Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire


Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire

Infobox UK place
official_name= Kimbolton
country= England
region= East of England
os_grid_reference= TL102681
latitude= 52.3
longitude= -0.38
post_town=
postcode_area=
postcode_district=
dial_code=
shire_county= Cambridgeshire
population=
hide_services= Yes

Kimbolton is a large village in Cambridgeshire, England. It is approximately convert|7|mi|0 east of Higham Ferrers, convert|7|mi|0 west of St Neots and convert|24|mi|0 west of Cambridge, convert|14|mi|0 north of Bedford and convert|31|mi|0 south of Peterborough.

Although perhaps classified as a village by contemporary authorities , the settlement has a well-defined centre, and has the look, urban feel and to a degree the services of a rather small town. Indeed, historically-minded inhabitants claim that Kimbolton is a town by virtue of King John's charter and of continued observance of some of the terms of this charter. The centrepiece of the village is Kimbolton Castle which forms the main building of Kimbolton School (now an independent day and boarding school), but its predecessor on the same site was once home and prison to Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII. Katherine died at Kimbolton Castle in 1536 and was transported from there to Peterborough Cathedral to be buried.

Kimbolton, and the lands of its soke, comprised the only estate of King Harold in Huntingdonshire. It is believed that Harold had a hunting lodge nearby. Kimbolton and its church, St Andrew's, appear in the Domesday book, compiled in 1086.

The main road through Kimbolton (once part of the main A45 trunk road from Birmingham to Felixstowe but, after the opening of the A14, redesignated as the B645) bends through four tight right angles in quick succession. Originally, the road travelled directly through the outskirts of the village, nearer to the River Kym to the north. In 1200, a prominent local landowner, Geoffrey Fitzpiers, Earl of Essex and Chief Justice to King John, who constructed the first castle on the present site, received a Royal charter to hold a market and fair in Kimbolton. There is still a fair every September, known as the "Statute Fair" - referred to affectionately by locals as the "Statty". Continuation of this fair (despite the chaos which formerly ensued when this meant partial closure of a trunk road) and a plaque marking the site of the market cross are claimed by some as evidence that Kimbolton is a town and still has a right to hold a weekly market. The main road was diverted to its present course to take it through the market place and increase toll revenue. 800 years later, as a result of numerous vehicles striking walls and houses near the sharp bends, car transporters are not allowed in the village.

In World War II, the U.S.A.F. 379th Bombardment Group was stationed at the nearby Kimbolton Airfield from May 1943 to June 1945.

Kimbolton Fireworks, a well-known manufacturer of fireworks and organiser of public fireworks displays, is based in Kimbolton. It grew from the extracurricular activities of a Kimbolton school chaplain and chemistry master, Rev Ron Lancaster, sometimes dubbed the "master blaster pastor."

Legends

Kimbolton Castle has a ghostly legend. The wife of Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon died there, and to this day her ghost is said to haunt the gallery. Some say that this ghost walks upon the original floor levels which have been altered since her day, such that her ghost appears as legs and lower projecting from the ceiling on one floor with head an upper body gliding along the floor above. Another former inhabitant of the Castle, Sir John Popham, reputedly threw his baby child out of a castle window into the courtyard. It is said that the stone upon which the baby landed glows red annually on the anniversary of this event, whilst others says that this story is the invention of one of the Kimbolton School history staff. A third ghostly legend of similarly dubious provenance describes a female spectre periodically walking in a field north-east of the castle, on the gentle slope below Warren House (this is a late 18th century folly built on command of one of the castle's inhabitants to add interest to his horizon; it has a single decorative facade facing the castle behind which is only a plain gamekeeper's cottage; it is grade II listed and owned by the Landmark Trust but currently dilapidated).

External links

* [http://www.countryfayre.info/ The annual Country Fayre at Kimbolton (at the castle)]
* [http://www.kimbolton-online.co.uk/ Kimbolton Web site]
* [http://www.kimbolton.cambs.sch.uk/ Kimbolton School (the castle)]
* [http://www.standrew-kimbolton.org.uk/ The parish church]


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