A Brief History
There has been a church in Hargrave for at least 1000 years.
The nave of the current building was the first section to be built in the late 12th century, but probably only the south door remains as originally designed. The construction of the chancel followed c1250 and the brick tower around 1460. The north aisle with its significant intervention to the nave and remodelling of other parts of the church were completed around 1870. The Victorian interventions included the alteration and rebuilding of the east wall of the chancel. The building is listed grade 2* by Historic England, the only building in Hargrave to be so highly classified.
The interior is simple in style, reflecting its service over the centuries to the small, rural, farming community of Hargrave. The church is situated on the northern boundary of Hargrave, about a mile from the centre of the village and is approached from the public highway by way of a 550 ft unmade lane, rising some 30 ft over its length to add to the visitor’s challenge. But the challenge is worth it, giving one time to appreciate the peacefulness of the setting before joining a Sunday service.
Despite the simplicity of the church, its history has bestowed a number of notable features, including:
Justin Rabett - Churchwarden
Mrs Jill Upton - Churchwarden
David Williams - Treasurer
Mrs Jill de Laat - Secretary
The work to stabilise the east wall of the chancel was completed just before Christmas 2020, bringing a much welcomed closure to a threat that has been hanging over the church for six years. It was late 2014 when concerns were aroused that old cracks were widening and new cracks appearing between the east chancel wall and the remainder of the building. This was a significant dent in our euphoria of the then recent renewal of the north roof only a year before which had at last stopped years of a leaking roof with a challenging price tag and fundraising of about £80,000.
For the next three years the movement was monitored by way of telltales fixed across the principal cracks inside and out to accurately measure movement through monthly readings.
Although the chancel dates from 1240, it was extensively remodelled by the Victorians in 1870. The dig showed that their remodelled wall rested on footings only 18 inches deep, with no spread beyond the wall width and on clay subsoil. Underpinning of the affected wall was recommended by reinforcing support with a new concrete footing in front of and “toed” under the existing Victorian footing.
Time was of the essence and in 2018 serious fundraising began and in autumn 2019 the contractor started some necessary drainage improvement work, finishing in late November. By the end of 2019 we had amassed sufficient grant offers to instruct the contractor to proceed with the balance of the work, the underpinning and remedial work and this was completed in May 2020, and the repair of cracks and other consequent issues by July.
St Edmund's chancel wall is safe and later this year an exhibition will be held by the Hargrave Heritage Group.
Above you can see some "before and after" photos of the work.