Thursday, 22 March 2012

St Botolph, Cambridge

To begin with I disliked St Botolph but as I perambulated the church it grew on me. It is very stripped down but light and tranquil, like many Cambridgeshire churches it's not quite my cup of tea but I liked it.

Pevsner: The church is known to have been in existence c. 1200; but nothing earlier than the C14 remains. The W tower with four diagonally projecting angle buttresses surmounted by four figures comes out into the street. It dates from c. 1400. The body of the church is essentially early c 14. The arcade has five bays with tall octagonal piers and moulded capitals and two-centred arches. The arch moulding consists of a chamfered inner part and more complex outer parts. The tall tower arch with its finely detailed responds is characteristically later. About the middle of the  C15 the S Porch and S Chapel were added. The porch had originally an upper storey. The staircase up to it can still be traced. At the same time the aisle windows were renewed. They have very depressed pointed arches with almost straight sides. - Roofs of nave, S chapel and chancel are original, the W window is of 1841, the chancel was rebuilt by Badley in 1872. - Rood screen C15 three one-light divisions l. and r. of entrance, above their arches a row of small openwork Perp panels.- BENCH-ENDS. In S Chapel, with poppyheads. - FONT. Surrounded in 1637 by an octagonal casing. The cover is quite spectacular, square and open with very slim angle columns. - STAINED GLASS. N aisle E window by Kempe, 1889.- — MONUMENTS to Dr Thomas Plaifer D.1609, an absurdly bad example of the same type as the Butler Monument in St Mary; frontal demi-figure in niche with obelisks to the sides and achievement on top. - Against the outer S wall of the Chancel tablet to Robert Grumbold, the mason, d.1720, very modest and conservative. In the churchyard a curious octagonal structure in the Perp style. It may have been the covering of a well.

Nave looking east


Thomas Plaifere 1609 (2)

St Botolph’s church stands near the site of the old Trumpington Gate. Nothing is left of the Saxon church before it; of the Norman one are left fragments in the walls of the tower, and two capitals built into the nave pillars. From about 1320 come the nave (roofed with old tiles), the lofty arcades, and the aisles, though their windows are 15th century. The tower is 500 years old with a 19th century west window; the south porch and the chapel joining it are 15th century; and the chancel is 19th. The tower has massive buttresses, an old sundial, and a rare ring of four medieval bells, cast by John Danyell about 1460. It is one of the few towers keeping four bells that were ringing at the Reformation, made at one time by the same founder and still unaltered. Having served as a vestry for three centuries, the chapel is now furnished as a memorial to those who fell in the Great War; its 14th century east window shines with beautiful glass showing two knights. There are old stalls enriched with linenfold and fleur-de-lys poppyheads, and here too is a monument with the quaint figure of Thomas Plaifere of 1609, holding a book; he was Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity.

There are old moulded beams in the north aisle and the chapel, an ironbound chest with two big padlocks, and an old carved panel from Nuremberg showing the Betrayal, with a little church perched on a cliff for background. The medieval screen is much restored and has on it modern paintings of the Annunciation. The ancient font is hidden in a wooden case of the 17th century, its four pillars supporting the canopy, painted green and gold.

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