Cambridgeshire Churches

Cambridge, St Martin

pointy st Martin's

St Martin sits out in the wilderness of southern Cambridge suburbia, tucked away on Suez Road, providing a little flash of drama in an otherwise rather depressing area. Pevsner complains that it is a dreadful building, and I must confess that I didn't get in, so it may well be so inside. The exterior, though, is quite striking.

A little complex was all built in the early sixties, and the church is therefore surrounded by vicarage, day centre and hall. The ancillary buildings are of yellow brick and (save for the little bell-turret by the road) could easily be an old people's home or primary school.

The church itself sits behind these. It is almost all roof, extremely steeply pitched, and covered with glossy slate. The gable at the west end is also panelled with slate, save for a large triangular window in the apex which is filled with a tessellation of smaller triangles containing glass in varied shades of blue and green. Underneath the gables on the south side, I could just make out a frosted glass clerestory.

Mark, predictably, though it was awful, but I quite liked it. It has the shape of a Norwegian stave church, changed in time, and place, and dignity, but still possessing something austere and otherworldly about it; Suez Road is much the better for having a breath of the other world about it.

[Mark adds: In fact I agree with Ben about the church itself - at least it is an interesting shape and not a dreary box. I'm not sure I'd go as far as to compare it to Stave churches! The ancillary buildings are drab and uninteresting and to my eye resemble nothing so much as a pub on a 1970s housing estate]

St Martin is kept closed.

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