- Travel and Places
St. Peter's Church, Yaxley
When I travel, I like to visit local areas of interest that you don't see in the glossy travel brochures and guides that most tourists follow. I like to learn about history and the events that helped shape the culture and the people of that area. There is one country I enjoyed so much that I decided to stay awhile. I've been in the United Kingdom for over 20 years now and I've barely scratched the surface of its thousand-year history and the many people who created it.
I'd like to share some of my experiences and discoveries with you. Starting in my own backyard, I will tell you a bit about the fen village of Yaxley.
So...Where Is Yaxley?
I first became acquainted with Yaxley in 1991 when I was stationed in England. My family and I were assigned housing in an area known to the locals as the 'American estate'. This is where US military personnel and their families were housed during their tour of duty. As bases began closing or downsizing, the estate was returned to the village. My husband and I, not wishing to return to the States after I was discharged, bought a house in Yaxley and settled into village life.
The village of Yaxley is located approximately 73 miles north of London. Although modern in appearance, its history goes back to around 955AD when it was first known as Geakeslea and Iaceslea. Its current name came into use around the 16th century.
By the time we settled here, I had three school-aged children so packing up and going where the wind took me wasn't an option anymore. But that didn't mean I couldn't still search and explore to my heart's content. I decided to start with St. Peter's Church.
The Historical St. Peter's
When I started to research the church on the internet, I came across a website which had some really good shots of St. Peter's Church. I never realized what a fascinating piece of architecture and history it is. For example, there is a gargoyle on each corner around the base of the tower...
...and a set of three on one of the lower buildings on the south side of the church.
I thought gargoyles were only perched at Notre Dame. The oldest of these statues, located at the tower base, date from around the 1500s and, despite being exposed to the elements and vandals all these centuries, have held up well.
St. Peter's Church, first mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, has a long, rich history. Much too long to make its entire history the subject of this lens. We will visit this another day. For now, I'll tell you about the time when Oliver Cromwell's troops paid a visit to the church and, so it is said, baptized a foal in the church's 12th century font.
Also, there are musket shot marks along the base of the west side of the church's outer wall which have been attributed to Cromwell's men. However, according to the church guide book , it is probably the consequence of a prank by either the Tudor or Stuart militia who kept muskets and other arms at the base of the church tower.
A Find In The Fens
I never realized what an intriguing place Yaxley is and I can't wait to go exploring again and tell you all about it. If you'd like to read about my field trip to St. Peter's Church, just go click on the big arrow below.
Have you discovered any little gems in your travels. Why not share your stories?