Little Chishill Church, Cambridgeshire

Great and Little Chishill stand in a finger of Camridgeshire extending down between Hertfordshire and Essex – and it seems this was always a border between Mercia to the west and the Kingdom of the East Saxons. Until 1895 Little Chishill was in Essex and is still in the Diocese of Chelmsford (having been held by London, Rochester and St. Albans previously).

The church is thought to be an ancient one, and parts of the Chancel are of Norman origin. The Chancel was later enlarged and work seems to have continued until well into the 15th Century judging by the mixture of architectural styles.

When the Black Death hit the area the churchyard at Little Chishill was used for a mass grave. The bell into the tower is dated 1774 and comes from Whitechapel. However, by the early 19th Century the church was closed and was not reopened until the Crossman family bought the Cokenach Estate around 1885. The church was part of the estate and the family paid for the church to be rebuilt and reopened. Work seems to have continued until at 1916 when the east window glass was installed by Kempe and Taylor.

One oddity is a tomb half in and half out of the church’s south wall. This is said to be the tomb of a naughty nun who was so naughty she could not be buried entirely in the church!

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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