Mid summer 2014, and a return visit to All Saints church Ellington. Ellington is a charming village just off the busy A14, a few miles from Huntingdon and close to Grafham Water. The church of All Saints is an imposing sight, with the elegant spire dominating the landscape for miles around. This is the most southerly church to be covered by this site, Ellington being fractionally less than 20 miles away from Peterborough.
I was previously here in the Autumn of 2011. The return visit was on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon, and I spent a very enjoyable time here before moving on to an evening prayer service at Easton.
There was a church mentioned at Ellington in the Domesday Survey of 1086, although nothing of that early structure remains. The oldest in situ part of the church here is the chancel arch, dating from the 13th century. The nave was re-built around 1400, with the arcades and the north and south aisles also being re-built at that time. The butressed tower and tall elegant octagonal spire were also added at the same time. At the end of the 15th century the clerastory was added to the nave with the south porch being re-built in the 16th century. The chancel was re-built in 1863, with the spire being restored in 1899, the nave roof being restored a few years later.
Four bells hang here, with two of them being very ancient. Starting off with the other two though and the first bell here is inscribed with the initials of the founder, which was Richard Chandlet III of Drayton Parslow in Buckinghamshire. This bell is dated 1699 and the letter "C" in the inscription is reversed. The fourth bell of this ring was cast by Robert Taylor of St Neots and is dated 1788. This bell is inscribed with the names Thomas Ladds and Henry Hanger, the churchwardens of the day.
Bells two and three are the ancient ones, being cast by John Walgrave of Aldgate, London. He was an active bellfounder between the years 1418 and 1440. Despite the great age though, there are several examples of Walgraves work still existing in churches within the catchment area of this site.
It was good to see the church still open, even fairly late on a Sunday afternoon. The church is limewashed and it is bright and welcoming inside. My attention was drawn to the ceiling in the nave, which features many carved angels, wings outstretched and hands held in prayer. At least one of these angels had had its face destroyed in the past. According to the British Listed Buildings entry for All Saints church, this roof is 15th century.
In the south aisle, in the children's area, is a stone coffin dating from the 13th century. This was found under the floor during building work in 1915. The font is 15th century, with octagonal bowl and panelled sides.
Some decent gargoylescan be seen here, seemingly of differing ages and styles but of high standard. A wide variety of creatures are depicted including a squatting, fairly explicit figure, which I thought from a distance might be a sheela na-gig, a female figure usually depicted showing her genetalia. A fertility symbol with the male equivialent being the Green Man. Another gargoyle looks down over the churchgrounds, holding a long, flowing beard and another curious creature shows the ravages of time or battle, missing an ear.
The initials I.B are carved in to the porch with a date of 1741, suggesting that graffiti is not just a purely modern day occurence.
The church grounds are well maintained. In fact they are immaculately kept and this must have taken a great deal of time and effort. Having spoken to a few people at other churches on this trip it really does need mentioning from time to time that a great deal of people do a great deal of work to look after these treasured buildings.
Two table tombs stand out as being worthy of particular mention. These are close to the south porch of the church, see photograph second from the bottom on the left. Since February 2010 these have had a Grade II listing in their own right. It is thought that these were erected in 1599 with the side slabs dating from the 14th century and the top slabs from the 13th century. Legend states that the table tombs were put up to accomodate the remains of two sisters who, in 1599, gave 63 acres of land to help the poor of the parish. Sadly, these are very worn and there is no inscription remaining on them. They were restored in 2009.
As the afternoon turned in to the evening, and the sun started to set this really was a glorious sight. Sometimes it is purely a case of being in the right place at the right time as the setting sun turned the everything golden. It was lovely to be here, watching the sun go down, with the only noise coming from the birds. A beautiful slice of village England. This is to be treasured.