded in 1147 by Simon De St Liz, Earl of Huntingdon and grandson of Countess Judith of Lens, niece of William the Conqueror. It took 91 years to complete and was consecrated in 1238.
There are records of monarchs staying there during its time and notably Catherine of Aragon's body rested there when the funeral cortege broke its journey on the way to Peterborough Cathedral from Kimbolton Castle for her burial.
The monks were very benevolent to the villagers of Sawtry and provided care to the poor, sick and elderly of the village.
When the Abbey was dissolved at the hands of Henry V111 and his henchman Thomas Cromwell in 1536 the village suffered a great loss as a result.
This spiritual and physical support that the Monks gave, was important for the village to thrive and it also provided jobs to the villagers by working on the Grange Farms, one being the site of Sawtry Judith Manor near Archers Wood.
This, in addition to the estates that took over when the Abbey was dissolved, provided Sawtry and the villages around with its agricultural background and heritage.