Cambridgeshire Churches

Peter Eden's top Cambridgeshire Churches

a fragment of a monument in Horseheath - the skull means that she had pre-deceased her parents...
The Collins Guide to English Parish Churches (first published 1958) is a strange little book. It was edited by Betjeman, who has a reputation as the grand old man of church appreciation in this country. In the introduction he sets out the reason for his producing the book:
'It had long bothered my friend Mr. John Piper and me that there was no selective list of English parish churches, judging the buildings by their atmosphere and aesthetic merit. For instance, when motoring through a district we had not hitherto explored, we would see a church on some nearby hill or in a valley and wonder whether it was worth diverting our journey to go and see it.'

To be honest, if Betjie and Piper took the Collins Guide around with them, they wouldn't find it very useful. Each county is written by a different 'authority', and some of the entries are almost gnomic. Consider the Reverend B. F. L. Charke's notes on All Saints, Benhilton in Surrey: 'S. S. Teulon, 1864-5. Keeping very quiet.'

Meanwhile, in Cambridgeshire, Peter Eden tells us that Great St Mary's in Cambridge is 'worth a visit' and the entries for Guilden Morden and Haslingfield read 'Screen' and 'Tower' respectively. Useful stuff. That having been said, in some senses it's more exciting coming across a church unprepared by guidebooks (caveat lector!) as discovering something wonderful and unexpected is great fun.

Anyhow, I digress. Eden uses an asterisk to denote a 'particularly attractive' church. These are the ones he selects:

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