Village Focus: Papworth Everard is known around the globe for its pioneering hospital transplant programme

St Peter's Church in Papworth has a long history. 

St Peter's Church in Papworth has a long history. - Credit: ARCHANT

Papworth Everard lies 10 miles west of Cambridge and six miles south of Huntingdon and has a population of 2,880, according to the 2011 Census.

Running through the centre of the village is Ermine Street and the old Great North Road, now the A1198, which served as part of the Roman highway from London to York for centuries. 

Archaeological work in the area of the Papworth Business Park has shown  there was some Bronze Age activity in the area. In the Roman period when Ermine Street was built, in the first century AD, it is unlikely that there was as yet anything we would now recognise as a village there.

However, the same archaeological work does show signs of Romano-British activity, as well as the road. Roman rule collapsed in Britain in 410 AD. It was at least another two or three centuries before a Saxon leader, probably called 'Papa', established a small settlement about a quarter of a mile to the west of Ermine Street around the site of the present parish church.

In fact, Papworth means 'the enclosure of Papa's people' and this includes Papworth St Agnes and Papley Grove. Following the Norman conquest of 1066, the village and land of Papworth were granted a knight called Everard De Beche, which is where the second element of the village's name is derived. A moated area in the village shows the remains of his castle.

Papworth is best known for its innovation in the field of medicine and also its advanced thinking in supporting people with disabilities. The Papworth Trust offers housing and training to people with disabilities as well as helping and supporting individuals to find work and in the early days, this ethos was well ahead of its time and what we expect today. This stems from the early treatment in rehabilitating TB patients at the Papworth TB Colony in the 1930s and 40s which ensured people had work and decent living conditions as well as medical treatment.

The world renowned Papworth Hospital means people around the globe are familiar with the name of the village. Papworth Hospital has developed a reputation as one of the leading cardiothoracic hospitals in Europe. It is famous for pioneering a series of ‘firsts’ in heart and lung medicine – from the UK’s first successful heart transplant in 1979 to the world’s first successful heart, lung and liver transplant in 1986.

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The hospital was renamed Royal Papworth Hospital in 2017 and moved to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in May, 2019.