It’s always good when you have a friend who understands your strange addiction to chocolate box villages, thatched cottages and afternoon tea. After looking at the weather forecast this week I decided Wednesday was the last day I could enjoy a walk around in the sun before the temperature dropped. So we packed our bags, packed up Baby Evelyn and set off to Tesco to buy some bits and bobs for a picnic.
First stop Houghton Mill, an 18th-century working watermill, one that was almost demolished then saved by the locals. The mill has now been fully restored and has been working for over 1,000 years.
Houghton Mill is run by the National Trust and is the perfect spot for a picnic in the sun, with a large patch of grassy area overlooking the mill, and lots of people like to take a dip in the water in the summer!
After our picnic we took a stroll over the meadow to Hemingford Abbots, a small village in which a settlement dates all the way back to the Roman times.
Hemingford Abbots appeared in the Domesday Book as Emingeforde and came under the Hundred of Toseland in Huntingdonshire, by 1086 there was already a church here and a priest. There were 96 dwellings in 1250, this fell during the Black Death then grew to a population of 306 in 1801, peaking at 628 in 1961.
Back in Domesday times, Hemingford Abbots was joined with the neighbouring settlement, Hemingford Grey as a single estate, before being split apart in the 19th-century. Just a two minute cross along the River Great Ouse and you will find yourself in Hemingford Grey…
Hemingford Grey was given its name in 1276 by the de Grey family, the village manor (one of the oldest inhabited in England) built around 1140 was seized from the family by Henry VII after George Grey 2nd Earl of Kent could not repay his debts. The manor was late leased to the Great-grandfather of Oliver Cromwell!
After buying some water and sweets from the local shop we headed back through Hemingford Abbots to Houghton.
Houghton was recently named as one of the “Best Places to Live in the east” by The Sunday Times and I can see why. The village is a picture-perfect postcard, just how you would imagine rural Britain, with a sprinkling of thatched cottages base around a village green on the edge of a meadow.
I could stay in Houghton forever but alas it was time to go home, of course taking a quick stop at the hamlet of Wennington along the way…