Great Chishill Church, Cambridgeshire

The church in Great Chishill seems to have had very mixed fortunes over its existence. Dedicated to St. Swithun it is considered to be of a very early foundation, but the earliest record is from 1136 when it was given to Walden Monastery by Geoffrey de Mandeville. The first vicar was appointed in 1239 and over the next 100 years or so most of the church was built. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the church passed to Sir Thomas Audley and it remained in semi-private ownership until the Civil War when it was sequestrated and the stained glass and silver plate were all removed.

A new vicar was appointed in 1661 but in 1684 the Puritans returned and stripped the church of anything else that remained of value. Once again the church passed into private ownership, although still used as a church, which it remained until 1937.

For once luck was on the churches side when it was one of the few buildings to survive a terrible fire in 1798 which took down 80% of the rest of the village. Most of the church records were lost, however, and the remainder were lost in a fire in 1941.

Finally, with the arrival of the Victorians, things started to look up – the nave and aisles were restored in 1879, then the tower collapsed in 1892 necessitating a rebuild in 1896.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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