Thursday, 22 March 2012

St Michael, Cambridge

As Pevsner says "A small extremely attractive church almost entirely of the early c14".

St Michael's nave is now a cafe and an exhibition space whilst the chancel and south, Hervey de Stanton, chapel are areas for reflection and prayer. Services are still held several times a week in the chancel.

This, to me, is a brilliant re-use of a redundant church; it's still fulfilling a role of bringing community together in the nave and offering worship in the chancel - what a genius way of keeping a church alive. It looks good too, although calling it Michaelhouse seems to me wrong even if it's named after the college.

ST MICHAEL, Trinity Street (A). A small extremely attractive church almost entirely of the early C14. It was appropriated to the newly founded Michaelhouse and rebuilt by its founder Hervey de Stanton. In 1327 he died and was buried in the chancel of the new, yet incomplete church. The church was restored by Scott. N porch and S doorway are by him. Otherwise the building remains essentially original. The W tower is of flintwork with stone quoins and irregular buttresses. It stands S of the nave at the W end of the S aisle. The windows have all flowing tracery, those on the N and S very simple two-light designs, but W and E more elaborate. Both the latter have four-centred arches. The nave has N and S aisles. The N aisle is two bays long, that on the S, owing to the tower, only one. The piers are octagonal, the capitals moulded, the arches two-centred. The chancel arch is taller than the nave arcades. The choir (for the use of the college) is three bays long. The architectural details are simpler here than in the nave. Two-bay chancel aisles accompany the chancel. Their arcade arches and the chancel arch have the same moulding as those of the nave arcades. E of the N chancel aisle is the original vestry, E of the S aisle presumably the Founder’s Chapel. A small squint connects this chapel with the chancel. It comes through the back of one of the seats of the Sedilia. These make a good composition with the Piscina: four crocketed ogee arches. To its W the opening into the S aisle and SE chapel is preserved in a mutilated state. It must originally have been a fine stone screen, embattled and with another tall ogee arch. The chapel itself in its E wall has to the l. and r. of the window diagonally placed niches for images. - STALLS. The collegiate choir has a set of thirty-six C15 stalls preserved; it is supposed to have come from Trinity College. - PAINTINGS. Large full-length portrait of Charles I. - Adoration of the Shepherds, by an English painter of c. 1800, it seems. - P LATE. Several pieces of c. 1820-40.

St Michael (1)

South chapel reredos

South chapel south window

St Michael’s is 14th century, and was built as the chapel for Michaelhouse, the college absorbed in Trinity by Henry the Eighth. We see it still as the 14th century building which accommodated both college and parish, one of its five bays the chancel, two the choir, two the nave for the parishioners, their lofty arcades opening on each side into the aisles. There is a fine little pinnacled archway which was probably part of a stone screen, a piscina and sedilia with leafy canopies, medieval stalls, a medley of old glass, a picture of Charles Stuart reading a book (given to the church at the Restoration), an old painting of the Holy Family, and a print of Paul Fagius, one of the Forerunners of the Reformation, who was buried here with honour but dug up by Mary Tudor’s Commissioners, who burned his body in the marketplace. The founder of the church, Hervey de Staunton, has been sleeping here since 1327.


No comments:

Post a Comment