Village Focus: Two beautiful churches with incredible history
- Credit: ARCHANT
The Offords are two picturesque villages with an award-winning pub, two ornate churches and a primary school ranked in the top five in Cambridgeshire.
Offord Cluny and Offord D'Arcy, two villages in one parish, are set in the south of Huntingdonshire alongside the Great Ouse. As of 2020, the Offords had an estimated combined population of 1,240.
Residents describe the area as “a thoroughly great place to live” with many finding it the perfect place to raise a family.
The Offords were both recorded in the Domesday Book as 'Upeforde' - meaning stream in Old English - under two different landowners; suggesting they were one village at that time.
In fact, it was only a little over a decade ago in 2010 that they merged to become the new parish of 'Offord Cluny and Offord D'Arcy' after both parish councils came together as one in 2008.
The name 'Cluny' comes from Cluny Abbey in the Bourgogne region of France and 'D'Arcy' is first mentioned in records when, in 1279 "William de Broughton was holding a manor, with a common fishery, in Offord Darcy of the Abbot of Ramsey".
Similar to its neighbouring villages, Offord Cluny holds its fair share of historical importance in the area.
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The grand Manor House, which is now privately owned, is reportedly where Oliver Cromwell stayed during the English Civil War.
His bedroom was later turned into a tourist feature after it remained intact for years following his death in 1658.
The seven-bedroom property was owned for more than 300 years by the Sisney/Deane family before being sold in 1995.
In 2016 it went on sale for more than £1m for the second time in 300 years.
The railway came to the area in the mid-19th Century and the Buckden and Offord Station opened in 1850. But the transport of goods via rail led to a decline in the use of barges on the river.
The station which served the area for more than 100 years closed in 1959 and the platforms and pedestrian bridge were removed.
The first school to open in Offord Cluny was in 1846, but fast forward to the 21st century and Offord Primary School was ranked in the top five in Cambridgeshire.
Village Notes: All Saints Church, Offord Cluny
The parish church shared by the Offords is All Saints in Offord Cluny, a Grade-II listed building dating back to the 13th Century.
For centuries St Peter’s was the parish church of Offord D’Arcy, until 1978, when it was decided that All Saints Church in Offord Cluny would serve both.
The current church dates from the Norman period with various later additions.
The south aisle was added in 1320 and has beautiful, decorated windows, a stone trail of ball flowers beneath the parapet and an arched porch.
The tower contains three bells dating from the 1600s.The interior of the church is light and airy with many interesting and beautiful historical features.
Village Notes 2: St Peter's Church, Offord Darcy
A commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the of the Offord D’Arcy War Memorial was due to take place in 2020, but had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions.
Papers held at the Huntingdon Archives show the original plans to erect a war memorial in Offord D’Arcy to the fallen of World War I.
The Friends of St Peter’s researched the history of the church and realised the church held the monument to the memory of the fallen of Offord d’Arcy and a work of art made by the highly respected stained glass artist, William Glasby.
On close inspection it could be seen that the window was showing serious signs of age. The Friends launched a project in 2011.
Fundraising and grants meant the money was raised and the Friends were able to restore the stained glass window and the brass memorial plaques.
The window provide a lasting memorial to the fallen of Offord Darcy from both world wars. The glowing colours of the stained glass continue to delight visitors to the church.
Our thanks to the Friends of St Peter's Church.