Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire 1900

Church History

The Church of St. Andrew, erected towards the end of the 12th century, is a cruciform edifice, chiefly in the Transition-Norman style, with portions and insertions of later date, and consists of chancel, with two chapels on the north side, now used as Vestries, clerestoried nave of four bays, aisles, transepts, north and south porches, and an embattled western tower 100 feet in height, with pinnaces, and containing a clock and 10 bells: the chancel is lighted by Decorated windows inserted about the middle of the 14th century: the stained east window is a memorial to the Rev. Henry Tasker, vicar (1832-74), w ho died 17 Jan. 1874; on each side of the window is a small niche, with traces of painting: the north wall retains a fresco of a bishop in the act of benediction, uncovered in 1849, and it would seem that the whole chancel was at one time ornamented in this way: the chancel roof, and the woodwork at the east end, are both of panelled oak; the stalls, 20 in number, are of the same material and with the exception of six on the north side, added in 1880, were fixed in 1849, when the rood screen, a fine example o f modern work, was also erected: on the south side are ancient stone sedilia and a piscina, and there are finely carved altar rails of oak : in the chancel is buried the Rev. D. Harwood, a former vicar, d. 1746, and Mrs. Elizabeth Cawthorne, his sister, d . 1782: the easternmost of the two chapels, built in the 14th century, retains a stone altar at the east end, an aumbry and an irregular oblong tombstone, with incised lettering, as well as some old glass: here also is interred Dr. Cressener, vicar 1678 -1 717: the other chapel is of Late Perpendicular date and has on its east wall a monument to Edward Bernes esq. and Dorothie (Drurye), his wife; she died 18 Feb. 1598; the chapel is inclosed at the west end by a very perfect and elaborately wrought parclo se screen, restored in 1880: each of the transepts has octagonal pinnacles at the angles, and in the south transept is an Early English piscina and a nearly illegible inscription and shields of arms to some member of the Dowman family, and on the east wall a brass with inscription to John Thornton gent. and Ann (Drurie), his wife; he died Sept. 13, 1598: the north transept contains an altar tomb of the 15th century, and a large marble slab, inscribed, but undated, to Thomas Dockwra and his wife: the south aisle retains an aumbry on the south side of the nave is a small brass to Oliver Robins, ob. 12 Aug. 1608, and Katherine (Salisbury) his wife, and at the west end are ten ancient stalls, with misereres, formerly in the chancel: the north porch is Perpendicular and has a stoup; the south porch, of the 14th century, has a large sundial over the entrance with the motto :-" Ab hoc momento pendent aeterna:" the tower, 25 feet square, is also Perpendicular: the royal arms, placed at the west end of the north aisle, date from the reign of Queen Anne: the church was completely restored in 1879-80, under the direction of Mr. J. P. St. Aubyn, at a cost of nearly £ 3,000, and was reopened May 18th, 1880, the whole of the galleries being removed, new roofs placed on the transepts and chapels, and the flooring repaired: parts of the pinnacles were blown down by the gale: of March 24, 1895, but have been restored under the direction of Mr. T. D. Atkinson, architect, of Cambridge. The church now affords 630 sittings: i n the churchyard, near the north porch, is the grave of Mary D'Aye, great-grand-daughter of the Lord Protector Cromwell; she died Nov. 5, 1765, aged 75; on the south side of the chancel is buried Dr. John Ward, who died in 1641, aged 125. The registers are complete from the year 1558. The living is a vicarage, with the chapelry of Barway annexed, joint net yearly value £730, including 1 acre of glebe, with residence, in the gift of Pembroke College, Cambridge, and held since 1874 by the Rev. John Cypriari Rust M.A. formerly fellow of that college, the Master and Fellows of which are the rectors.

The Congregational chapel was built about 1837 and will seat 450 persons. In 1880 a school room, with class rooms, was built near the chapel, and there is also a minister's house. The Wesleyan chapel, erected in 1841, affords 200 sittings; the Primitive Methodist chapel, erected in 1869, will seat 300 and has Sunday school and class rooms, erected in 1890; and there is another Primitive Methodist chapel at Soham Fen, erected in 1872, and seating 164 persons. The Baptist chapel, erected in 1752 and rebuilt in 1837, seats 500; this chapel was the first pastoral charge, in 1775, of the Rev. Andrew Fuller D.D. a celebrated Baptist minister, born at Wicken in 1754, who was educated at the Free school here and died 7 May, 1815. A Cemetery, of 3 3/4 acres, was formed in 1856, at a cost of £2,700; it is under the control of the Parish Council.

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