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St Andrew, Soham, Cambridgeshire

(52°20′1″N, 0°20′16″E)
TL 594 732
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cambridgeshire
now Cambridgeshire
medieval Ely
now Ely
medieval St Andrew
now St Andrew
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

A cruciform church of c.1200 with aisled nave, transepts and aisleless chancel. The crossing tower was removed and a W tower built to replace it, referred to in 1502 as the novum campanile and probably dating from around that time. The nave clerestorey is also late medieval, as is the chapel added to the N of the chancel. The W crossing arch provides a spectacular display of chevron ornament, and all four crossing arches have carved capitals, as do the nave arcades. It should be said that each crossing arch is supported on half columns, and between adjacent half columns within the crossing space are slender shafts with capitals. The capitals of the major supports differ from one another, and those of the secondary shafts always continue one or other of the designs alongside them, but the system is not really regular enough to say that some of the arches have two orders towards the centre and others have only one. For example, the shafts on the E side of the N and S arches clearly belong to the E crossing arch, while those on the W side belong just as unambiguously to the N and S arches rather than the W arch. In addition it should be noted that orders in the arch never correspond to what is going on in the piers below, and for that reason the arch decoration is always described separately from the piers.

Finally there are plain arches leading from the nave aisles into the transepts.


In 1086, Soham was the king’s manor, assessed at 9½ hides. In addition, Adestan held 1 hide from Count Alan, the Abbot of Ely held half a hide, and the abbot of St Edmundsbury just six acres.

In 1102 AD Hubert de Burgh, Chief Justice of England, granted 'Ranulph' certain lands in trust for the Church of St Andrew. Ranulph is recorded as the first Vicar of Soham. On 3rd August 1451, Soham Parsonage and Vicarage were granted to Pembroke College, Cambridge.

The church was held by the king until 1189 when Richard I gave both it and its chapel of Barway to the Cistercian abbey of Le Pin (Vienne). In 1285 Le Pin ceded its right to Soham to the Cistercian Abbey of Rewley (Oxon) for a rent of 43 marks, this render passing from Le Pin to the Crown during the wars with France in the 14thc.


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches



The List Description dates the church c.1180-90, which seems eminently reasonable in view of the forms of the capitals and the advanced free-standing chevron ornament.

  1. H. Evelyn-White, County Churches: Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. London 1911, 158-61.

Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID: 48866

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Cambridgeshire, Harmondsworth 1954 (2nd ed. 1970), 457-58.

Victoria History: Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely X (2002), 500-07, 533-42.