On this beautiful Saturday the approach to Connington was just gorgeous. There was virtually no traffic on the main road in to the village. All that I could hear was birdsong and a light aircraft coming in to the nearby airfield. There were more horses on the road than cars. A lovely place!
There was a church mentioned here at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086. Nothing remains of that structure and it is thought that the whole church underwent a major rebuilding towards the end of the 15th century. The church here was dedicated to St Mary during the 14th century and to complicate things further it was known as Our Lady Of Connington in the 16th century.
The church underwent further restoration in 1634, with the work being undertaken by Sir Thomas Cotton.Several other periods of restoration came about in Victorian times. There are six bells in the beautiful tower, all of which are quite modern. All six were cast by Thomas Mears, a London founder. One bell is undated, three of the bells are dated 1827 and one is dated 1834.
At one point there were four bells hanging in the tower here. Three of these bells were sold in 1802, with the money raised buying a church clock. One bell was retained and it is thought that this bell is the undated one, which would have been re-cast by Mears at the time that the others were cast.
Sadly, this impressive building is no longer used for regular worship, with there being just two services a year held here. All Saints is kept locked, with a keyholder available at a nearby house. Inside is the burial place of Sir Robert Cotton, as mentioned earlier. Cotton became member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1601 and founded the Cotton Library. This was a collection of manuscripts which surpassed that held by the Public Record Office. Inside the church are memorials for several of the Cotton family.
Church grounds are, in places, very overgrown but there some very finely carved gravestones to be found amongst the weeds. In addition to the usual angels and cherubs, a gravestone depicting a human skull peers out from behind ivy, reminding the casual onlooker of Man's mortality. The script on this stone is too faded to read but I would think that this stone was pre 1720.
A war memorial stands in the church grounds, and the area around this is well tended. Another stone worthy of mention is pictured second down on the right. This features a pilots head, looking over towards what is now known as Peterborough Business Airfield, just across the fields on the edge of the village. During the Second World War this was known as Glatton Airfield and was the home of USAF 457th Bombardment Group. This group operated from Glatton. The memorial stands in the church grounds to those who fell during that conflict. The village sign also remembers the village's wartime connections, showing Connington church, with a bomber flying over it.
I re-visited Connington in May 2011, attending one of the two services a year to be held here, and took some photographs of the impressive interior. I was fortunate enough to be able to go up in to the ringing gallery where a team of local bellringers were hard at work. Was interested to see some ancient graffiti on the walls here, spanning some 300 years with names and initials from the 17th century standing alongside one dated 1944!
Was pleased to be able to see a recumbant figure, with hands raised in prayer, resting in the south chapel. There is also a very impressive monument to Prince Henry of Scotland Lorde (sic) of Connington, this dating from 1600. There is also another monument to David, Prince of Scotland and Earl of Huntingdon.
There are many monuments and plaques here commemorating members of the Cotton and the Heathcote families. A monument in charming script, with the letter "N's" reversed commemorates Thomas Cotton and Johanna Paris who were married in 1512.