Signpost in Bluntisham
Bluntisham shown within Cambridgeshire
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
The prime meridian passes through the western edge of Bluntisham.
The village was known as Bluntersham between the 10th and 13th centuries, Blondesham in the 14th century, and Bluntysham, Bluntsome and Blunsham in the 16th century. Due to the close proximity of Bluntisham and Earith, the two formed the parish of Bluntisham-cum-Earith, with the parish church in Bluntisham and a chapelry in Earith. However, the civil parish of Bluntisham-cum-Earith was dissolved in 1948 when the two were separated.
There is evidence to suggest that Neolithic and Roman inhabitants once settled in Bluntisham. The manor of Bluntisham goes back to the early part of the 10th century, when it was seized by Toli the Dane, who is said to have been the jarl or alderman of Huntingdon. Toli was killed at the Battle of Tempsford in 917, at which point the county returned to the rule of Edward the Elder. Bluntisham later became the property of Wulfnoth Cild who sold it circa 970–75 to Bishop Æthelwold of Winchester and Brithnoth, the first Abbot of Ely, for the endowment of Ely Abbey. The sale was confirmed by King Edgar, but when he died in 975 a claim was made by the sons of Bogo de Hemingford, who believed that it was the inheritance of their uncle. Their claim was declared false at the county court, and the sale to Ely Abbey went ahead. Bluntisham remained under ownership of the Bishop of Ely until the dissolution of the monasteries, when it was granted to the dean and chapter of Ely. Valentine Walton was appointed governor of Ely in 1649 for his services to Oliver Cromwell's Parliament. Upon the Restoration, it was restored to the dean and chapter. In 1869, it was taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who remain lords of the manor.
The village was built up around four fields. The north-western part of the parish contains Higham Field, with Gull Field (named for the gills which slope towards the Great Ouse) to the south-west. Colneway Field lay to the north-east of Higham Field, with Old Mill (or "Inhams") Field located between Colneway and Bury Fen, stretching to Earith. A large wood known as "Bluntisham Hangar" once existed south of Highams Field, and is probably that mentioned in the Domesday Book. In 1341 the wood was recorded as the boundary of the Bishop of Ely's right of hunting. Bluntisham's woodland declined from 68 acres (280,000 m2) in 1843 to 10 acres (40,000 m2) by 1925.
The Old Rectory, now known as Bluntisham House, was built circa 1720, with wings added in the 18th century and further alterations in the 19th century. The doorway was taken from the Old Slepe Hall in St. Ives, the former home of Oliver Cromwell. The building, once home to Dorothy L. Sayers, has a Grade II* listing.
The parish was once home to the most successful Bandy club in British history, the Bury Fen Bandy club. From this famous club came Charles Goodman Tebbutt, who was responsible for the first published rules of Bandy in 1882. Bury Fen is still popular for ice skating when it floods and freezes over in colder winters.
The author and agricultural reformist H. Rider Haggard visited the village in 1901, while travelling through Huntingdonshire. He commented on the "very excellent dwellings", built for local agricultural workers.
Local buses are provided by local company Go Whippet (route 21 to St Ives) and Stagecoach (route A, peak times to Cambridge).
The oldest church in Bluntisham is St. Mary's Church on Rectory Road. It is likely to be the church mentioned in the Domesday record for Bluntisham, however the original building no longer exists. The chapel was built in the 1330s, and the west tower from 1370–1380. Part of the church was rebuilt in 1450, and restoration work was carried out from 1850-1913. The church has eight bells, three of which date from the 1500s. The church can list its rectors back to 1217, and counts among them Henry Sayers, father of Dorothy L. Sayers. St. Mary's is a Grade I listed building with an organ and regular bell ringing sessions.
There is also a Baptist Church on the High Street, which has existed in Bluntisham in some form since the 18th century. John Wheatley, a local carpenter, was a member of the Church and built the Meeting House and School buildings in the 19th century. In the School he placed a number of hand-carved wooden heads, thought to be likenesses of himself and his friends. He was also a teacher at the Sunday School.
The area is low-lying and very flat. The gravel soil is used to grow fruit trees, barley and oats, while wheat is grown in the loam and clay soil. The village was once home to many orchards, and fruit farming was very profitable. Some residents still sell fruit on roadside stalls, but oilseed rape is the more popular crop nowadays. Traditionally water was derived from gravel springs, but later wells were fed by surface water. A hand water pump, now defunct, still stands on the high street. Somersham Road yielded a chalybeate spring, where more than one attempt was made in the 18th century to establish a spa. The "healing" properties of its waters were recommended by John Addenbrooke, founder of Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, among others.
- Crime writer Dorothy L. Sayers lived in the village from 1897, when her father became the rector, to 1917. Her novel The Nine Tailors was inspired by her father's restoration of the Bluntisham church bells in 1910.
- Sir Jervoise Athelstane Baines, an administrator in the Indian Civil Service who headed the 1891 Census of India, was born on 17 October 1847 in the village.
- John Wheatley, a carpenter and astronomer, was born in Earith in 1812 and moved to Bluntisham in 1827. He sent a carved wooden model of a farmstead to The Great Exhibition in 1851 and was awarded a silver medal. A residential street in Bluntisham, Wheatley Crescent, is named after him.
- Jazz musician Chris Barber currently resides in Bluntisham.
- British artist Annemarie Wright moved to Bluntisham when she was eight years old. Wright now resides in Birmingham.
- Muse lead singer and guitarist Matthew Bellamy lived in the village for a short period in his childhood before moving to Teignmouth.
- "Parishes - Bluntisham cum Earith". British History Online. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- "Bluntisham Domesday Book". Open Domesday. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- "Bluntisham House, Bluntisham". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Going for Gold: 4 Ice skating". Cambridgeshire Archives. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Bluntisham". Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Rider Haggard in Bluntisham". Cambridgeshire County Council. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- "Local Items of Interest". Bluntisham.info. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "St Mary, Bluntisham". A Church Near You. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Our History - Church History". Bluntisham Baptist Church. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Our History - John Wheatley". Bluntisham Baptist Church. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "St Mary, Bluntisham-cum-Earith". Meridian Benefice. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Dorothy L Sayers and the Fens, Cambridgeshire". Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Obituary: Sir Athelstane Baines". The Times (London). 27 November 1925.
- "Tributes flood in for the 'Sultan of Skiffle'". Cambridge News. 6 November 2002. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
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