Other Places of Interest in Hilton
The Methodist Church
Hilton Methodist Church was built in 1867 in what had been Pound Close (another place where stray animals were impounded) on the west of Potton Road. The architect was Robert Hutchinson, and the builders Hodson and Hurst. Around the north and east walls are 65 'guinea bricks', each bearing the name of a benefactor who had contributed a guinea or more to the cost of building the chapel. Many of the names are still thriving in Hilton. In 1979 a Sunday School was built next door.
The School and Village Hall
Alice Walpole, daughter in law of Robert Walpole and sister of William Sparrow, who died in 1709, left several bequests for the "teaching at school" of "the poor children of Hilton", but her will does not say where they were to be taught. In 1856 a 'National' Church School was built to provide education for 62 children, supported by a voluntary rate of 3 pence in the pound. The school was closed in 1955 and all the schoolchildren are now bussed to schools outside the village. It is now a listed building and is used as the Village Hall. Its amenities have been much improved and it has been considerably enlarged, notably by the addition of the Britten Room, officially opened by the then Prime Minister, John Major, in 1992. It is administered by the Village Hall Management Committee, which consists of elected members and representatives of village groups and which is also responsible for the upkeep of the building.
The Cricket Pavilion
The original wooden Cricket Pavilion, erected in 1906 was replaced, by public subscription, in 1989 with a fine new brick Pavilion. It has now become a familiar part of the Green, serving both the Cricket Club and as football changing rooms in the winter season.
Hilton today has only one public house, 'The Prince of Wales' located on the east side of the Potton Road at Mill Hill, next to the Village Shop and Post Office. The original building is about 120 years old but has been extended a number of times and now provides accommodation and dining as well as being a free house, CAMRA-listed, offering a choice of beers. There have been four other public houses in the village. 'The White Horse' once stood on the opposite side of Potton Road and further down was 'The Wheatsheaf', both now demolished. 'The Old George' can still be seen on the north side of Graveley Way, somewhat altered as a private residence. On the Green, Oak Tree Farm, which has been well extended in keeping with the original house, was formerly 'The Red Cow' public house.
In 1641 a thatched cottage of 'wood and clay' was built on land to the north of the Maze and served as a 'vicarage house' for some 240 years. When Hilton became an independent parish in 1873, the vicar acquired a larger house next to The Limes. Built around 1815, this house remained the Vicarage well into the twentieth century. It was subsequently known as The Cedars, then as The Pastures and now as The Old Rectory. The old vicarage cottage burned down on Feast Sunday in 1928.
One of the earliest records of the village is dated 1237, when Joan, Queen of Scotland, gave lands in Hilton to the Abbey of Tarrant in Dorset. The Abbey had a grange, or subsidiary farm, in Hilton, and this is now The Grange. The present house was built in the nineteenth century, but a magnificent thatched barn survives from the fifteenth century or even earlier. Grange Cottage has been made out of another old farm building and gives a good idea of the massive brickwork that went into it.
Oak Tree Farm
The oldest surviving houses in Hilton are probably College Farm on Graveley Way and Oak Tree Farm on the Green, both built in the fifteenth century and originally with halls going up to the roof. College Farm has some remains of its original moat. It was acquired by St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1529, and remained in their possession until 1961. The college records have documented its history. We know, for instance, that the annual rent was £7 in 1545 and that the scholars reserved the right to retreat there should the plague become too dangerous in Cambridge - this they did in 1573-4.
Hilton Hall was built early in the seventeenth century, perhaps by the centenarian Robert Walpole, who ended his days there. It has a Jacobean staircase and moulded oak beams and was re-fronted with new windows in the 1740s. The modern wrought iron gates were made locally at the smithy in Yelling. Behind the house is a large dovehouse. These were once common in the neighbourhood and two other dovehouses in the village, at Church Farm (near where Tanglewood now stands) and at Kidman's Farm, have disappeared in recent times. Pigeons were a useful source of fresh meat in winter and their droppings may also have provided saltpetre for gunpowder.
Hilton House is a fine mansion, probably built by Edward Theed in the 1770s, incorporating an earlier building. It has handsome frontage and many elegant early nineteenth century grates. In 1922 it was acquired by Dr Sidney Peters who became the Liberal Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1929 until his retirement in 1945.
On the north side of the Green, The Limes has a pretty, late eighteenth century, bow front well preserved, but some of the older parts of the house have been much rebuilt.
Beech and Rose Cottages
Originally a 17th century cottage with attached stables, it was converted into two cottages in the 1950s. Approached from the Green by a small bridge across a stream, it is one of the most attractive thatched buildings in the village and has been featured on a national Women's Institute calendar.
Two more modern houses in the village are picked out for mention by Pevsner in 'The Buildings of England', both of them designed by W. P. Dyson. The first is King's Willow (formerly Wheatfield House) in the 'International Modern' style of the late 1930s; the other is Punch's Grove, which was built more in the 'American Colonial' style architecture.
More information can be found in the 'Hilton Village Handbook', first published by the Parish Council in 1976, latest edition 2010.
For a comprehensive illustrated history of Hilton, see 'Hilton, Huntingdonshire' by Jack Dady, first published in 1992 and revised as the Millennium Edition. Copies of this hard-backed book are still available for purchase, price £10. Contact Peter Blake on 01480 830137.
The above sources were used to create these web pages and are gratefully acknowledged.