The Shingay Group
ln January 1969, the Bishop of Ely inaugurated a group of parishes to be known as the Shingay Group to serve the district.
Three priests, the Rector (The Rev, J.T.Carré) and two Vicars (The Revs W.M.Debney and H'A.Matty) were appointed as ministers to the parishes of Guilden Morden, Steeple Morden, Abington Piggots, Croydon, East Hatley, Hatley St. George, Litlington, Tadlow and Wendy-Cum Shingay.
Today The Shingay Group consists of six parishes, Guilden Morden, Steeple Morden, Abington Piggots, Litlington, Tadlow and Wendy-Cum Shingay.
The Rector, Canon Shamus Williams and curate, The Revd. Ann Bol are assisted in many different ways by the ministries of lay people.
In the reign of William the Conqueror, there lived in Cambridgeshire a certain Norman nobleman named Picot, who held the office of Sheriff. The King bestowed upon him a wealthy barony in Cambridgeshire, and enriched him with other great honours and possessions in different parts of the kingdom.
Picot had a wife called Hugolina, who had Saint Giles for her Patron saint. When she became seriously ill, she promised that, if she should regain her health, she would dedicate a monastery to Saint Giles. After her recovery, she consulted with Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Remigius, Bishop of Lincoln, and they duly founded a Church in honour of Saint near the castle of Cambridge.
Picot gave them a charter at the request of his wife Hugolina, in which he says, 'Yielding to the advice of Remigius, and the entreaties of Hugolina, my wife, I have made over to the canons regular of Saint Giles, the Church of Saint Giles, where, their house is founded, the CHURCH of MORDON with the CHAPEL of REDDERlA to have and to hold with all freedom.'
Although the holders of land are recorded in Domesday Book the earliest mention of the church is in the above mentioned grant to the Canons of Saint Giles.
It will have been noticed that the mention of the Church of Morden as being given to St. Giles implies that it was not built on that occasion, but existed before. We can however find no record of this.
We are always pleased to welcome you to our village and its ancient parish church.
People have been coming to worship here for at least a thousand years, probably a lot longer.
The Vicar Luke
An examination of the Norwich taxation returns leaves the impression that a number of vicarages must have been insufficiently endowed.
Eight vicarages, most of them in the Deanery of Cambridge, were then assessed at less than five marks, the statutory minimum that was usually observed.
One of these churches, Guilden Morden, was appropriated to Barnwell Priory, and in 1269 the prior and convent presented to the vicarage one Luke de Abington, a man of good report and honest conversation. The vicarage, which in the Norwich taxation was valued at 20s, was said at the time of Luke’s presentation to be worth 100s at least, but the burdens, which included finding a chantry in the chapel of Redree thrice in the week, seem to have been heavy and Luke soon began to try to obtain better conditions. First, he withdrew the annual pension of 1 mark due from the vicar to the Priory, and a rent of 4s for his manse. The prior, however, obtained letters from the Pope compelling Luke to pay.
Next, when Archbishop of Kilwardby visited the diocese in 1277, Luke complained to him of the ‘smallness’ of his portion, and the Archbishop’s commissioners issued new regulations which considerably increased the vicar’s income.
Again the prior appealed to the Pope, who annulled the award of Kilwardby's commissioners, and Luke had to renounce all claim to a higher stipend. When, however, Archbishop Pecharn visited the diocese four years later, Luke renewed his complaints, petitioning for the augmented portion assigned under Kilwarclby.
Thereupon there followed a struggle in the course of which both royal and papal authority was invoked, and which ended only with the death of Luke, three years later.
The chronicler records with an air of satisfaction how he died excommunicate, and how it was not until after his executors had made peace with the convent that the canons absolved the body and allowed it Christian burial in the Church.
Thus the canons had triumphed, and thereafter no vicar of Guilden Morden appears to have raised the question of his stipend. Yet considering the vast difference between the income which the priory derived from the church (it was valued at 40 marks in 1254) and that which they allowed the vicar, as well as the archbishop's decision in the latter's favour, one cannot avoid the conclusion that justice was on the side of the vicar.
ln 1558 Guilden Morden was one of the patronages given to Jesus College by Bishop Thirlby. The Bishop received this patronage with five others in payment of £100 loaned by him to Queen Mary I.
The living of Guilden Morden was a very poor one as were all the livings given by Bishop Thirlby, he having been obliged to take them in lieu of the £100 owed to him. Paul le Merchant was the first Fellow of Jesus College to take the living in 1619 holding it for only a few months.
There being no records prior to 1618 when the Jesus College Register commenced other than a list of Vicars no elaboration has so far been possible.
The Chapel of Redderia or Redree referred to had disappeared before 1600. It was certainly in active use in 1350 when an account of its furniture was reported to the Bishop.
The area known to generations as Chapel Field where it stood is on the west side of Ruddery Lane on the farm known as Beverley.
The Origin of the name Guilden Morden
The reference in Domesday documents is to 'Morden' and 'another Morden'.
This suggests that the two Mordens were already separate villages, but had not long before been one.
The prefixes are not on record for another hundred years but Gildene occurs in various spellings from 1204.
Modern Dictionaries of Place Names tell us that Morden means the Hill on the Moor, and that Gilden, Gelden, Gylden, Guilden means Golden or Splendid.
This magnificent and very large Parish Church of a quality, possibly without equal in this part of the country.
It is sited on the highest point in the village in a fine Churchyard.
It is planned conventionally with a splendid West Tower and lofty spire, aisled nave and unaisled Chancel.
Especially noteworthy external features include a small south porch; south turret containing the rood stair, and a vestry of most rare Medieval construction.
The dates of the parts of the church are as varied as the styles. For a church with its architectural history beginning in the 12th century, and continuing into the 16th century, the effect of the whole is remarkably harmonious, and perhaps more remarkably still, the comprehensive Victorian restoration of about 1875 was extremely sympathetically carried out.
The materials of the construction are exceptionally varied also; the Tower being built of large squared blocks of limestone of an unusually even deep cream colour; the walls of the body of the church are mostly a pebble rubble consisting of a mixture of flint, brick, tile and stone fragments. Dressings are variously of limestone and clunch ashlar. The Vestry is constructed of massive ashlar blocks on a brick base.
Apart from the Chancel, which is tiled, the roofs are of Welsh slates with very narrow lead parapet gutters; the spire is covered in old cast lead, somewhat altered at a later date in its arrangement of sheets and laps. The original herring-bone pattern remains on the upper parts.
The West Tower
The West Tower is over sixty feet in height, is Perpendicular in style (1425-1525) and probably dates from the mid-15th century.
The tall graceful spire, also sixty feet in height appears to be original and an integral part of the West Tower arrangement, although the main base beam is carefully carved with the date 1676.
The South Porch
The South Porch is completely Perpendicular in style (1425-1525) and construction, and is probably contemporary with the West Tower although built of different materials. The very fine doorway has had the moulded reveals renewed up to the arch springing line level but the whole head remains in the original clunch ashlar.
The Rood Screen
The original Rood Screen (or Parclose) survives intact. It is probably the finest of this period of its kind in the country.
The Rood Screen chapels for Patrol and Parson have evidently been re-assembled and the rood loft part of the rood screen has been reduced since the Reformation.
The re-assembling work may have been executed prior to Victorian times.
The bright colouring which includes figures of Erkenwald, Bishop of London in 675
and King Edmund, martyred in 870, is typical of medieval times, and may be partly original although it is evident that some of the stencil work is over painting of a later date. The two figures are also in arbitrary positions now, which suggests a re-arrangement consistent with the reproduction screening on the Chancel side.
It is difficult to assign a date to this, but it almost certainly falls within the Decorated period 1325-1375, although it could be as late as 145O. The narrow stone newel stair to the top of the screen survives complete
Bishop Erkenwald of London was the brother of Ethelreda who founded the Abbey of Ely, which later became the Cathedral of our diocese.
He himself founded two other Abbeys, those of Chertsey and Dorking.
King Edmund of East Anglia was martyred in 870, being put to death by archers. This accounts for the common representation of him carrying symbolic arrows.
Both of these men had miraculous cures attributed to them.
The text painted on the screen may be translated as follows:-
‘Jesu in death's dark hour be Thou my friend,
My life to come make sure at this life's end.
Grant me confession Lord, before I die,
And guide my parting soul to realms on high.'
The Parclose screen to the west Tower is a much simpler affair but is of the same period.
The Nave is six bays in length, being in the Decorated style of the late 13th century.
There is a good clerestory of the late Perpendicular style, dating probably from about 1450.
The three eastern arches of the South arcade are considerably older, probably dating from the early 12th century which evince an earlier building.
The stonework is entirely clunch ashlar and in good condition everywhere, although the arches lean outward slightly. This appears to be the result of ancient roof thrust, and of no current significance.
The nave and clerestory windows number five per side, the decorated moulding showing the original height of the
church has been cut through to insert the Clerestory windows.
The two text letters T.G. carved above the North door on the exterior, are probably the initials of a contributor to that part of the church.
The Crusaders' Chest
In the North Aisle there is a large Crusaders' collecting chest, 4 ft 6 in in length and 2 ft in width.
This suggests that collections were made, in kind, and that, after sale, the proceeds were sent to help the crusades.
The Communion Rails
The Communion Rails which were made by Osweld Kaye, the village blacksmith, were given by him to the Church in memory of his wife, Ella.
The Chancel is of the Perpendicular period (1425-1525).
The roof is of fine medieval hammer-beam construction and the supports are decorated by four pairs of exquisitely carved angels.
The East Window
The East Window is Victorian.
The single stone bracket to left of the window was probably one of a pair originally holding statues.
The Organ was built in 1833 by Buckwell in St. Michael's, Cambridge.
lt has been slightly altered over the years and was bought from St. Michael's in 1965 at, a cost of £600, and installed here by E J. Johnson.
This instrument replaces the original by Warboys of Putney.
The Church Plate
A silver Chalice and Paten dating from 1666, the year of the Fire of London, and a collection dish of 1682 were given to the parish by the Storey family.
Because complete records were not kept by the Goldsmith's Company until the end of the 17th century, the makers are unknown, although the marks are recorded on other pieces including a chalice at St. Bride's, Fleet Street, London.
The Pulpit and Lectern
The Pulpit and Lectern are both of simple Victorian design and presumably were put in when the Church was restored in about 1875.
The Guilden Morden Church clock is one of the best-preserved of the tower clocks in the neighbourhood. It must certainly have been one of the earliest of the clocks made with bronze wheels and the designer and maker, John Rayment, of Huntingdon, whose name
is on the framework, must have been a very able man.
Some parts of the clock are glass-hard and show very little wear.
Like most clocks of the period it has to be wound daily, and judging by the tower steps, it must have been in continual use. One of the drawbacks of these old 30 hour clocks was that they stopped while being wound, and if wound slowly, would loose time.
A maintaining power has been fitted to overcome this.
It has no minute hand, and the dial is spaced into quarter hours, as was usual.
The Bells form a ring of eight. The Tenor, or largest, weighing about 580 kilos.
The Tenor was cast in 1621 by Tobias Norris of Stamford, the 4th and 5th in 1708 by John Waylett, sometime of Bishops Stortford.
The 2nd and 3rd are by Richard Chandler of Drayton Parslow and the
Treble is a pre-reformation bell cast in about 1450 by John Danyell, a London founder.
The basin of the Font is Norman (1100-1175) and is probably a relic of the earlier church.
The shafts upon which it stands are later additions.
The Candelabra is Victorian in Design and workmanship and is a fine example of the best work of the period.
Thanks to the Church Floodlight Committee, we are able to enjoy a landmark, seen for miles at night
Whatever the weather, there is a warm welcome waiting inside
With grateful thanks to all who have contributed to this brief insight into our beautiful church
St. Mary’s Guilden Morden Church Restoration Committee
‘Striving to preserve the heritage and extend the accessibility of St Mary’s, Guilden Morden, for everyone’.
Jane Allton, Mike Birrell, Andy Tanser, Lee Davis, Kate Marshall