Huntingdonshire is a county still. 1974 might have seen Huntingdonshire joined to Cambridgeshire for local government purposes but the ancient county continued. The Act abolished only the “administrative counties” created in 1888. It carefully left the ancient, geographical counties alone.
However the preservation of the ancient counties is so often forgotten that Huntingdonshire needs someone to stand up for it. Otherwise we will see the triumph the common idea that our county has gone after more than a thousand proud years. That danger makes it important that we continue to celebrate our county. That is what The Huntingdonshire Society is here to do.
Huntingdonshire is our identity. It should not be taken away. That is reason enough for upholding the honour of the county. Hunts has many blessings: the course of the Great Ouse as it passes through the county is the prettiest stretch of river in the land. The grace of the towns along its banks – St Neots, Huntingdon, St Ives – are barely to be equalled. The villages likewise have a charm all their own which you will not find elsewhere. For the good folk of Huntingdonshire now to be told that all these things cannot now be called things of their county but must be attributed to neighbouring Cambridgeshire instead is a terrible thing. And all for a mere civil servant’s convenience.
On top of that there are other practical considerations. Huntingdonshire is often the forgotten land. It is overshadowed by Cambridge and by Peterborough. If Huntingdonshire is to attract the sort of economic investment it requires it needs an identity. It needs to be recognised beyond its boundaries.
Within its boundaries too there is loss of identity as the years go by and people move to the county often without knowledge that they are coming to Huntingdonshire. Increasing awareness of the shire in every way we can is the focus of The Huntingdonshire Society’s first efforts.
On top of the celebrations of county identity and the campaign to ensure its recognition The Huntingdonshire Society will also be conducting a political campaign to gain for Huntingdonshire unitary local government status, with its own county council. Huntingdonshire was on the brink of winning unitary status a few years ago but lost at the last minute. We are confident that one day we can achieve our aim.
What is Wrong with Cambridgeshire?
Cambridgeshire is a wonderful place. It has fine towns, fine open places and beauties all of its own. Cambridge in particular is a glorious city. Ely too stands out among the best of British town. Several members of The Huntingdonshire Society’s Committee have been born there or have lived there and have a deep love of Cambridgeshire. However Huntingdonshire is not in Cambridgeshire. It has its own identity, and its own beauties. It has developed throughout the centuries separately, with its own name and its own outlook. Those things are precious to any county and must not be snatched away in a moment.
The Huntingdonshire Society can never be against Cambridgeshire: who could be? We simply assert Huntingdonshire’s equal right to respect and identity. If anything, that is standing up for Cambridgeshire, by demanding that its great name be reserved for that county itself and not for the plastic administrative county assigned its name in the 1970’s.
How Huntingdonshire Got Here
Huntingdonshire is a county with a long history. The shire was probably founded around 920 AD by King Edward the Elder, son of Alfred the Great. About that year King Edward freed Huntingdon and the country around it from the Danes. Certainly references to Huntingdonshire by name begin to appear shortly after then.
Now however we are often taught that after more than a thousand proud years the county was abolished on All Fool’s Day 1974. It was not. 1974 saw the abolition only of “administrative counties” created in 1888 for local government. The ancient, geographical counties were left alone, Huntingdonshire among them. In the new system Hunts was to be governed under a bloated new “Cambridgeshire” as it still is. The expectation was that the new local government counties were for local government only. More than a few good folk were put out when the Royal Mail and the Ordnance Survey had other ideas.
The Huntingdonshire Society has adopted a traditional badge, which you will see at the top of this page. On an outline of the county itself is a golden hunting horn. The hunting horn badge is seen in a number of places. Most of all it is on the flag which appears in the crest of the District Council’s arms (which are also the old Huntingdonshire County Council arms). That flag has been adopted as Huntingdonshire’s County Flag. The Huntingdonshire Flag can be flown throughout the county, from the Nene in the north to the toe of Tettenhall.
On the grand scale The Huntingdonshire Society aims to resist the new geography imposed after 1974. We are working with the Association of British Counties, of which The Huntingdonshire Society is a part. We are delighted that the Royal Mail now includes the traditional counties as part of its official gazetteer database, all thanks to the Association’s efforts. All credit to the Royal Mail for that.
We have yet to persuade the Ordnance Survey
At the basic level, it is important that all Huntingdonshire people begin to use the name Huntingdonshire in their address and not Cambridgeshire. This causes no problem with deliveries. (See also the page for our “Are You Properly Addressed” campaign.)
Secondly, lobby your local district and “county” councillors. Let them know how you feel about your county’s identity and ask them to do whatever they can to uphold Huntingdonshire’s county status. If they reply on notepaper with “Cambridgeshire” in the address then berate them for that!