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This text was copied from Wikipedia on 22 July 2024 at 5:10AM.

Hinchingbrooke House (2007).
North front of Hinchingbrooke House (1787).

Hinchingbrooke House is an English stately home in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, now part of Hinchingbrooke School.

The house was built around an 11th-century Benedictine nunnery.[1] After the Reformation it passed into the hands of the Cromwell family, and subsequently became the home of the Earls of Sandwich, including John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, reputedly the "inventor" of the modern sandwich. In 1962 it was sold by the 10th Earl.[2]

On 8 March 1538, Richard Williams (alias Cromwell), a nephew of Thomas Cromwell, had the grant of the nunnery of Hinchingbrooke, in Huntingdonshire, for the undervalued price of £19.9s.2d. while he was an official Visitor overseeing the dissolution of the monasteries.[3] A fireplace discovered in the building has his initials.[4] His son, Henry Williams (alias Cromwell), grandfather of Oliver Cromwell, carried out more extensive works on the house.[5]

According to Mark Noble, an eighteenth-century writer and frequent visitor at Hinchingbrooke, "The nuns' apartments, or cells, at Hinchinbrook, are now entire, and are used as lodging-rooms for the menial servants; their common room was what is now the kitchen; the church is destroyed, except some trifling remains, now part of one of the walls of the house, and seem to have been the corner of the tower; near this place in lowering the flooring, a few years ago, one or more coffins of stone were found",[6] and "On the bow windows he put the arms of his family, with those of several others to whom he was allied".[7]

Queen Elizabeth stayed at Hinchingbrooke in August 1564 after entertainments at Cambridge University.[8] King James came to Hinchingbrooke on 27 April 1603 and Sir Oliver Cromwell gave him hawks, horses, hounds, and a gold cup.[9] The king was back on 7 December 1610, and Prince Henry stayed on 8 August 1612.[10]

There was a serious fire in 1830 and the house was restored/rebuilt by Edward Blore. It was further restored in 1894 and again in the 1960s. During the most recent restoration the entrance to the chapter house was discovered, but otherwise little of the medieval fabric is visible.[11]

The house was featured and illustrated in the 2 November 1907 issue of Country Life.[12]

In 1970, it became part of Hinchingbrooke School,[13] housing the 6th form. Hinchingbrooke School was formerly Huntingdon Grammar School which, on the site of what is now the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon, was attended by Oliver Cromwell and Samuel Pepys.[14][15] The school now has around 1,900 pupils.[16]

More recently, while still being used as a school, Hinchingbrooke House is turned into a critically acclaimed scare attraction in the Halloween season called "The Horror at Hinchingbrooke House". It is also used as a conference centre, for dinner dances, and as a wedding venue. It is a Grade I listed building and is open for tours on Sunday afternoons in the summer season.[17][18][19]


  1. ^ Maurice Howard, The Early Tudor Country House: Architecture and Politics, 1490-1550 (George Philip: London, 1987), pp. 149-50, 155 plan, 157.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Noble 1784, p. 7 cites: Grant in the possession of the Earl of Sandwich.
  4. ^ Maurice Howard, The Early Tudor Country House: Architecture and Politics, 1490-1550 (George Philip: London, 1987), p. 150.
  5. ^ Maurice Howard, The Early Tudor Country House: Architecture and Politics, 1490-1550 (George Philip: London, 1987), p. 150.
  6. ^ Noble 1784, p. 21
  7. ^ Noble 1784, p. 22, Cites: Vide the engravings of the arms at Hinchinbrook.
  8. ^ Elizabeth Goldring, Faith Eales, Elizabeth Clarke, Jayne Elisabeth Archer, John Nichols's Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth: 1533-1571, vol. 1 (Oxford, 2014), p. 432.
  9. ^ A. Jefferies Collins, Jewels and Plate of Queen Elizabeth I (London, 1955), p. 112.
  10. ^ John Nichols, The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities of King James the First, vol. 2 (London, 1828), pp. 370, 458.
  11. ^ "Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas". Historic England. 1951. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Hinchingbrooke, Huntingdonshire, the seat of the Earl of Sandwich". Country Life. XXII (565). Country Life, Ltd.: 630–636 2 November 1907.
  13. ^ HH staff
  14. ^ Goldsmith 1999.
  15. ^ Grey 2004, The History of Hinchingbrooke House.
  16. ^ Grey 2004, The Headmasters & The School
  17. ^ HH staff
  18. ^ Grey 2004, Hinchingbrooke House.
  19. ^ Historic England. "Hinchingbrooke House (1128649)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 July 2015.


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: "Memoirs of the Protectorate-house of Cromwell: Deduced from an Early Period, and Continued Down to the Present Time,...", by Mark Noble (1784)

52°19′43″N 0°12′05″W / 52.3286°N 0.2014°W / 52.3286; -0.2014

1893 text

Hinchinbroke was Sir Edward Montagu‘s seat, from which he afterwards took his second title. Hinchinbroke House, so often mentioned in the Diary, stood about half a mile to the westward of the town of Huntingdon. It was erected late in the reign of Elizabeth, by Sir Henry Cromwell, on the site of a Benedictine nunnery, granted at the Dissolution, with all its appurtenances, to his father, Richard Williams, who had assumed the name of Cromwell, and whose grandson, Sir Oliver, was the uncle and godfather of the Protector. The knight, who was renowned for, his hospitality, had the honour of entertaining King James at Hinchinbroke, but, getting into pecuniary difficulties, was obliged to sell his estates, which were conveyed, July 28th, 1627, to Sir Sidney Montagu of Barnwell, father of the first Earl of Sandwich, in whose descendant they are still vested. On the morning of the 22nd January, 1830, during the minority of the seventh Earl, Hinchinbroke was almost entirely destroyed by fire, but the pictures and furniture were mostly saved, and the house has been rebuilt in the Elizabethan style, and the interior greatly improved, under the direction of Edward Blore, Esq., R.A. — B.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

13 Annotations

First Reading

Mark Webb  •  Link

Note that the modern spelling is 'Hinchingbrooke'.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Pepys, politics and the Montagus at Hinchinbrooke (1627-1962)…
Sir Sydney Montague bought the house from Sir. Oliver Cromwell on 20th June 1627, Sir Sydney died in 1644 and owner ship passes to his son Edward Montague, a parliamentarian, who wife acts as host to Charles the 1st, now a prisoner on his way to Newmarket in her husband’s absence during the first civil war.
Edward Montague would not take an active roll in the Kings trial, and along with General Monk, later Duke of Albermarle, helped to bring about the restoration of the monarchy, and is rewarded by Charles 2nd by being made Baron Montague of St Neots, Viscount Hinchingbrooke and Earl of Sandwich. The Earl of sandwich (Edward Montague) was second cousin and Patron to Samuel Pepys the diarist, who worked as a secretary for a time at Hinchingbrooke House. Both the house and estate figure largely in his diaries.
Once again the buildings were subject to elaborate alteration and additions. Only the best craftsmen and material would do with Samuel Pepys being instructed to obtain the services of Mr. Kennard, master joiner of Whitehall. Samuel Pepys notes in his diary the time and money being spent on the improvements to Hinchingbrooke House.
Sir Sydney Montague was married to Paulina, daughter of John Pepys of Cottenham, great Aunt to Samuel Pepys. Their eldest son had drowned in the moat at Barnwell, which partly explains their move to Hinchingbrooke House. Sir Sydney’s brother Edward was the first Lord Montague of Boughton Northamptonshire, and his other brother Henry was first Earl of Manchester with his seat at Kimbolton Castle. The Montague’s were an influential and powerful family.
So from 1627 until 1962 Hinchingbrooke House was a family home, although the family made structural changes through the centuries it would not return to being the centre of entertainment at the level which ruined its last Cromwell owner.
The final irony is that is was once again to be politics which drastically changed the future of this wonderful house. In order to stand for election to the House of Commons during the early 1960s you had to relinquish any claim to a family title, which would also make you eligible to sit in the House of Lords. In order to pursue a political career Victor Montague relinquished any claim to the family titles, and sold Hinchingbrooke House to the County Council in 1962.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

brief description of Huntingdon and Hinchinbrook(e) House…
“HUNTINGDON, a borough and market town, having separate jurisdiction, locally in the hundred of Hurstingstone, county of HUNTINGDON, 59 miles (N. by W.) from London, containing 2806 inhabitants. This place, called by the Saxons Huntantun, and in the Norman survey Hunters dune, appears to have derived its name from its situation in a tract of country which was anciently an extensive forest abounding with deer, and well suited for the purposes of the chase. A castle was built here by Edward the Elder, in 917, and afterwards enlarged by David, Earl of Huntingdon, and King of Scotland, to whom King Stephen gave the borough, but having become a retreat for the disaffected in the reign of Henry II., it was, by that monarch’s order, levelled with the ground. This fortress, of which there are no remains, is generally supposed, from the form of its out-works, which may still be traced, to have been the site of Duroliponte, a station of the Romans. A mint was established here at a very early period, and coins of Edwy and of his successors until the time of William Rufus, have been struck and issued from this place. Huntingdon has been honoured with many royal visits; James I., on his arrival from Scotland, with all his court, was sumptuously entertained by Sir Oliver Cromwell, uncle of the Protector, in his princely mansion of Hinchinbrooke, a spacious quadrangular building in the Elizabethan style, in which also Charles I. frequently partook of the liberal hospitality of its possessor. Prior to the commencement of the parliamentary war, that monarch kept his court at Huntingdon, where he carried on his negotiations with the parliament then sitting in London, and during the subsequent contests it was frequently the headquarters of his army, Not long after the breaking out of the war, however, it appears to have fallen into the hands of the parliament; for it is stated to have been plundered, in August 1645, by the royalists, commanded by the king in person. In 1646, the king, on his route from Holmby to Hampton Court, in the care of Cornet Joyce and the parliamentary commissioners, was lodged at Hinchinbrook House, then belonging to Colonel Montague, an officer in the army of the parliament, and afterwards, on his joining Charles II. at the Restoration, created Earl of Sandwich, from whose lady the captive monarch received every tribute of sympathising loyalty, and by whose courage he was protected from the insults of a factious mob. In 1745, the inhabitants, assisted by the surrounding gentry, came forward to support the reigning dynasty against the claims of the Pretender, and raised a large sum of money by subscription for that purpose.…”

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Hinchinbrooke and Cromwell…
Oliver, who sat in the long parliament with more than one Montagu, disliked the Montagu’s who had purchased the Cromwell manor, Hinchinbrooke.


Long excerpt from Belloc’s “Cromwell”:
Belloc now turns to Cromwell’s emotional relations and competition with the Montagus. Cromwell apparently maintained a deep hatred of the Montagu’s his entire life:

`We must bear all these in mind, for Sir Oliver’s nephew who was to be the Protector never forgot that first blow delivered in his youth, the loss of the ancestral home. He put all three brothers into one basket as despoilers of his family.
Of these rich men, one, Sir Sidney Montagu, the Master of the Requests, a lawyer in the traditions of his family, was now master of the roof and acres which Oliver had known and revered all his youth. Oliver himself was still the chief citizen in Huntingdon, … but its solid basis in the place had gone. Henceforward there was feud between Oliver in his reserved, violent mind, and the Montagu blood. We shall see the earlier and later action of this: the earlier in Oliver’s passionate attacks upon the Montagu’s influence in the Fen Country, where the Cromwells used to be supreme; the later upon a larger scale in the hounding out of Manchester from the command of the Parliamentary army.
We see Cromwell, then, capable of a strong personal quarrel and a long retention of the animosity it had aroused. He became the permanent enemy of Manchester, because Manchester was a Montagu. And the greater joy he must have had when Manchester’s nephew, the son of the very man who had purchased Hinchinbrooke, fell into a youthful hero-worship of himself, Cromwell, as a soldier. That indeed was a fine revenge for the loss of the great house!
… In his bitterness at the unsuccessful result of Newbury and under the impulse of the long-treasured Montagu quarrel he gave what was almost certainly false testimony: for he pretended that Manchester had not attacked at Shaw House until after darkness had set in, and is there at issue with every other contemporary witness. But when he said that Montagu was fighting slackly because he did not at heart wish to destroy the King, he was telling if not the truth, at any rate what he believed to be the truth. That is exactly what Cromwell did believe about Montagu.
Later when he was met by Montagu’s vigorous reply and the publication of so many of his sayings which shook his position, then he backed out and said that he could not accuse Manchester of half-heartedness in attacking the King, but only of incompetence. Such a retraction was false; Oliver continued to think Montagu half-hearted, and when he said he did not, he lied for the sake of taking refuge from the storm which Montagu’s accusations against him had aroused.’ (Belloc)
Let us follow Belloc to the year 1630:

`Meanwhile the strain of seeing the Montagus displaying their increasing wealth under the roof which had covered him in childhood was more than Oliver could bear. He sold some part of his lands… He thus got rid as well as he could of the Huntingdon connection with its Montagu memories.’ (Belloc)
And to the Long Parliament of 1640:

`… As for Huntingdon, it was now wholly in the pocket of the Montagus; two of that family came up side by side to that same Parliament, and what a bitterness for Oliver to find them there! As for the Shire, yet another Montagu was to speak for it in the same Assembly, and with him was Oliver’s own brother-in-law, Walton.

Therefore from the moment Cromwell enters the Long Parliament …, 1640, you find him a marked sort indeed and … not consonant to the air of an assembly, … Indeed, one of the first things we get from him now is a piece of violence in committee. It was provoked by his now ancient and deep-rooted quarrel with the name of Montagu. The family of Montagu had had assigned to them in the person of Manchester, their head, certain lands granted out of the Queen’s property in the Fens. They proceeded to enclose, and therefore to get to loggerheads with the small free-holders. Cromwell in the committee appointed (With Hyde in the Chair) to inquire into the affair, launched out against Manchester as though he were engaged in a personal fight. His conduct was shocking to a man of Hyde’s legal descent and … sense of decorum; assemblies could not carry on if shouting and brawling of this kind were allowed.’ (Belloc)

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Celia Fiennes description of Hinchingbrooke, from her 1697 Tour. (London to Yorkshire)

" ... Huntington is but a Small Shire town; just by it is a house of the Lord Sandwich, yt it is pretty large. We enter a good Lofty hall, in it hangs the Ship in wch he was lost, that is the representation of it Cut out in Little and all things Exactly made to it; there is a good parlour and drawing roome: well proportion'd are ye rooms wth good old ffurniture and good Pictures. There is a Large dineing roome above wth good tapistry hangings, and its Ceil'd wth jrish oake Carv'd with points hanging down like fine ffret worke; this wood no spider will weave on or endure. There are good bed Chambers with good furniture and fine pictures; over one of the Chimneys is a fine picture of Venus were it not too much uncloth'd. The Gardens and Wilderness and Greenhouse will be very fine when quite ffinished with the dwarfe trees and gravell walks. There is a large fountaine or bason which is to resemble that in the privy garden at Whitehall, which will ffront the house. ..."…

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"this wood no spider will weave on or endure"
Interesting comment. I wondered if she meant that Irish oak has special properties that repel spiders, but I could find no suggestion of this anywhere. So I guess she must have meant the way it was carved, "with points hanging down like fine ffret worke." I can see how that would be a challenge for a spider. I looked at some interior pictures from Hinchingbrooke, but didn't see any ceilings resembling her description.

Second Reading

Third Reading

Peter Johnson  •  Link

It's worth noting that the school which has taken over Hinchingbrooke House - Hinchingbrooke School - is the renamed Huntingdon Grammar School which Pepys and Cromwell attended before going on to St Paul's School in London.

Peter Johnson  •  Link

Apologies about the above - only Pepys went on to St Paul's, not Cromwell, of course.

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