The History of Fenstanton in Cambridgeshire

Historical notes about the town of Fenstanton in Cambridgehsire.

The Village of Fenstanton

Fenstanton is situated south of the river Great Ouse, 2 miles from the town of St Ives. It lies near the roman road known as Ermine Street, which ran from London to Lincoln, between the towns of Cambridge 9 miles away and Godmanchester 5 miles. Another roman road named by Victorian scholars as Via Derma runs through Fenstanton, it originally linked Colchester with Chester, forming a junction with Ermine Street in Godmanchester.

Roman coins found in the village suggest the site was in continuous use throughout the Roman occupation, some of these coins can be seen in the Norris Museum in St Ives, along with fragments of pottery found here. The remains of a building with hypocaust heating, limestone masonry and tiled roof where found just north of the parish boundary.

Seagrave Arms

The Armorial Bearings of the Seagrave Family, formerly Lords of the Manor of Fenstanton.

The Armorial Bearings of the Seagrave Family, formerly Lords of the Manor of Fenstanton.

 

The continued use of Via Derma after the Romans left was partly responsible for the continued habitation of Fenstanton, then as time progressed it was on the stage coach route from the North to London, a tradition carried on until recently by Whippet Coaches, once based in the parish, whose place has now been taken over by part of Stagecoach Group PLC.

It seems the original settlement was off the High Road, the church and early part of the village lying on slightly higher ground 0.25 mile from the road. From this grew the by-roads along which the rest of the village developed leading back to the Roman road.

In 1012 when Ethelred the Unready drew up the boundary of "Stanton", it encompassed both Fenstanton and Hilton, which were one manor, with only one priest for the whole area. The communities were at this time separated by 2 miles of swamp and forest. The two villages are still linked by custom, manor and church but divided by the A14 trunk road passing in between.

Victoria County History - Huntingdonshire Published 1932