Buckden, Cambridgeshire

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Great Tower and St.Mary's church - geograph.org.uk - 731862.jpg
Buckden Towers and St.Mary's church
Buckden is located in Cambridgeshire
Location within Cambridgeshire
Population2,805 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceTL193661
• London53 miles (85 km)
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSt Neots
Postcode districtPE19
Dialling code01480
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°17′N 0°15′W / 52.28°N 0.25°W / 52.28; -0.25Coordinates: 52°17′N 0°15′W / 52.28°N 0.25°W / 52.28; -0.25

Buckden is a village and civil parish 3.7 miles (6.0 km) north of St Neots and 4 miles (6.4 km) south-west of Huntingdon, England. It lies in Huntingdonshire, a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire and a historic county and also contains the hamlets of Stirtloe and Hardwick. Buckden lies close to three major transport routes of past and present. The River Great Ouse forms its eastern boundary; the Great North Road once passed through the centre of the village, although now there is a bypass just to the west; the East Coast Mainline runs along the eastern side of the Great Ouse valley in the neighbouring parish of The Offords.


In the centre of Buckden is Buckden Towers, formerly Buckden Palace, a residence of the bishops of Lincoln from the 12th century to the early 19th century. A number of kings of England have stayed at Buckden Palace and Catherine of Aragon was held there in 1533 before being moved to Kimbolton Castle in 1534.

Buckden prospered in the 18th and early 19th centuries from its location just over 50 miles (80 km) north of London on the Great North Road, which was a busy coaching road at the time. The development of the railways in the mid-19th century led to a decline in the population, but it more than doubled in the second half of the 20th century.



Recorded in the Domesday Book as Bugedene,[2] Buckden has also been referred to as Buggeden (12–13th centuries), Bokeden (13th–14th centuries), Bukeden (13th–14th centuries), and Bugden (15th–18th centuries),[3] with the present spelling taking over in the 18th century. The name originates from Old English; "Bucge" is a personal name and 'dene' an Old English word for valley.


Evidence of Roman settlement was found in 1963–1964 at a quarry site to the east of Buckden village. In 1981, signs of a Roman villa appeared close to the Towers; excavation in 2006 to the north-east of the village unveiled evidence of a Romano-British field system of the 1st–4th centuries AD.

Middle Ages[edit]

In 1961, excavations uncovered crucibles and crucible fragments that appear to have been used to manufacture white and yellow glass and to date from Anglo-Saxon times. The site of the find was 0.5 miles (0.80 km) to the north-east of Buckden village, in an area of the Great Ouse valley about to be mined for sand and gravel.[4]

"Bugedene" was listed in the Domesday Book in the Hundred of Toseland, Huntingdonshire.[5] In 1086 there was just one manor at Buckden; the annual rent of £20 paid to the lord of the manor in 1066 had fallen by then to £16.5.[6]

The Domesday Book records 58 households at Buckden,[6] suggesting a population of 200–300. It states there were 19 ploughlands there in 1086, with a capacity for a further one of ploughland.[6] In addition to the arable, there were 84 acres (34 hectares) of meadows, 3,784 acres (1,531 hectares) of woodland and a water mill.[6] The total manor tax assessment was 20 guilders.[6]

By 1086 the village already had a church and a priest. In 1086 the land in Buckden was owned by the Bishop of Lincoln[2] and the Bishop of Lincoln may already have had a house there. There was a certainly one when the bishop held court by the mid–12th century. In 1227 Henry III granted the Bishop the right to a deer park at Buckden; by the time of a survey in 1647 this covered 425 acres and contained some 200 deer. By the end of the 17th century the deer were gone and the land enclosed as fields. The deer park lay to the west of the parish.[7]

Buckden later had two manors. The larger was Buckden and the Members, whose lords were the bishops of Lincoln except for brief periods in the 14th, 16th and 17th centuries. The smaller manor, Buckden Brittains, was the home of the Briton (or Le Briton) family in the 13th century, but later changed hands many times.[8] By the early 19th century, about 1,200 acres (490 hectares) were owned by the manor of Buckden and the Members and about 225 acres (91 hectares) by the manor of Buckden Brittains.[7]

The English kings who stayed at Buckden Palace were Henry III in 1248, Edward I in 1291 and Richard III in 1483. Henry VIII sent Catherine of Aragon to reside in Buckden Palace after the annulment of their marriage (known as the King's Great Matter), from July 1533 to May 1534. He and his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, stayed there in 1541.[9] On Friday 18 June 1641, "hundreds of women and boys, armed with Daggers and Javelins, in a very tumultuous and riotous Manner" entered part of the land at Buckden that belonged to the Bishop of Lincoln and "turned in a great herd of cattle".[10]


Buckden's location on the Great North Road made it a popular coaching stop during the 18th century. There were four coaching inns in the village. The Lion dates back to the 15th century and was extended in the 18th century. The George Inn, which had its own courtyard and forge, was remodelled in the 18th century. The Vine dated back to the first half of the 17th century and was rebuilt in the 18th century, when it included stables and its own brewery. The Spread Eagle, originating in the 17th century, was altered in the 18th century; it had stabling and paddocks.[7] A schedule from 1839 shows there were six express coaches heading north daily, to Boston, Leeds, Lincoln and York and as many heading south to London.[7] The presence of elegant Georgian houses in Church Street and the High Street (the former Great North Road) reflects the prosperity brought to Buckden by its strategic position on the coaching route.

Victorian and modern[edit]

In 1854, just 15 years later, Buckden was described as "a quiet insignificant place compared to what it was in coaching times". The advent of the railways had quickly changed its fortunes. The population, which had steadily increased from 869 in 1801 to a peak of 1,291 in 1841, then steadily fell to 995 in 1911.[7]

The open fields in Buckden were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1813. In 1842 a girls' school was opened (a school for boys having existed for over a hundred years) and a new school building was built in 1871. A post mill was built in Buckden in 1830 and was worked until 1888, when an auxiliary steam engine was installed. The mill was demolished in 1893. The Domesday Book mentions a water mill on the Great Ouse; this was completely rebuilt about 1850 and converted to steam power in the 1890s.[7] The mill operated until the 1965, and from then until the 1980s was used for agricultural storage.[11] By 2015, it had been converted into housing. In the second half of the 20th century, the building of new housing estates led to a marked increase in Buckden's population.


Buckden as a civil parish had an elected parish council of 15 members in 2020.[12][13] The second tier of local government is Huntingdonshire District Council which is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire.[14]

Buckden is represented on Huntingdonshire District Council by one councillor for the Buckden ward. The Buckden district ward consists of the civil parishes of Buckden, Diddington and Southoe and Midloe. Buckden is represented on Cambridgeshire County Council by one councillor for the Buckden, Gransden and The Offords electoral division. It is in the parliamentary constituency of Huntingdon County and elects one Member of Parliament (MP) – since 2015 by Jonathan Djanogly (Conservative).

Buckden was in the historic and administrative county of Huntingdonshire until 1965. From 1965, it was part of a new administrative county of Huntingdon and Peterborough. In 1974, after the Local Government Act 1972, Buckden became a part of Cambridgeshire.



The village of Buckden is about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) to the west of the River Great Ouse. Between the Great Ouse and Buckden there are a number of disused, flooded gravel quarries. The village lies on sloping ground on the western edge of the Great Ouse valley. Just to the west is the A1 road, which follows the route of the Great North Road. It runs approximately north–south the parish. Access to the village from the A1 is via a roundabout at the southern edge of Buckden. The western half of the parish is gently sloping ground with low hills.

Stirtloe Lane, Stirtloe


The hamlet of Hardwick is now joined to the north-west of Buckden village, but on the western side of the A1. There is a pedestrian subway under the A1 to connect Hardwick with Buckden.


The hamlet of Stirtloe lies to the south of Buckden, separated from the village itself by 220 yards (200 m) of fields.


The village and parish lies on a bedrock of Oxford Clay Formation mudstone of blue-grey or olive-coloured clay formed some 156–165 million years ago in the Jurassic Period.[15] The central area of the parish has river terrace deposits of sand and gravel from the Quaternary period, formed up to 3 million years ago by rivers. On the eastern side of the parish there are superficial deposits of alluvium (clay, silt, sand and gravel) formed up to 2 million years ago in the Quaternary period. The land to the west of the parish is marked by Oadby Member Diamicton, again of the Quaternary period, with rocks formed under Ice Age conditions by glaciers scouring the land in the last 2 million years.[15]

On the western side of the parish, the soil is classified as a lime-rich loamy and clayey soil with impeded drainage. The central part of the parish, where the village lies, has freely draining, slightly acid loamy soil. On the eastern side of the parish, the soil is classified as freely draining and slightly acid, but a base-rich loamy soil.[16] The main agricultural land use in the parish is arable, but with grassland particularly in the Great Ouse valley.[16] The parish lies between 39 feet (12 m) and 180 feet (55 m) above ordnance datum and covers an area of 3,114 acres (1,260 hectares).


The southern boundary of the parish follows the line of Diddington Brook and the eastern boundary follows the River Great Ouse.


The climate in the United Kingdom is defined as a temperate oceanic climate, or Cfb on the Köppen climate classification system, a classification shared with most of north-west Europe.[17] Eastern areas of the United Kingdom, such as East Anglia, are drier, cooler and less windy, and experience greater daily and seasonal temperature variations. Protected from the cool onshore coastal breezes further to the east of the region, Cambridgeshire is warm in summer and cold and frosty in winter.

The nearest Met Office climate station to Buckden is at Monks Wood near Alconbury, 9 miles (14 km) north of Buckden. The average annual rainfall for the United Kingdom between 1981 and 2010 was 1,154 millimetres (45.4 in), but Cambridgeshire is one of the driest counties with about half that level. Regional weather forecasting and historical summaries are available from the UK Met Office.[18][19] Additional local weather stations report periodic figures to the internet such as Weather Underground, Inc.[20]

Climate data for Monks Wood, elevation 41m, (1981–2010 averages)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.2
Average low °C (°F) 1.1
Average rainfall mm (inches) 47.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 58.0 77.4 109.9 152.3 186.2 180.6 193.3 188.1 142.5 114.6 67.0 52.4 1,522.2
Source: Met Office Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire


The usually resident population of Buckden parish in the 2011 census was 2,805, of whom 48.1 per cent were male and 51.9 per cent female;[1] the population density was 576.6 per square mile (223 per km2). Of the 1,260 households, 28.0 per cent consisted of one person, 68.4 per cent of one family group, and 3.6 per cent of other household types. The census also showed that 27.7 per cent of households had one or more dependent children under the age of 18, and 30.6 per cent consisted of people who were all over the age of 65. The mean average number of people per household was 2.4.[21]

Of the usually resident population in 2011, 20.4 per cent were under the age of 18, 55.4 per cent between 18 and 65, and 24.2 per cent over the age of 65.[22] The mean average age of residents was 44.1 years and the median age 47 years.[23]

In 2011, 70.2 per cent of Buckden residents were between the ages of 16 and 74 and seen to be potentially economically active. Of the potentially economically active residents, 67.9 per cent were involved in part-time, full-time or self-employed work; 30.0 per cent were in fact economically inactive (including retired, carers, long-term sick and disabled) and 2.0 per cent were unemployed. The five major work sectors of the economically active residents appear in the table below:[24]

Industry Sector
Wholesale and Retail (including repair of motor vehicles) 13.1%
Human Health and Social Work 10.2%
Public Administration, Defence and Social Security 10.1%
Education 8.9%
Construction 8.8%

In 2009, when the median household income across Cambridgeshire was £32,500, that of Buckden was £36,900.[25]

The Office for National Statistics has allocated the village of Buckden to the Lower Layer Super Output Area (LSOA) called "Huntingdonshire 017C". Huntingdonshire 017C was ranked 23,371 out of 32,844 LSOAs in England against the index of multiple deprivation in 2015. This indicates that Buckden is among the 30 per cent least deprived neighbourhoods in England.[26] Much of the civil parish of Buckden (but excluding the village itself) is in the Lower Layer Super Output Area (LSOA) called "Huntingdonshire 017B", which in 2015, was ranked 29,569 out of 32,844 LSOAs in England against the index of multiple deprivation. This indicates that the rural part of Buckden parish is among the 10 per cent least deprived neighbourhoods in England.[26]

Buckden is ethnically homogenous. The 2011 census showed 93 per cent of residents in the parish of Buckden were born in the United Kingdom, with 3 per cent coming from other European Union countries and 4 per cent from the rest of the world.[27] At the same time, 98.3 per cent of people in Buckden described themselves as ethnic white, 0.8 per cent as having mixed or multiple ethnic groups, and 0.6 per cent as being Asian or British Asian, with the remainder in another ethnic group.[28] In the same census, 69.3 per cent described themselves as Christian, 23.2 per cent said they had no religious beliefs, 6.3 per cent did not specify a religion, and 1.1 per cent described themselves as belonging to another religion (i.e. Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh or other).[29]

Historical population[edit]

The population of the parish of Buckden that was recorded at the UK censuses between 1801 and 1901 ranged between 869 and 1,209. The population of Buckden almost doubled in the 1960s.

Buckden 995 998 1,037 1,057 1,158 2,010 2,535 2,515 2,805

Census: Buckden 1801–1971[30] Census Population: Buckden 1951, 1971, 1991[31] Census Population: Buckden 2001–2011[1][32]

The population of the district ward of Buckden, which includes the two parishes of Diddington and of Southloe and Midloe, was 3,293 according to the 2011 UK census.[33]

Culture and community[edit]

In 1871, there were 13 inns and public houses in Buckden,[7] but by 2015 only three remained: The George, The Vine and The Lion Hotel. The Spread Eagle, which closed in 2003, is now a private house. All four former coaching inns are Grade II listed buildings. Buckden has a few shops, including local supermarkets, a post office, a pharmacy and clothing shops. There are over 100 private businesses based in the village.

Buckden Marina, built in 1963,[34] is adjacent to the Great Ouse; originally it had berths for around 150 boats but now caters for 240. The marina covers an area of 22 acres (8.9 hectares). In 2001, Lafarge Aggregates and the Buckden Marina Company were jointly awarded the Cooper–Heyman Cup by the Quarry Products Association for restoring a 70 acres (28 hectares) quarry in Buckden as a water-recreation complex and wildlife area.[35]

The first issue of Buckden Roundabout, a community magazine, came out in September 1979. It has appeared monthly since. A charitable trust set up in 1958 manages the village hall and the adjacent recreation ground of some 12 acres (4.9 hectares), with four tennis courts, a children's play area, cricket and football pitches, and a bowls green. There is a cricket club, football club and bowls club (founded in 1929). The village hall was much extended in the early 21st century. It is now named the Buckden Millennium Village Hall. It includes a library.[36]


Buckden, which lies on the old Great North Road, was bypassed by the A1 in 1962. A roundabout connects the village with the bypass and B661 (Perry Road for nearby Grafham Water), and provides access to a filling station. Accessible through the village are The Offords via the B1043. Brampton is reached by a grade-separated junction just north of the village on the A1. A long-planned improvement scheme for the A14 may see it diverted north of the village to run parallel with the A1. Part of the scheme, the development of a new southern bypass for Huntingdon, would require the construction of a new section of road in an east–west direction between the village of Buckden and Brampton. It would also need a new bridge over the river Great Ouse.[37] Subject to final approval from the Secretary of State for Transport, it was to have been completed in 2020.[38]

Buckden lent its name to two railway stations, both outside the parish. Just to the north, a line from Kettering to Huntingdon was built in 1866 and a station called Buckden opened. Rail services were run between Kettering and Cambridge from 1882 until 1959, after which the line was dismantled.[39] Another railway station was built in the neighbouring village of Offord Cluny on the Great Northern Main Line called Offord and Buckden station. This opened in 1851, was much extended in 1898, but closed by 1959.[7] Today's nearest station is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) away at Huntingdon. Regular services run south to London and north to Peterborough and beyond.

On weekdays and Saturdays there is an hourly bus service between Huntingdon and St Neots that stops in Buckden.

The Ouse Valley Way is a 150 miles (240 km) footpath that follows the River Great Ouse from its source near Syresham in Northamptonshire to its mouth in The Wash near King's Lynn.


Buckden Towers (or Buckden Palace) was a former residence of the Bishop of Lincoln, whose diocese in the Middle Ages extended almost to London. A house was built by the mid-12th century, where the bishop of Lincoln held court, but this burnt down in 1291 and was re-built. Further re-building and extension took place in the 15th century, including the addition of the red brick tower[7] of the same design as one at Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire,[40] although the tower at Buckden has only four storeys. Buckden Palace also accommodated Catherine of Aragon for a short time before she was moved to Kimbolton Castle. The palace was neglected in the first half of the 17th century. A survey in 1647 listed the building and features, which included a Great Chamber, a chapel, a brick tower, and a gatehouse; all were enclosed by a moat. The grounds contained at least four fishponds and there were about 200 deer in the deer park.[7]

Huntingdonshire was transferred from the diocese of Lincoln to the diocese of Ely in 1837, along with Buckden Palace. Several parts were demolished in the 19th century, and many that remained were used by the local vicar and a school. In 1848, the palace was described as a "venerable structure".[41] It passed into private ownership in 1870 and was renamed Buckden Towers. The Victorian house currently on the site was built in 1872.

The Gatehouse at Buckden Towers

Between 1914 and 1919, Buckden Towers was used as a Red Cross hospital and in the Second World War as a home for evacuees from the London blitz. After the war, Buckden Towers was given to the Roman Catholic church and in 1956 to the Claretian missionaries, who carried out some restoration work and built a Catholic church for the village.[42]

The site of the original Palace is designated an ancient monument and the Victorian Buckden Towers as a Grade II listed building; the Inner Gatehouse, the Curtain Wall and the Towers of the earlier Buckden Palace are all Grade I listed buildings. In addition to these and the former coaching inns, there are over 60 other listed buildings in the parish, mainly located around Buckden Towers.[43] Much of the centre around Buckden Towers, along the High Street and Church Street, has been designated a Conservation Area by Huntingdonshire District Council.[40]

To the east of the village in the Great Ouse valley are a number of small lakes where gravel pits used to be. The enclosure map of 1813 shows the position of one gravel pit and another is shown on an Ordnance Survey map of 1926. Not until the 1960s did large-scale gravel and sand extraction take place, needed for two major local construction projects; the dual carriageway of the A1 road and the dam at Graham Water.[7] In 1986, the gravel pits covered 400 acres (160 hectares).[44] Buckden Marina was constructed in a small disused gravel pit close to the Great Ouse.


In 1661 a charity school was founded in Buckden for boys in the parish and that school still existed when in 1842 a National School for girls was founded in part of the Bishop's Palace. A new school building was opened in 1871 to house the girls' school. The boys' and girls' schools merged in 1941.[7] A new infant school opened in 1966; much of which was rebuilt after a fire in 1978. A primary school was built in 1972.[7] Buckden Church of England Primary School became an Academy in 2010 and operates independently of the local authority; 248 students were on the roll in 2014–2015.[45] The Ofsted report after an inspection in 2015 rated the overall effectiveness of the school as outstanding.[45] Buckden is in the secondary education catchment area of Hinchingbrooke School.

Religious sites[edit]

The Anglican church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, is a grade I listed building consisting of a chancel (with organ chamber and vestry), nave, west tower, north aisle, south aisle and porch. A church was listed in the Domesday book, but nothing from that date remains. The church contains some elements from the 13th century but it was greatly enlarged and re-built in the 15th. The large buttresses to the north were added in the 17th century. The church was restored in 1840, 1860 and 1884. The west tower has an embattled parapet and is topped by an octagonal spire that Lewis described as "a tower surmounted by an elegant spire".[41] There were five bells in the bell tower[8] until 1997, when the bell frame and old bells were renewed, and an extra bell installed. An extension known as the Living Stones Room, opened in 2011, includes a meeting room, kitchen and toilets. In 2006, Buckden and the Offords were joined in a single benefice.[46] It belongs to the deanery of St Neots within the diocese of Ely.

A small Methodist chapel was built about 1838 and a larger chapel built in 1876 remains in use today.[7] The Catholic church was built by the Claretians and dedicated to St Hugh of Lincoln in 1959; it is in the Diocese of East Anglia.[42] A non-conformist chapel existed between about 1840 and 1862. After renovation, it re-opened in 1905 as a joint Baptist and Congregational chapel;[8] it remained in use as a religious site until 1984, when it was converted first for commercial use and in 2006 as a private residence.[7]

Notable people[edit]

Public services[edit]

Crime reported in Buckden December 2014 to November 2015[51]

  Bicycle theft (1.7%)
  Burglary (12.8%)
  Criminal damage and arson (10.3%)
  Drugs (4.3%)
  Other theft (18.8%)
  Public order (1.7%)
  Shoplifting (1.7%)
  Vehicle crime (10.3%)
  Violence and sexual offences (10.3%)
  Other (1.6%)

Anglian Water supplies the village water and sewage services from their Huntingdon South Public Water Supply zone (FW41). The water quality was reported as excellent in 2015. In the same report, the hardness was reported as 301 mg/l of calcium carbonate which indicates that the water here is in the very hard range. The nearest reservoir, Grafham Water, is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of the village.

The Distribution Network Operator for electricity is UK Power Networks. There are three gas-fuelled power stations nearby; at Peterborough, Corby and at Little Barford near St Neots. The nearest, Little Barford Power Station, is 6 miles (9.7 km) from Buckden; it uses combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and is capable of generating 740 MW of electricity. There are two renewable-energy generation sites nearby. The landfill site at Station Farm on the Buckden Road uses landfill waste gas to generate a maximum of 1.9 MW of electricity. 3 miles (4.8 km) away at Cotton Farm near Graveley, onshore wind turbines generate a maximum of 20 MW of electricity.[52]

Huntingdonshire District Council is part of the Recycling in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (RECAP) Partnership, which was granted Beacon status for waste and recycling in 2006–2007.[53] In 2014–2015, the council was just short of its target of recycling or composting 55 per cent of all local household waste.

National Health Services (NHS) for the village are administered by NHS East of England. The nearest hospital is Hinchingbrooke, which is 4 miles (6.4 km) from Buckden and has a range of specialities, including Accident and Emergency. Further afield, there is Addenbrooke's Hospital, 16 miles (26 km) south-east and Papworth Hospital 4 miles (6.4 km) south-east of the village. The nearest doctor's surgery is in Buckden village.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority is responsible for providing fire and rescue services to a region that includes Buckden. Its headquarters are in Brampton; the nearest 24-hour fire station is at Huntingdon.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary provides law enforcement in the county. The nearest police station is at Huntingdon. In the 12 months from December 2014 to November 2015, 117 street crimes were reported within a 1-mile (1.6 km) radius of Church Street, Buckden – an average of just under 10 crimes per month. The most frequent crime was anti-social behaviour. A Neighbourhood Watch Scheme has operated since before 1998.[54]


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