St Benet’s Church

Surprise surprise, I didn’t get two posts up today. I’m not even sure if I’ll finish this one by bedtime or whether I’ll be trying to finish it while eating breakfast. It’s partly because I watched Arrival, and partly because it took me nearly half an hour to work out how to transfer only 17 photos from my phone to the computer. For flip’s sake.

So this is a post-in-progress, please feel free to bookmark it to read tomorrow when it might be better.

On this gloriously sunny day I went into Cambridge and had a quick wander around St Benet’s Church.  You should check out the website, they have a whole section of the architecture which, as previously stated, I really need to start learning about. Thanks to its Anglo-Saxon tower, this church is the oldest building in the entire county!

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[Sign] “The ancient parish church is an Anglo-Saxon foundation dating from around 1020, when Canute (sic) was King of England. It is dedicated to St Benedict and has been a place of Christian worship for nearly a thousand years.”

The rest of it is all very modern ecclesiastical information, let me know if you want it transcribed too!

I got pictures of all the relevant Anglo-Saxon stuff! Diagram here:

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Here’s the “magnificent Saxon arch”:

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I was very happy that this photo came out ok. A bit of a weird angle, oops, but on the whole everything is included and it’s not blurry! I tried to get a better view of the little window  above the arch, but I don’t think it improves matters much:

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Crouched animals. Apparently these are lions … ok, I’m leaving animal identifying to the experts, definitely, but … really?

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“Distinctive horizontal and vertical stones at the corners” (sorry the right and lefts are the wrong way around here):

And the exterior of the tower. It was genuinely a spine-chilling moment looking up at it from that angle and realising that someone stood here nearly a thousand years ago would have seen basically the same thing.

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There were some slightly less old but very cool things. The 19th century stained glass was pretty:

Then, to go back to the excellent guidelines (I do love it when these places make my life easier):

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I got a decent picture of item 3 here, the 14th century arched recesses which possibly show Middle Eastern influence. Remember folks, anyone who tries to tell you that medieval people lived their whole lives in one village and never went anywhere are generalising and grossly unaware of history!

This was my favourite: a medieval coffin lid! I remember reading that it was 13th century, but I can’t find any photos I took of any signs saying that, so take that with your usual sodium dosage:

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Then there was this mystery door, which was inside the room with the Anglo-Saxon arch,  and cannot be more than 5 foot 5 five tall. I should have taken a selfie to show you the scale. (I’m 5 foot one and a bit.) Quite incredible. It is a weird, tiny door. Any church-y people know its purpose??

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And last then, a shot from the outside. I picked a truly fantastic day to do this, weather-wise, but it made seeing enough to take this photo really difficult as the blazing sun was, as you might be able to tell, just to the right of the tower.

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So thus ends the whistlestop tour of the oldest building in Cambridgeshire! I really enjoyed this one – the last time I got chills like that was when I went into the crypt at Hexam Abbey (read about that here). Just every now and again I step back from the camera and realise how old these places are. How many years they’ve been standing there, how many people they’ve seen pass by.

Thanks for reading, all! I did visit one other building today, but it was younger (those pesky Normans) and anyway, there are probably enough photos here for now. I’ll show you the other one tomorrow!

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St Benet’s Church

2 thoughts on “St Benet’s Church

  1. Helen Green says:

    If the little door was at the back of the church it may lead to the tower or the balcony mentioned in the information plaque.

    Like

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