Project Route Map

Cambridge Walking Tour

Posted on: 25/09/2012

The Round Church, CambridgeThis Saturday I will be leading a walking tour of Cambridge churches on behalf of The Ecclesiological Society. We will be looking at 5 buildings in the centre of Cambridge, and in particular focusing on the 25 years from 1842-1867 during which time significant new churches were built and almost every medieval church in the city was altered.

The Cambridge Camden Society

Ecclesiological Society SealIt was in Cambridge that the Cambridge Camden Society was founded in 1839, and from here that the transformation of Victorian church architecture spread through The Ecclesiologist and other publications. The Society was founded by 3 undergraduates, including the hymn writer J M Neale (‘All Glory, Laud, and Honour’, ‘Good King Wenceslas’, and ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’…). When part of Holy Sepulchre Church (‘The Round Church’) collapsed in 1841 the Society seized the opportunity and funded a demonstration project for their ideas, in Anthony Salvin’s restoration. In 1845 the Society renamed itself the Ecclesiological Society; the current Society dates from a refounding of the original in 1879. The Society’s seal was designed by AWN Pugin – note the Round Church appearing at the bottom. For more on the seal see the Ecclesiological Society website (follow About Us etc). If you’re interested in the history of churches then membership of the Society is an absolute bargain and highly recommended.

The Usual Suspects

It is interesting to note the same (national) architects repeatedly involved in different projects. For example after the Round Church Anthony Salvin did some minor work at nearby Great St Mary’s and at Jesus College Chapel; George F Bodley not only designed the new All Saints Church, but also worked at Jesus Chapel, and of course George Gilbert Scott seems to have worked everywhere, designing the new Chapel for St Johns College, restoring St Michael’s, St Edward’s etc etc.

An altogether different character was Ambrose Poynter who designed three new churches in Cambridge – Christchurch Newmarket Road (1837 – a reduced version of Kings College Chapel in brick), St Paul’s Hill’s Road (1841 – red brick and loosely modelled on Great St Mary’s), and St Andrew the Great (1842). St Paul’s is interesting because it was attacked by Pugin in the first edition of The Ecclesiologist (November 1841):

“The church is of no particular style or shape but it may be described as a conspicuous red brick building something between Elizabethan and debased Perpendicular architecture … the huge clock, the disproportionate octagonal turrets, the great four-centred belfry, windows without cuspings or mouldings … the square clerestory windows; the enormous windows in the aisles … the graduated parapet of the nave … are quite indefensible.”

More Info

If you are interested in the itinerary for the walk you can download a pdf flier here. If you want to join the tour you would be very welcome, but please let me know beforehand (you can do so via the comments below). The charge for the day is £25 (cheque to The Ecclesiological Society on the day), which includes entry into all of the buildings.