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HUNTINGDON: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1932.

[Description(s) transcribed by Martin Edwards and later edited by Colin Hinson ©2010]
[from The Victoria County History series - 1932]

"HUNTINGDON, the Borough and Town of Huntingdon lies on the Roman Road of Ermine Street. Huntingdon has always remained an agricultural town. It is pleasantly situated among pastoral scenery on the north bank of the River Ouse. Ermine Street (which later became known as the Great North Road) running north-west through the town, always formed the main thoroughfare. There is little trace in its vicinity of the settlement of early man, 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. 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 of the ancient roads from the south-east and the south-west, and on the north side from the north-east and north-west, converge on Ermine Street and become united to it before reaching the bridge. (During the late 20th century, a Motorway/dual carriageway system has now bypassed the town so easing congestion). The town, by having control of the crossing of the Ouse, was of considerable strategic 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 the 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 campaignes 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 at Godmanchester, lying on the south bank, had been selected on the side nearer the Roman Headquarters in London. At Huntingdon, the Danes had constructed defensive earthworks as a stronghold against the Saxon Kings. 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. King John issued a Charter to the Borough on 7 August 1205. Another Charter to Thorney Abbey likewise shows that St. Mary's Priory existed at this late. By the 13th century, there were 16 churches in Huntingdon. By 1500 these had settled as four ecclesiastical parishes, which remained until 1921 despite the fact that two parish churches had been demolished in 1668. The matching four civil parishes remained until 1921 when Huntingdon civil parish was formed. There was a boundary change in 1935, and the civil parish was abolished in 1961 when the civil parish of Huntingdon and Godmanchester was created"

[Description(s) transcribed by Martin Edwards ©2003 and later edited by Colin Hinson ©2010]
[mainly from The Victoria County History series- 1932]