Willingham Castle, Cambridgeshire

Willingham Church is a fairly typical English parish church – although dating from an unknown early period almost all that remains is from the 13th Century onwards. The sacristy is one of the best preserved in Cambridgeshire and is 13th Century as is the north chancel wall. The majority of the rest of the body of the church is from the 14th century with the tower and clerestory being 15th Century. There are fragments of Norman and Saxon stonework dotted around the church, implying a much longer history than that.

As is usual a lot of renovation work took place in the 1890s, but this was done very subtly and the overall feel is of an ancient and relatively untouched church.

One of the oddest things at Willingham is the beautiful wing-buttressed roof, second only to that at March. It is odd because it doesn’t quite fit, it is a little too steeply buttressed and slightly off centre. The reason for this is that it was originally fitted in the Priory Church at Barnwell in Cambridge and moved here piece-by-piece when that church was demolished in 1538 at the Dissolution. The church at Barnwell was obviously slightly wider than the one at Willingham and so the roofbeams were squashed into the tighter space.

Willingham’s treasures though are the wall paintings which date between the 13th and 17th Centuries and are considered some of the best in England.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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and Shaun Runham
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