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All Saints' Church, Cottenham
Cottenham is located in Cambridgeshire
Cottenham shown within Cambridgeshire
Population 6,095 (2011)
OS grid reference TL450675
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district CB24
Dialling code 01954
Police Cambridgeshire
Fire Cambridgeshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament

Cottenham is a village in Cambridgeshire, England. It is close to The Fens. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 Census was 6,095.[1] Before the fens were drained in the 19th century Cottenham was on the last contour before the waterlogged marshes, with Ely being the nearest dry land around 12 miles (19 km) to the north-east.


Great fire of Cottenham

The village of Cottenham fell victim to a great many fires over the centuries. One, on 29 April 1676, destroyed over a hundred houses, and killed at least one person.[2]

That which occurred on 4 April 1850 is referred to as the "great fire". Starting in the High Street around 8:30 in the evening, the flames spread rapidly and though there was no loss of human life "a vast quantity of poultry and pigeons and a good many pigs were destroyed." Forty to fifty cottages burnt down as well as the Black Horse and White Horse inns and the Wesleyan Chapel which was housed in a barn on what is now Telegraph Street.

Damage caused by the fire of 1850, seen from Lambs Lane Corner

The arsonist was believed to be one William Hayward, who was lodging at the Lamb Inn whilst doing casual labour for Thomas Graves on the boundary of whose property the fire had started. The landlord of the Lamb was quick to report that Hayward had said to him "I have been a match for old Graves ... damn and blast the fire: I wish it would burn half Cottenham down." Suspicions were fuelled the morning after the fire when the landlord woke to discover Hayward had left town. A rather trumped up case was brought against Hayward for referral to the coming assizes but, presumably for want of hard evidence, the bill was ignored by the Grand Jury.


Archaeological sites of interest within the parish include a stretch of the Roman canal Car Dyke.

A trench excavated by the ACA team from the University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Gary Marriner, discovered evidence of Neolithic occupation in the village.

Bullocks Haste is believed to be the remains of a significant Romano-British settlement, thought to have been a major port and possibly an administrative and religious centre. The course of the Car Dyke also passes through this site.

Village amenities

Cottenham has a fairly wide range of amenities in the village, including two GP surgeries, a dental surgery, a library, a Co-operative store and pharmacy, a junior school, and Cottenham Village College which is a secondary school and adult education college. There are numerous small businesses. Bus services link the village to both Cambridge and Ely, Cambridgeshire.


Cottenham has three different churches in the village, All Saints'[3] is the Anglican Parish Church. There are some pictures and a description of the church at the Cambridgeshire Churches website.[4] There are also the Baptists, and the Salvation Army. The Methodist church closed in November 2007, and has been refurbished as a Community Centre.[5] The Community Centre Coffee Shop opened on 9 February 2011.

Sport and recreation

King George's Field was named as a memorial to King George V, and is home to Cottenham United Football Club, Cottenham Cricket Club and a bowling green. The village has a racecourse which is used for several point-to-point horse racing meetings each year, usually in the winter months. The Grand National Hunt Steeple Chase, now held at the Cheltenham Festival, was staged there in 1870 and 1877.[6] The Village College provides a gymnasium, sports hall and field, and tennis courts for the community. Cottenham is also home to the Cottenham Renegades, North Cambridge's only rugby-for-pleasure club.


The Anglican church sits at the end of this long village, and according to local legend and tradition has a strange tale attached to it. Villagers long ago had wanted to build the church in a more central part of the community. The townsmen started the task, but it was said that the stones mysteriously started being transported back to their original site, so afraid, the locals decided to leave the church where originally intended.

Notable residents

Immigrant to New England, John Coolidge, was born in Cottenham and baptised there in September 1604. Among his many notable American descendants is US President J. Calvin Coolidge. The family home is believed to be the thatched cottage adjacent to the Anglican church.[7] Calvin Coolidge contributed funds to the restoration of the church tower in 1928.[8]

The grandmother of the diarist Samuel Pepys lived in Cottenham; the house in the northern area of the village bears a plaque. The village gave its name to the title of another member of the Pepys family, Charles Pepys, 1st Earl of Cottenham.

Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury between 1695 and 1715 was born in Cottenham in 1636.

The Norwich City and Leeds United F.C. footballer Adam Drury was born in Cottenham.

Cottenham village design statement

Cottenham was one of the first villages in the United Kingdom to produce a Village design statement. It was one of four pilot projects, the others being Stratford-on-Avon, Cartmel in Cumbria and Down Ampney in Gloucestershire. These were promoted as "exemplars", together with written guidance training and advice for other communities wishing to take up the initiative. The document was updated in 2007.

Nearby villages


  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 16 July 2016. 
  2. ^ An Eye-Witness (3 May 1676). A sad relation of a dreadful fire at Cottenham four miles distant from Cambridge it begun upon Saturday the 29th of April, 1676, and in the space of five hours consumed above a hundred dwelling houses, besides barns, stables, out-houses, stacks of corn, hay, faggots, turffs, &c., to the value of many thousands of pounds : with an account of a gentleman's servant that was burn'd in a miserable, manner, by venturing to save some house-hold-stuff, &c. / written by an eye-witness. Thomas Peirce. 
  3. ^ All Saints Cottenham
  4. ^ The church's page at the Cambridgeshire Churches website
  5. ^ Community Centre
  6. ^ Stevens, Peter, History of the National Hunt Chase 1860–2010. ISBN 978-0-9567250-0-4
  7. ^ Coolidge, Emma Downing, Descendants of John and Mary Coolidge of Watertown, Massachusetts, 1630, Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1930
  8. ^ A. P. M. Wright & C. P. Lewis (Editors) (1989). "Cottenham: Church". A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9: Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 

External links

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.