St Nicholas Arrington is an ancient parish in south Cambridgeshire in their Diocese of Ely. The church is Grade 1 listed and dates from the 13C. although there is clear evidence of a church on this site prior to this date as documents refer to the priests land and church in 1087. It is the smallest building In the Benefice of Orwell Group and serves a small rural parish of some 400 people. The parish includes part of Wimpole Park (grade 1 listed) where there is the site of a former WWII USAF hospital (which temporarily boosted the parish population and therefore more people using the church).
SERVICES and MINISTRY
We have one Common Worship Eucharist each month in the church and a further Common Worship Eucharist located in the Clifden Close community rooms on the the third Thursday of the month.
The church has developed a distinctive emphasis towards ethical issues such as Fair Trade, low carbon footprint, green energy sources and giving to charities that develop education and welfare projects for those less fortunate than ourselves. We also maintain a small Free Emergency Food resource for anyone that needs it. The church has events which also offer a community focus for the parish. These mostly occur outside of the winter months.
The Orwell group of parishes work together led by one priest, and events such as 5th and 2nd Sunday rotate around the group while some other services are also shared (eg Healing, All Souls, and the various Easter services etc.). This offers a diversity of approaches and parts of congregations can be found moving around the parishes. Each parish has a Eucharist one Sunday in the month.
The church of St Nicholas is situated off the main road on one of the highest points in the village at the core of the Late Anglo-Saxon settlement. The Roman road called later Ermine Street had a significant effect on the community and became another focus for village in the 17th century largely centred around the Hardwicke Arms a former Coaching Inn and the Arrington Gate to Wimpole Park. Part of the Eccliastical parish of Arrington still remains in Wimpole Park.
The Church in Arrington may have been founded either by Aelfric a Saxon thegn or earlier Theodred, a Saxon Bishop of London and Elham who owned an estate in Arrington. Although the current building only dates to around 1250 -1300 when the nuns of Ickleton Priory held its patronage and other land in the parish. The site has been, a place of prayer and reflection, for over a 1000 years although it has had its fare share of challenges as the community faced up to considerable social and theological changes.
As a grade 1 listed building it is of National importance, and has a medieval chancel of the 13th century with all its original window openings, a double piscina, priests door and low window. The Tower and the arcades of the Nave are also of this date, although the aisles have been removed. The font may have come from the previous church on the site. The bell frame is medieval and the single remaining bell is by John Dier (1583). Both the Bell and the Bell-frame have conservation protection status.
Arrington is unusual for this part of Cambridgeshire in having a small spire that was built in 1750 by one of the carpenters of Wimpole Hall. In 2013 a wall painting of a standing figure was found on the west wall of the Nave which is also thought to be C13 and belonged to a programme of images that extended either side of the tower arch. In 2019 a medieval earth floor was discovered under one of the platforms that showed probable evidence for the original location of the font and its drain. This floor corresponds to the floor discovered where the former south aisle stood. Originally the church was thatched and by the 1599 was said to be in a ruinous state and this corresponds to extensive water damage seen in 2013 around the Tower arch that also ran across the wallpainting. This poor level of repair also seem to be present in the absence of any report by William Dowsing the iconoclast having visited the church on March 16th 1643 on his way between Croydon and Wimpole. Even if there was nothing, his diary would state 'nothing' against a church entry. 1658 seems to be the date of the demolition of the aisles and reconstruction of the towers top stage and east buttresses.
The churchyard may relate back to pre-christian periods as lithic finds have been discovered in and around the churchyard. However the monuments are mostly 19th century there are some interesting ones that relate to the early police forces founded in Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. The churchyard is also being managed to increase unimproved grassland biodiversity and is part of the Diocece of Ely and Wildlife Trust's Cburchyard scheme. The church building also exceeds the best practice model for energy consumption (c2007) and has recently (2018) gone "deep green" in terms of its energy sources (100% sustainable and non nuclear).
COME and SEE
The church is open each day throughout the year for private prayer, quiet reflection or simply to come and visit. Refreshments are served after morning and other main services. The church is heated for services when needed. The churchyard is open at all reasonable hours.