Hinchingbrooke

BY CHARLES EVANS

Hinchingbrooke House in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, was built around an 11th-century nunnery. 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.

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On 8 March 1538, Richard Williams (alias Cromwell) had the grant of the nunnery of Hinchinbrooke, in Huntingdonshire, for the undervalued price of £19. 9s. 2d. while he was an official Visitor overseeing the dissolution of the monasteries. His son, Henry Williams (alias Cromwell)—a grandfather of Oliver Cromwell—built the house adjoining to the nunnery, and upon the bow windows he put the arms of his family, with those of several others to whom he was allied.

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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.

In 1970, it became part of Hinchingbrooke School, 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. The school now has around 1900 pupils.

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