St Wendreda, March, Cambridgeshire

Feature Sets (2)


An extremely satisfying late medieval church set on a large open green to the S of the town. It consists of an aisled nave, the N arcade early 14thc., the S slightly later; a chancel by W. Smith (1843); and a 14thc. W tower with an octagonal stone spire. The 14thc. work is dated by a Papal indulgence of 1343, but the church was considerably modified in the early 16thc. This work includes the clerestorey, rebuilding of the aisles, and S porch bearing the date 1528. The most celebrated aspect of the Perpendicular remodelling is, of course, the double hammerbeam roof with three tiers of angels. Construction is of mixed stone rubble but the 16thc. parts include flint and flushwork. The re-cut 12thc. font must, therefore, come from an earlier building.





At W end of S aisle, an octagonal bowl with chamfered lower rim, cut down from a square one, mounted on a late medieval octagonal stem and base, standing on a broad octagonal modern plinth. The geometric designs of the original bowl remain on the NE, SE, SW and NW faces as described below. The basin is circular and lead lined, and there is a very obvious repair to the W part of the rim. The SW, SE and NE faces of the bowl are each carved with a single, compass-drawn, recessed quatrefoil flower with a circular central boss. An inscribed line encloses the flower, in the form of arcs of a circle in the sections between the petals, which meet the petals some 2/3 of the way out and outline their tips. The NW face is laid out in the same way, but carved so that the enclosing circle is continuous and the petals have no tips. This design resembles a dished Maltese Cross with a central boss, enclosed by an inscribed circle. Traces of further roundel designs, curtailed by the reshaping of the bowl, are to be seen on the NW and SW faces. Originally, therefore, each face of the bowl was carved with three quatrefoil designs.

h. of bowl 0.35 m
int. diam. 0.60 m
overall h. (excl. modern plinth) 1.075 m
w. of bowl (E-W) 0.745 m
w. of bowl (N-S) 0.745 m



  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Cambridgeshire, Harmondsworth 1954 (2nd ed. 1970), 437-38.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TL 415 952 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Cambridgeshire
now: Cambridgeshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Ely
now: St Wendreda
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter