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CAMBRIDGE 12. Little St Mary's Church (St Mary-the-Less)

In Trumpington Street

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Little St Mary's Church (St Mary-the-Less): This church was originally called St Peter-without-Trumpington-Gate and was incorporated into Peterhouse, the first Cambridge College, from which its name was derived. It served as the college chapel until 1632.


Little St Mary's Church (St Mary-the-Less): The church goes back to the 12th century and parts of the tower contain some medieval flintwork. The church was rebuilt between 1340 and 1352 when it was consecrated. The picture shows the west end of the church and the west tower from the churchyard garden, which was formerly the graveyard and is maintained by volunteers, providing us with a quiet reflective place to walk and sit in - a true refuge from Trumpington Street.


Little St Mary's Church (St Mary-the-Less): The church is aisleless and there is no structural division between the nave and chancel. There is a fine six light east window, parts by Kempe dating from a 1886 design, 1887-1892? and a rich depiction of the Annunciation. My visit coincided with a rehearsal by university students? of Bach's St John Passion, a lovely setting with clear simple acoustics - most enjoyable chance encounter with JS. There are arches in the middle of the north and south walls mark where two former chantry chapels existed, built in the 15th century by the Masters of Peterhouse - before the Reformation requiem masses would been offered here for the souls of their wealthy patrons.


Little St Mary's Church (St Mary-the-Less):  Students rehearsing Bach's 'St John Passion'. There are tall four light windows in the south and north walls filling the church with light, this is dark forgotten medieval church - brimming with light and music, a fine humble venue for Sunday (or any other day!) services. The High Altar was designed by Sir Ninian Comper (1913) and known as an English Altar with Riddell post and curtains. The organ was built by Tickell of Northampton and installed in 2007.


Little St Mary's Church (St Mary-the-Less): The pulpit dates from 1741 with a surrounding-board and some fine decorative inlay.


Little St Mary's Church (St Mary-the-Less):  stained glass window

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