Although the current village of Sawston has only existed as anything more than a hamlet for 400 to 600 years, there is evidence for a settlement in the vicinity dating back to the early Bronze Age almost 5000 years ago.
The northern high-ground in Sawston would have been the only vantage point from which to view the ancient Hill figures discovered in the Wandlebury section of the Gog-Magog hills.
The hall is surrounded by almost 60 acres (240,000 m2) of grounds which includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest protected by Natural England due to the presence of Cambridge Milk Parsley, a rare English native plant. The ground also include a number of naturally fed springs, woodland walks, a half moat and a number of smaller landscaped gardens.
The Sawston estate was held by the Huddleston family from 1517 until the 1980s. The Hall was thrust into the history books in 1553 when Mary Tudor (soon to be Mary I of England), fleeing imprisonment by the Duke of Northumberland, spent the night at Sawston Hall. Northumberland’s soldiers followed Mary to Sawston forcing her to flee the next morning disguised as a dairymaid. As she fled, the soldiers put flame to the medieval manor destroying a large portion of the hall.
The Hall was re-built by Sir John and Edmund Huddleston between 1557-1584 with the help of a license granted by Queen Mary to use stone from Cambridge Castle. During the re-building Mary died and was succeeded byElizabeth I. This resulted in the inclusion of a number of priest holes in the building, allowing the Huddleston family to continue their practice of the Catholic faith. The priest’s hole at the top of the spiral staircase at Sawston Hall is noted as one of the finest examples in the country.
During the Second World War Sawston Hall, still under the ownership of the Huddlestons, was the headquarters of the 66th Fighter Wing, part of the USAAF Eighth Air Force. An air raid shelter still remains in the grounds, and on the top floor war-time graffiti still adorns the walls. In 1982 the Huddleston family sold the hall which became a language school until the present owner purchased the property in 2010.
Sawston Hall sits adjacent to the, earlier, Norman styled St. Mary’s church.
Sawston Hall was the location used for the 1971 Michael Winner film “The Nightcomers”.It was featured extensively including many scenes providing interior shots of the house throughout.
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