Monday, 30 April 2018

Church, Chapel, Garden

While at Wimpole last week, enjoying the flowers in the Walled Garden and the animals of Home Farm, I thought I might as well visit a couple of other attractions in the vicinity. I missed out touring the Hall this time and didn't undertake a long walk in the grounds either but I did pop into the little church that stands alongside the Hall.

It's an odd and architecturally unsatisfying little building and incidentally not part of the National Trust's property but just a normal village church, albeit one that has no village! You see, when the grounds of the Hall were landscaped in the mid-eighteenth century the old village was destroyed and the church partly demolished. All that remained were a couple of farms and the houses at New Wimpole which were built to re-house those who'd been displaced - and those are closer to Orwell church.

The present church is therefore more than adequate for its parishioners' needs. It is perhaps surprising that the church was re-built at all, especially as the Hall itself had its own, much grander, chapel within the main building by this time. The attitude towards the village church may be gauged from the fact that just the west end has been faced with stone - the side facing the house. Also if you want to see the original east window you'll have to go to Erddig in Wales, another property belonging to the family. The reason why the church was reconstructed can be glimpsed through the arch to the left of the above photograph.

For here is what remains of the original village church. It's usually known as the Chichely Chapel and is the final resting place for generations of previous occupants of the Hall. As you can see it is stuffed with marble memorials.

Here lies Sir Thomas Chicheley who departed this world as long ago as 1616.

And here Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke 1757-1834. To look at their tombs you might think that they were dashing and daring military men but in fact both were politicians, though Chicheley seems to have been a particularly inactive one, spending much of his time on the continent.

The Chapel has one very remarkable window which is a rare survival from medieval times and depicts the coats of arms of many of the most influential families in the area, all of whom had links to the Ufford family who lived at Wimpole Hall in those days.

Among all this grand and pompous statuary there's just one small cherub that always appeals to me. He looks as though he's fed up with being indoors and would love to go out and play. Come on, lets go outside and have another quick look at the gardens..

This area was laid out in the seventeenth century, before the landscaping undertaken by Capabilty Brown, Humphrey Repton and others. According to an old picture of the Hall and its grounds these formal gardens were once much more extensive, but this is all that remains - much to the relief of the volunteers deployed to cutting the edges of the lawns and trimming the little hedges!

I must admit that I like these gardens best when some informality creeps in, either from birdlife or the activities of the gardeners.

Visitors too make unplanned additions to the scene.

And here's that blackbird again, photobombing in delightful style!

And with that we'll say farewell to Wimpole for the time being. If you want to see inside the Hall I did a post about it back in 2011 - as long ago as that, John? Maybe we are due for another visit some time.

Take care.


  1. It is quite apparent, John, that the local tourist board should be hiring you to do their brochures!

  2. The marble memorials are amazing. The cost of those in today’s prices would be something. Great workmanship!

  3. The outside of the church does look odd with with the blocky stone end stuck on the main brick part. However, the inside is interesting with the memorials. I really like the second to last photo - so well composed and the blackbird adds that extra bit of life.

  4. It is a wee bit architecturally challenged John, but the gorgeous arched windows are a divine saviour 😀😀 I think the interior is rather nice though. Love the formal garden, I do enjoy trimming hedges with my trusty electric trimmer, much satisfaction standing back and checking out one's handiwork ☺

  5. Enjoyed seeing your post! Beautifully explained about each one. Outside of the church looks great with beautiful flowers all around...

  6. What an odd church... Its proportions look all wrong. But I agree the cherub is sweet, and the tulips redeem the formal garden.

  7. Incredible post, John. Stunning place, gorgeous gardens, and those marble memorials are priceless. Wow!!
    Thank you.

  8. Hi John - loved your notes on all the attributes and otherwise of the church ... but the photos are amazing ... and I do like the gardens - though can see said gardeners would be pleased for raised beds! Fantastic place though - cheers Hilary

  9. What an interesting place to walk around, the church-chapel-gardens. Each with a story to tell. Love the photos.

  10. John I loved inside that church, it is in such beautiful order. Is it ever used for services? It certainly looks as though it is.

  11. Love the blackbird and the wheelbarrow photos.


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