St Bene’t’s Church, Cambridge

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Things to do


Date of travel

May, 2016

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This is a delightful church set off Trumpington Street and away from the hustle and bustle of Cambridge. Set in its big graveyard it feels a world away. The Saxon tower is thought to have been built around 1020 and still dominates the church. The round holes at at the top of the tower were thought to have been made for owls to nest. Parts of the walls of the chancel and the corners of the nave are Saxon, as is the archway into the tower.

St Bene’t’s is an abbreviation of St Benedict. It was the parish church as well as the chapel for the adjacent Corpus Christi College until 1579.

The nave and side aisles were rebuilt around 1300 and the chancel in the C13th. The clerestory was added in the mid C15th. Like many other churches, it was restored in the C19th when the side aisles were widened, chancel arch and the roof replaced.

It is a fairly plain building inside with whitewashed plaster walls and an arcade of pointed arches between the nave and side aisles.

At the back of the church, the original Saxon arch leads into the base of the tower. At the top of the capitals are carved figure, possibly lions. Above the arch is a Saxon opening which may have lead to an oratory accessed by steep wooden steps. It now has a C19th stained glass of St Benedict.

In a corner at the base of the tower is a C18th fire hook used to pull burning thatch off roofs to stop a fire from spreading. It was mounted on wheels and kept in the church so it could be easily found if needed.

At the base of the corbels of the roof and nave and side aisles are painted crowned angels holding either shields or banners.

The north aisle is empty apart from a C17th refectory table at the east end with the church bier beneath it. On the north wall is a late medieval strong chest.

At the back is a small marble C18th font.

Near the pulpit is a modern bronze statue of The Passion made by Enzo Plazzotta

In many ways, there isn’t a lot to see in the church and the best bit is the Saxon tower and its setting. This is the place to go for peace and quiet and the church is open daily. There is little parking nearby. The post code is CB2 3PT and the grid reference is TL 448583.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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