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Willington Vicarage

32 Church Road - The Old Vicarage February 2010
32 Church Road - The Old Vicarage February 2010

The earliest mention of a parsonage at Willington is in a terrier in the Archdeaconry archive [ABE1] and dates to 1607. The Vicarage is there described as a "poor little vicarage house, unchambered - 2 rooms". This suggests that it was simply a cottage with two rooms downstairs and bed space in the attic, like a number of other cottages surviving in the village today.

Just over a hundred years later, in 1708, another terrier [ABE2 Volume 1, page 43] describes the house as being built of timber and brick (presumably a timber-framed structure with brick infill) with a tiled roof. The property had a kitchen with an earth floor, a hall with a brick floor and a parlour. It had three bedrooms above and a lean-to of the same construction containing two small rooms - a buttery and a pantry.

32 Church Road, The Old Vicarage, was listed by the former Department of Environment in May 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. The department dated the structure to the 17th century, with 19th century alterations. The house has a timber frame with a roughcast exterior and coursed rubble at the east end, the whole thing being colourwashed. It has a red tiled roof and a three room plan (i. e. three rooms downstairs) and comprises a single storey with attics.

All this sounds very much as if 32 Church Road is the Vicarage detailed in the terrier of 1708. Sadly, this is not so. The Archdeaconry archive specifically states that the vicarage described in 1708 was not fit for habitation in 1834 [ABF2 page 92] and that a farm house which stood on the glebe nearby was suitable to serve as the vicarage, the tenant of that house being moved into a building called the dovecote which also stood on the glebe (clearly not the dovecote near the church but one standing near the farm house). This farm house, thus became the vicarage and is now known as 32 Church Road. The old vicarage was, presumably, pulled down.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every piece of land and property in the country was to be valued to determine its rateable value. Willington, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Vicarage [DV1/C154/29] found that it stood in just under two acres, the gross value of the living being £310 per annum.

The house comprised a hall, a drawing room ("fair"), a dining room ("fair"), a library ("small, poor"), a kitchen ("low, small), a scullery ("poor"), a pantry and five bedrooms. There was also a room used as a bathroom, a lumber room, two maids' rooms and two attics. A wood barn, a coach house, an old stable, a garage, stable and old glass house all stood outside. The lawns and grounds were "very good". The valuer commented: "Back portion of house better than front" but it was a "Poor Property".

This poor property was sold in 1939 to a Miss Cope and became a private house. Willington then ceased to have a vicarage, as the incumbent then lived at Mogerhanger and, since 1971, has lived in Cople. Today [2010] the building is in much better shape, having been recently restored, and is a private house.