Thursday, 8 September 2011

Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire

Heavily over restored by the Victorians St John the Evangelist was locked with no keyholder listed. Apart from two rather good tower grotesques it's hideous and I rather suspect I didn't miss much.

Re-reading this entry it seems a bit harsh - I think I must been unusually irritated to find it LNK.

ST JOHN. Much renewed outside, the spire blown down in 1821, the chancel rebuilt in 1849. Enlarged 1878. The value of the church is the arcade inside. The W bay Perp, then a little wall, then the NW respond with upright leaves, and a pair in the S arcade with more developed upright leaves - say c. 1200. The clerestory is Perp. The battlements incidentally were apparently added or renewed in 1616 (date over a N clerestory window). N aisle battlements 1878. - STAINED GLASS. Old bits in the S aisle; W window 1891 by Kempe. - PLATE. Set of 1791.

Grotesque (1)

Grotesque (6)

WATERBEACH. The River Cam flows near this pleasant village, and sometimes on the ear "drops the light drip from the suspended oar" when a boat comes down so far from Cambridge. Between Waterbeach and Landbeach runs the Cam Dyke built by the Romans to keep back the fenland waters.

A fragment of ancient sculpture in the church, on which is one cherub blowing a trumpet and another keeping him company, is from the monastery which stood 800 years ago on the farm of Denny Priory, two miles away. The farmhouse has risen from the ruins and the farmyard is on the site of the cloister court. The house has parts of the chapel with a fine arch built by the monks in Norman days, and a great barn which was their dining hall. There is a legend of a lilac bush still growing here which says that somewhere under it sleeps Agnes Countess of Pembroke, who took the old priory and turned it into a home for nuns of St Clare. Monks, Knights Templars, Nuns of St Clare, and the pious Countess of Pembroke passed by these fields, heard the murmur of the river, and have gone.

The church which keeps the cherubs from the vanished priory is five and seven centuries old, with white arcades and cream walls. It has fragments of old glass, an ancient coffin stone, and a modern altar with eight disciples in panels, with mosaics around it of Our Lord and the Madonna, saints and prophets, and on the pulpit are scenes of Paul at Athens and the Sermon on the Mount.

We understand that a 14th century chalice was found in the walls of this church and sold to South Kensington Museum.

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