The History of  
Hinchingbrooke House  

the Hart of Hinchingbrooke



oliver cromwell

edward montagu


fourth earl

5th-7th earls

Eighth Earl

ninth earl






Mr P J Downes, Mr J D Wakelin, Mr G Rowntree, Mr N Armstrong in 1982

The Headmasters & The School

By 1970 Hinchingbrooke was being used as a school - and in this sense its new owners had become The Headmasters. By the 1990's it was being increasingly used as a training centre and for functions such as conferences and weddings. But the school has its own long history ...

The School

Hinchingbrooke School was founded, as Huntingdon Grammar School, in 1565. Among its pupils in its early history were Oliver Cromwell and Samuel Pepys.At the beginning of the 20th century the school began admitting girls as well as boys and by the 1960's was admitting about 90 pupils per year.

On the 1st of September 1939 it opened in a new building on Brampton Road - the same day that war broke out. In 1970 the school began to take children of all abilities and soon became fully comprehensive. At the same time the school changed its name, and pupils in Year 9 and above moved to new premises in Hinchingbrooke Park and the renovated Hinchingbrooke House.

This is the moment at which the histories of Huntingdon Grammar School and Hinchingbrooke House come together.

In 1992 the former Grammar School buildings were closed and the whole school was finally united on a single site in Hinchingbrooke Park.
Hinchingbrooke School is a fully comprehensive school with some 1900 pupils on roll, including more than 400 in the Sixth Form (Years 12-13).

The Times once called Hinchingbrooke School "The most beautiful comprehensive school in England" and a plaque commemorating this is on the wall of the House foyer.

Interior of the Grammar School after reconstruction in 1878

Displays from The Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon
Interior, as it might have appeared as a school.
Exterior, as it might have been in medieval times

Chronology of Headteachers:

Huntingdon Grammar School

1565 Sir Anthony Bartelmewe

1583 Rev Thomas Richardes STB

1599 Rev Tobias Bland STB

1604 Dr Thomas Beard STB

1625 Rev Henry Cooke MA ?

1641-1679 Thomas Taylor MA

1655 Rev Francis Bernard MA ?

1661 Rev Nicholas Pedley MA ?

1680 Rev John Matthews MA

1732 Rev Joseph Weedon LLB

1746 Rev Morley Unwin DD

1762 Rev John Smith MA

1785 Rev Edward Edwards MA

1823 Rev John Fell MA

1868 Rev R V French MA

1884 Rev Thomas Hodgson MA

1885 Roland Bell BA

1905 J H Howgate MA

1932 N Armstrong MA

1947 G C Rowntree MA

1965 J D Wakelin MA

from 1970 Hinchingbrooke School

1982 P J Downes MA, CBE

1995 Dr P J Sainsbury

2003 Mr K Nancekievill

2012 Mr Andrew Goulding

TElford Paintoing of the House

Hinchingbrooke by Melanie Telford 1981

Was Hinchingbrooke worth converting into a school? What would you say to Ian Currey and Mary Stuart if you could write to them now? Were any of the arguments against using the House as a school correct?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the school as a conference centre and letting it out while the school is still in operation? Ask a Year 12 or 13 student what they think about their place in The House.

The Foundation stone of the old grammar school is now on the grass outside the present Lower School. Draw it and write down what it says. Draw the carved Hart of Hinchingbrooke too. Why might a hart be a suitable symbol for a house near Huntingdon?

Find out significant events which happened while these Heads were in charge of Huntingdon school and draw them on a timeline

Look back at how Hinchingbrooke House started, what it was used for and how its use changed over the centuries. By the 21st century it had become not only a school but also a conference centre and banquetting facility. Draw a chart which shows the changes of use and the dates. Look here for more information on what the House is now used for.

Other Links

The House used as a school

The Cromwell Museum - original site of the school