St Edward's Passage

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St Edward's Passage
St Edward's Passage, Cambridge, looking toward Peas Hill (cropped).jpg
St Edward's Passage, looking from King's Parade to Peas Hill
Maintained by Cambridge City Council
Length 145.40 m[1] (477.03 ft)
Location Cambridge, England
Postal code CB2 3PJ
Coordinates 52°12′16″N 0°07′04″E / 52.2045°N 0.1178°E / 52.2045; 0.1178Coordinates: 52°12′16″N 0°07′04″E / 52.2045°N 0.1178°E / 52.2045; 0.1178
Construction start c. 13th century

St Edward's Passage, known in the 18th century as Chain Lane,[2] is a Y-shaped alleyway in Cambridge, England, between King's Parade—opposite the main gate of King's College—and Peas Hill. It houses the entrance and churchyard of the Church of St Edward King and Martyr; the Cambridge Arts Theatre; several cottages; G. David, an independent bookshop run from the same building since 1896; a few businesses; and student accommodation. It is a narrow, dark lane, with riven-stone paving, which opens out onto the much wider and sunnier King's Parade.[3]

Excavations on the southern side in 1995 suggested that the lane had been established by the 13th century.[3] It is marked on Richard Lyne's map of the city from 1574, the earliest known map of Cambridge, and on John Hammond's from 1592.[4][5] According to Cambridge City Council, it "preserv[es] a sense of the cheek-by-jowl nature of the early town".[6]


St Edward King and Martyr[edit]

The entrance of St Edward King and Martyr, which dates to the early 13th century, is on St Edward's Passage, at the Peas Hill end. Its small churchyard lies between the two arms of the alley.[7]

Calling itself the cradle of the English Reformation—a period of religious upheaval in the 16th century, when the English Church opposed the authority of the Roman Catholic Church—the church contains the original pulpit from which the Protestant reformers Robert Barnes (1495–1540), Thomas Bilney (1495–1531) and Hugh Latimer (1487–1555) preached.[7] During midnight mass in the church on 24 December 1525, Barnes, an Augustinian friar who became a Lutheran, gave the first sermon in which a reformer accused the Catholic Church of heresy.[8][9][a] Historian Alec Ryrie referred to it as "the first set-piece confrontation of the English Reformation".[11] Barnes, Bilney and Latimer were eventually burned at the stake.[12][b]

Other buildings[edit]

Most of the buildings are brick fronted, date from the late 18th and early 19th century, and have vertically hung sash windows.[6] Several (nos. 3, 4, 8–10, 12–15, 15a and 16) are Grade II-listed buildings.[14]

The Cambridge Arts Theatre and the Venue (a restaurant) are at no. 6, the Indigo Coffee House at no. 8, and the Haunted Bookshop at no. 9. The building at no. 10 has Gothic detailing and was originally built for the Church of England's Young Men's Society; it now houses the Corpus Christi College Playroom (a theatre).[15] The building at nos. 12–15, a lime-washed two-storey brick building dating to the late 18th and early 19th century, is used for student accommodation. G. David, established in 1896 by Gustave David (1860–1936) and known as David's bookshop, is at no. 16.[16][17] There is also a row of late 18th-century two-storey cottages.[6]

Status, age and type[edit]

Building Status Age Height Walls Roof Architect Notes
St Edward King and Martyr Listed Grade II* 13th–15th C n/a "stone, rubble, cement rendered with some barnack stone dressings" lead and tile restored 1858–1860 by G. G. Scott [3]
1 and 2
(Peas Hill)
early 20th c. 4 + attic brown brick mansard/slate n/a [3]
3 and 4 Listed Grade II early 19th c. 2 + attics brick parapet/tile n/a [3]
6 and 7
(Arts Theatre)
19th c., redeveloped in 1990s 3 + attics "buff brick with stone dressings" mansard/slate redevelopment by Bland, Brown & Cole, 1990s [3]
8 Listed Grade II early 19th c. 2 + attics lime-washed brick tile n/a [3]
9 Listed Grade II late 18th c. 2 lime-washed brick tile n/a [3]
(Corpus Christi Playroom)
Listed Grade II early 19th C "G/F altered later" 3 grey gault brick parapet n/a originally the Church of England Young Men's Society[3]
12–15 Listed Grade II late 18th, early 19th c. 2 + attics lime-washed brick mansard/tile n/a [3][18]
15A and 16 Listed Grade II late 18th c. 2 + attics white-washed brick mansard/tile n/a [3][19] No. 16 is David's bookshop.[16]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ None of Barnes's sermons were preserved.[10]
  2. ^ Just before he was burned, in Broad Street, Oxford, Hugh Latimer told a fellow reformer, Nicholas Ridley, who was also being burned: "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out."[13]


  1. ^ "List of streets", Cambridgeshire County Council, 1 December 2012, p. 17.
  2. ^ "Placeholder for BC 007 2" and "Leases of tenement in Chain Lane (now St Edwards Passage), in parish of St Edward, Cambridge", Janus, Cambridge University Library.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Cambridge Historic Core Appraisal: St Edward's Passage" (PDF). Cambridge City Council. 2016. p. 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 May 2018. 
  4. ^ Clark, J. Willis (1921). Old Plans of Cambridge, 1574-1798, Bowes & Bowes, 1921.
  5. ^ "Unfolding landscapes", Cambridge University Library, 2003.
  6. ^ a b c Cambridge Historic Core Appraisal: St Edward's Passage 2016, p. 2.
  7. ^ a b Dickens, Geoffrey (1991). English Reformation, Penn State Press, second edition, p. 91.
  8. ^ "About St Edward's" Archived 4 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine., St Edward King and Martyr.
  9. ^ Mass, Korey (2010). The Reformation and Robert Barnes: History, Theology and Polemic in Early Modern England, Boydell & Brewer, pp. 1, 14.
  10. ^ Craig, John and Mass, Korey (July 2004). "A Sermon by Robert Barnes, c. 1535", The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 55(3), pp. 542–551. doi:10.1017/S0022046904009972
  11. ^ Ryrie, Alec (2003). The Gospel and Henry VIII: Evangelicals in the Early English Reformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 170.
  12. ^ Boyd, Stephanie (2005). The Story of Cambridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 36.
  13. ^ Foxe, John (2009) [1563]. Foxe's Book of Martyrs: Select Narratives, edited by John N. King, Oxford University Press, p. 154.

    Also see Garrett, Martin (2004). Cambridge: A Cultural and Literary Histort, Signal Books, 2004, p. 114.

  14. ^ "Listed Buildings in Cambridge – Market Ward, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire", British Listed Buildings.
  15. ^ Cambridge Historic Core Appraisal: St Edward's Passage 2016, p. 3.
  16. ^ a b "David's bookshop, Cambridge",
  17. ^ Sims, Liam (20 November 2016). "Gustave David (1860–1936): the Cambridge bookseller", Cambridge University Library Special Collections.
  18. ^ "12–15, St Edward's Passage", British Listed Buildings.
  19. ^ "15a and 16, St Edward's Passage", British Listed Buildings.

Further reading[edit]