"It is thought that people have worshipped regularly on this site for over 1000 years, though the first known mention of a church is in 1217, part of the chancel wall being the only stone to survive. The church was built originally in the Decorated style but in the 14th century much of it was rebuilt of field stones with freestone and clunch dressings in the Perpendicular style. There was rebuilding in the 15th century including the queen-post roofs, a widened chancel arch, a stone stair to the rood screen in the northeast corner of the nave, and the porch. It is a small church by comparison with those of many English villages, the chancel being 23ft 9ins by 16ft (7.24m x 4.88m) and the nave 45ft by 22ft 3ins (13.72m x 6.78m), reflecting the small population until recent times and the lack of any sizable endowments. The only subsequent addition was in Victorian times when the vestry was added outside the north door, but, alas, of inadequate size and foundations.
There is evidence, however, of a number of changes over the years. Fragments of old stained glass have been found in the churchyard and there used to be a Jacobean rood screen. The original was presumably removed in the Reformation, but early in the 17th century another of the same design was put in and the mountings can still be seen. Ten pictures and a cross were removed by the puritan William Dowsing in 1644. With a few exceptions records exist from 1345, baptisms from 1564, burials from 1576 and marriages from 1578.
The land round the church was worked by about 12 monks until 1279 when the Bishop of Ely granted the rector a house and 40 acres of land. Until 1935 the Bishop had the right to receive tithes (income in cash or kind). In 1966 the rectorship was combined with Toft, Caldecote and Childerley. The Glebe House or Rectory was often reported as being in a dilapidated condition and was finally pulled down in 1881. In 1787 it had served as a sort of hospital for the poor families in the village. Over the years there have been a number of remarkable characters as Rectors, although many of them were absent for much of the time during the fourteenth to mid-nineteenth century. To quote just two examples: William Middleton, Rector from 1585 to 1613, would not wear a surplice as ordered by Queen Elizabeth and later committed suicide, while Edmund Mapletoft was sacked in 1644 for popish practices and negligence.
In the late nineteenth century when the Rector started to take up residence, a Sunday school was begun and the average congregation numbered seven. In 1783 the church was said to be in poor condition and the spire out of line; the roof was poor in 1836 and sparrows interrupted services. Extensive restoration was carried out in 1901, funded largely by Pembroke College. Bishop Wren when Bishop of Ely had endowed the income from the church's land to the college to help pay for the building of their college chapel, designed by his nephew Christopher Wren."
extract from the The History of St Mary's Church
The cache contains a log book and pencil - please replace it exactly where you find it. The spot is not overlooked by local houses but is near a fairly busy road so stealth is required.
Please note - the cache is not in or on Church property.
There is convenient parking nearby. There is also the village sign with a map showing the Hardwick Millennium Walk, along which there are other caches that you might like to find while in the area.
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