Kimbolton Church, Huntingdonshire

A church existed at Kimbolton some time before 1066, at the time of the Norman invasion the land was held by King Harold Godwinson himself and thus became a Crown property. A church was recorded at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 at which time it came into the ownership of the de Warenne Earls of Surrey.

The earliest surviving structures today date from the 13th Century when Kimbolton, protected by a castle, was becoming one of the major settlements in this part of England. Although it has since sunk into relative obscurity between the 13th and 16th Centuries Kimbolton was more important than Huntingdon and was considered the premier town in the shire.

Much of the nave and central parts of the church date from the 13th Century, although there is some suggestion that the nave arcades might pre-date the Norman Conquest as they have a distinctly Saxon look to them.

The tower and spire were added in the 14th Century, the spire is one of the best early examples of spire construction in England. In the 15th Century the south aisle and porch were added and around 1500 the north aisle was rebuilt. This was the last major structural work undertaken at the Church.

In 1521 the then owner of nearby Kimbolton Castle, the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was executed for treason and the castle passed to the Wingfield family, during this period Katherine of Aragon – the spurned first wife of Henry VIII – spent the last years of her life in Kimbolton and would have worshipped at the church.

In the ensuing years alterations were made to the church – and indeed the castle – by the Dukes of Manchester who owned the Castle for 350 years. This includes the Montagu vault and some restructuring work in the 18th and 19th centuries. Once of the last great additions is the glass in the south chapel which depicts the twin daughters of Consuelo Yznaga, widow of the 8th Duke. This was created by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, in 1901 and is considered one his great works. This is the same Tiffany responsible for the design of the famous Tiffany Lamps and there is more than an echo of this design in the window at Kimbolton.

Kimbolton Church is one of the finest in Huntingdonshire, which is a county with a number of particularly fine churches, and the village is one of the most picturesque in the county.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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