Local ghost enthusiast Mark Egerton, who has been a regular contributor to our Over to You programmes, recently posted this item on facebook. This is published here with his permission.
The old county of Huntingdonshire no longer exists; it was absorbed and became a part of its neighbour Cambridgeshire in 1974. To give you some idea of the geography, the distance between Huntingdon and the city of Cambridge is just 18 miles. Huntingdonshire’s most famous son is without doubt Oliver Cromwell. He was born in Huntingdon on 25th April 1599. In August 1642 he was a very prominent figure when the Parliamentarian army (Roundheads), waged war against King Charles 1sts Royalist soldiers (Cavaliers), in what was to become the English Civil War. Huntingdonshire certainly has its fair share of history; along with its fair share of hauntings and famous ghosts too.
Oliver is supposed to haunt The Cromwell Museum, formerly Huntingdon Grammar School, where he was once a pupil. I spent the night inside this building on 8th August 2015, but there was no sign of Oliver anywhere. We did however connect with a gentleman called John Lambert, who informed us that he knew Cromwell very well. He also made us aware that there was something in the museum that belonged to him. Our chaperone (one of the Curators), assured us that he was not familiar with the name John Lambert, and that he was certain that there was nothing in the museum belonging to a man of that name. However, a week later I received an e-mail from the same man informing me that he had made a mistake. John Lambert was in fact one of Cromwell’s right hand General’s and had actually led Oliver’s Army for a few months when Cromwell was ill. After the conflict had ended both men became politicians, but it seems that Lambert had become something of a political threat to Cromwell. As a result Cromwell decided to dismiss him. He did this by writing Lambert a personal letter, informing him that he had been fired. It transpired that this small hand written letter was stowed away here inside the museum and had been forgotten (see photo).
Following financial problems Cromwell left Huntingdon in 1630 and moved the relatively short distance (5 miles), to St Ives. Here he earned his living as a farmer for the next 5-6 years, although nobody is really certain as to where he actually lived. In 1636 he was on the move again to nearby Ely after inheriting a substantial property from his late uncle. He later went on to become the MP for Cambridge in 1640. His main argument with King Charles was basically down to Charles 1st wanting to levy taxes on his subjects to raise monies to fight wars. It seems Charles felt he had the right to do this WITHOUT the consent of his duly elected Parliament. Cromwell and many others did not concur and this eventually led to the English Civil War.
In researching my book “The Haunted History of Huntingdonshire” I investigated several sites where Cromwell’s ghost is said to haunt (see photos). However, I am sorry to inform you that I could find little or no evidence to support any of these claims. Two little known facts that are well worth a mention is that Cromwell suffered from depression. In fact there is some evidence to suggest that he had a complete mental breakdown in 1630. You might also be interested to learn that Cromwell was executed on Jan 30th 1661 over two years AFTER his death. Now that would make you want to come back and haunt everyone and everything wouldn’t it!