St Andrew's Parish Church
Wimpole, Cambridgeshire
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St Andrew's Parish Church, Wimpole
Parish Churchyard
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Although St Andrew's stands close to Wimpole Hall, the Church is wholly independent
from the National Trust. It is a living Parish Church within the Orwell Group of Parishes,
and holds services on the first and third Sundays of each month.

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Introduction

St Andrew's Parish Church, together with the Rectory and the Stable Block, make a close-knit group alongside Wimpole Hall. The Church and the former Rectory have always been an integral part of the Wimpole estate, indeed they were once the centre of a whole village. Today, no other houses stand nearby, a legacy of the long process of settlement changes and the extension of the estate parkland.

The present Parish Church of St Andrew's consists of two distinct buildings with separate histories. The Chicheley Chantry or Chapel dates from 1390 and much of the original structure still remains. The nave and chancel of the modern Church building date from 1749 after a medieval Church on the same site was completely demolished. The Chapel (mostly) survived the demolition although it was opened up to the body of the nave during the rebuilding.

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St Andrew's Parish Church
in the evening sun (c1990).
The Communion Table (2004)

The Church Building

The present Church consists of a structurally undivided Chancel and Nave, opening to the Chicheley Chapel on the North side.  The walls are mostly of brick with freestone and clunch dressings, but the west end and the adjoining last bays of either side wall are in freestone and clunch ashlar, as is the Chicheley Chapel. The roofs are slated.

The Chicheley Chapel is the earliest part of the church and believed to be of 14th century origin It is understood to have been founded around 1390 as the Chantry of Sir William de Staundon. A Chantry was a chapel or other part of a church endowed for a priest or priests to celebrate masses for the founder's soul. Sir William de Staundon owned "a mansion house" in Wimpole and he was a Master of the Grocer's Company. He had also been Lord Mayor of London in 1392 and 1407. According to the terms of his will, Sir William and his first wife Elizabeth are both buried at Wimpole.

In 1428 the Wimpole estate was acquired by one Henry Chichele, then Archbishop of Canterbury. For the next two hundred and fifty years the Chicheley family [now spelt with a 'y'] gradually bought up the surrounding Cambridgeshire estates and began to use the Church for their own family interests.

The Church Bell, mounted in the cupola above above the west front is said to be by Miles Graye, dated 1653

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The main structure of the present Church dates from 1748, when a somewhat larger medieval Church was completely demolished (with the exception of the Chicheley Chapel), and then rebuilt to the designs of Henry Flitcroft at a recorded cost of 1107. 17s. 4d.

The detail (left) is from Kip's engraving of Wimpole in 1707 and shows the medieval church building. A ground plan of the original Church can be seen in a book of drawings at Wimpole Hall. There has been some conjecture that the stones and masonry from the medieval church were stored and later used to build the Gothic Folly on the estate.

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The contemporary Parish Register has this note: "March 25th 1748. The old Parish Church was on that day begun to be pulled down, and the outside of the new one was completely finished by the end of August. In July 1749 the inside was completed, and it was for the first time made use of for Divine Service on the 27th of August. The whole was done at the sole expense of the Right Honourable Philip Lord Hardwicke, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain".

What Flitcroft built for Lord Chancellor Hardwicke was essentially an aisleless brick box with a pedimented west end, stone-faced and topped by a bellcote. However, in the later nineteenth century, much of the exterior and interior of the Church were remodelled in the 'gothic' fashion.

Designs for the remodelling survive, signed by George Evans in 1868, but it is believed the changes were not fully completed until 1887.

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The work included reducing the openingh between the Chicheley Chapel and the nave, some restoration of the fabric of the building, the remodelling of the south door and of all of the windows on the South side (with the exception of the window above the door), together with the gothicising of the piers supporting the Lord's Gallery.

After the 1939-45 war, Mrs Bambridge (last private owner of the Wimpole estate) carried through a further restoration of the Church, which included refacing some of the stonework, removing the pews from the Chicheley Chapel.


A plan of the church
following the 1868-1887 remodelling.

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St Andrew's Church in 1905. Note the proximity of the (now demolished) east service wing of Wimpole Hall.

(Photograph kindly loaned by Mr and Mrs John Procter).


The Nave and Chancel

(West Wall - Lord's Gallery)

The Lord's Gallery above the entrance has three windows containing 47 shields of arms of the Yorke family and their connections, set against patterned backgrounds, said to be by William Peckett (died 1795). In the head of the west window is an achievement of arms of Philip Yorke (1690-1764), 1st Earl of Hardwicke, who purchased Wimpole in 1740; the other shields are emblazoned with the arms of Yorke of Bewerley.

[In his recollections of the 1860's in his essay "Wimpole As I Knew It", the Rev A C Yorke wrote: "The old lord (the 4th Earl of Hardwicke) and his family sat in the gallery, carpeted and furnished as a comfortable room. Across the south-west corner of it was a fireplace. Round its crackling fire the family drew their chairs in winter for the sermon. Sometimes the old lord made a desperate clatter, stoking and poking. Not seldom he knocked all the fire irons down with a clash. This was chaffingly taken by my father (the Rev Henry Yorke, then rector to Wimpole Parish Church, and brother to the Earl) as a signal that the sermon was getting too long".]

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This photograph is from the rear of the church looking towards the chancel and was found on an postcard dated January 29 1921. The Chicheley Chapel can be glimpsed on the far left.

During this period, the walls of the church were coloured a deep red.

Images kindly loaned by
Mr and Mrs John Procter and Shirley Phillips.

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(South Wall)

On the South side of the Nave is a memorial sculptured by J Flaxman to the Hon Agneta Johnston (died 1820) [= Yorke Family Tree], second wife of the Rt. Hon Charles Yorke (1722-1770), Lord Chancellor, seen in the robes of state with his two sons. Monumental Inscription.

Agneta was the mother of the Rt Hon Charles Yorke (1764-1834), First Lord of the Admiralty, who died eight months before he would have inherited Wimpole and the title. Agneta's second son was Admiral Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke KCB (1768-1831), the father of the eventual 4th Earl, Charles Philip Yorke (1799-1873).

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On the South wall of the Chancel is a memorial (right) to Flora Elizabeth Yorke (died 1852) and two of her children. Flora was the wife of the Ven. and Hon. Henry Reginald Yorke, Archdeacon of Huntingdon and Rector of Wimpole. She died giving birth to son Alexander Campbell Yorke, who later became the Rector at Fowlmere, and who was the author of essay "Wimpole As I Knew It".

[The coffin of Flora Elizabeth Yorke lies in the Hardwicke Family Vault beneath the Chicheley Chapel.]

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The window on the far left in the Chancel is a stained-glass memorial to Captain the Hon Thomas Charles Reginald Agar-Robartes, commanding No 2 Company 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, who died on the 30 September 1915, aged 35, of wounds received during the battle of Loos. 'Tommy' Agar-Robartes was the eldest son of Thomas Charles, 6th Viscount Clifton and Mary, Viscountess Clifton of Lanhydrock, Bodmin, Cornwall. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. Member of Parliament for St Austell and Mid-Cornwall from 1908.
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(East Wall - Chancel)

The east wall to the Chancel has a Venetian window, originally blind, and has an internal wooden surround with carved pilasters, overpiece and arms. The wooden surround was originally a large carved reredos (an ornamental screen behind an alter), reset and altered when the window space was opened up. The communion table is of the 18th century, with carved console legs and modern top.

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(North Wall - Chancel)
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On the North wall of the Chancel is a monument to Admiral Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke KCB (1768-1831) [= Yorke Family Tree] and his two wives Elizabeth Weake Rattray (1773-1812) [= Yorke Family Tree], and Urania Anne Paulett [= Yorke Family Tree], with descriptive tablet, navel trophies and emblems, and female mourner in white.

Admiral Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke was the father of Charles Philip Yorke, the 4th Earl of Hardwicke.

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[Sir Joseph Yorke was lost at sea in sad circumstances in May 1831 whilst sailing from Spithead to Hamble in Southampton Water. The yacht "Catherine" upset in a sudden squall and threw the crew of four into the water. The admiral, two Royal Navy captains and one ordinary seaman called Chandler all drowned. The full story as printed in "The Times" 09 May 1831 can be read at Melancholy Death.]

On the same wall will be seen a tablet sculptured by Thomas Denman to the Rt. Hon Charles Philip Yorke (1764-1834) [= Yorke Family Tree], First Lord of the Admiralty, and to his wife Harriott Manningham (1763-1854) [= Yorke Family Tree] [Monumental Inscription]. Charles Philip Yorke died eight months before he would have inherited Wimpole and thus become the 4th Earl of Hardwicke. The monument incorporates a dark marble block which was taken from the Admiralty breakwater in Plymouth Sound.

[The coffins of Admiral Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke, Elizabeth Weake Rattray, Rt Hon Charles Philip Yorke and Harriet Manningham lie in the Hardwicke Family Vault beneath the Chicheley Chapel.]

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The Communion Plate

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Wimpole's communion plate consists of an alms dish, two flagons, a chalice and paten, all silver-gilt, which were presented to the Church in 1679 by Sir Thomas Chicheley, the Lord of the Manor.

The mark is the 'hound sejant', a rare mark of high quality, recently attributed to Richard Blackwell the younger and made in London c1655. The pieces in the set bear an engraving of the Good Shepherd.

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The communion set dates from the time of the Commonwealth (1642-60). During this time huge amounts of family silver were melted down by royalists and Cromwellians alike to finance the Civil War. Moreover, the Puritans despised ostentatious displays of wealth and disapproved of depictions of Christ, so much church plate was also destroyed or defaced. The few objects that were made in silver during this period were generally small with minimal decoration; more substantial pieces such as Wimpole's communion set are extremely rare indeed. The only other known examples of church plate by the hound sejant maker are to be found in Gloucester, Rochester and St Paul's Cathedrals, the Victoria and Albert Museum and a handful of parish churches.
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See also: Chicheley Chapel | Parish Churchyard | Hardwicke Vault | Church Index

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St Andrew's Parish Church
Regular Church Services:
First Sunday of month: 9.30 am Eucharist,
Third Sunday of month: 11.00 am Morning Prayer.
Everyone welcome. For further details, contact Reverend Neil Brice on 01223 208653 or churchwardens David Owen on 01223 208935 e-mail: or
David Price on 01223 208804.
The Parish Church is managed and maintained by the Parochial Church Council.
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Recent Restoration Work

Over the past few years the Parochial Church Council have completed major restoration work funded by local fund-raising, plus generous grants from English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Rugby Cement (through the Landfill Tax scheme), the Council for the Care of Churches and interest free loans from the Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust and the National Trust.

In the autumn of 1993 the roof of the main body of the church was stripped back to reveal major decay in the timbers, a considerable amount of degradation in the stonework, and damage to several lengths of the intricate plaster ceiling which would require replacement. It was agreed to proceed with the repairs to the church fabric despite the uncertain cost. Some 64,000 was eventually spent and hopefully the structure should now be sound for at least fifty years.

In March 1994 an additional 14,000 was spent restoring the fine 18th Century heraldic glass windows in the gallery. This completed all the urgent work then requiring attention.

In 1997 the church was re-inspected and it was found that the 14th century Chicheley Chapel Roof and West Gallery were infested with death watch beetle. In 1999, the beetle infestation was treated, all the damaged timbers were replaced, and the roof was restored. It is hoped that this area will not need further attention for many years.

The left-hand window in the Chicheley Chapel that contains medieval glass fragments was restored in Spring 1999, which leaves the complete medieval window in the centre still to do. Project work during 1997-99 cost in the region of 75,000.

If you would like to make a donation or bequest to help maintain and restore this unique Parish Church, please contact the Treasurer on the Parochial Church Council. Full contact details are given in the Wimpole Directory.

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With acknowledgements to David Souden "Wimpole Hall" (1991) and Gervase Jackson-Stops "Wimpole Hall" (1979) both published by the National Trust, to the Wimpole Women's Institute for their 1958 history, to St Andrew's Parish Church for information on the individual monuments, and to Jane Wilsher for the details of the recent restoration work.
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Wimpole Church Records:

Index page to the Church Registers from 1560 to 1863. Some baptism , banns, marriage and burial listings are available on-line (*incomplete):
   - Baptisms: 1560-1599, 1600-1699, 1700-1799, 1800-1863
   - Marriages: 1560-1599, 1600-1699, 1700-1799*, 1800-1863
   - Banns: 1754-1863
   - Burials: 1560-1599, 1600-1699, 1700-1799, 1800-1863

St Andrew's Parish Church, Wimpole. Records of baptisms 1560-1603 and 1617-1863, marriages 1560-1990, burials 1560-1973 and banns for 1754-1918 reside in the Cambridge Record Office, indexed transcripts exist for baptisms, marriages and burials 1560-1863. Parish register transcripts 1560-1863, are available in full transcript form, on microfiche, from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society. The Bishop's Transcripts for the years 1599-1642 and 1663-1812 can be found in the Cambridge University Library.

Monumental Inscriptions and the Churchyard 1710-2004:

The St Andrew's Churchyard Register is available on line.
Details and coffin plates in the Hardwicke Family Vault are available on line.
A selection of the Monumental Inscriptions from the Church and Chapel are available on line.

The Monumental Inscriptions in the churchyard of St Andrew's Parish Church, Wimpole are also recorded in the Cambridge Records Office for the years 1710-1979. These inscriptions are available on microfiche from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society.

Local Census Records:

The following local censuses are available on line:
Arrington Wimpole Orwell Local
1881 Census
1891 Census
1901 Census
1881 Census
1891 Census
1901 Census
1881 Census
1891 Census
1901 Census
1881 Workhouse

 

© Steve Odell 2000-2004

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This page last updated on: Thursday 12 August, 2004
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