Monday, 1 November 2010

Stapleford, Cambridgeshire

St Andrew contains some gems, none more so than William Lee's brass, but is rather austere and I couldn't warm to it - maybe it was because I visited during a torrential downpour but I doubt it.

ST ANDREW. A small flint church. Norman chancel arch, with two orders of shafts with scalloped capitals; the arch decorated with a kind of crenellation motif. Zigzag fragments on the W window-sill of the N aisle. The chancel itself was rebuilt in the C13 with lancets on the N and S and a shafted Piscina. The E window Perp. One lancet window also at the W end of the S aisle, and contemporary with this the S doorway. C14 arcade of four bays, short octagonal piers and double-chamfered arches. The arch into the N transept similar. Of the same time the W tower, see the tower arch of three chamfers dying into the imposts. Battlements and spike. Nicely painted nave and aisle roofs. - CHEST. Iron-bound and studded with nails; C15? - SCULPTURE. Fragments of Saxon interlace work, S aisle W end. - BRASS. Will. Lee d. 1617.

St Andrew

St Andrew (3)


William Lee 1617

STAPLEFORD. Before the Romans came to England, before even a hut of mud and wattle appeared beside Stapleford’s long street at the foot of the Gog Magog Hills, the fortress of Wandlebury Camp was dug on the crest of the ridge, commanding the ford of the Cam at Hauxton and Grantchester with Fulbourn Fen supporting it on the north. Though its threefold ramparts have been partly levelled by time, it is still imposing, a raised circle 1000 feet across, in which coins of Nero and British kings have been found. The Romans took possession of it, and close by is an overgrown Roman road. A clear day brings a glimpse of Ely Cathedral.

The church, circled by trees in a quiet lane, may have Saxon stones in its foundation, but the tower and the tiny spire and most of what we see are from the beginning of the 14th century, the chancel arch alone being Norman, a lovely thing with zigzag ornament and fine capitals. The chancel has been rebuilt, but keeps its old lancets and its double piscina, and from the past comes also the ancient font, the 13th century coffin lid, a fragment of crude carving, a chest latticed with ironwork 500 years old, and the small brass portrait of William Lee, vicar for 43 years in Shakespeare’s day. In the church the stone coffin in which an earlier vicar was buried with the pewter chalice and paten beside him which we now see, worn and broken, in a glass case.

Flickr set.

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