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St Mary, Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire

(52°15′6″N, 0°17′44″E)
Swaffham Prior
TL 568 640
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cambridgeshire
now Cambridgeshire
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Ron Baxter
01 July 2003

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There are two churches on the same site: S of St Mary's is the redundant later church of SS Cyriac and Julitta. St Mary's has a four bay Perpendicular aisled nave with a clerestorey and an aisleless chancel, largely dating to Sir Arthur Blomfield's restoration of 1878 but with blocked round-headed windows to N and S. All of this is attached to a spectacular 12thc. W tower with a later doorway under a porch. The tower has a square lower storey with plain windows to N and S; an octagonal second storey on squinches with more elaborate 12thc. windows to N, S and W; a 16-sided third storey with pointed lancets; and a 16-sided later fourth storey with a modern parapet, all surmounted by a lead spike. There are string courses between storeys. Inside, the tower is open for the first three storeys, but the lowest has been vaulted at some point and the W side of the tower arch cut away. Construction is of flint and pebble rubble.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Cushion capitals with fluted (rather than reeded) decoration on the bells are found on the chancel arch at Stapleford.


G. R. Bossier, Notes on the Cambridgeshire Churches. 1827, 60

C. H. Evelyn-White, County Churches: Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. London 1911, 172-74.

The Ecclesiastical and Architectural Topography of England: Cambridgeshire (Architectural Institute of Great Britain and Ireland), Oxford 1852, 165.

D. and S. Lysons, Magna Britannia. Cambridgeshire II, pt I, London 1808, 262-63.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Cambridgeshire, Harmondsworth 1954 (second ed. 1970), 466-67.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Cambridge. II, 1972, 116-20.