St Bene't's Church
St Bene't's is a Church of England parish church in central Cambridge, England. Parts of the church, most notably the tower, are Anglo-Saxon, and it is the oldest church in Cambridgeshire and the oldest building in Cambridge.
The church is on the south side of Bene't Street next to Corpus Christi College. St Bene't's was the College's chapel until 1579. The College remains the church's patron, and there are continuing links between the church and the College chapel.
St Bene't's Anglo-Saxon tower was "most probably" built between AD 1000–1050, although the present bell-openings were added in 1586. The tower has characteristically Anglo-Saxon long-and-short quoins. Inside the church the 11th-century arch supporting the tower is the most notable feature. Parts of the north and south walls of the chancel and at least the corners of the nave walls are also Anglo-Saxon. In the 13th century the chancel was altered, hence the deeply-splayed Early English Gothic lancet windows on the south side (one of which is now blocked). The nave and aisles were rebuilt about 1300. The sedilia and piscina in the chancel are 14th-century, with Decorated Gothic ogeed arches. The clerestory and roof of the nave are late Perpendicular Gothic and date from 1452.
In the third quarter of the 19th century the church was subjected to two Victorian restorations: the first directed by J.R. Brandon in 1853 and the second directed by Arthur Blomfield in 1872. The church is a Grade I listed building.
The tower has a ring of six bells, five of which are 16th or 17th century. Oldest is the second bell, cast by an unknown bellfounder in 1588. A local founder, Richard Holdfield of Cambridge, cast the third bell in 1607 and the fifth bell in 1610. John Draper of Thetford cast the tenor bell in 1618 and Robert Gurney of Bury St Edmunds cast the treble bell in 1663. The youngest is the fourth bell, cast by William Dobson of Downham Market in 1825. Dobson was a prolific bellfounder and 233 of his bells are known to survive. Surviving bells by Holdfield, Draper or Gurney are much rarer.
Michael Ramsey, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, was vicar in 1938. Brothers of the Society of Saint Francis (among them Reginald Fisher) served at St Bene't's 1945–05. The Revd Angela Tilby, a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day, was vicar 2006–11. From September 2012, the vicar has been the Revd Anna Matthews, previously Minor Canon for Liturgy at St Alban's Cathedral.
- Leper Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, dating from 1125
- Holy Sepulchre, Cambridge or Round Church, dating from 1130
- School of Pythagoras, the oldest secular building in Cambridge, dating from about 1200
- Pevsner 1970, p. 222
- Institute of Public Health. "St Bene't's Church". 800 Years of Death and Disease in Cambridge. University of Cambridge.
- St Bene't's Church, Cambridge
- Roach 1959, pp. 123–132
- "Church of St Bene't". National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. 26 April 1950. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- Pevsner 1970, p. 223
- Dawson, George (30 October 2011). "Cambridge S Bene't". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- Dovemaster (31 October 2012). "Bell Founders". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
Sources and further reading
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1970) . Cambridgeshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 222–223. ISBN 0-14-071010-8.
- Roach, J.P.C., ed. (1959). A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3: The City and University of Cambridge. Victoria County History. pp. 123–132.
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