Tydd St Giles village church gallery, rare detached bell tower - Katey Jane Photography


Tydd St Giles village church Cambridgeshire

The Norman church dedicated to St. Giles, dominates the eastern side of the village. The church, although extensively redesigned in the 19th century, still retains its Norman architecture and feel. The West Window was designed by Alan of Walsingham, the designer of the famous "octagon" lantern on Ely Cathedral, this rare clear glass medieval window (which survived the depredations of Oliver Cromwell) fills the whole of the western end of the building. All of the woodwork and pews in the church are later Victorian additions. In the Lady Chapel there are still some remnants of the church's original medieval stained glass, the rest of the church's stained glass is Victorian. The East Window shows the life and passion of Jesus Christ, while the North-Western Window depicts the church's (and village's) patron saint, Saint Giles and St. Paul (one of the patrons of the Church of Ss. Peter & Paul in Wisbech). The outer southern wall of the church still has the remains of a medieval sundial, which was in use when the church was a cell of the priory in Wisbech.

The church is one of the few in the area to have a separate tower. The tower fell away from the eastern end of the church in the 18th century (due to poor foundations and strong wind), and was rebuilt by Sir George Gilbert Scott when the building was extensively renovated in the 1880s. Local legend has it that the tower was pushed over by the devil, as he could not abide the sound of the church bells. The tower has a ring of six bells with a tenor weight of 8-2-8cwt tuned to A. The bells were recast for the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria, from the original ring of 5, six bells were cast. The bells hang in a wooden frame, and are rung in the traditional English full circle ringing system.

Starting in 1868, the church was renovated by the famous architect Sir George Gilbert Scott.  The church was shortened, where the collapse of the tower had destroyed the original sanctuary (The east wall of the building still has the original blank arch). The nave roof was built up to its present level, and a new clerestorey was installed—the original can still be seen on the inside where the builders filled the Norman windows. The side aisles were also extended and the roof was re-leaded. The original plans, drawn by Scott can be seen on display at the back of the church, where they are now displayed after being found in a drawer in the church vestry. Repairs to the roof.

This church is just 4 miles from my home, a place i often pass though and have been doing since a child, my family is scattered around the Tydd villages, Tydd St Mary, Tydd Gote and this village. These villages like so many in the Fens are tucked away from the real world, sometimes strange places to visit, can almost seam to be abandoned. Life has almost stopped here for people, I often chat to church cleaners who all say these places are almost dead, This isn't a dig at my home areas it's just the facts of Fenland life. I have lived in other parts of the UK and the Fens is by far the most strange, people often call the Fens Marmite countryside and living, you either love it or hate it!

Cool interesting fact

The name 'Tydd' is known to derive from a corruption of the word "Tide" as the village was home to an important sluice used for draining the Fens. Although many Fenland names derive from Anglo-Saxon words, a few scattered around Wisbech include Anglo-Saxon words referencing the native British population. Although the village is old enough, it does not appear in the Domesday Book, because the village was in the liberty of the Bishop of Ely.

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