About Us

The Society meets on the third Thursday of each month, except August and December, at the W I Hall 6 Gidding Road Sawtry PE28 5TF at 7.30pm, refreshments are available.

There is a programme of talks which can be seen in the Meetings, visitors are welcome and there is plenty of parking.

There is a yearly subscription of £15.00.

The cost for the evening is free for members and £2.00 for visitors.

Sawtry History Society- a ‘Brief History’

The Society was founded in 1976 with the title, ’Sawtry & District Archaeological Society’.  In those early days, the main focus seemed to be on the archaeology front with ‘field walks’ where areas due for development were combed methodically for items of interest, often turning up pieces of pottery etc as happened on the site of the present Junior School.

Then, there was a major ‘dig’ in 1979  on the edge of Archers’ Wood where remains of Monastic Outbuildings connected to Sawtry Abbey yielded some brilliant ‘finds’, most of which are still in possession of the Society today.

By the late 1970s, the society had a change of name becoming, ‘Sawtry & District Archaeological and History Society’, and with a slight variation of focus, undertook other enterprises such as the investigation of a Roman gravel road on Tort Hill, and a project in St Andrew’s Churchyard which involved a huge tidy-up that resulted in the award of an Environmental Trophy in 1982. Later years saw a complete mapping out of the Churchyard with identification of the Church ’footings’ and the many gravestones

As well as all this physical activity, there were the monthly meetings held at that time in Sawtry Village College Common Room as well outings to places of interest locally.

Many names are associated with the Society at its various stages, from Ken Delve, the aptly named authority on archaeology in the very early days to the Society’s leading light of so many enterprises, Harry Milford, whose knowledge and enthusiasm and squirrel-like attitude to all things historical mean we have, today, quite an Archive relating to the rich history of our village of Sawtry and those nearby. It was thanks to Harry that our village was  over-run by the Members of the Sealed Knot, a Civil War re-enactment Society in the late 1980’s/early 1990s-that really brought history alive for the then residents of Sawtry!

Over the years, the Society has undertaken some very useful work, for instance, the survey of All Saints’ Churchyard with the resulting Index to all the memorials there with their location. Copies of this are held in the local library, and with the Rector of the Church. There is a similar index for Conington Church and one had also been produced for St Nicholas’ Church, Glatton, all work being carried out by members of the Society.

Since obtaining Charity Status in the late 1980’s, the Society has taken its brief very seriously, working to bring the history of our locality to the people of today. Over the years, there have been notable Local History Exhibitions where Sawtry History Society has had a presence; in the 1990s in Impington, Cambridge; in 1999 at the George in Huntingdon where a musketeer dragooned the locals to come and see the history of their area-needless to say, this was Harry Milford in one of his marvellous get-ups, full of enthusiasm as ever and earning us a large item with photos in the local papers. There have been many more displays over the years, but notably the Feast Week ‘Open Days’ put on by the Society over the last few years which have seen many visitors and provoked the sharing of many memories. More recently the Society participated in Exhibitions to commemorate the Centenary of the death of Edith Cavell in October 2015, Holme 1940's Weekends and the centenary of the start and end of World War One in 2014 and 2018 respectively. We have also joined with the 457th Bomb Group Association to collaborate with its members and local historians at events. The 457th was a big part of our local history and we want to commemorate that and keep the sacrifices they made and their memories alive. 

After a long spell as ‘Sawtry & District Archaeological & History Society’, the ‘Archaeological’ was dropped as members interests changed and the name finally alighted upon was the present ‘Sawtry History Society’. This simplification coincided with the collaboration of Cambs County Council, the Cambs Library Service and Local History Societies to create a Local History Preservation project to allow societies to preserve their photographs and documents digitally. Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network or CCAN for short is a website dedicated to photographs, video clips, deeds, documents and historical items which means much of the Archive is available online for anyone to share in. With the purchase of some high tech equipment, the Society can also draw on this to produce some really entertaining and informative talks at our local meetings. As Archaeology has become more popular again the History Society recently joined with Jigsaw, a Cambs based community Archaeology support group. Sawtry History Society are now pursuing new Archaeology projects as well as maintaining the Sawtry Village Local History Archives, a project that was completed and opened in February 2013 which is located next to Sawtry Library in the Sawtry Community Centre, the building that was once the Old Agrilcuture Centre.

Today, thanks to the hard work of so many of the members, the Society is flourishing. Building on all that members have contributed in the past, we continue to pass on the baton that acknowledges that Sawtry has such a rich history and that learning about its past enriches our present by highlighting who and what has ‘gone before’.