Sawtry shown within Cambridgeshire
Population 6,536 (2011)
OS grid referenceTL168836
Shire countyCambridgeshire
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town Huntingdon
Postcode district PE28
EU Parliament East of England
List of places

Coordinates: 52°26′N 0°17′W / 52.44°N 0.28°W / 52.44; -0.28

Sawtry is a village and civil parish in Cambridgeshire, England.[1] Sawtry lies approximately 8 miles (13 km) north of Huntingdon. Sawtry is situated within Huntingdonshire which is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire as well as being a historic county of England. The village is home to over 6,000[2] people.

Signpost in Sawtry


Sawtry was listed in the Domesday Book in the Hundred of Normancross in Huntingdonshire; the name of the settlement was written as Saltrede in the Domesday Book.[3] In 1086 there were four manors at Sawtry; the annual rent paid to the lords of the manors in 1066 had been £20.5 and the rent had fallen to £19.5 in 1086.[4]

The Domesday Book does not explicitly detail the population of a place but it records that there were 56 households at Sawtry.[4] There is no consensus about the average size of a household at that time; estimates range from 3.5 to 5.0 people per household.[5] Using these figures then an estimate of the population of Sawtry in 1086 is that it was within the range of 196 and 280 people.

The Domesday Book uses a number of units of measure for areas of land that are now unfamiliar terms, such as hides and ploughlands. In different parts of the country, these were terms for the area of land that a team of eight oxen could plough in a single season and are equivalent to 120 acres (49 hectares); this was the amount of land that was considered to be sufficient to support a single family. By 1086, the hide had become a unit of tax assessment rather than an actual land area; a hide was the amount of land that could be assessed as £1 for tax purposes. The survey records that there were 26 ploughlands at Sawtry in 1086 and that there was the capacity for a further 9.75 ploughlands.[4] In addition to the arable land, there was 68 acres (28 hectares) of meadows and 770 acres (312 hectares) of woodland at Sawtry.[4]

The tax assessment in the Domesday Book was known as geld or danegeld and was a type of land-tax based on the hide or ploughland. It was originally a way of collecting a tribute to pay off the Danes when they attacked England, and was only levied when necessary. Following the Norman conquest, the geld was used to raise money for the king and to pay for continental wars; by 1130, the geld was being collected annually. Having determined the value of a manor's land and other assets, a tax of so many shillings and pence per pound of value would be levied on the land holder. While this was typically two shillings in the pound the amount did vary; for example, in 1084 it was as high as six shillings in the pound. For the manors at Sawtry the total tax assessed was 22 geld.[4]

By 1086 there were three churches and two priests at Sawtry.

During the Dark Ages, Sawtry was divided into three parishes - All Saints, St. Andrew and Judith[6] and originally got its name from the fact that it was a trading centre for salt, an essential commodity in the Middle Ages. The Cistercian Abbey of St Mary was founded in 1147 by Simon de Senlis grandson of Judith of Lens, niece of William the Conqueror who owned land in many parts of Britain but built her Manor in Sawtry and whom the Parish of Sawtry Judith is named after. The abbey took 91 years to complete and ministered to the local area both spiritually and physically. This was demolished in 1540 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries as part of the English Reformation, although traces of the Abbey still remain.[7]

Sawtry is twinned with the Gemeinde Weimar region in Germany.[8]


As a civil parish, Sawtry has 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. The parish council comprises eleven councillors.[9]

Sawtry 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, Sawtry 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.[10] Huntingdonshire District Council collects the council tax, and provides services such as building regulations, local planning, environmental health, leisure and tourism.[11] Sawtry is a district ward and is represented on the district council by two councillors.[10][12] District councillors serve for four year terms following elections to Huntingdonshire District Council.

For Sawtry 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.[13] Cambridgeshire County Council consists of 69 councillors representing 60 electoral divisions.[14] Sawtry is part of the electoral division of Sawtry and Ellington [12] and is represented on the county council by one councillor.[14]

At Westminster Sawtry is in the parliamentary constituency of North West Cambridgeshire,[12] and elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. Sawtry 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 Sawtry is part of the East of England constituency which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.


Sawtry is just west of the Fens, halfway between the city of Peterborough and the town of Huntingdon. Other nearby villages include Folksworth, Alconbury, Holme, Yaxley and Stilton.[1] Being situated in close proximity to the A1(M), it is a sought-after location for commuters. It is approximately six miles north of the A14, and a fifty-minute car drive from both Stansted Airport and Luton Airport.



In the period 1801 to 1901 the population of Sawtry was recorded every ten years by the UK census. During this time the population was in the range of 790 (the lowest was in 1801) and 1,393 (the highest was in 1851).[15]

From 1901, a census was taken every ten years with the exception of 1941 (due to the Second World War).

Sawtry All Saints 813 723 702
Sawtry St Judith 181 186 213
Sawtry 994 909 915 1,113 986 1,749 3,651 4,865 5,568 6,536

All population census figures from report Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011 by Cambridgeshire Insight.[15]

The separate parishes of Sawtry All Saints and Sawtry St Judith were combined into the single civil parish of Sawtry between 1931 and 1951.

In 2011, the parish covered an area of 6,269 acres (2,537 hectares)[15] and the population density of Sawtry in 2011 was 667.3 persons per square mile (257.6 per square kilometre).

Culture and community

Sawtry has two public houses: The Bell (The Bell Inn Website) and the Greystones. It also has an ex-services and working men's club (Sawtry Club Website). There is an infant school and a junior school in Sawtry; and a community college (Sawtry Village Academy) which educates many young people from nearby villages as well as Sawtry itself.

Religious sites

The Church of All Saints is the Church of England parish church.

The future

Sawtry is quickly expanding, with a new estate built in 2014 and plans for more homes to be built by 2020. Along with these new estates, plans are in place to build new amenities, such as a doctor's surgery, to accommodate the new residents.


  1. 1 2 Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 142 Peterborough (Market Deeping & Chatteris) (Map). Ordnance Survey. 2012. ISBN 9780319229248.
  2. Office for National Statistics - Neighbourhood Statistics - Population and Migration Archived 6 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Dr Ann Williams, Professor G.H. Martin, eds. (1992). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. London: Penguin Books. p. 1396. ISBN 0-141-00523-8.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Professor J.J.N. Palmer, University of Hull. "Open Domesday: Place - Sawtry". Anna Powell-Smith. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  5. Goose, Nigel; Hinde, Andrew. "Estimating Local Population Sizes" (PDF). Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  6. Parishes - Sawtry | A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3 (pp. 203-212) Archived 29 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. A Potted History of Sawtry Archived 1 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Huntingdonshire District Council twinning page
  9. "Sawtry Parish Council: Councillors". Sawtry Parish Council. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  10. 1 2 "Huntingdonshire District Council: Councillors". Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  11. "Huntingdonshire District Council". Huntingdonshire District Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  12. 1 2 3 "Ordnance Survey Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  13. "Cambridgeshire County Council". Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  14. 1 2 "Cambridgeshire County Council: Councillors". Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  15. 1 2 3 "Historic Census figures Cambridgeshire to 2011" (xlsx - download). Cambridgeshire Insight. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
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