The Montague family at Hinchingbrooke House

The History of Huntingdon

The Gatehouse of Hinchingbrooke House in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, UK

Sir Sydney Montague

Sir Sydney Montague bought the house from Sir. Oliver Cromwell on 20th June 1627, Sir Sydney died in 1644 and owner ship passes to his son Edward Montague, a parliamentarian, who wife acts as host to Charles the 1st, now a prisoner on his way to Newmarket in her husband’s absence during the first civil war.

Edward Montague. Baron Montague of St Neots, Viscount Hinchingbrooke and Earl of Sandwich

Edward Montague would not take an active roll in the Kings trial, and along with General Monk, later Duke of Albermarle, helped to bring about the restoration of the monarchy, and is rewarded by Charles 2nd by being made Baron Montague of St Neots, Viscount Hinchingbrooke and Earl of Sandwich. The Earl of sandwich (Edward Montague) was second cousin and Patron to Samuel Pepys the diarist, who worked as a secretary for a time at Hinchingbrooke House. Both the house and estate figure largely in his diaries.

Once again the buildings were subject to elaborate alteration and additions. Only the best craftsmen and material would do with Samuel Pepys being instructed to obtain the services of Mr. Kennard, master joiner of Whitehall. Samuel Pepys notes in his diary the time and money being spent on the improvements to Hinchingbrooke House.

Sir Sydney Montague was married to Paulina, daughter of John Pepys of Cottenham, great Aunt to Samuel Pepys. Their eldest son had drowned in the moat at Barnwell, which partly explains their move to Hinchingbrooke House. Sir Sydney’s brother Edward was the first Lord Montague of Boughton Northamptonshire, and his other brother Henry was first Earl of Manchester with his seat at Kimbolton Castle. The Montague’s were an influential and powerful family.

So from 1627 until 1962 Hinchingbrooke House was a family home, although the family made structural changes through the centuries it would not return to being the centre of entertainment at the level which ruined its last Cromwell owner.

The final irony is that is was once again to be politics which drastically changed the future of this wonderful house. In order to stand for election to the House of Commons during the early 1960s you had to relinquish any claim to a family title, which would also make you eligible to sit in the House of Lords. In order to pursue a political career Victor Montague relinquished any claim to the family titles, and sold Hinchingbrooke House to the County Council in 1962.

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