St Neots

St Neots and its immediate neighbour Eynesbury sit on the east bank of the Great Ouse which at this point flows northwards before heading east at Huntingdon.

Following St Augustine’s mission to Britain in 597, a church was established at Great Paxton serving an area which included St Neots and Eynesbury.  Later in Saxon times Eynesbury built its own church. The first St Neots Priory was dedicated in 974, and the bones of St Neot brought from Cornwall as holy relics.

The Priory helped bring prosperity and along with good road and river connections provided the foundation for gradual expansion of the town.

The great routes north have at various times skirted left, right and straight through St Neots.

In the 18th century, pressure to improve roads resulted in the creation of turnpike trusts, authorised by Act of Parliament. In 1725, a trust was established to manage the Great North Road between Biggleswade and Alconbury. Another was established in 1772 to manage the road between St Neots and Cambridge. These and other road improvements led to more coaching inns in St Neots and Eaton Socon, where horses could be changed, enabling coaches to travel further and faster. At the height of stagecoach activity, some 20 coaches passed through Eaton Socon each day.

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