All Saints’ ChurcH Hartford

All Saints’ Church Hartford

The Hollow

Hartford, Huntingdon. PE29 1XP


Revd Geoff Boucher


on 01480 461846

The Church by the River

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Village Hall

A wooden prefabricated Hall, purchased in London was built by public subscription some time after the arrival of Rev. Dr. Banks (1896 - 1903), opposite the vicarage gates. The first mention of the Parish Hall as a venue for vestry or Church meetings was in the Minute Book of May 1899. It was let regularly for meetings of the Women's Institute, Whist Drives, Dances and meetings of all kinds. The 1st Hunts (Hartford) Scout Troop, met at Parish Hall from February 1908 until 1939. It was requisitioned by the military during both World Wars and during the 2nd one, the furniture and equipment was stored in the loft of the Manor House.

In 1938 the Vicar J. G. F. Holmes expressed a wish to hand over responsibility for the Parish Hall to the PCC. A problem of whether it was built on Glebe or Parish land and the fact that it was not used mainly for ecclesiastical purposes caused protracted negotiations. A Deed was finally signed in 1948 with the Ely Diocesan Board of Finance, holding the hall in trust for the PCC. It was to be managed by a PCC sub-committee and 'Chapel people welcome to use it at the fixed hourly rate'.

Lettings continued to be good but maintenance and funding were a continual headache. A Fire Officer's report of 1961 stated that to obtain a theatrical licence the hall needed a fire door and more extinguishers.

In 1966 the committee started to investigate ways of funding £5000 to add a better kitchen and cloakroom facilities. This was finally resolved in 1971 with Ely agreeing to a 28-year, £1 per year lease and the formation of a Hall Trust. This allowed for a Community Council grant to fund the required improvements. At the end of that lease and again after protracted negotiations with Ely and the Freemen's Charity we will have a new Village Hall for the start of the next millenium.


The earliest settlement in this part of the Ouse was Hartford. The village is older than Huntingdon or Godmanchester.

Traces of Stone, Iron and Bronze Age settlements have been found. Names of these early villages are un-known, but the Saxons called it Hereforde, meaning 'army ford'.

Church and ford c1870 (courtesy of CRO Huntingdon)

In the Domesday Survey (1086), Hartford is given under the lands of the king and had been committed to the charge of Ranulf brother of Ilger, a minister of the crown. He had 4 ploughs and the 30 villagers and 3 smallholders had 8 ploughs.

Edward the Confessor had held it and its value had depreciated considerably since his time £24 before 1066, £15 in 1086. The manor was assessed at 15 hides and there were then a priest, two churches, two mills, and a considerable quantity of woodland. At the time of the Domesday Survey, Hartford included King's Ripton, which accounts for the return of the two churches and mills. The parish also included The Royal Forest of Sapley, which has now completely disappeared.

North of Sapley Park Farm are the remains of the earthworks of a small 'mound & bailey' castle of unknown origin, which appears to be of a 12th Century date and was probably an 'adulterin' or unlicensed castle. It consists of a mound about 9 ft. high, surrounded by a wet ditch of oval form and with remains of a small outer enclosure on the south.

Much of Huntingdonshire land was owned by the church in 1086, being held by the Abbeys of Thorney, Ramsey and Peterborough; the Bishop of Lincoln; the Priorys at St Neots & St Ives; the Cistercian Abbey at Sawtry and the Austin Canons at Stonely. There were six religious foundations in Huntingdon, the most important and earliest being the Priory of St Mary. This was a house of Augustine Canons established before the Norman Conquest near the pre-sent day All Saints and relocated near to the cemetery in Priory Road in the 12th century.

The village later known as Herford and Harford was granted to St. Mary's Priory, Huntingdon, by Henry I (1100 - 1135) at a fee farm rent of £12 by the year. This grant was confirmed by Pope Eugenius III in 1147 and again in 1253 and 1327. In 1276, the Prior of Huntingdon claimed view of frankpledge in his manor of Hartford and presentments were made as to obstructions in the river Ouse partially caused by the prior's valuable mills, whereby ships could not reach Huntingdon. The manor continued to belong to the Priory of St. Mary until the dissolution, 11th July 1538 when the prior and eight remaining canons were pensioned off.

Much of the village was originally along the banks of the river as that was the main form of transport. Goods were brought in and taken to other villages and towns up and down the Ouse. There was a road beside the river, traces of which can be seen in the garden of Hartford House. A road, known as Dixon's or Dixey's Lane, also ran from the Manor House to the river. The Grove was first known as Pig Hollow.

In 1275, a water wheel was constructed near where Anchor Cottage now stands. The latter was not built until Tudor times, when as with other dwellings built at that time, it was thatched. It is thought that it was a public house from the time it was built until the end of the 19th century, and was a regular calling place for barges plying their trade when sailing between Kings Lynn and Bedford. In one of its barns was a ring where Dick Turpin is said to have tied his horse. St. Giles Hospital was built in Hartford Meadows during the 13th Century. Little is known about it, and it fell into decay about a century after its foundation.

In the 17th Century, Hartford Manor lands were split up and sold to various people. Sir Henry Williams, alias Cromwell, had been granted the lands when the Priory, which had owned them for four centuries, was dissolved. Sir Henry's children sold them to Robert Taylor, and it was on his death that the Manor lands were divided in 1608. The new farms thus formed would have new houses for owners and workers. These would most likely be built in the village, but further away from the river.

There were fewer than 50 houses in the village in 1771. The King of the Belgians (formerly King of the Prussians) is still situated in the Main Street. In 1804, the Barley Mow was built from masonry from St. Benet's Church, Huntingdon, which was destroyed that year. For many years, biennial courts were held in the Barley Mow. The Manor House, a half-timbered house, was built probably by Robert Taylor, the original Lords of the Manor, the Priors, having no need of a dwelling in Hartford. The only other large house in the village is Hartford House Grove House), an elegant, red brick, 17th Century grounds go down to the river.

Since the Second World War, as can be seen by this table Hartford has grown considerably and has become closely linked with Huntingdon.

The Future

As can be seen from the details in this pamphlet the played a very important part in the life of Hartford 820 years and is still doing so today. We look forward to the next millennium with the same enthusiasm and faith as our predecessors must have done in 1180. The church building has continually been extended during this period as the needs of the congregation were met. The growth in the number of Hartford's inhabitants and the desire for more convenient basic facilities, on site, will continue this process, into the new millennium.