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Summary Article: Huntingdon from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Market town in Cambridgeshire, eastern England, on the River Ouse, 26 km/16 mi northwest of Cambridge; population (2001) 20,600. It is an agricultural centre with diverse industries, including telecommunications, printing, food-processing (frozen foods, meat products), and the manufacture of electrical equipment, fibre optics, computerware, furniture, rubber mouldings, plastics, and chemicals. Oliver Cromwell was born here in 1599.

Huntingdon was formerly the county town of Huntingdonshire (amalgamated with Cambridgeshire in 1974), and in 1961 it was united with Godmanchester, on the south bank of the river. The grammar school (founded in 1565), attended by Oliver Cromwell and the diarist Samuel Pepys, was opened in 1962 as a Cromwell museum. The Environmental Information Centre was opened in 1989.

History Huntingdon developed at the point where Ermine Street, the Roman road running from London to York, crosses the Ouse. In the 10th century the Danes constructed a defensive earthwork or ‘burh’ here, remains of which are visible. Edward the Elder, king of the West Saxons, captured the town in 921, but it was destroyed by the Danes in 1010. A castle was built here in the 11th century and the town received its first charter in 1204. Many of Huntingdon's inhabitants died during the Black Death in 1348 and the town's prosperity declined. During the Civil War the town was used as a headquarters first by Oliver Cromwell and then by Charles I. It prospered as a staging post on the Great North Road in the 18th century.

Features The town is connected with Godmanchester by a fine six-arched bridge (1332). The grammar school was founded in a 12th-century building, formerly part of a medieval hospital. Huntingdon had 16 churches in medieval times, only two of which survive: All Saints', dating from the 13th–16th centuries, and St Mary's, 12th–17th centuries. The town hall dates from 1745. Hinchingbrooke, the former seat of the Cromwell family, west of the town, was built on the site of a nunnery said to have been founded by William the Conqueror. It dates mainly from the 16th century, but incorporates remains of Norman work. The property is now the location of a business park. The site of the Norman castle is now a public open space. Remains of the earthworks consist of a motte, with a bailey partly surrounded by a rampart and a deep ditch. The George Hotel has a 17th-century galleried courtyard. The town has many 17th- and 18th-century houses including Walden House, Ferrar House, Cowper House, and Castle Hill House. Cromwell House occupies the site of a former residence of Cromwell, where he lived from 1617 to 1631 as a young married man, prior to moving to St Ives; the original building was demolished in 1810 and a new house erected.

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