Spring 2016, and a return visit to the church of St Thomas, Pondersbridge. I was previously here for an evening prayer service the previous year. Poor lighting conditions meant that very few photographs were taken that day. The return trip was on a day of far better lighting and the church grounds looked lovely with the Spring blossom out.
Pondersbridge is a small village a few miles from Ramsey, Whittlesey and close to neighbouring Ramsey St Mary. At the start of the 20th century the population of the village was over 400, but by the end of the century this had dwindled to around half of that. There is very little information about the village on the internet. Apparantly, the village name derives from a bridge at the place of the followers of Ponder. Little seems to have happened here over the years. From memory I recall that Pondersbridge was the epicentre of a small earth tremor a few years ago but nothing that I have seen on the internet confirms that.
The church of St Thomas is on the crossroads, central to the village, and was built in 1869, replacing an earlier church. St Thomas was consecrated in 1871. A single bell, cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, used to hang in the slim bell tower, but this was removed due to safety reasons. The new church was financially supported by the Staffurth family, who lived locally.
In 1969, the church here was deemed to be unsafe. The damp had caused corrosion to the metal pillers on which the church was built. St Thomas closed and did not open again until September 1971.
In fairness, this is not the most beautiful of buildings externally, and would probably not look out of place in an old Gothic film surrounded by fog and with a few bats flying around. Inside though, it is a different matter entirely. The chancel was well lit and a wood burning stove was working, the congrgation gathered around it as the service was about to start. The people there were warm friendly and welcoming, and remembered us from our previous visit. It was an informal and relaxed service and I enjoyed it very much.
When the service was finished I took a closer look at the interior. There are some very lovely Victorian stained glass windows to be seen here. Centre piece at the east of the chancel is Christ, hand raised in benediction, holding a globe. Below this are two tre foil windows, each depicting an angel holding a censer. The angels have glorious red and white wings and Christ's numbus is of the same colour. To each side of that are two windows which depict the four Apostles, each pictured in the act of writing.
Still in the chancel the reredos features four angels playing musical instruments. Elsewhere a window depicts St Thomas, spear in hand. The spear refers to the nature of his martyrdom. St Thomas is the patron saint of builders and it is said that he built a church with his own hand in East India. Close by a rustic cross stands, cross of thorns at the top and whiye lily symbolisng purity at the base.
Out in the church grounds there is little of any interest to be fair. Some evidence of subsidence here and there. The sun was out again biut there was a real bite to the breeze in what was proving to be a very cold start to the Spring. It probably seemed colder than it was due to how warm and cozy the church was due to the wood burning stove being on.
Don't judge a book by its cover! Plain on the outside, beautiful on the inside. A delight to be here, and hope to come back again in the future. We headed off in the direction of Ramsey, all was well in this part of the Cambridgeshire fens.