Cambridgeshire Churches

Stapleford, St Andrew

stapleford Church with the Snail outside

From the outside, St Andrew's isn't terribly promising - all very restored. The tower is obviously old, but very patched-up looking.

Still, there are some interesting bits and bobs inside. The nave arcades are 14th century, with unusually wide, low arches. There's no clerestory and a huge hulking organ fills the west end, looking slightly sinister and futuristic. Most of the church is therefore very dark - save for the lovely 15th century transept, now used as a lady chapel.

The original piscina is utterly destroyed - all the projecting moulding has been smashed so that only an outline remains - but there is an interesting modern chandelier rather reminiscent of the lantern at Ely Cathedral.

the norman chancel arch

The chancel arch is 12th century, and the only remaining bit of the original church. It's rather nice, though I was more interested in the squints on either side; the wall is so thick that they are effectively little tunnels with ogeed ceilings.

The first time I visited they contained fine little African statues of the Madonna and a male saint; when I dragged Mark back to take some photos those had been moved to the lady chapel and the squints filled with lots of flowers.

The chancel itself is, I'm afraid, rather ugly, so turn away, and go and investigate the interesting things at the west end of the church. Here we have a fine bulging 15th century parish chest sitting at the end of the south aisle, sporting several pumpkins when I saw it.

Most wonderful of all, on the windowsill at the end of the north aisle there is the shaft of a Saxon cross. It dates from somewhere between 970 and the Conquest, and has a nice (and familiar) pattern of interlaced ribbons on the front.

the stone Ben liked

The parish are obviously very proud of it - nearby they display a choral work inspired by it and sung 'for the third millennium'. In three stanzas (for the three millennia, one assumes) it weaves together prayers, art history and the names of some of the old families of the village who turn up again and again in the records. I thought it was rather good.

They also have a fragment of a Norman gravestone on the windowsill, but nobody has yet composed any elegies to it.

St Andrew's seems to be kept open.

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