A little village on the Huntingdonshire / Bedfordshire boundary is the subject of a tussle between two counties.
Swineshead is a pretty, little village south of Kimbolton. It is not a grand place: it has only fifty houses, but among those fifty houses there are more listed buildings than in many a sizable town. Swineshead also has one of the finest examples of mediæval English churches. In order to protect its charms, the whole of Swineshead is a conservation area.
Swineshead is historically a twin village with neighbouring Kimbolton. Both villages were under the patronage of the Dukes of Manchester, as memorials in their churches and around the two villages testify. Although there is no direct road between the two, an ancient footpath leads from Swineshead north to Kimbolton, through where the two parishes meet at a point.
Walking is indeed one of the glories of Swineshead. The village itself is tiny but step beyond and one can enter the tangled woods or the open fields or even wander across into Bedfordshire, if you are so inclined.
Swineshead is listed in the Domesday Book (1085) as a Huntingdonshire village, and has remained so. It came under the first Huntingdonshire County Council, created in 1888. For sound administrative reasons Swineshead was, in 1896, entrusted to Bedfordshire County Council's care, in exchange for Tilbrook. The historical counties, however, are another matter. They were left unchanged. The Huntingdonshire Society has a care for the traditional county, and regrets Swineshead has been forgotten until now. Now Swineshead is included in the maps we produce, and those on our website, and Swineshead can be a part of the Society's activities.
Bedfordshire is responsible for county council services in Swineshead, but it seems to want to subsume its identity too. In all its publications, its visitor information leaflets and elsewhere the County Council describes Swineshead as being in Bedfordshire. Huntingdonshire is having none of this. We want to see recognition of our "lost" village's heritage. Everyone, we hope, agrees that Luton is in Bedfordshire even if it is not within the county council area. Why should they assert that Swineshead is in Beds just because it is?
We are calling upon Bedfordshire County Council and North Bedfordshire Disrict Council to recognise that one little Huntingdonshire village exists within their areas.
We would invite you to come to Swineshead, have a wander and breathe the air.
"Swineshead is a beautiful little village, bathed in charm. Where else could it be but Huntingdonshire?"
The Huntingdonshire Society:
Bill Hensley (Chairman)
or Rupert Barnes, 020 8555 3155 (daytime), 01923 897875 (evenings / weekends)
The Association of British Counties:
The Gazetteer of British Place Names: www.gazetteer.co.uk
The Yorkshire Ridings Society: www.yorkshire-ridings.org.uk