September 22 – Swavesey

An Amazing Collection of Poppyheads

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Our first cache of the day was found before going into the parish and priory church of St Andrew in Swavesey. The church had a craft fair going on and it had displays of quilts, quilters, spinning, weaving, knitting, braid making, woodwork, lace-making and a silent auction of some artwork. It was a real treat as I had seen a picture of a quilt this morning of a bookcase of different coloured books which I was thinking I could make it and then embroider the name of all the places we had visited on the spines of the books. It might have to be a pretty big quilt though.

One of the churchwardens came over and showed us some of the particularly interesting things in the church. We had already noticed the fabulous poppy-heads which were 120 different designs and of people and animals. There are some 15th-century ones in the north aisle of the church and the rest were all Victorian copies of the originals.
There were also 12 misericords in the choir which were magnificent and date from the late 19th century. The nave was the original part of the church built in the 13th-century and possibly part of the priory which was on the site previously and established in 1086. One wall in the Lady Chapel has been identified as having two adze-cut Saxon stones.
Little if any of the glass in the church is pre-Reformation, though some medieval and Georgian glass may have been incorporated in the north aisle and clerestory windows. The East window was repaired in the mid-1930’s and the central stained glass panel of the risen Christ in glory, designed by Francis Skeat, was added then. There is also a wonderful stone reredos with gold and tile inlay. The east window in the lady chapel is a wonderful Jesse window dedicated in 1967 in memory of the Cole family who were farmers in the area for many years. On the south wall of the Lady Chapel is an elaborate monument to Anne Kempe, Lady Cutt (d.1631) and is thought to have been designed by Nicholas Stone, court Mason to Charles I.

Just along the road from the Swavesey church is a marker for the Greenwich Meridian and as luck would have it there was a geocache there. We made a nice easy find but it would be tricky if you haven’t seen this type of cache before. Then we walked 100 metres away to find the true meridian near the car park for the guided busway. As we learned when we went to Greenwich the meridian has moved about 100 metres to the East since the original measurements were made.

The guided busway is a fascinating bus-only lane which connects Cambridge, Huntingdon and St Ives. The route includes two sections of guided operation, a bus-only road and other places with on-street operation in conventional bus lanes. New park and ride sites have been built at Longstanton and at St Ives, with a tarmac cycle track/bridleway alongside some sections of the route. A total of 2,500,000 trips were made in the first year of operation, which was 40% higher than the predicted figure.

All Saints church at Longstanton was open with an octagonal font with a nice stained glass window from 1916 behind it. There was also a lovely modern window from 1993 dedicated to those of the 7 Squadron RAF – The Pathfinders who died in action in 1914-1918 and Royal Airforce in 1939-1945. There was an amazing Sepulchrum which held the bodies of 12 members of the Hatton family dating from about 1769 – 1845. It was a very unusual find. There was also a large double monument to Sir Thomas Hatton d.1658 and his wife Lady Mary, daughter of Sir Giles Alington which was the work of E. Marshall. There was also a Bible dating from 1777 and a Book of Common Prayer dating from 1770 on display. There are also a few pieces of wall painting above the Sepulchrum and three funeral hatchments. The rector’s date from 1286 with Fulke de Penebrugg.

While we were mostly after church micros today but we don’t want to miss all the village signs too. We had an easy find of a village sign cache at Cottenham.

As I entered the All Saints church in Cottenham a lady was practising singing and she stopped even though I encouraged her to continue. The new chancel communion rail designed by Mac Dowdy and Nigel Kaines was the highlight of the church. The altar frontal reminded me of those in Wells Cathedral as it was three dimensional and very reminiscent of the wonderful work of Jane Lemon.

The earliest documented evidence of a church in Cottenham is in a Charter of Saxon King Eadred in 948. This church was replaced by a Norman edifice in the 12th century, fragments of which can still be seen in the present building, which itself dates from the 15th century. The church has been recently renovated. We found the hint but not the cache so we read the logs, got the hint and the cache. Eek! A spider container!

I thought All Saints church at Landbeach was closed so I headed across the road into a park to collect the cache which I found easily. In the meantime, Mike found the way into the church through the priest’s door. There was medieval glass in the East window and some other wonderful stained glass windows. The highlight of the church was the angel lectern, where the Bible sits of the full sized angel’s outspread wings.  There were four misericords but two of the shields in the centre had been removed from them.