The History of  
Hinchingbrooke House  

the Hart of Hinchingbrooke



oliver cromwell

edward montagu


fourth earl

5th-7th earls

Eighth Earl

ninth earl





Hinchingbrooke - the script

This is a working script intended to give shape to the filming. Clips from the film will be inserted on the web pages. Actual filming started by following the script then going off in directions suggested by the participants.

[open to views of The House intercut with shots of the rest of the school]

Hinchingbrooke is a special place for us.
It’s a place where we work, we study and we meet people; where we make friends, play, mix, learn and spend seven very important years of our lives.

[pan over representatives of each year group]

Seven years of growing up, from child to adult, often described as the best days of our life.
But Hinchingbrooke has been around longer than that – longer than all of us ….
Here are some of the people who are part of the Hinchingbrooke story

[cut to line of 8 people representing the main characters. No need to have them all together, distant view of Hinchingbrooke or plain backcloth and pan left to right over-off each face. In turn:]

Hyncel (Anglo-Saxon who first lived here)
Alice Wylton (the last prioress of the Nunnery)
Oliver Cromwell (The Protector during the Civil War, whose great grandfather bought the house and whose uncle was knighted for his generosity to the king)
Edward Montagu (whose father, Sydney, was given the house by his brother who lived in Kimbolton. Edward himself was a colonel in Cromwell’s army, inherited the House in 1644, helped the restoration of Charles II to the throne and was made Viscount Hinchingbrooke and later Earl of Sandwich)
Samuel Pepys (famous diarist, made secretary to the navy under Edward Montagu, to whom he was related)
John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (who inherited the House in 1728, travelled widely throughout Europe, became First Lord of the Admiralty, patron of Captain James Cook, famous most of all for his association with the popular snack)
John Montagu, 9th Earl (representing all recent Montagu owners) a school pupil (representing the school today)


Hyncel, Alice Wylton, Oliver Cromwell, Edward Montagu, Samuel Pepys, John Montagu 4th Earl, John Montagu 9th Earl, a pupil of Hinchingbrooke in 2002

[fade to country park – river – Anglo-Saxon huts with smoking fire, mangy dogs and man and his wife clad in sacking. He does not speak coherently but throws a bone at the dog and pokes the fire while his wife spins some wool or cooks]

The story begins in the 6th century. Anglo-Saxons from what is now Denmark and north Germany are occupying East Anglia following the collapse of the Roman Empire.
One man, called Hyncel, sets up house on a piece of rising ground near Alconbury Brook and the spot becomes known as HYNCELING BROC - meaning “the stream of the tribe / family of Hyncel”

[FLASH animation of name change]
[cut to close-up of nunnery archway and carvings. Nuns walk heads bowed, past the arch]

An 11th century church is rebuilt around the year 1200 and becomes a priory called HYCHELINGBROK, which lasts until 1535 when AliceWylton, the last prioress, dies.

[cut to bones and coffins]

In 1538 Richard Williams alias Cromwell received a royal grant of the priory with its “church, steeple, churchyard and house and all lands.”
He started to converted the priory building and after his death in 1544 his eldest son Sir Henry continued the work.
The materials from the priory were re-used and supplemented by materials from Barnwell priory and …

[cut to gatehouse and Green Men]

… Ramsey Abbey to make the fine Elizabethan house of HYNCHINGBROKE surrounded by an open court where the nun’s cloisters had been.

[FLASH Overlap nunnery and House plans?]
[cut to elevations of the House]

Sir Henry Cromwell was known in his day as the Golden Knight, so generous that he threw money out of his coach to the people who collected to see him pass.
He was also generous with his entertainment and on several famous occasions hosted King James I who created him Knight of the Bath on his Coronation Day, 24 July 1603.
Sir Henry died a few months later on 6 January 1604 and was buried in All Saints' Church, Huntingdon.
His eldest son Sir Oliver Cromwell inherited the House and it is Sir Oliver’s nephew who became Lord Protector in the Civil War.

[gossiping character with local accent says …]

They say that one day when young Oliver – that’s Sir Oliver’s nephew – was brought to Hinchingbrooke in his crib, a pet monkey picked him up and carried him on to the roof of the House! [cries of “he never did … oh no! … etc]
.. and another time young Oliver was playing with Charles - him who was to become King Charles I - in the garden at Hinchingbrooke when they started to fight and young Oliver gave Charles a bloody nose! [cries of “he never did etc] Well, I couldn’t say it was true cos I wasn’t there, but that’s what I heard …
Sir Oliver carried on the entertaining of King James until he ran out of money

[Background voice:]

“Master Cromwell presented his Majesty with many rich and acceptable gifts: as a very great and a fair wrought standing cup of gold, goodly horses, fleet and deep-mouthed hounds. And at the remove gave £50 amongst His Majesties Officers.”
Sir Oliver was eventually forced to retire to Ramsey where he lived until he was 93, the oldest gentleman Knight in England, when he fell into a fire and died.
Hinchingbrooke was sold to Sir Sidney Montagu on 20 June 1627 but it was his son, Edward Montagu who had more effect on Hinchingbrooke House.

[cut to Edward Montagu]

Edward Montagu, fought on the Parliamentarian side during the first Civil War. Charles I slept at Hinchingbrooke in 1647 as a prisoner on his way from Holmby to Newmarket.

[cut to Civil War soldiers]

Despite fighting against the Royalists as a Colonel in Cromwell’s army in the first Civil War…

[cut to still of Charles II]

Edward Montagu helped the restoration of Charles II to the throne – even collecting Charles from France when he made his return to England and on 12 July 1660, was given the title Baron Montagu of St. Neots, Viscount Hinchinbrooke and Earl of Sandwich.
Having built Hinchingbrooke into a splendid country house he died at sea commanding a squadron of ships against the Dutch at Sole Bay near Southwold in 1672.

[cut to library window pic]

A picture of his ship in battle remains in the stained glass of the library window.

[cut to still of Pepys]

Samuel Pepys spent part of his childhood in his uncle’s house close to Hinchingbrooke …

[cut to Pepys House]

… and attended the local grammar school, now the Cromwell Museum, before moving to London.
His connections with Edward Montagu lead to him becoming his secretary and later Secretary to the Navy. He kept in touch with the Montagus, especially Lady Jemima, and Pepys and his wife Elizabeth visited Hinchingbrooke often.

[cut to Pepys at a desk in the Library – several shots as he reads and writes]

Pepys is most famous for his Diary, written during the 1660s and including references to the Great Fire of London, The Plague, the return of the King following the Civil War, and the renovations to Hinchingbrooke.
“July 14th 1661 – To Hinchingbrooke which is now all dirt because of my Lord’s building which will make it all very magnificent”
“September 21st 1661 – to Hinchingbrooke where Mr Barnwell showed me the condition of the House, which is yet very backward, and I fear it will be very dark in the cloister where it is done”
“September 16th 1663 - Thence to Hinchingbrooke I find my Lady and the young ladies, and then alone with my Lady for two hours, and she carrying me through every part of the house and gardens which are and will be mighty noble indeed.”

[cut to 4th Earl studying in the library and walking in the grounds]

John Montagu, 4th Earl was known as the Insatiable Earl – and he certainly lived an active life.
He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, explored France, Italy, Greece and Turkey

[cut to still of portrait in Turkish garb]

and not only studied the Turkish language but had his portrait taken in Turkish costume.
Later he became First Lord of the Admiralty and was patron to Captain James Cook who explored New Zealand, Australia and Polynesia.

[cut to map of Antipodes showing place names]

Place names such as Hinchingbrooke Island and Brampton Island off Queensland, Montague Island in the South Sandwich Islands are evidence of Cook’s thanks to the 4th Earl. In 1774 the Earl entertained a Polynesian named Omai at Hinchingbrooke, where Omai made a barbecue from heated stones in the grounds and cooked mutton for the family.

[cut to string quartet in library, featuring gothic windows at east end]

The Earl’s wife was declared insane in 1755 and he took as a mistress 17-year old Martha Ray who lived with him at Hinchingbrooke as husband and wife for seventeen years, while they had five children. The Earl was a leading light in reviving early music, particularly the work of Handel for which he arranged a hugely successful centenary celebration.
Martha Ray was a talented singer and Hinchingbrooke became famous for its musical gatherings in the middle of the 18th century. The Earl added the Gothic windows to the library and the Montagu room at this time.
One writer said at this time:
“Few houses were more pleasant and instructive than his Lordship’s. It was filled with rank, beauty and talent and everyone was at his ease.”
Unfortunately in 1779 Martha was murdered by the jealous and unbalanced Captain Hackman who shot her in the foyer of the Opera House at Covent Garden – a violent crime for which he was tried and executed.
John Montagu fourth Earl of Sandwich is probably best remembered now for the bread and beef convenience food which took his name. It is more likely that he ate this as part of his working day at the admiralty than, as some have suggested, because he spent so long gambling. The original sandwich was in fact a piece of beef between two slices of toasted bread.
A fire in 1830 destroyed the Great Bow Room and the whole north-east corner of the house. The House was used by soldiers during the second World War and was eventually sold to the county council in 1970 to be converted into the Hinchingbrooke School we know today,

[cut to modern school with pupils]

with the Lower School moving from its site on the other side of Brampton Road in 199x.
At its best a Times reporter memorably described Hinchingbrooke as “the most beautiful comprehensive school in England.”
John Montagu is the current Earl of Sandwich and is one of the hereditary peers still working in the reformed House of Lords.
Hinchingbrooke School remains a beautiful, successful and over-subscribed comprehensive school with a wide range of subjects and opportunities offered to its students.

[cut to happy pupils waving and fade out to credits]

DSG 2001-2




Other Links

How We Did It