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Article and photographs by Paul Wright, 2021
Chichele College
traffic lights scaffolding
Temporary traffic signals
Erected scaffolding

English Heritage has so many interesting historical sites all over the United Kingdom, and most of them tend to be open to the elements.

And one such victim is the Chichele College in Higham Ferrers, College Street, has had 'temporary' traffic lights after a significant number of stones came away from the college's perimeter wall in February of 2021.

This is causing motorists who wish to avoid the lights, to either drive down Saffron Road, or make their way along Midland Road to Kimbolton Road. But this may continue for yet a while; according to my source, it is all about getting funding from various directions, and is going to be a slow job. The road will remain under temporary traffic controls, until it is safe to re-open it fully. Pedestrians were being advised to use the footway on the other side of the A5028.

Chichele College is a rare surviving example of a Chantry College. It was founded in 1422 by Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was born in 1364 in Higham Ferrers. Such colleges, common in England in the 14th and 15th centuries, where groups of priests who shared a communal life that was less strictly controlled than that of a monastery.

His birthplace can be seen next door to what is now “TG’s dental suite” near to the Tollbar. The Archbishop died in Oxford in his 80’s on 12 April, 1443, and is buried in Canterbury Cathedral.

Higham benefitted from so much of his good work; one such thing was the Bede House, where a dozen poor men were looked after.

side door grammar school
Side of the building
Former Grammar school

Archbishop Chichele founded the Chantry Chapel, which can be seen in the church yard, became the Grammar School after the dissolution, and continued for over three hundred years.

Moving on to the subject of higher education, he also founded “All Souls College” in Oxford. “All Souls” is one of the wealthiest colleges in Oxford, with a financial endowment of over £400 million.

Back to Higham, the gatehouse, chapel and other remains of the college buildings survive, and the chapel is now used for events, and art and heritage exhibitions.

garden Bede House
Inside of the garden
Chapel and Bede House

If you are interested in being a member of English Heritage, you get the chance to see 66 Castles, 53 Roman sites, 47 Houses & Domestic dwellings, 23 Historic gardens, 27 Forts and defences, and 58 Historic sites. The most intriguing and famous site, in lots of people’s book, being Stonehenge in Wiltshire. And the nearby village of Avebury, where you can see the stone circle.

Currently, due to the work being carried out, the college garden in Higham is temporarily closed.

In 2021 you are invited to join English Heritage for £64 per year for an individual. The telephone number is 0370 333 1182.

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