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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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).
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.]
|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
(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.
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.
[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
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]
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.]
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.
|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.