St Swithun's parish church
|Population||678 (2011 Census) (parish, including Little Chishill)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|Website||Great & Little Chishill|
Great Chishill is a village in the civil parish of Great and Little Chishill, South Cambridgeshire, England. The village is about 1 mile (1.6 km) east of the county boundary with Hertfordshire and about 4 miles (6 km) east of Royston. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 678.
The parish was part of Essex until 1895, when the county boundary was revised.
The highest point of the current administrative county of Cambridgeshire, 479 feet (146 m) above sea level, is about 1⁄2 mile (800 m) east of St Swithun's parish church. However, as Great Chishill was historically a part of Essex (having been moved in boundary changes in 1895), the historic county top of Cambridgeshire is about 13 miles (21 km) to the east of Great Chishill close to the village of Castle Camps where a point on the disused RAF airfield reaches a height of 128 metres (420 ft) above sea level (grid reference TL 63282 41881).
The highest point of Essex, Chrishall Common and the triple point of Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire are near each other about 1.2 miles (2 km) south of Great Chishill.
The place-name "Chishill" or "Chishall" is derived from the Old English Cishella, meaning "gravelly hill".
The Domesday Book of 1086 records that in the reign of Edward the Confessor Ulfeih, a freeman, had held Cishella and Sired, a freeman, had held Little Cishella. William the Conqueror granted Cishella to Henry de Farers and Little Cishella to Count Eustace of Boulogne.
Great Chishill was divided into five manors, the Manor of Cardens, alias Bassets Hall, the Manor of Belknaps, the Manor of Tewes alias Lisles, the Manor of Friers alias Chishall-Grange and the Manor of Chishall alias Over Chishall-Hall. There is still a farmhouse, Hall Farm, on the latter site, on the east side of the village.
The Church of England parish church of St Swithun was founded in 1136 by Geffrey de Magnaville under the Benedictine Walden Abbey. The first recorded vicar was Anselm De Flempton, 14 May 1327.
The church is built of flint with limestone and clunch dressings. The nave and part of the chancel are 13th-century. The nave has north and south aisles. The south arcade is of four bays and was built about 1275. The chancel was rebuilt about 1330. The north arcade is later, and is Perpendicular Gothic.
The lower part of the west tower was also 14th-century, and the upper part was 15th-century. But the tower collapsed in 1892 and was rebuilt in 1897. At the same time the nave and aisles were restored under the direction of the architect Francis Penrose.
In August 1892 the architect Alfred Hoare Powell cycled from Barrington to see the collapsed tower. He wrote home "The tower was all built of flints and had an iron band all round it which the vicar and churchwardens agreed in thinking very unslightly and so removed it!! with such consequences".
The west tower has a ring of five bells. William and Philip Wightman of London cast the treble, second, third and fourth bells in 1686. Thomas II Mears of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry cast the tenor bell in 1841. A new ringing floor was inserted in the tower in 2000.
The church is a Grade II* listed building.
St Swithun's parish is part of the Diocese of Chelmsford.
A Congregational chapel was established in 1694. On the 22 February 1789 a fire broke out in its vestry house in Barley Road and quickly spread throughout the village, destroying many houses and setting light to the tower of St Swithun's parish church. No lives were lost. The Congregational chapel was rebuilt 1894. It is now a United Reformed Church.