Glatton, Cambridgeshire

Glatton is a small village situated in the North West of Cambridgeshire not far from the Northamptonshire border.

It was originally located in the ancient county of Huntingdonshire but in the 1960s and 1970s local government reorganisation abolished Huntingdonshire and Glatton found itself in Cambridgeshire.

The village name in the Doomsday Book was Glattune  (1087) and originally is probably derived from Saxon (glade meaning clearing and ton meaning farm)

The western part of Glatton Parish is gently undulating farmland and to the East the Parish borders the Fens with miles of extremely fertile land.

Peterborough is 9 miles to the Northeast and Oundle is 8 miles to the West.

The village is very attractive with numerous thatched timber framed cottages and imposing larger houses both old and modern.

The church, dedicated to St Nicholas, stands on a mound in the centre of the village. It was largely rebuilt in the latter part of the 15th Century but to the expert eye traces of Saxon origins can be detected.  It is served by the neighbouring village of Sawtry and is regularly used for worship. Built of Barnack stone and floodlit at night, the church, although beautiful, does not boast a large amount of stained glass. The explanation for this springs from the English civil war.(1642-1648). Legend has it that the stained glass windows were removed and hidden by troops loyal to the Charles I in order to prevent their destruction by Cromwell’s Roundheads. The troops were later killed in a skirmish and so the location of the windows became unknown. The windows have never been found.

There have been a number of ships named Glatton. In the neighbouring parish of Holme (once part of Glatton) lived the Wells family who for many years had owned a shipyard in Rotherhithe Kent. The Manor of Glatton was owned by the family, it having been acquired from Sir Robert Cotton in 1752

The first ship named after the village was built in 1762 (449tons) and reputed to have been made from oak taken from Glatton wood, presumably transported via the river Ouse or Nene and by sea to Rotherhithe. This ship made five trips to the East Indies, the first in 1763 and the last in 1772.

Glatton II (758 tons) was built in 1776 and Glatton III (1200 tons) was built in 1788. She was sold to the Navy in 1795 and refitted and recomissioned following extensive armaments. She had 54 guns.

Glatton III was famed for her action against the French in 1796. Two days out of Sheerness under the command of Captain Trollope she made the coast of Flanders and sighted an enemy squadron of four frigates, two ship corvettes, a large brig corvette and an armed cutter. HMS Glatton alone engaged the enemy causing colossal damage to the squadron. 70 enemy were killed and two of Glattons crew were injured, one fatally. Captain Trollop was knighted for his actions . There are a number of prints of this battle in the National Maritime Museum.

In 1801 HMS Glatton fought in the Battle of Copenhagen. This time she was under the command of Captain Bligh (of the mutiny fame) and second in command to Nelsons flagship HMS Elephant.

By taking the initiative and blasting away at the enemy Captain Bligh saved the Elephant from a merciless bombardment when she ran aground in the heat of the action. Who knows the course of England’s history if Captain Bligh had not been at Copenhagen.

Beverley Nichols made Glatton his home from 1928 to 1937 and wrote a trilogy of books about Glatton calling the village Allways. Many famous people visited him during his time in the village including Winston Churchill. His house dates back to the late 15th Century and may have originally been constructed as a fishing lodge for the nearby lakes before the fens were drained.

During the war German incendiary bombs destroyed a cottage in the village and damaged other buildings. Lives, both enemy and allied, were lost in aircraft crashes in the Parish. There was searchlight compound in the village but traces of this have long since disappeared.

Nearby RAF Glatton, although not within Glatton Parish, was a major wartime American base from where B17s took part in daytime raids over Germany. Parts of the runways still exist and are still in use for flying.

After the war the Village found itself in need of a village hall. Airbases were being closed and John Williams and his father Harold Williams, Glatton farmers, managed to acquire from a disused base in Lincolnshire a nissen hut, which they dismantled and re-erected on land near the Church, donated by Co-operative Farms. The Village Hall has been much altered but the original nissen structure can still be detected behind the brick façade. The Hall is a popular venue for meetings and functions not only for Glatton but also neighbouring villages.

Glatton has a village pub/restaurant ‘the Addison Arms’ where a friendly landlord and landlady and their staff dispense good food and ale.

The building was erected in the early 18th Century from Flemish bricks, no doubt brought to an East coast port as ships ballast. The exterior of the building shows considerable Dutch architectural influence probably as a result of Dutch involvement in the drainage of the nearby fens.

There is a garage, Tillsons Autos and Glatton Hall is a residential home for the elderly.

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