606/6/4 SOHAM ROAD
CHURCH OF THE HOLY CROSS
(Formerly listed as:
CHURCH OF THE HOLY CROSS)
(Formerly listed as:
CHURCH OF ST MARY)
DATES OF MAIN PHASES/ NAMES OF ARCHITECTS:
C12 in origin, but almost wholly rebuilt in 1876 retaining only three C12 arches and possibly some medieval fabric in the chancel. Nave rebuilt and massive timber S arcade inserted in 1900-3. Architects unknown.
Stone and flint rubble with cut stone and brick dressings. Nave gables are timber framed. Tiled roofs.
Nave with S aisle, chancel with SE tower and vestry.
Externally almost entirely C19, with picturesque detailing like the stone roundels and saddleback roof on the tower, and the use of different materials (flint, brick and dressed stone banding) to create polychrome effects. Some early fabric may be preserved in the chancel, notably in the areas where stone rather than flint rubble is evident, and the three windows in the chancel N wall may be partly C12. There are three narrow, round-headed windows in the chancel E wall. Otherwise, the church has large, round-headed C19 windows with stone dressings, and there is extensive use of brick banding and dressings on the S aisle, SE tower and chancel. The W end, towards the street, has a timber-framed gable and offset buttresses with stone dressings, and there is a similar buttress at the SW corner of the S aisle; elsewhere the S buttresses have brick dressings and stone copings. The S door, positioned in the western most bay of the S aisle, is C12, reset from the previous church, and has an order of chevron with a billet hood-mould on detached nook shafts with crocket capitals. The SE tower in a vaguely Italianate style, is set at the E end of the S aisle, and has a saddleback roof, paired Norman-style bell openings, a prominent clock face on the W side, decorative stone roundels and a very plain Norman-style S door.
The church is particularly interesting internally. It is dominated by the timber arcade and massive roof structure inserted in 1900-3. A C12 doorway, with chevron and nook shafts, now blocked, is reset from the old church at the E end of the S aisle and formerly provided access to the base of the C19 tower. A larger C12 arch, possibly the former chancel arch, opens from the S wall of the chancel into the tower. It also has chevron and nook shafts with crocket or foliate capitals. The triplet of windows at the E end of the chancel is set within a Romanesque-style blind arcade with chevron on the arches and shafts with crocket capitals. There is a small, plain door from the chancel to the SE vestry. The chancel roof, probably of 1876, is boarded and has curved braces descending to stone corbels. The sills of the nave windows are very deeply recessed and it is possible that the nave walls were thickened internally in the 1900-3 rebuilding.
The timber structure forming the S aisle and supporting the roof has a four-bay arcade with matching blind arcades against the N nave wall and the aisle S wall. The arcade posts have four shafts around a central core and moulded capitals. There is four-way bracing from the arcade to the tie beams supporting the roof, and there are further arched braced collars above the tie beams and king posts. The braces are cusped to form tall trefoiled arches. The timber chancel arch, with a timber framed gable above it, stands slightly behind the easternmost tie beam, but is formed in a similar way to the rest of the nave arcading. It has a massive, embattled rood/tie beam with rood figures of 1987.
Very fine C15 pinnacles from the medieval choir stalls at Ely, removed in the C19, are reset around the inside of the chancel. Font with chubby scallops around a round bowl, probably C12, with a C17 cover with curly brackets. The pulpit is C19 and has a tiered stone base with a moulded cornice and recessed, round headed panels on the sides. The attached book rest is C17, possibly made from fragments. Probably C17 communion table at the E end of the S aisle. C17 alms box, an unusual survival, and still attached to a heavy wall staple by an old chain. Simple C19 nave benches with plain poppyheads and moulded top rails. Some good C19 and C20 glass, including a window of 1964 signed by John Hayward.
Stuntney was given to Ely in the 10th century, and there may have been a church there at that date. A description of 1838 calls the church Saxon, but the description given suggests that it was rebuilt in the C12: `It has doorways on each side of the nave (one of which is filled up) ornamented with chevron mouldings, as is also the great arch between the nave and chancel: the capitals of the pillars are foliated.¿ (Clements, 1838) An early engraving also suggests that the former church was wholly C12, possibly with a few later windows. Irregularities in the present plan, notably the widening of the western part of the chancel, suggests that the chancel was lengthened in the C19 to incorporate the eastern part of the former nave. The chancel was restored and partially rebuilt, and the nave and tower were entirely rebuilt in 1876, reusing the former chancel arch and the N and S doors. A C19 photograph after the rebuilding shows it with a wide nave incorporating the present S aisle, a neo-Romanesque chancel arch with brick banding, and the reset C12 arch leading into the base of the tower. Severe structural cracks above the chancel arch are clearly visible. In 1900-3 the nave was rebuilt and the present roof and S arcade inserted to provide stability for the structure.
Clements, J H., A Brief History of Ely and Neighbouring Villages (1838).
Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire, (1929)
Pevsner, N., Buildings of England, Cambridgeshire (1991), 462-3
VCH Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely (2002), 82-6
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The Church of Holy Cross, Stuntney, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* C12 church, largely rebuilt in the C19 but retaining three C12 arches and probably some early fabric in the chancel.
* Interesting timber arcading of 1900-3.
* Good C12 font with a C17 cover.
* C15 pinnacles from the choir stalls at Ely reused in the chancel.
* Unusual C17 poor box.