|Little Gidding shown within Cambridgeshire|
|Population||362 (with Great Gidding and Steeple Gidding)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
Little Gidding is a small village and civil parish in Cambridgeshire, England. It lies approximately 9 miles (14 km) north-west of Huntingdon, near Sawtry, within Huntingdonshire, which is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire as well as being a historic county. A small parish of 724 acres (293 hectares), Little Gidding recorded a population of 22 in the 1991 British Census. With the neighbouring villages of Great Gidding(where the population was in 2011 included) and Steeple Gidding, the total population was 362 in 2001. Two miles away is Leighton Bromswold, where the poet George Herbert served as a prebend and restored the Church of St Mary. The driving distance between Little Gidding and Cambridge, to the south-east, is 30 miles.
Little Gidding was the home of a small Anglican religious community established in 1626 by Nicholas Ferrar, two of his siblings and their extended families. It was founded around strict adherence to Christian worship in accordance the Book of Common Prayer and the High Church (or Catholic) heritage of the Church of England. Charles I visited Little Gidding three times. The community continued for 20 years after Ferrar's death, until after the deaths of his brother and sister in 1657.
William Hopkinson bought the 700 acres estate in 1848 and became Lord of the Manor of Little Gidding and is buried in the graveyard.
In the 20th century, the poet T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) was inspired by the legacy of the religious community at Little Gidding. He incorporated historical elements and symbols of it into his long poem, Little Gidding, as part of his collection Four Quartets (1945).
At the time of the Domesday Book, the only entry for this area was Geddinge, indicating that the three parishes of Little Gidding, Great Gidding and Steeple Gidding were separated later. Gidding, then owned by William Engaine, passed to his grandson, who gave Little Gidding to his younger son, Warner Engaine, in around 1166. At that time the manor was known as Gidding Warner, later becoming Gidding Engaine and by the 13th century Gydding Parva or Little Gidding.
The name Gidding means "settlement of the family or followers of a man called Gydda". Little Gidding is notable in the 21st century as the home of a Church of England lay religious community established by the Ferrar family in 1626.
Nicholas Ferrar's community
In 1620, Esmé Stewart, the Earl of March (1579–1624) and Lord Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire (later, briefly, the 3rd Duke of Lennox), sold the manor of Little Gidding to Thomas Sheppard. Population had declined in this rural area. Sheppard sold the property to Nicholas Ferrar (1592–1637) and his cousin Arthur Wodenoth (or Woodnoth) (1590?–1650?) in 1625 as trustees for Ferrar's mother, Mary Ferrar (née Wodenoth). The Ferrars and Wodenoths were investors in the Virginia Company and other colonial projects.
With the collapse of the Virginia Company and a large portion of their fortune, the Ferrar family retreated to Little Gidding to take on a humble, spiritual life of prayer, eschewing material, worldly life. The following year, in 1626, Nicholas Ferrar was ordained as a Deacon by William Laud (1573–1645) then Bishop of St David's and later Archbishop of Canterbury.
The extended Ferrar family transformed their holdings at Little Gidding into a humble Anglican religious community. When they purchased it, the property consisted of a decayed manor house and the village's medieval parish church of St John. The Ferrars began repairing the site. Nicholas Ferrar was joined by his brother John Ferrar and his family, and their sister Susanna (Ferrar) Collett and her family. The community was never a formal religious community, as with a monastery or convent. They did not have an official Rule (such as the Rule of Saint Benedict), no vows were required, and no enclosure. The Ferrar household lived a Christian life according to High Church principles and the Book of Common Prayer. They engaged in tending to the health and education of local children, and in bookbinding.
The Ferrar household was criticised by Puritans and denounced as a "Protestant Nunnery" and as Arminian heresy; in 1641 it was attacked in a pamphlet entitled "The Arminian Nunnery". The fame of the Ferrars and the Little Gidding community spread and they attracted visitors. King Charles I visited Little Gidding three times, including on 2 May 1646 seeking refuge after the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Naseby.
When the matriarch Mary Ferrar died in 1634, she bequeathed Little Gidding to her son Nicholas. In December 1637 Nicholas Ferrar died, but the community continued under the leadership of his brother, John Ferrar, until 1657, when he and his sister Susanna Collett died within a month of each other.
During a period of local unrest in the Civil War, John Ferrar and some of his family went to Holland, but they returned by 1646. The religious community ended with the death of John Ferrar and Susanna Collett in 1657. There have been successive allegations of ransacking of the church and the estate during the Civil War but recent research disproves it. Kate E. Riley's 2007 University of Western Australia English Ph. D. dissertation, The Good Old Way Revisited: The Ferrar Family of Little Gidding, c. 1625–1637, examined anew the community and challenged many long-held assumptions.
But it was not until the mid-19th century, with the Catholic Revival or Oxford Movement and the revival of Anglican religious orders, that the average Anglican parishioner become aware of this period of Little Gidding. It featured prominently in the popular 1881 historical novel John Inglesant by Joseph Henry Shorthouse. Since that time, interest in the community has grown beyond members of the Anglican Communion. According to ascetical theologian Martin Thornton, Nicholas Ferrar and the Little Gidding community exemplified an appeal based in a lack of rigidity (representing the best Anglicanism's via media can offer) and ″common-sense simplicity″ coupled with ″pastoral warmth″ related to Christian origins.
The Friends of Little Gidding was founded in 1946 by Alan Maycock, with support from poet T. S. Eliot, to maintain and adorn the church, and to honour the life of Nicholas Ferrar and his family and their life at Little Gidding. Inspired by the example of Ferrar, the Community of Christ the Sower was founded at Little Gidding in the 1970s but that community ended in 1998.
Great and Little Gidding together have a parish council. The parish council is elected by the residents of the parish who have registered on the electoral roll; the parish council is the lowest tier of government in England. A parish council is responsible for providing and maintaining a variety of local services including allotments and a cemetery; grass cutting and tree planting within public open spaces such as a village green or playing fields. The parish council reviews all planning applications that might affect the parish and makes recommendations to Huntingdonshire District Council, which is the local planning authority for the parish. The parish council also represents the views of the parish on issues such as local transport, policing and the environment. The parish council raises its own tax to pay for these services, known as the parish precept, which is collected as part of the Council Tax.
Little Gidding was in the historic and administrative county of Huntingdonshire until 1965. From 1965, the village was part of the new administrative county of Huntingdon and Peterborough. Then in 1974, following the Local Government Act 1972, Little Gidding became a part of the county of Cambridgeshire.
The second tier of local government is Huntingdonshire District Council which is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire and has its headquarters in Huntingdon. Huntingdonshire District Council has 52 councillors representing 29 district wards. Huntingdonshire District Council collects the council tax, and provides services such as building regulations, local planning, environmental health, leisure and tourism. Little Gidding is a part of the district ward of Sawtry and is represented on the district council by two councillors. District councillors serve for four year terms following elections to Huntingdonshire District Council.
For Little Gidding the highest tier of local government is Cambridgeshire County Council which has administration buildings in Cambridge. The county council provides county-wide services such as major road infrastructure, fire and rescue, education, social services, libraries and heritage services. Cambridgeshire County Council consists of 69 councillors representing 60 electoral divisions. Little Gidding is part of the electoral division of Sawtry and Ellington  and is represented on the county council by one councillor.
At Westminster Little Gidding is in the parliamentary constituency of North West Cambridgeshire, and elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. Little Gidding is represented in the House of Commons by Shailesh Vara (Conservative). Shailesh Vara has represented the constituency since 2005. The previous member of parliament was Brian Mawhinney (Conservative) who represented the constituency between 1997 and 2005. For the European Parliament Little Gidding is part of the East of England constituency which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
In the period 1801 to 1901 the population of Little Gidding was recorded every ten years by the UK census. During this time the population was in the range of 39 (the lowest was in 1901) and 70 (the highest was in 1811).
From 1901, a census was taken every ten years with the exception of 1941 (due to the Second World War).
All population census figures from report Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011 by Cambridgeshire Insight.
In 2011, the parish covered an area of 724 acres (293 hectares) and the population density of Little Gidding in 2011 was 22.1 persons per square mile (8.5 per square kilometre). From the 2011 Census the population was included in the civil parish of Great Gidding.
Culture and community
T. S. Eliot and Four Quartets
The legacy of the Anglican community at Little Gidding inspired American-English poet, T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) in his poem entitled Little Gidding, the final of four long poems that comprise the collection Four Quartets (1945). Eliot, a convert to Anglicanism who identified as an Anglo-Catholic and was a life member of the Society of King Charles the Martyr, visited the Little Gidding church on 25 May 1936. This was six years before he published his poem. Eliot, a noted critic, supposedly had been asked to read a play regarding Charles I visiting the community.
In the poem named after this site, Eliot combined the image of fire and Pentecostal fire to emphasise the need for purification and purgation, saying humanity's flawed understanding of life and turning away from God leads to a cycle of warfare. Eliot intends to portray this suffering as restorative — that it was necessary to experience catastrophic pain before life can be renewed and begin anew. Humanity's errors in thought that led to this suffering can be overcome by recognizing the lessons of the past and focusing on the unity of past, present, and future — a unity that Eliot asserts is necessary for salvation. Eliot draws imagery from the history of the Little Gidding community and its role in the Civil War and the fall of Charles I (whom Eliot calls the "broken King"), relating this past to a present in which Britain was struggling with the devastation of The Blitz during World War II.
During the summer a Little Gidding Pilgrimage is held, sponsored by the Friends of Little Gidding. The format in recent years has been Holy Communion at Leighton Bromswold, followed by dinner. Then the pilgrims walk the five miles to Little Gidding. Along the way, there are rest stops where prayers and meditation occur. Upon reaching Nicholas Ferrar's grave, prayers are offered followed by Choral Evensong in the village's parish church of St John's.
On the Saturday closest to the anniversary of Nicholas Ferrar's death on 4 December 1637, a commemorative service is held at St John's Church. The Friends of Little Gidding hold their Annual General Meeting at that time.
An annual T. S. Eliot Festival is organised by the Friends of Little Gidding and the T. S. Eliot Society.
- Cambridge County Council Research Group. 2001 Census Profile: Great Gidding, Little Gidding and Steeple Gidding Parishes – Huntingtdonshire from 2001 Census Key Statistics for Local Authorities (Published: October 2003). Retrieved 5 January 2013. Note: These three parishes are combined because one of them, Little Gidding, is too small to be enumerated separately in accordance with British privacy laws.
- Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 142 Peterborough (Market Deeping & Chatteris) (Map). Ordnance Survey. 2012. ISBN 9780319229248.
- The Life and Times of Nicholas Ferrar by H. P. K. Skipton (London: A. R Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1907), p. 136 taken from a copy in the creator’s collection.
- "++ Little Gidding Church – William Hopkinson ++". www.littlegiddingchurch.org.uk. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
- A History of the County of Huntingdon (Victoria County History, 1936) III:53–57
- A. D. Mills (2003). "A Dictionary of British Place-Names".
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1900). "Wodenoth, Arthur". Dictionary of National Biography. 62. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- "A brief history of Little Gidding" (The Official Website of St John's Church, Little Gidding, Cambridgeshire, England). Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- A History of the County of Huntingdon. 1. Victoria County History. 1926. pp. 399–406.
- Alleged Ransacking of Little Gidding Church 1646
- Riley, Kate E. The Good Old Way Revisited: The Ferrar Family of Little Gidding, c. 1625–1637. A 2007 dissertation from Australia (265 pdfs in length).
- MacDonogh, Rev. T. M. (Terence Michael), ed. Brief Memoirs of Nicholas Ferrar: founder of a Protestant religious establishment at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire. Chiefly collected from a Narrative by the Right Rev. Dr, Turner, Formerly Lord Bishop of Ely; And now edited, with Additions. Second Edition. London: Jacob Nisbet, 1837. (Note: The original of this important source is now lost.) Internet Archive downloadable pdf Google Books downloadable pdf.
- Thornton, Martin. English Spirituality: An Outline of Ascetical Theology according to the English Pastoral Tradition. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1963. Reprint with new introduction by Cowley Publications, 1986, pp. 46–47, 116, 226.
- "Huntingdonshire District Council: Councillors". www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk. Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- "Huntingdonshire District Council". www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk. Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- "Ordnance Survey Election Maps". www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- "Cambridgeshire County Council". www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk. Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- "Cambridgeshire County Council: Councillors". www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk. Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
- "Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011" (xlsx – download). www.cambridgeshireinsight.org.uk. Cambridgeshire Insight. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
- Plaque on interior wall of Saint Stephen's, Gloucester Road, London.
- Obituary notice in Church and King, Vol. XVII, No. 4, 28 February 1965, p. 3.
- Ackroyd, Peter. T.S. Eliot: A Life. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), 263–266.
- T.S. Eliot and Little Gidding – The Friends of Little Gidding (official website). Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Pinion, F. B. A T. S. Eliot Companion (London: MacMillan, 1986), pp. 229–34.
- The 2013 Little Gidding Pilgrimage
- 2012 Nicholas Ferrar Day
- Eliot Festival
Works on Little Gidding and the Ferrars
Note: This listing is not limited to items cited in this article.
- Acland, John Edward. Little Gidding and Its Inmates in the Time of King Charles I. with an Account of the Harmonies. Project Gutenburg Transcription
- Alleged Ransacking of Little Gidding Church 1646, Little Gidding Church
- A brief history of Little Gidding (The Official Website of St John's Church, Little Gidding, Cambridgeshire, England). Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Counsell, Michael. Every Pilgrim's Guide to England's Holy Places. Norwich, Norfolk: Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd, 2003, page 190.
- A History of the County of Huntingdon (Victoria County History, 1936) III:53–57
- An inventory of the historical monuments in Huntingdonshire see Royal commission on historical monuments (England).
- MacDonogh, Rev. Terence Michael, ed. Brief Memoirs of Nicholas Ferrar: founder of a Protestant religious establishment at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire. Chiefly collected from a Narrative by the Right Rev. Dr, Turner, Formerly Lord Bishop of Ely; And now edited, with Additions. 2nd ed. London: Jacob Nisbet, 1837. (The original of this important source is now lost.) Internet Archive downloadable PDF Google Books downloadable PDF
- Maycock, Alan Lawson. Chronicles of Little Gidding. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1954.
- Maycock, Alan Lawson (1938), Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding, London, New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Macmillan.
- Mills, A. D. A Dictionary of British Place-Names (2003)
- Moore, William W. The Little Church that Refused to Die. Allison Park, PA: Pickwick Publications, 1993.
- Ransome, Joyce. The Web of Friendship : Nicholas Ferrar and Little Gidding. Cambridge, Eng: James Clarke & Co., 2011.
- Riley, Kate E. The Good Old Way Revisited: The Ferrar Family of Little Gidding, c. 1625–1637. A 2007 dissertation from Australia (265 PDFs)
- Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England). An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1926. xliii, 350 p. : ill. (incl. plans), plates, maps; 28 cm. 'Gidding, Little', pp. 101–102 and illustrations throughout the book. David Lindsay, Earl of Crawford (1871–1940) was chairman of this commission. The text of this article without any photographs may be found .
- Skipton, Horace Pitt Kennedy. The Life and Times of Nicholas Ferrar. London: A. R Mowbray & Co, 1907. Internet Archive downloadable PDF
- Turner, Francis see MacDonogh, Rev. T. M. (Terence Michael), ed.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Little Gidding.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Little Gidding.|
- Ferrar House, a retreat centre located in Little Gidding
- Friends of Little Gidding
- The Giddings, the website for the villages of Great Gidding, Little Gidding and Steeple Gidding
- Little Gidding, Cambridgeshire from a blog by James P. Miller (with photographs)
- St John's Church, Little Gidding
- Small Pilgrim Places Network; Little Gidding
- Records of St John the Evangelist, Little Gidding. Inventory of materials at the Cambridgeshire County Record Office, Huntingdon, United Kingdom
- Little Gidding Harmonies produced by the Ferrars