Thursday, 1 September 2011

Girton, Cambridgeshire

I loved St Andrew if for no other reason than its lightness but also for the architectural style that it possesses. Sadly, however, contents wise it's a bit of a let down - although admittedly there are two brasses and some interesting graffiti, but as with many Cambridgeshire churches it feels as if someone in the past has been through removing clutter.

ST ANDREW. Unbuttressed W tower, Norman below (the coursed pebbles set herringbone-wise date it). The aisles embrace the tower. S aisle W window and N doorway probably E.E. Other windows Dec and Perp. Aisles and (Perp) clerestory and two-storeyed (Perp) S porch all embattled. Perp arcade inside of semi-polygonal shafts towards nave and aisles and attached round ones towards the arch openings. Only the latter have capitals. The chancel arch and tower arch both also Perp. Partly original roofs. - SCREEN. Only the dado preserved.

St Andrew (2)

Graffitti (3)

Graffitti (4)

GIRTON. Its pioneer College has carved its name throughout the world. It is little like the place that Tennyson imagined:

With prudes for proctors, dowagers for deans,
And sweet girl graduates with their golden hair.

It has far surpassed the expectation of the poet, and a host of brilliant women have passed through its halls. It was a Girton girl well known in this village who gave up the last seat in the last boat on the Egypt when that ship went down in 1922. She was Ethel Rhoda McNeile. The college is a long red brick range of hall and chapel and quarters for students. What was once a rather endearing hamlet is being drawn into Cambridge, but the view across the valley to the woods of Madingley has been saved from the destroyer.

In the medieval church of cobble stone and plaster are the brass portraits of two 15th century rectors in their robes, William Malster who became Canon of York, and William Steyn who became Canon of Lincoln. The low 15th century tower with older windows stands on a wide arch to the nave, and on two narrow ones to the aisles. Three oak doors have been opening and shutting for centuries, one by which we enter and one into the tower, and all this time the heads of a king and a monk have kept watch by the priest’s doorway outside. Across the wide chancel arch is what is left of a 15th century oak screen made by the builders of the roof. The 14th century font is under the tower. A neat little Jacobean chest has diamond panels and is carved with ferns. There are a few fragments of old glass, and in the churchyard some ancient coffin stones.


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