Great Gransden

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Great Gransden
Great Gransden Windmill - - 266418.jpg
Great Gransden Postmill
St Bartholomew's Church, Great Gransden.jpg
St Bartholomew's Church, Great Gransden
Great Gransden is located in Cambridgeshire
Great Gransden
Great Gransden
Location within Cambridgeshire
Population1,023 (2011 Census)
OS grid referenceTL276556
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSANDY
Postcode districtSG19
Dialling code01767
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°11′02″N 0°08′35″W / 52.184°N 0.143°W / 52.184; -0.143Coordinates: 52°11′02″N 0°08′35″W / 52.184°N 0.143°W / 52.184; -0.143

Great Gransden is a civil parish and village in the Huntingdonshire district of Cambridgeshire, England. In 2001, the parish population was 969, which rose to 1,023 at the 2011 Census.[1] It lies 16 miles (25 km) west of Cambridge and 13 miles (21 km) south of Huntingdon. It contains the oldest post mill in England.


The village name translates as "valley of a man named Granta or Grante". It was spelled Grantandene in 973 and Grante(s)dene in the 1086 Domesday book.[2][3] Great Gransden was mentioned in 973 when its land was endowed to Thorney Abbey by Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester. It already consisted of 33 households in 1086, with an annual rent of £30 being paid to the lord of the manor.[4]

Great Gransden's older centre consists of cottages grouped round a 16th-century church, dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, whose tower dates from about 1390.[5] The connection between the village and Clare College, Cambridge appears to date from 1346, when the advowson for Great Gransden church parish formed part of the college's original endowment.[6][7]

School and founder[edit]

Barnabas Oley, Vicar from 1633, was a Fellow of Clare College who edited the works of the poet and orator George Herbert. Oley was one of the university's most active Royalists in the English Civil War. He was deprived of his fellowship and lodgings in 1644, but recovered them in 1660. From 1664 he lived mainly at Great Gransden and left many benefactions.[8]

The village school Oley founded in 1670, now a Church of England primary school in Little Lane, still bears his name.[9] His life is remembered each year on the school's Founder's Day, held in the parish church; leavers receive an "Oley Bible" from a Fellow of Clare College.[10]

Notable people[edit]

In order of birth:

  • Anne Dutton (1692–1765), religious tractarian and poet, and her clothier husband Benjamin, a Baptist minister, moved to the village and paid for a chapel to be built there.
  • James Plumptre (1771–1832), dramatist, served as Vicar of Great Gransden church from 1812 until his death.
  • Arthur Tozer Russell (1806–1874) hymn-writer, served as a curate of Great Gransden church in 1829–1830.


As a civil parish, Great Gransden has a parish council elected by the residents. The parish council has nine councillors and normally meets on the first Monday of the month in the Reading Room in Great Gransden.[11][12]

Great Gransden was in the historic and administrative county of Huntingdonshire until 1965. From 1965, it was part of the new administrative county of Huntingdon and Peterborough, until the Local Government Act 1972 placed it in the county of Cambridgeshire in 1972.

The second tier of local government is Huntingdonshire District Council which is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire and has its headquarters in Huntingdon. Its 52 councillors represent 29 district wards.[13][14] Great Gransden belongs to the district ward of Gransden and The Offords, which has two councillors on the district council.[15][13] The village's highest tier of local government is Cambridgeshire County Council, based in Cambridge,[16] It consists of 69 councillors representing 60 electoral divisions.[17] where as part of the electoral division of Buckden, Gransden and The Offords,[15] it is represented by one county councillor.[17]

Great Gransden is in the parliamentary constituency of Huntingdon,.[15] It has been represented in the House of Commons by Jonathan Djanogly (Conservative) since 2001. The previous member was Prime Minister John Major (Conservative), from 1983 to 2001.


Great Gransden parish is 11 miles (18 km) west of the county town of Cambridge, 10 miles (16 km) south-east of Huntingdon and 47 miles (76 km) north of London. It covers an area of 3,402 acres (1,377 ha).[8] The village stands on the B1046 road between Abbotsley, to the west, and Longstowe, to the east. Minor roads run south-west to Waresley and north-east to Caxton.

The parish ranges from 33 metres (108 ft), near its border with Abbotsley parish, to 75 metres (246 ft) above sea level on the disused airfield.[18] The subsoil is Ampthill Clay with Lower Greensand. Streams in the parish include Waresley Dean, College Dean, Vicars Dean, Mandean and Gransden Brook; Home Dole Brook marks the border with Little Gransden parish and South Cambridgeshire.[8]


Between 1801 and 1901 the population of Great Gransden according to the ten-yearly censuses ranged between 412 (1801) and 713 (1871).[19]

Great Gransden 470 458 395 396 476 520 666 814 1019 1023

All population census figures from report Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011 by Cambridgeshire Insight.[19]

In 2011, the parish covered an area of 3,395 acres (1,374 hectares),[19] giving it a population density in 2011 of 192.8 persons per square mile (74.5 per square km).

At the time of the 2001 census, Great Gransden parish had 363 households. 98.8 per cent of people described themselves as White, 0.3 per cent as Asian or Asian British, and 0.9 per cent as mixed; 77.6 per cent were Christians, 1.2 per cent followed another religion and 21.1 were not religious.[20]


Great Gransden boasts the oldest post mill in England,[21][22] constructed around 1612 – though the claim is disputed by nearby Bourn. It has two storeys, with a flour-dressing machine, inscribed 1774 on the second floor. The mill ceased to operate about 1890. It was presented to the county council in 1950[23] and classified as an ancient monument in 1957. A restoration project was completed in 1984,[24] and a more thorough restoration began in 2015.[25][26] The mill still possesses its machinery. Newly constructed sails are due to be installed by 2022. It can be viewed inside by appointment.[27] A local legend claims a book of black magic entitled An Infidel's Bible was hidden in the mill in 1867, causing it to stop working. When the book was removed, the mill began to work again.[28]

There are 53 other listed buildings in Great Gransden parish, including houses, barns and remains of a churchyard cross.[29] The brick vicarage, north-west of the church, was built by Barnabas Oley, probably between 1660 and 1685.[8]

A lychgate built in the churchyard in 1920 commemorates Great Gransden men who died in World War I.[30]

Church of St Bartholomew[edit]

The Grade I listed[31] parish church dedicated to Saint Bartholomew the Apostle consists of a chancel with a 19th-century organ chamber, a vestry on the north side, nave, north aisle, south aisle, west tower and north and south porches. It was listed in the Domesday Book, but no remains of that time survive. The tower was built in the late 14th century, but the whole church rebuilt in the 15th. The organ chamber and vestry were added and the north porch rebuilt in 1873.[8] A pulpit dating from 1600 and a rare clock, whose chime mechanism is said to date from 1683, are notable artefacts inside.[6][32]

Baptist chapel[edit]

The Providence Baptist Chapel in Sand Road is a Grade II listed building that dates from soon after 1734, when the tractarian Anne Dutton (see Notable people) and her husband moved here.[33][34]


Great Gransden has a pub in West Street, the thatched Crown and Cushion, which also serves food.[35] The village has a small general store with a sub-post office in Fox Street,[36] and an antique shop in Hitchin Road.[37] It also has a lawn tennis club, a bowls club, and a football team called the Gransden Chequers.[38]

The first gardening allotments became available in 2008 through the Gransden Allotment Society. An orchard and "Greenfingers" micro-plots for children were added in 2009–2010, followed by a wildlife pond and a wildlife meadow in 2011. Tree-planting continues.[39]

Gransden and District Agricultural Society Annual Show has been held every year since 1891, except during the Second World War and the COVID-19 pandemic. It takes place on the last Saturday of September.[40]


Great Gransden has occasional buses to and from St Neots and Cambridge. The nearest railway station is St Neots (7 miles, 11 km), which has regular services to Huntingdon and Biggleswade and peak-hour services to London King's Cross.

The village is 3 miles (5 km) from the main A428 road to Cambridge at Eltisley and 11 miles (18 km) from the A1 trunk road between London and the North at Wyboston.


  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  2. ^ A. D. Mills (1998), A Dictionary of English Place-names, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press), p. 159. ISBN 0-19-280074-4
  3. ^ Ann Williams; G.H. Martin, eds. (1992). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. London: Penguin Books. p. 1350. ISBN 0-141-00523-8.
  4. ^ J. J. N. Palmer. "Open Domesday: Place – Great Gransden". Anna Powell-Smith. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Huntingdonshire District Council: Great Gransden". Archived from the original on 30 September 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Parishes: Great Gransden – British History Online". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  7. ^ "The colleges and halls: Clare College – British History Online". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e GENUKI. "Genuki: Great Gransden, Huntingdonshire". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Barnabas Oley CofE Primary School – Home". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  10. ^ Barnabas Oley Church of England Primary School: Rev. Barnabas Oley Archived 5 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Great Gransden Parish Council: Councillors". Great Gransden Parish Council. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Great Gransden Parish Council: Meeting Dates". Great Gransden Parish Council. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Huntingdonshire District Council: Councillors". Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  14. ^ "Huntingdonshire District Council". Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  15. ^ a b c "Ordnance Survey Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Cambridgeshire County Council". Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Cambridgeshire County Council: Councillors". Cambridgeshire County Council. Archived from the original on 22 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  18. ^ "OS Maps – online and App mapping system – Ordnance Survey Shop". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  19. ^ a b c "Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011". Cambridgeshire Insight. Archived from the original (xlsx – download) on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  20. ^ "Cambridgeshire County Council: Parish Census Profile" (PDF). Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  21. ^ "Heritage Gateway – Results". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  22. ^ "Great Gransden windmill, Cambridgeshire". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  23. ^ "Engineering Timelines – Great Gransden Windmill". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  24. ^ The Gransdens Society (2003): "The Gransdens in old Picture Postcards", European Library, ISBN 90-288-60770
  25. ^ "Great Gransden Windmill, Great Gransden - Huntingdonshire". Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  26. ^ "Gransden mill". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  27. ^ "National Mills Weekend: Great Gransden mill". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  28. ^ Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 264. ISBN 9780340165973.
  29. ^ "English Heritage Images of England: a searchable photographic archive of the historic buildings of England". Archived from the original on 13 August 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  30. ^ "Roll of Honour - Huntingdonshire - Great Gransden". Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  31. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1290192)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  32. ^ Great Gransden Church. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  33. ^ Chapel page. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  34. ^ Providence Baptist Chapel. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  35. ^ Crown & Cushion pub site. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  36. ^ Store details. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  37. ^ Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  38. ^ The Chequers is a pub in Little Gransden, but the team plays its home games in Great Gransden.
  39. ^ Allotment Society site. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  40. ^ "Gransden Show". Retrieved 4 June 2018.

External links[edit]

Media related to Great Gransden at Wikimedia Commons