A few days after Christmas 2013 and a return trip to the church of Holy Cross, Bury. The church here stands a hundred yards or so away from the main road which leads to neighbouring Ramsey, a half a mile or so distant. The church here stands on high ground and is a beautiful structure.
There was a church here as far back as the 12th century, with that original building probably just being a basic nave and chancel. A north aisle was added early in the 13th century, with the three stage tower added around the middle of the 13th century. Much alteratoion came about around 1400, at which time the chancel was re-built. It appears as if the chancel has also been shortened at some point, possibly in the 16th century
An ususual feature of Holy Cross is that there was a large chapel built on to the western end of the tower around the end of the 15th century. This is now in ruins, with only the eastern wall still intact. The porch was built and the church restored in 1889.
Three bells hang here, the first is inscribed Mears 1853 and is, in all probability, a re-casting of an earlier bell. Owen's mid Victorian study of church bells in Huntingdonshire details that Mears charged £16 9 shillings and fourpence in July 1853 for this new bell. The second is from the 14th century, and is thought to have been cast by John or William Rufford. These are founders who I have not come across before in any of my research and a quick bit of interner research has indiucated that they were father and son who worked out of premesis in Toddington, Bedfordshire. They were active between the years 1353 and 1400. This bell bears the inscription Ava Naria.
The the third bears the inscription 'Charles Newman made mee 1700' and also has the names W. Baker T. Robinson inscribed on it, who were the church wardens of the day. This is another new founder to me. Owens' states that Newman was quite nomadic in his work and had bell foundries in Haddenham (Cambridge) and Kings Lynn. Most of his surviving work is to be seen in Norfolk and Suffolk and at the time of Owens' study, the bell at Bury was one of only two examples in Huntingdonshire.
It was good to be back here again, having previously visited here on a gloriously sunny Saturday in 2008. It is very peaceful and quiet here and the church is commanding on its high ground. There are battlements around the tower and very large gargoyles can be found on three of the four corners, these looking to be a popular meeting point for the local starlings. The tower is perpundicular in design and the long lancet windows are elegant and beautiful. Two ancient looking gargoyles are to be seen on the south wall of the nave.
The church grounds here are well maintained and the churchyard here was once used as a burial place for the residents of Wiston, Upwood and Little Raveley. At one time the dead from Little Raveley were buried in a portion of the churchyard which was separated from the rest by a hedge.
There are some very finely carved gravestones here, which is no real surprise given that some of the headstones in neighbouring Ramsey and Upwood are so high in quality. One sad thing was that I photographed a 17th century grave on my previous visit and to see it now a few years later, there is an obvious deterioration in its condition. Sad to think that these lovely works will one day fade in to nothing. The cluster of graves around the porch are of particular age and quality
The ruins of the west chapel can be seen on the photograph immediately below and second from the bottom on the left. A very weathered stone head, now exposed to the elements, would once have been inside this chapel. The light quality was beautiful and it was a delight to be out and bout.
The church was closed to visitors, and was on my previous visit also. Spent an enjoyable time here though, and it was good to see two other photographers here as well. Off to Ramsey and then back home to Peterborough.