All Saints - Grafham, Cambridgeshire
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member SMacB
N 52° 18.482 W 000° 18.041
30U E 684017 N 5798730
Quick Description: All Saints' church, Grafham.
Location: Eastern England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 11/1/2015 2:37:29 PM
Waymark Code: WMPWYY
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 1

Long Description:
"This Church of All Saints is an ancient building of simple construction, where religious services have been held for more than 850 years.

Although there was no record of a church in the Domesday Book of 1086, we believe the first timber and thatch church was built in the period 1125-1150 AD

The early wooden structure lasted for more than 100 years, but as it decayed, it was progressively replaced with stone, and also enlarged over the following centuries.

Major re-decoration and some restoration were undertaken in 1996 with further work on the windows completed in 2000."

"As you stand beside the Pulpit, look up to your left to see the two dormer [or clerestory] windows They were added in the 1700s to let more light into the church. Recently restored, they are rather crude in design and construction and may well have been put in by a local craftsman, so that the village could keep up with the fashion of the larger churches of the time!

THE SOUTH CHAPEL

If you turn left, you will come into the South Chapel. As you do, so you will walk over a memorial stone that shows both the ravages of much wear and of the removal of the brasswork that once graced it. This is the only remaining evidence of the Puritanical destructive zeal of the Cromwellian Civil Wars of the mid 17th Century. Although Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdon, other members of the family owned much of Grafham's lands and Manor houses in the 16th and 17th Centuries, and one of the family appointed the Rector, Samuel Hunte, in 1584.

The chapel itself was added to the Nave in the 14th Century. Because this Century was one of 'economic recession' it is certain that the whole structure dates from the early 1300s. It is also most probable that it was originally built as a Chantry chapel, and that it would have seen young clergymen paid to 'chant' prayers to preserve the richer inhabitants from the appalling plagues that swept the country from 1349 onwards, (later called The Black Death). Grafuam suffered as badly as any village and the Rector in those terrible days, John Aubrey, died without record being kept.

If you now turn back, and cross to the North Aisle, you can contrast the very different 14th Century octagonal pillars of the South Chapel, with the earlier 13th Century pillars of the Nave you have already seen.

THE NORTH AISLE

As you walk across to the open area, you enter the late 14th Century North Aisle, (the brick flooring came much later).

To the right of the simple eastern window, you will see the remains of the spiral staircase that was built into the existing structure in the 15th Century. This tiny staircase led to a Rood Loft, a wooden balcony that would have extended / across the Chancel Arch. Once again, it is assumed the village wanted to follow the oustom of the larger churches, but again employed local craftsmen because the workmanship is so obviously crude. This staircase weakened the basic structure as was discovered during the major repair work of 1983 when one of the arches all but collapsed.

THE NAVE

Start with the Font behind you. If you look left, you will see the four curved arches and the three round pillars which represent the very earliest stone work in the Church. They date back to 1220 - 1250 AD and the time of King Henry III. It is probable that Grafham's first recorded Rector, Richard Russell oversaw this earliest surviving work of reconstruction.

As you walk towards the Altar, see how the l11"st pillar on the left leans and how the third pillar has had its moulding cut away, probably to accommodate the Pulpit when it became fashionable to have it in the body of the church.

Glance up at this point to see the early Chancel roof-timbers, now pleasingly contrasted against the recently re-painted light blue plaster work.

THE CHANCEL

This part of the Church was put up in the late 13th Century to replace the original, probably apse-shaped, Chancel of the earliest building.

The two windows and the Priest's Doorway on your left both date back to this time, although the windows have been altered - probably in the 16th or 17th Century.

If you stand at the Altar Rail and look forward and to your left, you will see a horizontal moulded ledge of stone projecting from the wall. This is the only remaining evidence that the Chancel was once longer than it is now. It was probably shortened in the late 17th century after damage or decay.

The Eastern window over the Altar is quite modern and, sadly, there has never been any stained glass to be seen. The simple, carved oak Reredos under this window was added in 1893 as a memorial to the wife of the Rector Edmund Vernon_who took over in that year.

To your right (the southern wall) is the elaborately carved 13th Century Piscina, used to wash the Chalices after use. The original windows have again suffered some alteration.

Above your head, two ancient tie-beams continue to help strengthen the walls, whilst under your feet, the ever-present damp has affected the stonework and memorial headstones from the 18th Century.

The plain pierced-oak Pulpit is of rural simplicity and dates to the period 1680-1720.

This is the best place to see the roof of the Nave. Lime washed plaster covers most of the internal wood, but the two huge tie-beams are very obvious. They date to the 1400s and you may note the attractive carved stone corbels from the same period, on which the vertical timbers are supported.

If you walk down the aisle towards the organ, you see how the north wall is leaning outwards. Fortunately it was underpinned and buttressed at the turn of this Century." You will also see the only surviving wall painting in the Church. It is a fragment of the Lord's Prayer written in Gothic script and dates back to the 16th Century.

Turn left at the bottom of the aisle as you reach the 14thCnorth door, and return to the Font.

THE FONT, ORGAN AND TOWER

The octagonal stone font dates back to the very early 1300s. Note the seven, simply carved panels of varying design, the 'eighth panel is blank and this is because the font would have originally been set against the wall near the door. Over the centuries, fonts have occupied many different places!

The Organ, dating to 1912, was given to our Church when the church at Wyton was closed - it has a very fine tone, and is a great asset.

Behind the curtain, the Vestry is in the base of the Tower. Seen to advantage only from the outside, the Tower and octagonal spire are, arguably, Grafham's finest feature - built at some time between the years 1380 and 1420. The spiral staircase that gives access to the Belfry, came perhaps nearly 80 years later - the way it has been 'added on' is very obvious from outside!

The Belfry cannot be opened to the public, but it does contain a very early set of three bells. All were made before 1552 (before the days of The Spanish Armada), and, thanks to some devoted restoration work, they can now be rung again at our Services.

THE PORCH

Last then, to the Porch by which you came in. This was the latest addition to the Church and was put up in the 17th Century. However it had to be rebuilt in 1902/3, and advantage was then taken to 'rescue' a number of pieces of older stones. If you look to the top left, you will see a stone dated 1689 with the initials RA. This is in memory of Richard Allfield, the Rector who died in that year.

To the upper right, you will see a portion of an early 14thC sepulchral slab in the form of a priest. It was saved from being a doorstep in the north door!

The two Headstones set in the wan are those of a brother and sister, Elizabeth Fortney, and John Bigg. With her brother's help, Elizabeth founded the lust charity to help both the Church and the poor of the parish in the 18th century - a charity which is still in existence to this day."

SOURCE - (visit link)
Building Materials: Stone

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