The Parish of Winwick
The Parish Church of All Saints
Winwick lies on the western border of Cambridgeshire, adjoining Northamptonshire and at the eastern end of the village is the church of All Saints.
Although not mentioned in the Domesday Book, parts of the church date from around the 12th century. The chancel, nave and south aisle were re-built in the middle of the 13th century, at about the time the church acquired its present font. The north arcade and aisle were then added about 1325.
The south transept was built in the early part of the 15th century and the west tower followed towards the end of that century.
The clerestory was added to the nave in the early 1700’s when the whole of the roof was renewed and the north aisle largely rebuilt. The church was drastically restored in the mid 1800’s when the south transept, south aisle, clerestory, porch and upper part of the spire were rebuilt.
A stone plaque and the clock on the tower are dedicated to those who fought and died in the 1914-18 war.
Finally, in a rather macabre addition in our history, in 1546 the registers mention an ‘outbreak of plague’ at Winwick, when 40 people, including the vicar, were buried between March and August.
All Saints Church
For some time now, we have been worried about the amount of subsidence in the chancel. It was not regular, but, beside the left hand choir pew (now removed) a depression of some 6” - 8” (15cm – 20 cm) had appeared.
No-one was quite sure when it happened, but it was probably over a lengthy period of time. There was little or no damage to the surrounding tiles, but the floor began to resemble the Rolling Downs, with the major dip tending towards the chancel centre.
A watching brief was kept on it while we saved our money. Eventually, the suspense became too hard to bear … we’d only just got two new(ish) priests and didn’t want either of them swallowed up by a sink hole, so the decision was taken to do something about it. The architect and archaeologist gave the go ahead, so two experts in the field of church restoration moved in. They quickly lifted the tiles (some Victorian, some even medieval) in the chancel and, to our relief, didn’t find anything extraordinary underneath.
Unfortunately, they didn’t find much in the way of choir pew bearers, either. They had rotted away to the point that, had somebody slumped down in the pew, they might well have kept going, so the pews had to come out. You can see the gap in the plasterwork where they stood..
This is part of one of the bearers for the choir pews. It was in one piece, until, just before taking the picture, I gave it a nudge with my shoe. The whole thing had absolutely no weight and just crumbled.
Not even fit for a wood burner!
You might not recognise it as such … this is the sanctuary (the altar has been removed since this picture was taken). It shows good reason why the repairs had to be carried out.
The circle rings part of the gap caused by subsidence. It was a good 4” (10 cm) at that point and that was by no means the least.
Not a terribly good picture, but, if you look carefully, parked in the centre aisle, is one of the choir pews, edge on. It’s in one piece, consisting of a pew, its flooring and a book rest. How they managed to move it out (two men) is a real mystery, but I don’t intend to go further up that path.
A view from the chancel up the church, which, bye and large, resembles a building site.
On the left, looking distinctly pleased with himself, is the person responsible for this whole mess, David Fowler, one of our Churchwardens.
And here we go!
The first of the repairs in the form of a concrete raft. Admittedly, there was some removal of rubble to give a level(-ish) surface, but just look at the depth of concrete necessary to bring it back to the original level … and we’ve still got to re-tile.
… and over our heads, our Green Man supervises the action.
However, it is noticeable that he has closed his eyes and, if you watch closely, I’m sure he shakes his head from time to time.
Still, we should be open again by the middle to end of October, so, like the rest of us, he won't have to wait long!
This renovation is a large undertaking for such a small community, and it would be very remiss of me not to say how much hard work it has taken the Parochial Church Council (PCC) just to get to this point.
Congratulations are due, in no small part, to our Churchwardens, Sue and David Fowler. The rest of the PCC have also leant their full support to the project and together, have spent many days fund raising and working towards this moment.
Well done and congratulations to you all. Our church would be in a sad state without all your help and dedication.