Village Focus on Yelling - village hall was former primary school

The Church of the Holy Cross in Yelling is Grade II Listed.

The Church of the Holy Cross in Yelling is Grade II Listed. - Credit: Sanchia Ascroft

Just under 300 people live in the picturesque village of Yelling on the outskirts of St Neots.

Yelling is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as having two manors and 25 households and being in the Hundred of Toseland in Huntingdonshire

 It also had three spellings for its name, Gelinge, Gellinge and Ghellinge, which are believed to have derived from the name of the local landowner Gill or Gell.

The village boasts a Norman-style church which has roots dating back to the 12th Century. The Church of the Holy Cross is a Grade II listed building and includes two original 13th Century windows.

The church consists of a chancle, nave and north and south aisles, west town and south porch. Although the church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey, the oldest section is the north arcade of the nave, which dates back to 1180-1190. 

A south aisle was added in the 13th Century and the chancel was rebuilt and was then enlarged at a later date. The font is 13th Century. More alterations were carried out in the 14th Century. A clerestory was added to the nave; the tower and south porch were built and the walls of the chancel were altered and raised.

A tall octagonal spire originally graced the tower, but due to fears that it may fall on the rectory, it was demolished in the early 19th Century. Some restoration work took place in 1730 and the north aisle was rebuilt in 1868/9. 

More recently, gale force winds in January 1978 caused part of the east wall of the chancel to collapse. Luckily, the roof and the stained glass survived the storm. Great fund raising efforts by villagers, with various grants and donations, enabled restoration to be completed by Easter 1980.

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The village has 125 dwellings, and the architecture ranges from 16th Century thatched and half-timbered cottages to modern houses.  There is also a Baptist Chapel, built in 1850, and a former school building, which is now used as the village hall.

The surrounding countryside is fairly flat, with some gentle undulations, but unusually for Cambridgeshire, the village itself is in a pronounced valley. The land is predominantly used for arable farming of crops such as wheat, barley and rape. 

Village Notes 1: The Village School

The primary school was built in 1868 and closed in 1970.

At the age of 10, Sanchia Ascroft, who lives in the village, was one of the last nine children who attended the school when it closed.

In 1970 it was bought (with assistance from the Government) for £3,000 by the villagers and converted into the Village Hall.  Miss Griffith was the head mistress at this time. In 1868 the Board School, as it was known then was built for 124 children from Yelling and Toseland, at a cost of £400. 

Village Notes: The Thatch Barn

The renovation of this magnificent Grade II listed, thatched barn in the village was completed in 2013.

The barn, which dates back to 1640 and still has some of the original 400-year old oak beams spanning the width of the building and emphasising the enormous vaulted, beamed roof, is currently used as a wedding venue.

The Heritage award winning barn is situated beside crops of wheat, beans, lavender, wild flowers and daffodils on what is still a working farm.