A glorious mid Summer Sunday afternoon and it was Cambridgeshire Historic Churches tour day, starting off with a visit to the church of St Mary at Farcet. The last time that I had visited this church it was a few days after a February 2009 blizzard, which brought most of the UK to a halt for a few days. It was bitterly cold that day but now it was shirtsleeve weather and a delight to be out. A large gathering of church enthusiasts gathered together, with several in high spirits already having listened to England go one up in the Ashes series, the vital wicket being taken just before the afternoon's churchcrawl began.
There was no mention of a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086 but it is thought that there was a basic stone construction of nave and chancel here at that time, and the oldest parts of the existing structure date back to the 12th century. The chancel and south chapel each date from the 13th century and the south porch was built in the 14th century. The church was restored in 1852, and it was at that time that the chancel was rebuilt. Work on the roof was also done at that time with the old nave roof, described as 'rotten and dangerous', was replaced.
The two stage tower was restored between the years 1894 to 1897. Three bells hang here. The first is dated is from Hugh Watts I who worked from premesis in Leicester. This bell is inscribed 'Praise The Lord', with the letter 'e' being reversed in all of the text. The second bell was cast at the Stamford bellfoundry by Thomas Norris, and is dated 1673.
The third bell is a bit of a mystery. I have come across a casting date of 1621, and it was re-cast at the Whitechapel bellfoundry in 1854, but I have not been able to establish who did the work in 1621. It has the Latin inscription 'Omnia Fiant Ad Gloriam Dei', which translates as 'Let all things be done for the glory of God'. This is an inscription that was often used by Tobias Norris I, who established the Stamford bellfoundry, and he was certainly active during 1621, but I can't find anything to connect him with this bell for certain.
Moving inside and it was a tad on the dark side, which I found a little strange considering how bright it was outside. My attention was immediately caught by an oak pulpit, which has a date mark of 1614 at the rear. Figures are carved in to these and my gut reaction on seeing them were that they were mermaid like. A beautiful piece of work, and one that reminded me of the pulpit at Orton Waterville church...although nowhere near as explicit!
Stained glass included the Holy Spirit descending on to Mary and the Christ child in a manger, with the star in the east shining brightly above. Signs of wear and tear inside sadly, and when doing some internet research on the church I found a note appealing for help due to the large cracks that had appeared in the structure.
The church grounds have some finely carved headstones, one or two leaning over at gravity defying ahgles. It has to be said that the church grounds were in a much better state than they were the last time I visited. Things were neat and tidy, as opposed to the broken glass and beer cans that were present before. Some hard work has gone on and a few people can be pleased with what they have achieved.
It was good to be here, and good to see inside a church that I had never been inside before. We ended our time here and then moved en masse to Whittlesey, where we were to spend time at both of the parish churches there. The church of St Mary is usually kept locked to visitors.