Cromwell Walk in Huntingdon

The Falcon Inn Huntingdon

The Falcon Inn Huntingdon Headquarters of the Parliamentary forces’

Last Monday evening I joined a group of like-minded people for a guided walk to explore what was left of the Huntingdon Oliver Cromwell would have known. The tour had been organised by Huntingdonshire History Festival, our guide was Alan Butler, a long-serving volunteer at the Cromwell Museum.

Our group set off from the Town Hall heading for the North end of the High Street. It was here that Royalist troops entered the town following their thrashing at Naseby, to start what became known as the Battle of Huntingdon. The Royalists overcame local resistance and occupied the town for two days before withdrawing.

Moving South the next point of interest was Cromwell House, the site of Oliver Cromwell’s birth and home of his parents. Outside the house set in the pavement is a commemorative plaque one of several around the town. The original building in Cromwell’s time was a Priory. The house is now a care home.

St John’s churchyard is a little further along on the opposite side of the road to Cromwell House, Oliver was baptised here, the church was in a state of disrepair even then and didn’t survive the civil war pulled down near its end in 1651.

Moving along the High Street, Alan our splendid guide directed to cast our eyes to the roofs of the buildings on the George Hotel side. To the surprise of most of our group, we learned that most of these buildings dated from the seventeenth century. The twisted chimneys an important clue. My great-grandfather, then my granddad (his son in law) had a corn shop in one of these buildings no 63. I knew it was old but hadn’t realised it was that old. Now an estate agent the beams in the ceilings and in the party walls have been exposed and clearly visible, through the front windows. The George Hotel (outside). was the next stopping point, Alan said that Charles the First had his headquarters here for the two days the Royalists occupied the town.

On our left, as we moved southwards to what is now the Cromwell Museum. The rebuilt Old Grammar School where Oliver Cromwell and been a pupil and later one Samuel Pepys.

Cromwell Museum Huntingdon

The Cromwell Museum Huntingdon from all Saint’s churchyard.

All Saint’s church was next, opposite the museum occupying one side of Market Hill, there is another commemorative plaque set in the pavement just outside the church gates. Oliver Cromwell’s father Robert is buried here in the family tomb. An old former Huntingdon neighbour claimed to have shaken hands with Oliver Cromwell’s father when work was being carried out on the tomb.

The Falcon Inn to the left of All Saints also in Market Hill was used as the Parliamentarian’s headquarters during part of the Civil War, it was also reputedly the recruiting station for the New Model Army. Remaining original features of the Inn include the heavy oak doors and the first-floor bow window.

The Falcon Inn Huntingdon

The Falcon Inn Huntingdon Headquarters of the Parliamentary forces’

The present Town Hall directly opposite All Saints Church is built on the site of an earlier town hall. We walked behind the town hall passing the Market Inn, though old it isn’t thought to date from that period.

Moving south along the High Street we paused at Saint Benedict’s Court site of the church of that name. The church was said to have been destroyed by Royalist cannon fire during the Civil War. Stone reclaimed from the ruins of the church was used to build the Barley Mow public house in nearby Hartford.

Continuing along, Alan told us that lurking behind many of the present day shop and building frontages, older building remain. Again he directed our attention skyward to the evidence of twisted seventeenth-century chimneys. An open door from the High Street to one of the remaining passages gave us a glimpse of half-timbered walls on either side.

The present-day Hartford Road is shown on John Speeds map of the time, on the corner of which stands the Three Tuns Public House. My great-grandfather is recorded in the 1911 census as landlord (William Dixon). His daughter, my grandmother Lily, is shown in the record as working there, not Cromwell related but a bit of local history.

The Three Tuns public house Huntingdon

The Three Tuns Huntingdon

Saint Mary’s Church was our next port of call, this was old in Cromwell’s time, Robert Cromwell, his father had been one of its bailiffs. After passing more seventeenth century buildings, including the wonderfully restored 147 High Street, next to the former studio of photographer Earnest Whitney, we crossed the ring road to arrive at the stone bridge between Huntingdon and Godmanchester. During the Civil war, the central section was removed and a wooden drawbridge substituted as part of the town’s defences.

Entrance to Saint Mary's Church Huntingdon

Entrance to Saint Mary’s Church Huntingdon

After visiting the Bridge we made our way back beside the ring road to Castle Hills, during the Civil War the earthworks were used as defensive positions. The hill top commands a good view with firing positions for cannons over the river and the bridge. The site would have been larger in Cromwell’s time the encroachment of first the railway then the A14 has taken a sizable portion of the site.

We completed the tour near the Bus Station, at the town sign, lamenting collectively about the lack of a statue to Oliver Cromwell, in this his birthplace. He is described by Antonia Fraser as our “Chief of Men” and by Christopher Hill as “God’s Englishman”.

Thanks Alan for a most interesting tour.

If you fancy seeing what’s on offer at the Huntigdonshire History Festival try this site:

https://huntshistoryfest.wordpress.com/calendar-of-events/

 

Advertisements

A guest post on the Whittlesey Wordsmiths Blog

I was asked to start what will hopefully become a discussion on the Whittlesey Wordsmiths blog about writing. As a member of this group I have been helped by their support and privileged to meet a group of very talented individuals. Hopefully some of this talent will rub off on to me, they can spare a bit.

Any way the piece is on the blog please take a look and add your two pennyworth or more.

Here is the link:

Writing

 

Delivering the News

A version of this article was published in Best of British Magazine in their Past Remembered section. A first for me, being paid for something written by myself.

 

I was about or just under thirteen years old when starting my first newspaper round in Huntingdon – a morning round, using a Pashley small front-wheel large-basket trades bike. A Sunday round was added next, in a different part of town. At that time there was competition for paper rounds, even waiting lists. My evening round was the most interesting. The morning and Sunday rounds I delivered for a newsagent but the evening round was my first taste of self-employment.

An older lad leaving school gave me the round. The papers were bought direct from a wholesaler and sold to the public. In 1964 the gross profit per paper was one penny – the old penny: large and 240 to the pound.

The wholesaler used an office at a garage and taxi company’s in Ferrar’s Road. It was situated in the back corner of a rectangular cobbled yard, the house at the front was the garage owners’. There were workshops down one side of the yard, a high wall along the opposite side. The back of the yard, away from the house, had more buildings and an arch with a driveway underneath leading to lock up single garages rented to the public.

The office contained a desk, a typewriter and chair, two largish tables, two more chairs, a telephone, tea-making facilities, also a large machine for printing Stop Press onto the papers. The evening papers sold by my wholesaler were London papers – The Evening News and The Standard. He was also the local wholesaler for a few magazines, one of which was Private Eye, a good read even then.

After finishing school, dropping my things at home, and collecting the trades bike, it was off to the wholesalers. There I collected about a dozen papers before cycling to the railway station. In the station I sold papers to waiting passengers – at first on the platform nearest the ticket office then, crossing the footbridge to the northbound platform, to commuters waiting there. When the express train from London arrived – I can’t remember whether, at that point, they were still steam or early diesels – the papers were collected from the guard’s carriage. The two bundles were carried back over the bridge – Evening News on my right shoulder, Evening Standards in my left hand – heaved into the basket of my bike, and I would be off.

There was a steepish hill out of the station to George Street but after that it was downhill leaving George Street, to use a short cut down cobbled Royal Oak Passage to the High Street. The passage had a central gutter then with an iron drain about halfway along. One day the bike’s front wheel caught in the drain, catapulting me over the handlebars. The bike stood on its end, the heavy papers pinning the basket to the ground.

Royal Oak Passage Huntingdon

Royal Oak Passage as it is now the central gutter and drain have both gone

Once through the passageway, my journey would continue up the High Street to the wholesaler’s delivering the papers to the office.

Premises in Ferrars Road Huntingdon.

P Cumberland DN The wholesalers were in the far right-hand corner of the outbuildings painted white. The house at the front belonged to the owner of the garage.

The Stop Press news would be received by telephone and transcribed in shorthand by the wholesaler’s secretary, the garage owner’s wife. The news was typed up onto a Roneo stencil, a narrow strip that looked like carbon paper perforated at one end. The stencil was loaded onto a drum at one end of the Stop Press machine, the papers placed onto a shelf at the other end then fed onto a conveyer by hand. The conveyer  passed papers under the rotating drum, which printed the news updates onto each paper in turn.

As soon as a dozen papers were printed. I would take them to a nearby factory – The Silent Channel – this company made rubber mouldings and also the guide channels for vehicle windows, cycling around the factory to sell as many as papers as possible before returning to the wholesalers to collect the rest of my papers. The other distributor at the wholesalers had driven off by then in his Austin A30, delivering papers to local newsagents.

Pashley trades bike

Pashley Trade’s Bike

The basket would be reloaded then I would head for the home of my assistant Stephen. His was the original round acquired from my predecessor. When he had his papers it was off again, next stop French’s offices and hostel. French’s were building London overspill estates, enlarging Huntingdon. After selling papers around their premises I delivered my own round, looking out for new prospective customers at the same time. A small John Bull printing set enabled me to produce advertising cards for evening paper delivery services, posted through the letter boxes of new arrivals, followed up with a call, which often gained new customers. The business was given to Stephen when I left school aged fifteen keeping a Sunday round on for a few years afterwards. I have a Sunday paper round now, have had for fifteen years or so, but in a different town. I am probably now the oldest paper boy in the Fens

Whittlesey Wordsmiths

Lattersey Nature Reserve Whittlesey the walkway in Autumn

The walkway at Lattersey Nature reserve the beauty of this scene constantly changes with the seasons

Whittlesey Wordsmiths are fortunate to have within their ranks, two published authors, winners of fiction writing prizes, a very able editor/ proof-reader  and a talented biographer.

Set up under the Whittlesey U3A umbrella this local group meets monthly at the Scaldgate Centre in Whittlesey. Meetings are held every first Thursday of the month from 11am, anyone is able to attend a free taster session but will need to join the U3A to become a member of the group, the fee is £3 per meeting to cover venue costs.

At recent meetings we have been fortunate to have had presentations by two local authors on the intricacies of publishing a book, both in print and online. The talks were informal, informative and very instructive. Thank you Stephen Oliver and Stuart Roberts. Like many commonplace objects that successfully manage their function, we ignore the container, giving it little or no regard but delight only in its contents. In the same way that we ignore the jar the jam arrives in, caring little for its design, construction and functionality, so it is with a book. We care little for the printing unless the quality is so bad it makes reading difficult, little for the binding (unlike Samuel Pepys) but only on the written words within.

Publication, its details, fonts, layout, sizes, printing, copyright and a myriad other things, though only covered briefly, were for most of us a completely new field.

A current project is to produce a collection of work by the Wordsmiths in time for Christmas, these talks were a help in focussing attention on the job ahead. The content is being assembled with ease from the increasing pool of talent, that is the group. The hard work will probably be assembling it into a finished product, not the filling but the container.

Moon River

For many years I have loved the song Moon River, vaguely aware that it was connected with the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I was browsing the DVDs at a local charity shop looking for Funeral in Berlin when I found a copy of Breakfast at Tiffanys. I bought it and watched it tonight for the first time. Those of us who grew up during the sixties, well me at least, always associate that time, that decade with hope and a feeling that things were improving, would continue to improve.

Breakfast at Tiffanys has that feeling about it. A journey leading the two main characters, played by Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, away from dependency on those who sought to buy their souls to a hopeful better future. A film like all good films for me, with a happy ending. Most of us if not all us want happy endings, not always for ourselves but more importantly for those we love and care for.  A journey with our own Moon River perhaps.

 

All time Lowe a review

All Time LoweAll Time Lowe. Written by Stuart Roberts

I had the privilege of reading the first novel by a locally based author and a request for my thoughts.
It is always difficult to invite criticism of your work, knowing that from personal experience. Whilst my work involved selling products I had designed and made, writing a book is equally as difficult. No one should underestimate the mental and emotional effort required together with dogged determination to turn an idea into a finished written work.
Stuart’s first book, a supernatural thriller, is a damn good read, in fact, it is a really very damn good read, I consumed it in less than a day finding it difficult to put down. Most of my reading is either detective fiction or espionage thrillers so was unsure whether something that wasn’t within those genres would work for me. The story centres around two men from different backgrounds thrown together by circumstances into, for them the alien environment of a mental health ward. The edgy story twists and turns before reaching a nail-biting conclusion.
I look forward to seeing more work from this very talented man and hope a second novel is underway.

I have had an email asking me to put a link in my post from someone who would like to get a copy, so for them and anyone else interested.

All time Lowe a review

 

And a link to his website

https://stuartrobertswrite.wixsite.com/mysite-1

 

 

More Sunsets

Probably the two most obvious features of the Fens leaving aside their flatness are the skies and water. Although everywhere has sky, like the seas and oceans the Fens have an abundance of sky. When as we so often are, blessed with a spectacular sunset, it is as if some one has painted an ever-changing vast canvass for us to view. These sunsets were photographed between August and October this year.

DSCN0888

Sunset over Whittlesey

DSCN0889

Orton Mere

Sunset Orton Mere3

Orton Mere

DSCN0897

Kings Dyke

 

The following shots were from North Bank all taken the same evening the hot air balloon was descending as it came into land intending to land in what light remained. The photos were taken over a distance of approximately one and a half miles and a time peiod of about fifteen minutes.

 

DSCN1193

 

DSCN1197

 

DSCN1201

 

DSCN1202

 

DSCN1205

 

DSCN1208

 

DSCN1213

 

Grumpy old fart!!!

"If you talk to God you're religious. If God talks to you, you're psychotic."

The Art of Blogging

For bloggers who aspire to inspire

The Darkest Tunnel

Find yourself in the Chaos

How I Killed Betty!

The Diary and blog on How to Tackle Depression and Anxiety!

The Nerdy Lion

Lions can wear glasses too

Seriousgardener's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Incomplete Verse

Here I share words and illustrations I discover on the journey within the crevices of my mind and the outside world. 💚

Dread Poets Sobriety

The Inane Ramblings of a Fractured Mind

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

Mistakes Writers Make ...

... and how to put them right! Advice and opportunities for non-fiction writers and aspiring journalists and authors

Writing Wrinkles

Smoothing out the wrinkles in this Wrinkly's writing

Alice Von Wonderland

I wander wherever my adventures take me

estherchiltonblog

Esther Chilton - Writer and Tutor

lactosefreelovelies

Lots of lovely lactose free products.