The Parish Church

The Parish church is often, the oldest and most complex building in the community and in Thriplow this is certainly so. St. Augustine directed the Christians in England to build, their churches on or near pagan places of worship to prove that Christian magic was stronger than pagan. This is probably why the parish church of Thriplow is on a hill close by the Tumulus in. which Trippa is reputedly buried. The first church was probably a small wooden, building, and as Brythnoth was a great Saxon, lord, of aristocratic descent and a Christian it is very likely that there was a church, in. Thriplow, the main village of the Hundred, by the year 900. There were no stone churches before the 1lth century and the shape of the first ones were cruciform as ours is. The earliest parts of the present church are carved Norman pillars on the outside of the north transept, remains of narrow lancet windows in the chancel, and the font which is also of Norman workmanship. Its prominent position on a hill made it ideal, for claiming ‘Sanctuary’, and four cases are .recorded, in the 13th and 14th centuries of people claiming sanctuary for crimes they had committed, either theft or murder, both capital offences. As long as they stayed in. the church they were safe, but no food was to be brought to them and. they had either to submit to justice which probably meant death or to ‘abjure the realm’ which meant being escorted to the nearest port clad only in shirt and hose, and to board ship never to return. In, 1299 It is reported that “Peter de Cambere when shooting arrows in Tryppelawe, accidentally hit Richard Denys aged 2 years in the head and killed him. He took sanctuary in the Church there and abjured, the Realm, his chattels 3/-“.

The church is called. All Hallows in wills of the 16th century though its other name of St George,(not found until the 19th century) probably reflects the fact that the Thriplow Feast was held on St George’s day, April 23rd, until within living memory.

Thriplow church suffered under the puritan William Dowsing who with Oliver Cromwell’s authority travelled the country destroying all evidence of so called Popery. In his journal he records: “March 1643, we brake about 100 Cherubins and superstitious pictures and gave Order to take down 18 Cherubins and a cross on the steeple and to level the steps”.

Until 1743 there were four bells in the church and in 1743 .they were taken down and five new bells hung, these lasted until 1995 when their bearings were replaced by a and a sixth bell hung so that they could once again be pealed.

By the mid-nineteenth century the church was in a ruinous state and extensively restored in 1875 – 1876. During the restoration two stone coffins were found beneath the floor of the nave, they date from the 13th century and contained the skeletons of a man about 6 ft high, and. a woman of 4ft 10in. The Chancel, being the responsibility of Peterhouse College was restored by 1878 to a design, by Sir George Gilbert Scott

Until 1894, when, parish, councils began, it was not only a centre for worship but the centre of administration for the whole village. The ‘vestry’ meeting with officers of two churchwardens, a constable and an overseer of the poor, was responsible for caring for the poor and destitute, and for administering the law both secular and religious, they were overseen by a, local J.P. who vetted their work and issued warrants.