St Giles from the south.
Tadlow is a picturesque village situated in rural South Cambridgeshire about 6.5 miles north-west of Royston. Its name comes from the Anglo-Saxon chieftain Tada and the word hlaw meaning "hill" or "burial mound". Trippa-hlaw (Triplow), is similarly named after another chieftain's final resting place.
Tadlow sits between two ancient routes that run broadly east-west. One runs past the church a little way to the north, following a line from Wrestlingworth, past the derelict Clopton and along the present road through Croydon. The other runs alongside the River Cam which forms Tadlow's southern boundary today. These important tracks were known as the "Ridgeway" and "Portway" in the 14th and 15th centuries and the "Upper-" and "Lower Cambridge Way" in the 18th century. In 1826 the Cambridge–Biggleswade turnpike (now the B1042) was built, abruptly separating Tadlow from its church.
Tadlow High Street is a mainly post-1960's development with a few 19th century survivors; there's little hint of an ancient settlement here. Tadlow's prosperity has waxed and waned over the last thousand years but it was never abandoned like nearby Clopton. The Domesday Book recorded 28 peasants in 1086. From there, the population grew - peaking in around 1300 - but then started to fall. The Black Death would have taken a toll and perhaps, as happened at Clopton, labour-intensive arable farming gave way to wool production in the 1500's. After 1660 the number of buildings had certainly declined and by 1750 only 3-or-4 farms were left, with a few more scattered across nearby fields. The 19th century saw an improvement, no doubt helped by that new road; from 13 houses around 1801 to about 30 just 50 years later. Most of today's dwellings appeared in the 1970's between groups of cottages surviving from the 19th century. Of course, one medieval building survived throughout: the church, hidden away above the B1042 and quietly watching the drama below.
St Giles, formerly St. John the Baptist, was known by its current name in 1748. It is built of the usual flint rubble with clunch dressings, and comprises a chancel, nave, south porch and west tower.
A curious feature of St Giles is that its orientation is not consistent along its length. Since very early times, churches were orientated so that the congregation faced east. Opinions differ as to why. Perhaps it was out of deference to the Holy Land (Jerusalem in particular), or the Orient (thought to be the origin of Man), or sun worship (which early Christianity cleverly commandeered - think of "Sunday"). It is suggested that many churches were aligned to the rising sun on their patron saint's day. Regrettably, there is only limited evidence to support that intriguing notion.
St Giles' nave and chancel were built in the 13th century and were probably aligned to adjoining field boundaries. The tower was not built until after 1400 and is more correctly oriented to the east. The deviation is small but you can just see it if you stand to the rear of the tower, looking along the back wall of the nave. As far as I know, such corrections are uncommon, at least locally. Most churches have had major components added or completely rebuilt over their lifetime, yet the original building line is normally respected.
The church is open to visitors and is worth a look inside. The interior is a curious mixture of medieval simplicity and robust Victorian decoration. As one of the references suggests, the Victorian red tiles seem out of place but they do remind us that these old churches survive today only through continual maintenance and occasional restoration. Without such care, St Giles would have long gone the way of all other contemporary buildings in this little hamlet.
Tadlow, A Dictionary of British Place Names. Extract online at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O40-Tadlow.html
Tadlow, St Giles: http://www.druidic.org/camchurch/churches/tadlow.htm
Tadlow, British History Online: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=66748
Orientation of Churches: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11305a.htm and http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/chorien.htm
The church is set well back from the road but please ensure that children and dogs are properly supervised, especially when leaving or entering the site. Boots or wellies are strongly recommended and this is probably not one to do after dark.
I found that GPS stability is heavily affected by the trees here. Wait for it to settle and look around if you don't immediately find what's described. Answers to the following questions can all be found outside the church and will enable you to find the cache location.
1. To ensure you've safety in mind, what is the legal speed limit along this stretch of the B1042? = A0 mph
2. Go to N52 06.733 W000 07.936 – William and Mary Ingrey both died in December 1906. How many days apart? = B days
3. Go to N 52 06.725 W000 07.920 – RS scratched his mark here. In which year? = 1CD7
4. Walk around the church and count the metal ventilation grills at ground level, including the one that's covered up. = EF
5. Look around for a living commemoration of a VJ Day anniversary. What two numbers are on the plaque? GH
In true Bill&Ben style, the sum (A+B+C+D+E+F+G+H) should equal 26. The cache can now be found at:
N52 06.(A+1)(C-E)(B+F+H) W000 07.(G+F)(G+D)(C+F)
If anybody would like to expand this series please do, I would just ask that you could let Sadexploration know first so he can keep track of the Church numbers and names to avoid duplication.