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Huntingdonshire (/ˈhʌntɪŋdənʃər, -ʃɪər/; abbreviated Hunts) is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire, as well as a historic county of England. Its council is based in Huntingdon. Other towns in the district are St Ives, Godmanchester, St Neots and Ramsey. The population was 169,508 at the 2011 Census.[1] Henry II, on his accession in 1154, declared all of Huntingdonshire a royal forest (i.e., reserved for hunting), but its favourable arable soil, with loam, light clay and gravel, hence good drainage, meant it was largely farmland by the 18th century.

Coat of arms of Huntingdonshire
Coat of arms
Huntingdonshire shown within Cambridgeshire
Huntingdonshire shown within Cambridgeshire
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionEast of England
Non-metropolitan countyCambridgeshire
StatusNon-metropolitan district
Admin HQHuntingdon
Incorporated1 April 1974
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district council
 • BodyHuntingdonshire District Council
 • LeadershipLeader & Cabinet (Conservative)
 • MPsJonathan Djanogly
Shailesh Vara
 • Total352.3 sq mi (912.5 km2)
Area rank38th (of 317)
 (mid-2018 est.)
 • Total177,352
 • Rank108th (of 317)
 • Density500/sq mi (190/km2)
 • Ethnicity
94.6% White
1.8% S.Asian
1.3% Black
1.4% Mixed Race
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code12UE (ONS)
E07000011 (GSS)
OS grid referenceTL1900381334


The area corresponding to modern Huntingdonshire was first delimited in Anglo-Saxon times, and the modern boundaries have remained largely unchanged since the 10th century, though it lost its county status in 1974. On his accession in 1154 Henry II declared all of Huntingdonshire a forest.[2] In the late 1780s a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the condition of forests and to identify those surviving; it did not find Huntingdonshire among the few survivors.


Map of Huntingdonshire, 1824

In 1889, under the Local Government Act 1888 Huntingdonshire became an administrative county, with the new County Council taking over administrative functions from the Quarter Sessions. The area in the north of the county forming part of the municipal borough of Peterborough became instead part of the Soke of Peterborough, an administrative county in Northamptonshire.

In 1965, under a recommendation of the Local Government Commission for England, it was merged with the Soke of Peterborough to form Huntingdon and Peterborough. The Lieutenancy county was also merged. Also at this time St Neots expanded westward over the river into Eaton Ford and Eaton Socon in Bedfordshire.

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Huntingdon and Peterborough merged with Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely to form the new non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire. A Huntingdon district was created based closely on the former administrative county borders, with the exclusion of the Old Fletton urban district, which became part of the Peterborough district, as did the part of Norman Cross Rural District in Peterborough New Town.

The district was renamed Huntingdonshire on 1 October 1984, by resolution of the district council.[3]

Original historical documents relating to Huntingdonshire are held by Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies at the County Record Office in Huntingdon.

Revival of administrative countyEdit

The Local Government Commission considered in the 1990s the case for making a Huntingdonshire unitary authority as part of a general structural review of English local government, that led to unitary authorities in two other English counties that had been abolished: Rutland and Herefordshire.

The Draft Recommendations envisaged three possible scenarios for structural change in Cambridgeshire: the preferred option and the third option had a unitary Huntingdonshire, whilst the second option would have seen Huntingdonshire combine with Peterborough and Fenland to form a "Peterborough and Huntingdonshire" unitary authority. The Final Recommendations of the Commission for Cambridgeshire recommended no change in the status quo in Cambridgeshire.[4] The districts of Peterborough and Huntingdonshire were referred back to the commission for a reconsideration in 1995. The commission recommended the creation of a Peterborough unitary authority, but proposed that Huntingdonshire remain part of the shire county of Cambridgeshire, noting that "there was no exceptional county allegiance to Huntingdonshire, as had been perceived in Rutland and Herefordshire".[5]

David McKie writing in The Guardian noted that "Writers-in demanded an independent Huntingdon; but MORI's more broadly based poll showed that most Huntingdonians – that is, most of John Major's electors – were content to stay part of Cambridgeshire."[6]

Awareness promotionEdit

After the failure of Huntingdonshire to become a unitary authority, a Huntingdonshire Society was set up to promote awareness of Huntingdonshire as a historic county, and to campaign for its reinstatement as an administrative and ceremonial entity. In 2002 it established an annual "Huntingdonshire Day" on 25 April, the birthday of Oliver Cromwell.[7][8] As the result of a campaign by the Huntingdonshire Society, the county flag of Huntingdonshire, a gold and beribboned hunting horn on a green field, was registered by the Flag Institute in June 2009.[9]


Until 2018, elections to the district council were held in three out of every four years, with one third of the 52 seats on the council being elected at each election. Elections are now held for all seats every four years starting in 2018.[10] The Conservative party has had a majority on the council since 1976. Current (August 2019) political affiliations of councillors are as follows:[11]

Party Councillors
Conservative Party 30
HDC Independent Group 10
Liberal Democrats 7
Labour Party 4
Independent member 1


Huntingdonshire is the birthplace of bandy, now an IOC accepted sport.[12] According to documents from 1813, Bury Fen Bandy Club was undefeated for 100 years. A member of the club, Charles Tebbutt, wrote down the first official rules in 1882 and helped spread the popularity of the sport to many countries.[13] Huntingdonshire County Cricket Club is considered one of the 20 minor counties of English and Welsh cricket; even though it has never played within the Minor Counties Championship, it has its own individual Cricket Board and played in the English domestic one-day competition from 1999 to 2003.

Towns and villagesEdit

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Non Metropoliation District population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  2. ^ H. R. Loyn, Anglo-Saxon England and the Norman Conquest 2nd ed. 1991, pp. 378–82.
  3. ^ Name change. The Times. 27 April 1984
  4. ^ Local Government Commission for England. Final Recommendations for the Future Local Government of Cambridgeshire. October 1994.
  5. ^ Local Government Commission for England. Final Recommendations on the Future Local Government of: Basildon & Thurrock, Blackburn & Blackpool, Broxtowe, Gedling & Rushcliffe, Dartford & Gravesham, Gillingham & Rochester upon Medway, Exeter, Gloucester, Halton & Warrington, Huntingdonshire & Peterborough, Northampton, Norwich, Spelthorne and the Wrekin. December 1995.
  6. ^ Commentary:Hatred of Harlow and bad thoughts about Basildon : David McKie – 31 October 1994. The Guardian
  7. ^ And you're from where? The Times. 20 April 2002.
  8. ^ Cromwell's own county. The Daily Telegraph. 19 June 2004.
  9. ^ "UK Flag Registry - Huntingdonshire". The Flag Institute. 25 June 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Changing to Whole Council Elections – Explanatory Document" (PDF). Huntingdonshire District Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Your Councillors by Party". Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  12. ^ Archived 3 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^
  14. ^ Michael Mullett: "Curwen, Thomas (c. 1610–1680)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, UK: OUP, 2004) Retrieved 17 November 2015.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 52°25′N 0°15′W / 52.417°N 0.250°W / 52.417; -0.250