Great Chishill

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Great Chishill
Great Chishill mill.JPG
Great Chishill windmill
Grid reference: TL427386
Location: 52°1’59"N, 0°4’1"E
Post town: Royston
Postcode: SG8
Dialling code: 01763
Local Government
Council: South Cambridgeshire
South Cambridgeshire

Great Chishill is a village and ancient parish in Essex, at the very north-westernmost part of that county, close to the bounds of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, the former lying about a mile and a half to the east.

The village is amongst the hills and reaches 479 feet above sea level; the highest point of Essex is just three feet higher at Chrishall Common, just a few miles to the east, though just a couple of miles north of Great Chishill the land tumbles down the scarp to the low fields of Cambridgeshire.


The Domesday Book of 1086 names the manor as Chishella which was held by tenants of Count Eustace of Boulogne and Geoffrey de Mandeville.

Great Chishill came to be 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. A farmhouse, Hall Farm, still occupies this latter site, on the east side of the village.


The Church of England parish church, St Swithun's, is in the Diocese of Chelmsford. It is in the Perpendicular Gothic style. The church stands on high ground at the crossroads.

St Swithun's was founded in 1136 by Geoffrey de Mandaville and granted to the Monastery of Walden. The first recorded vicar was Anselm De Flempton, on 14 May 1327. The church has collapsed and being re-built over the generations. The five bells were rung for the first time in 23 years on 12 September 1998 as the beginning of a village project to get them and the bell tower repaired in time to ring in the new millennium.

The United Reformed Church in Barley Road was founded as a Congregational Church It was first built in 1694 and rebuilt in 1894. On the 22 February 1789 a fire broke out in the vestry house of the Congregational Church and quickly spread throughout the village, destroying many houses and setting light to the tower of St Swithun's Church, but no lives were lost.


The Chishill post mill stands to the west of the village on the road to Barley. The first authentic record of a mill here appears in 1592. The first recorded owners were the Cooke family and the first recorded miller was Joseph Rule in 1677. William Pegram stopped working it in 1951 and it is now preserved and open to the public.

In 1886 Kelly's directory of Essex records that the village was had bakers, butchers, wheelwrights, bricklayers, dressmakers, six farms in Great Chishill and one in Little Chishill, with their attendant labourers, two public houses — the White Horse and The Plough (now The Pheasant) — a shop and post office and the village school for a hundred children. All that has now gone — the shop closed in the late 1970s and the school on 2 April 1971. Great Chishill now has only St Swithun's Church, the United Reform Church, The Pheasant, a playing field and sports pavilion, and a village hall built in 1982. However, two farms are still being worked in Great Chishill and one in Little Chishill.

The 1991 Census for the combined civil parish of Great and Little Chishill recorded 237 dwellings and a population of 634.

The village's main claim to fame is an entry in the Guinness Book of Records when on 10 September 1983 Ben Palmer, a local farmer, and Owen North, the local baker, produced loaves of bread from harvesting the wheat in the field to baked loaves in 40 minutes 44 seconds.

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