Saturday, 24 March 2012

Comberton, Cambridgeshire

Tucked well away from the main part of the village I was sure St Mary would be locked but to my delight found it open. The exterior is stunning - I will admit that the weather helped - but the interior is a revelation. As with most churches in this part of Cambridgeshire it was severely puritanised, probably following a visit by Dowsing, but retains an outstanding collection of C15th benches. It's plain, it's simple but is also outstanding.

Pevsner: ST MARY. E.E. chancel (one N lancet), W tower of the early c 14, S arcade and narrow S aisle probably also early c 14. (e.g. the S doorway and the renewed Dec windows). The piers are octagonal, the arches double-chamfered. The chancel arch goes with the S arcade. The N arcade on the other hand is a Perp alteration with four-centred arches. Nice N aisle roof. Late Perp windows. Perp clerestory. - ROOD SCREEN with four-light openings. The main arch is ogee with tracery above, sub-divided into two arches which are again subdivided. - BENCHES. Few poppy-heads - one showing a combat of knights. Ends, backs, and fronts traceried.

C15th Pews (2)

Poppyhead (1)

Poppyhead (5)


COMBERTON. Two items of underground news we came upon here: a buried Roman house and a playground under a playground. It was a wealthy Roman who built the house at Fox’s Bridge by the Bourn Brook, for it had a heated bath and must have been occupied for generations. Roman coins of 300 years were dug up in its foundations. A relic of a later time was the curious maze, one of the odd features of our countryside in medieval days, which was at least 400 years old when it was covered over by the school playground.

The old thatched cottages by the Tit Brook remain to make a pleasant picture, and away on the little hill by the fields an old church looks over the plain to the towers and spires of Cambridge. Its warm cobble walls stand out against its plastered 14th century tower, where the monk and the devil look from beside the west window. Four medieval folk look down inside the tower, two by the richly moulded arch. The many 15th century benches catch the eye with their traceried ends, and among their few worn poppyheads is one carved with lions and another with two men fighting. The medieval roof of the north aisle has carved beams, three old stalls and a new one have angels on them, and the rood stairs still lead to the top of the 15th century screen. The 700-year-old font has a Jacobean cover. A 13th century arch and a 14th century priest’s doorway open into the chancel, where are two lovely medieval windows with leaf tracery, one with fragments of old glass and at its side the smiling face of a lady of 600 years ago.

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