St Botolph’s Church

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Things to do


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May, 2016

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St Botolph is the patron saint of travellers so it is appropriate that the church stood at the site of the Trumpington Gate, one of two gateways into the medieval town of Cambridge. Prayers could be said in the church before journeys began and thanks given after a safe return.

There has been a church here since before the Norman Conquest. This church dates from the C14th and the tall square west tower and the south chapel were added in the C15th. It would have been an imposing entrance to the city. The sundial was probably an important time keeper for the population. The church was restored in the C19 and the chancel is a wonderful example of the work of CF Bodley.

Inside it is a very elegant church with whitewashed walls and arcades of octagonal pillars supporting pointed arches. The ceiling is painted in shades of brown and ochre.

At the back of the nave is the C17th font with its lovely Laudian canopy. Although repainted many times, this has been carefully restored to its original colours.

The south chapel of the Holy Trinity is used for weekday services and is screened off from the rest of the church by a modern wood and glass screen. It is the memorial chapel for those who died in the First World War. Boards list the names of members of the University Press who lost their lives as well as college servants. There are images of St George and St Michael in the east window.

On the back wall is the splendid memorial to Thomas Plainfere, a noted preacher and Professor of Divinity at Lady Margaret’s College.

The south aisle is now empty apart from an old strong box beneath the C19th stained glass window with scenes of the Annunciation, Nativity and Baptism of Christ.

The Rood Screen is C15th although has been restored. It is the only Medieval Rood Screen to survive in Cambridge. The Rood cross was replaced in the C19th.

The base panels were repainted as part of the C19th restoration with the the Annunciation and Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary.

The chancel was completely rebuilt in the C19th and is a wonderful example of the Victorian Gothic work of CF Bodley and has a glorious painted ceiling. Above the east window are images of angels with musical instruments of censors.

The painting of the Crucifixion was purchased in Antwerp in 1818 by John Smith, the University Printer and was given to the church. Bodley designed the reredos to hold the picture. On either side are pictures showing the disciples and the two Marys at the empty tomb. The east window continues this theme with the Ascension of Christ.

This is a very attractive church and the noise of Cambridge traffic is lost as soon as you enter. The only sound is the ticking of the clock. It is well worth visiting. The church is open daily but there is no parking for it. The post code is CB2 1RG and the grid reference is TL 448581.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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