Church Services at St Andrew's Church
The history of St Andrew's Church
St Andrew’s Church, whose exact foundation is uncertain, dates from the 13th and 14th centuries. It consisted of tower, nave and aisles but these, together with the chancel, were extended and rebuilt at varying dates through to the 15th century. The nave roof was heightened to form a clerestory. The south porch was added, and the north and south aisles were extended eastward to parallel the chancel with north and south chapels. A major restoration took place in 1872 when the work was entrusted to R R Rowe, the Cambridge architect.
Until 1873 interments were carried out in the churchyard. Gravestones were placed in the usual manner around the perimeter and banking. And it takes the form now of a small peaceful park-like oasis of green well-tended grass, grassy banks and a crescent of noble trees at the west end. Roses embellish the south side of the church, the sunniest side of the building.
The church itself consists of a west tower, nave, chancel, north and south aisles, north and south chapels and south porch. Although, apparently, of a single period, the church is in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles of the 13th to 15th centuries. The tower, nave, chancel and aisles are earlier work but, as can be seen by the differing windows and roofs, the chapels on either side of the chancel were added later as extensions eastward of the aisles.
Most prominent is the three-storeyed west tower which, like the rest of the structure, is of beautiful honey-coloured stone. Here it is rough and well weathered. Slender corner buttresses support the tower, which has tiny oblong or square “squint” type windows in the north, south and east walls of its lower two storeys. In the top storey, are two light Decorated windows in each face, windows filled not with glass but with a grillwork for this is the bell storey. Above this storey, the tower has a clock face on its eastern, or town-side, and a line of castellations all around the top. At each corner, a tall, graceful crocketed pinnacle. Below this line of castellations is, on each corner, gargoyle waterspouts that are effective as birds from a distance.
Entering through the south porch one finds the church, with its aisles and its lofty clerestory, surprisingly open and light. This is due mainly to the almost total absence of coloured glass except for the eastern central window. Thus, the clear or pale green glass of the many aisle and clerestory windows lets in a subdued yet quite clear light.
Housed in the tower is the church’s fine peal of eight bells, one of the county’s most melodious. Several of the bells are of great age, but up until 1930, only six existed. These original six were recast in that year and re-hung and two new ones were added to the peal. They were the gift of Charles Aveling, who gave them as a permanent and beautiful remembrance of his father, William Aveling.
In the nave, one sees the font of quite plain and clean stone whilst toward the chancel arch is the handsome oak pulpit with its beautifully carved panels that indicate fine modern design. The pulpit was given to the church in 1916 as a memorial to one Lieutenant J. D. Smalley.
Of note immediately one enters through the chancel is the church’s finest window, the great east window that fills almost the whole wall with its five lights. It is of late Decorated or early Perpendicular style. Its tracery is intricately wrought and beautiful in its skilled workmanship. Although not by any means as old as the tracery, the glass is the richest in the church and shows, in hues of glorious colour. Christ upon the cross in the centre panel and with other bible figures clustering all around. This window’s beauty and colour are even more startling because of the absence of coloured glass elsewhere in the church.
Beneath the window is the high altar which is of relatively recent origin. It was placed here in 1928 as a memorial to Mr And Mrs Ellis Stafforth and is of simple but graceful design – in total keeping with the fine window above.
Regular services at St Andrew’s are held on Sundays at 0930 and Tuesdays at 0915. In recent years, an “Open Doors” policy has resulted in the church being open to the public seven days a week between the hours of 1000 and 1600 – so please visit and enjoy.
David K M Mason – Churchwarden