Fulbourn and The Wilbrahams
Parish Churches

St. George's Church, Six Mile Bottom

St. George's

The architecturally distinctive church of St George in the hamlet of Six Mile Bottom was built in 1933. It was commissioned and largely paid for by the aristocratic Hall family, one-time owners of the Six Mile Bottom estate, designed by the prestigious and distinguished 20th century architects, Seely and Paget, built by the Cambridge builders, Rattee & Kett, and annexed to the parish of Little Wilbraham. It is one of the very few 1930's churches in Cambridgeshire.

St. George's east end

Six Mile Bottom
Six Mile Bottom is a hollow of land reclaimed from old-heath land in Cambridgeshire, six miles from Newmarket, traversed by the road to that town. It is named after its distance from one end of the Newmarket racecourse. The proximity of Six Mile Bottom to the racing at Newmarket and the excellent hunting opportunities available (in particular partridge shooting) led to the establishment of two mansions in the 19th century (known as "Swynford Paddocks Country Hotel" and "The Hall" today). These led to a corresponding growth in the local population to service them, and thus the hamlet came into being, that became part of the parish of Little Wilbraham.

The Hall family moved from Weston Colville to their Six Mile Bottom estate in the 1860s. Their seat of Westley Cottage was later re-built as The Hall. When General John Hall died in 1872 his nephew, William Henry Bullock (who took the name of Hall in that year), inherited the Six Mile Bottom estate. William Henry (Bullock) Hall was a philanthropist who built many facilities for his workers and supported their cause during the strikes and lock-outs of the late 19th century.

In the 1890s the schoolmistress of Six Mile Bottom thought that an opportunity should be provided for people of the district to gather together and hold church services; and the dream of a local church took root. Evening services, run by the Rector of Little Wilbraham, commenced in the school room with the permission of William Hall.

William (Bullock) Hall
William (Bullock) Hall
(by kind permission of Alexander B Hall)

The Church of St. George

Alexander Cross Hall, took over the estate, after the death of his father, William, in 1904. He and his wife, Favell Helen (nee Jones-Mortimer) decided to move away from Six Mile Bottom in the early 20th century. However, they made plans to leave a parting gift to the people of Six Mile Bottom - that of a church!

In 1910 a bank account for the church of Six Mile Bottom was opened, to which the Halls were the main contributors (Mrs F. H. Hall being one of the trustees). By 1912 nearly £1,400 had been amassed. Meanwhile the Halls had identified a suitable plot of land in their estate for the church, about 1 acre in size, which happened to reside in Brinkley parish. This land was officially transferred to the parish of Little Wilbraham in May 1912 and conveyed to the Church Commissioners as a gift in August of that year. In addition, in September the Halls conveyed an adjoining plot of land to the south-east for a parsonage house and glebeland. The church was to be named 'St George' and to be dedicated to the memory of William H. Hall. Due to the intervention of World War 1, the death of Alexander Cross Hall and other factors, the church building project fell into abeyance for many years.

Alexander Cross Hall
Alexander Cross Hall
(by kind permission of Alexander B Hall)

The funds in the church account grew over time to about £1,800. In 1931, the newly arrived rector of Little Wilbraham, Rev. Lindsay Chaplin wrote to the then widowed Mrs. Favell Helen Hall, asking her about the possibility of building the church, as the funds (and congregation) were large enough. Mrs. Hall responded positively to this suggestion, and promptly engaged her young god-son, (Henry) John Seely (2nd Lord Mottistone) and his partner, Paul Paget, as the architects. Seely and Paget had finished their plans for both the interior and exterior in 1932 and contracted the local Cambridge builders, Rattee & Kett, to construct the church.

The foundation stone was laid with due ceremony by Mrs Hall on 1 April 1933; and the church was completed by the end of that year. The consecration ceremony took place on 17 December 1933, a summary of which follows:

"… The Assistant Bishop and Archdeacon of Ely, the Right Reverend Horace Price DD (Commissary of the Bishop of Ely the Right Reverend Leonard), accompanied by the Diocesan Registrar, Ernest Robert Evans, and George Tyndall, Apparitor General, was received at the Entrance door of the Church by the Rector (Reverend Lindsay L Chaplin) the Churchwardens (Messrs W C Blandon and G Taylor), some of the neighbouring clergy and others. On their behalf Mrs Hall delivered a Petition for Consecration of the Church and Burial Ground together with a Conveyance of the ground to the Bishop requesting him to consecrate the Church and Burial Ground. He received it and directed the Registrar to read it, who did so and signified his consent. Preceded by the Choir and Clergy the Bishop then proceeded to the east to the Holy Table, verses of the 24th Psalm being meanwhile said. He said prayers to dedicate the Font, Holy Table and Pulpit and sat down. The Sentence of Consecration was then read by the Registrar. The Sentence having been read and signed by the Commissary the Bishop commanded the same together with the Petition the Conveyance and other documents to be recorded and registered among the muniments of the See. Morning Prayer then followed, beginning at "O Lord, open Thou our lips." The Psalm was 122, and the Lessons, I. Kings, 8, 10-30 and Hebrews 10, 19-25 which were read by the President of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (Sir Edwyn C Hoskyns) and the Rector of Weston Colville (Rev C Carter Jonas). The Bishop said two Prayers after the Collect of the day. Then the first hymn was sung “We love the place, O God”. Then the Assistant Bishop, preceded by the Churchwardens, and followed by the Clergy and Congregation, proceeded to the Churchyard, where he said a prayer. He then directed the Sentence of Consecration of the Churchyard to be read by the Registrar. The Assistant Bishop signed this document on a small table and declared the ground consecrated. Everyone then returned to the Church and sung the second hymn “God is working His purpose out” during which a collection for expenses and further needs was taken which raised £12 14s. The Assistant Bishop then gave a short address which included the history of the building of the church. He then said a prayer and dismissed the congregation with his blessing." Laying the foundation stone

St. George's foundation stone

The church cost approximately £3,700 to build, with an additional £250 in architects' fees.

St. George's interior

Since 1933 the church has changed little. Lady Delamere, a descendent of Sir Ernest Cassel, who inherited The Hall, Six Mile Bottom, was a great supporter of the church morally and financially. For example, she paid for the alterations to the vestry in the 1970s which amounted to about £2,000. She was buried in the churchyard in 1986.

Currently, the church-going population of Six Mile Bottom is small. However every month there is a Sunday service; and the Eucharist is also celebrated on Christmas Day and Easter Day. At Pentecost, there is a special service at 11 a.m., when neighbouring churches in the group are invited; and a picnic is held after the service.

The Church building and grounds are well cared for by a dedicated team of people from Six Mile Bottom and Little Wilbraham. Pastoral care is offered by the Rector and others in the group.

Text © J Lane

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