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St Mary, Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire

(52°6′54″N, 0°9′4″E)
TL 474 485
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cambridgeshire
now Cambridgeshire
medieval not confirmed
now Ely
  • Ron Baxter

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12thc. nave and crossing tower, and 13thc. chancel. A S aisle was added to the nave in the 13thc., then in the 15thc. Henry Cyprian's chantry chapel was added to the S of the chancel, contiguous with the S nave arcade. The crossing arches to E and W are also 15thc., but there is evidence of the 12thc. E arch surviving (see below). The top stage of the tower is Perpendicular, and it has a small lead spike. Construction is of flint and pebble with brick repairs. There are 12thc. windows in the N and S faces of the tower, and another in the N wall of the nave. Romanesque features treated here are the font, a tower window carved with a sheela-na-gig, and chevron voussoirs reset outside the chantry chapel.


In 1086 Countess Judith held the manor of 11 hides and 1 virgate. In addition Gerard held ½ virgate from Count Alan and Hardwin de Scales held 1 virgate.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches




Fraser (1966) identified the window head subject as a ubiquitous and persistent symbol of creation and destruction. Johnson (1984) pointed out that in such representations the female figure is normally shown centrally, flanked symmetrically by a pair of creatures, and suggested that this window head might have been cut down from a tympanum of the triangular form seen at Tarrant Rushton (Dorset) or Down St Mary (Devon).

J. Andersen, The Witch on the Wall: Mediaeval Erotic Sculpture in the British Isles. London 1977, 19, 100, 144.
M. D. Anderson, History and Imagery in British Churches. London 1971, 17.
G. R. Bossier, Notes on the Cambridgeshire Churches. 1827, 45.
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely, VI, 1978, 273-74.
C. H. Evelyn-White, County Churches: Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. London 1911, 190-91.
D. Fraser, The Heraldic Woman: The Many Faces of Primitive Art. Englewood Cliffs 1966, 45.
The Ecclesiastical and Architectural Topography of England: Cambridgeshire (Architectural Institute of Great Britain and Ireland), Oxford 1852, 170.
F. S. L. Johnson, A Catalogue of Romanesque Sculpture in Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. M.Phil (London, Courtauld Institute), 1984, 316-17.
D. and S. Lysons, Magna Britannia. Cambridgeshire II, pt I, London 1808, 279.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Cambridgeshire, Harmondsworth 1954 (2nd ed. 1970), 484.