A visit to the church of St Andrew at Steeple Gidding. This was a glorious sunny Saturday morning and it was a delight to be out and about after a few weekends of working around the house. This is a church for the wild life lovers!
I started off by disturbing a grass snake, which west scurrying off in to the bushes at the east side of the church grounds. This went off so fast that I couldn't get a photograph of it...which you are doubtless a bit upset about! The photograph above right though was a real piece of luck! I was taking a photograph of the church tower and steeple when I noticed a bird come into the viewfinder just as I was taking the picture. I muttered a very mild expletive under my breath and re-took the shot. When I got home though I realised that the bird was a Red Kite! I could have stood on that spot for hours and not had the chance to take that picture!
Anyway, lets leave the wildlife alone for a moment or two and concentrate on the church. St Andrew is a redundant church, and is kept open during the day for visitors. I can't think of many better settings for a church than this. Set on fairly high ground, the view south, over some beautiful countryside heading towards neighbouring Hamerton, is a delight. There is a bench set in the grounds which looks south and there can't be many better views from any church within the catchment area of this site than this!
Church grounds are very nicely maintained. One gravestone, which I think was for one William Puffand (the surname is a little difficult to read) who "was berried March the 8th day 1624". This stone had been covered from the elements over the years and is remarkably well preserved.
There was no church listed here in the Domesday Survey of 1086. It is thought though that there was a small church here in the 12th century, of which an arch on the south doorway remains. This church would have had a tower and steeple before the year 1260, the date by which the village had obtained its distinctive name.
The whole church was rebuilt during the 14th century, with the building work going on for many years. The chancel, nave and aisles were restored and the porch rebuilt in 1874, and the tower and spire were restored in 1899.
A couple of worn grotesques sit at the top of the tower, both with tongues stuck out in typical medieval gesture. One gargoyle has one bulging eye...but sadly, both have seen better days and are in a state of retirement, as is the church itself! The tower and spire are late 14th century, and are slender and attractive.
Inside is bright and spacious, the latter not surprising as all of the pews have been removed! This really was most attractive with the sun streaming in through the windows on the south side. A very plain font dates from the 16th century, whilst a late 13th century coffin lid, with an ornamental cross on it, is affixed to the west wall of the south aisle.
There are three bells. The first and second are by Henry Jordan who was a bellfounder in the years 1442 until 1468), the third is thought to be by William Haulsey early in the seventeenth century. This latter was replaced in 1748 by the prolific Eayre of St Neots.
A floor slab is dedicated to Thomas Cotton, Lord Of The Maonor of Steeple Gidding, who was second son of Thomas Cotton of Connington, and who died in April 1640.
This church is set back from the main road, and Steeple Gidding these days consists of a few scattered houses. The result is total peace and quiet. A gorgeous place that is to be treasured by those who visit it.
Having started off the day photographing the ruined church at Denton, and then visiting Great and Little Gidding, I cycled back towards home, some 45 minutes distant, stopping off at Lutton on the way for some lunch. A lovely day to be out and about!
I found myself back at Steeple Gidding in the summer of 2013, on a gloriously sunny Sunday. A friend and myself had visited several churches in the area and taken in an evening prayer service at neighbouring Great Gidding. After the service we spent some time at Great Gidding and then found ourselves at Steeple Gidding as the sun was setting. It was still very warm at that time and we spent quite a time watching the sun go down a few hundred yards from Steeple Gidding, the slender distinctive steeple standing out over the trees.
For those who might care to visit this church it is open throughout the day, as were the churches at Great Gidding and Little Gidding on each occasion that I have visited. A lovely part of the world and well worth exploring should you get the chance.