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St Andrew's Parish Church c1905

The Hardwicke Family Vault

St Andrew's Parish Church

The Hardwicke Vault lies under the Chicheley Chapel of St Andrew's Parish Church, Wimpole,
and it contains the coffins of nine members of the Yorke family, owners of Wimpole Hall.

[This page is based on a report written in June 1956]


Some of the boards gave way when the churchyard was mowed and a hole appeared. On Monday, 18 June 1956, the steps were excavated and the vault and the coffins exposed. On the evening of that day the Rector entered the vault and took the below particulars and descriptions. On the following morning, 19 June 1956, the doorway of the vault was temporarily bricked up to avoid desecration. This was merely a precautionary measure until further advice could be obtained. The cost of this temporary wall and of timbers to cover over the steps was borne by Mrs Bambridge of Wimpole Hall.

General Description

The entrance to the vault is situated on the north side of the Chicheley Chapel, directly beneath the centre window. It is approached by a flight of brick steps, the beginning of which projects out into the churchyard about 8 feet 6 inches. The level of the vault is reached at a depth of 7 feet. The steps descend between two brick walls which are 5 feet 8 inches in height. Boards are placed over the steps and resting on the walls and the whole covered with earth to a depth of one foot. There are eight steps. The door into the vault was of oak, but has rotted and is lying in pieces.

The vault itself measures approximately 10 feet by 15 feet constructed of brick which has been limewashed. The floor is of brick also, except for two narrow shelves a few inches from the floor on either side of the doorway. These shelves are of small square slabs, one of the shelves on the right hand side is empty. The ceiling is rounded and at its highest point, in the centre, is approximately 5 feet 8 inches high. In the centre of the roof at approximately 5 feet and 10 feet from the door are two circular holes about 1 foot in diameter which appear to be closed at the top by the pavement of the chapel.

The Hardwicke Family Vault
showing coffins 1 to 7 inclusive.
(photographed in 1985)

The vault contained nine coffins of wood with lead linings, number 3 adorned with silver furnishings. Except for this coffin, the woodwork was badly decayed and the lead linings exposed. One coffin (number 9) was lying on the shelf on the left hand side of the doorway. The others were in two rows, one above the other, facing the door, as follows:

1         2            3            
4         5       6       7       8
1. The Hon Mrs Henry Yorke
2. Ven. Henry Reginald Yorke
3. Rt. Hon. Charles Philip Yorke (4th Earl)
4. Rt. Hon. Charles Philip Yorke
5. Admiral Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke, K.C.B.
6. Elizabeth Wheake Yorke
7. Master Horatio Nelson Yorke
8. Lieut. Hon. Victor Alexander Yorke
9. Harriet, Widow of the Rt. Hon. Charles Yorke

The coffin plates are legible and are noted below (against the above key which gives the coffin positions in the vault). A low brick wall has been built between each coffin in the lower row. Iron bars have been placed across these walls to hold the coffins in the upper row.

Inscriptions on Coffin Plates
[Refer to positional key above]
[Additional information within square brackets]

Coffin 1:
"The Hon. Mrs Henry Yorke
[Flora Elizabeth Campbell, wife of Henry Reginald Yorke]
died January 12th 1852
aged 38 years."
[interred 17 January 1852]

Coffin 2:
"Henry Reginald Yorke
[Archdeacon of Huntingdon]
Rector of Wimpole
Born 30th October 1802
Died 25th September 1871"

Coffin 3:
"The Rt. Hon. Charles Philip Yorke
4th Earl of Hardwicke
Lord Lieutenant & Custos Rotolorum of the
County of Cambridge
P.C.  D.C.L.  Fellow of the Royal Society
Born 7th April 1799
Died 17th September 1873
at Sydney Lodge, Hants
in his 75th year."

Coffin 4:
"The Rt. Hon. Charles Philip Yorke
Died 13th March 1834
aged 70."
[interred 20 March 1834]

Coffin 5:
[Father of the 4th Earl]
"Admiral Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke, K.C.B.
Obiit 3rd May 1831
Aetat Sui 63 years."
[interred 14 May 1831]

Coffin 6:
[Elizabeth Weeke Rattray]
"Elizabeth Wheake Yorke
born on May 13th 1773
died Jan. 31st 1812
Lady of Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke, Kt.
Rear Admiral of the Blue and one of the
Lords Common of the Admiralty."
[interred 7 February 1812]

Coffin 7:
[Brother of the 4th Earl]
"Master Horatio Nelson Yorke
born 13th August 1806
died March 21st 1814
aged 8 years."
[interred 28 March 1814]

Coffin 8:
[Son of the 4th Earl]
"Lieut. The Hon. Victor Alexander Yorke, R.H.A.
Died 23rd Dec. 1867
in the 26th year of his life."

Coffin 9:
[Harriet Manningham]
"Harriet, Widow of the Rt. Hon. Charles Yorke
Born 21st June 1763
Married 1st July 1790
Died 10th May 1854."

St Andrew's Parish Church.
A living church for the Parish of Wimpole, located within the National Trust's
Wimpole Estate.
The Church is managed and maintained by the Parochial Church Council

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