The County of Cambridgeshire

Geography

Cambridgeshire is a county in the East of England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the north-east, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west. The city of Cambridge is the county town.

Modern Cambridgeshire was formed in 1974 as an amalgamation of the counties of Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely and Huntingdon and Peterborough, the former covering the historic county of Cambridgeshire (including the Isle of Ely) and the latter covering the historic county of Huntingdonshire and the Soke of Peterborough, historically part of Northamptonshire.

Cambridgeshire is the flattest county in the United Kingdom.  It is also the most low-lying with large areas at just above sea-level.  Holme Fen is notable for being the UK’s lowest physical point at 2.75 m (9 ft) below sea level. The highest point is in the village of Great Chishill at a mere 146 m (480 ft) above sea level.  Much of Fenland exists only because of extensive drainage in the 17th century.

Population

The county is comprised of the City of Cambridge, Peterborough Unitary Authority and four district councils:

RegionPopulation (2016)
Cambridge134,080
South Cambridgeshire District155,660
East Cambridgeshire District86,580
Fenland District99,200
Huntingdonshire District176,590
Peterborough199,320
851,430

 

The population of the County is forecast to increase to over a million by 2030. Further information on populations and demographics can be found at https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/

Politics

The political makeup of the councils are:

Since 2017, the County also has certain devolved responsibilities through the Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.  This tier of government works on strategic issues that cross council borders and span the entire Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area, like housing, travel and infrastructure needs.  The first elected mayor is James Palmer.

Origins

The area that is now Cambridgeshire was first settled by the English at about the 6th century by bands of Angles, who pushed their way up the Ouse and the Cam, and established themselves in the fen-district, where they became known as the Gyrwas.  The adjacent image is of the 7th century gold and garnet Trumpington Cross, found just outside Cambridge in 2011 in the grave of a young woman of high status.

At this period the fen-district stretched southward as far as Cambridge, and the essential unity which it preserved is illustrated later by its inclusion under one High Sheriff, chosen in successive years from Cambridgeshire proper and the Liberty of the Isle of Ely.

In 656 numerous lands in the neighbourhood of Wisbech were included in the endowment of the abbey of Peterborough, and in the same century religious houses were established at Ely and Thorney, both of which, however, were destroyed during the Danish invasions of the 9th century.

By the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, the county was comprised as now, and on the creation of the diocese of Ely in 1109, almost the whole county was placed in that diocese, marking out the the broad shape and constituency of the county that we know today.