We had an overnight trip to Cambridgeshire (Monday 25 January) and went to two villages that mean a lot to us. Let’s start with Meldreth and visit Holy Trinity church TL378468 for an explore. The church has a website and there is an excellent village history site here. The snowdrops and aconites are beautiful – you can tell we’re in the south. The tower is fascinating. Much of the village was given by the King Edgar to the Abbey of Ely in the year 970, and the first church was probably built by the monks for the use of their first tenants. The first stone-built church was built about 1190, and some of it can be seen in the present church. The lower stages of the tower are C12, upper stage C13, and the roof C15.
Inside are two hooks – an entry in the Constable’s account for 1723 records the purchase of two fire-hooks from Thomas Barber, Smith. You can imagine someone being sent for them as they fought to save a thatched cottage. The ladder was made by Benjamin Hale in 1863. I was told that the ringers would like better access – I wish them luck with getting a faculty to dispose of an 1863 ladder! They have eight bells, and claim to have had the most peals rung of any tower in Britain. Both websites have good photos and far more details.
The Nave has a lovely high roof of 1400, with wonderful figures high up. One chandelier was given to St Bene’t’s church in Cambridge by William Bacon, vintner, in 1725, and acquired for Meldreth in 1870. The other chandelier is dated 1770. The hideous ceiling heaters need to be removed.
The Chancel is a lovely piece of C14 work, though the East windows are 1871. The wall paintings probably show St Christopher (with staff) and perhaps St Margaret of Antioch. The little pieces of glass are lovely – the figure is probably John the Baptist (again C14 with C19 restoration). Nice modern altar frontal too.
Apparently it is difficult to date this pulpit – probably quite difficult to get into it as well! It may well be the one that John Bunyan preached from – though was a non conformist preacher like Bunyan really welcome in the parish church? The font is C15, though with a more modern base. The chest is C15 or C16 – and the parish records date back to 1554. The monument is to George Pike, who died in 1658. He left £120 in his will for this monument.
Finally a nice face on the door, and a very nice porch.
45 Whitecroft Road Meldreth is where we spent the first few months of our married life – we had a flat above Russell’s Butchers Shop. Here is the shop in the snow of early 1984.
Meldreth has a station, and we spent a long time on its platforms back in 1983/4. Indeed it was from this platform that I set out on my last journey of freedom – en route to St Andrew’s Street Baptist church in Cambridge to be married. These postcards, dating from 1905 and 1935, are lifted from the Meldreth village site. In our days the stretch from Cambridge to Royston (through Meldreth) was a diesel shuttle – we once had 27 bikes in the guard’s van of the diesel multiple unit. Here are a couple of photos of the station from 1984 – note Julie standing by the building. My friend Rob went to the station for me on 4 February 2016 and took the final two – now an electrified line with a new footbridge. Although the village has a Scope centre and therefore more wheelchairs than your average village, they cannot use the London-bound platform. Is it any wonder that disabled people feel discriminated against?