Church and Chapel Places Upwell

St Peter’s Church, Upwell

Upwell church from the East

Upwell church from the East

Every time I go back to Upwell I try to go to the Church as it feel so familiar and is the one unchanging thing that I find when I visit. It is a fine stone building, with angels in the roof and spectacular carvings on the front of the balconies. For many years, a wooden cross hung in the back of the church, carved by my father, Stuart Carnson. He looked after the carvings along the pews, and repaired any damage that he found. The Irish linen altar cloth is our family’s memorial to him in the church.

Ethelreda was spreading Christianity in 700, but there was no church. Oswald
was a descendant of the Danes who learnt to read and write Latin, which was
needed for the church, and was sent to the main European monastery at Fleury
in France. After he came back, his friend Ethelwine, the Duke of Anglia, helped
him with the funds to start a new Abbey at Ramsey, which was
built in 969. Valuable land in Hilgay and Churchfield
and Plawfield in Upwell were tithed to Ramsey. Oswald was responsible
for Upwell church, which probably started in about 1000.

The oldest datable relic in the church is the stone Crusader’s cross
of Walter Le Curtis who left Upwell to fight in the Crusades in 1220.

The original church was the north aisle and the tower. In 1350, the church was expanded but it took around 100 to 150 years to complete. The lectern dates to around 1380. This is very unusual, there are only about five like it in the country.

Curates were usually more popular in the parish that Rectors, who often held several positions and were rarely if ever, seen in the parish. Their living came from the small tithe of 10% of eggs, geese, honey, pigs, fish, which was collected from parishioners and fees for baptisms, weddings and the soul-scot. This was paid at the open grave at funeral to ensure that the deceased’s soul went straight to heaven.

In 1538, Henry the Eighth dissolved the Abbey at Ramsey. The Beaupre
family of Beaupre Hall in Outwell became the new patrons, but as they had no
sons, the patronage descended through the female line to the Bell family. It
then descended to the Townley family.

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