St. Mary’s Great Church, Cambridge

There are so many churches in Cambridge! And, after a while, they all became a bit of a blur. In order to keep from getting overwhelmed, I focused on a particular grouping: Roman, Saxon, Medieval and Norman. So anything dating roughly after 1200 never really hit my radar in the Cambridge adventures.

This means that the Great St. Mary’s (the University Church often referred to as GSM) missed the cut by a few years. Built and rebuilt in the early 1200s, the church you see today is basically that same church with updates from the 15th century — about the time when the church became the property of Trinity College.

For a small fee (£3 – if I remember correctly), you can climb to the top of the bell tower and get a great view of Cambridge. When I first visited the church, there was a sudden downpour that made the top slippery and views terrible — so the staff determined it was unsafe. I attempted again a couple of hours later during a break in the storm. The results are in the gallery.

Campanology at St. Mary’s is world-renowned and incorporated into the Cambridge curriculum (watch). People travel great distances to hear the style/chime pattern that this church is recognized for (also used by Big Ben). I wandered by a couple of times for the Monday evening practice to listen in (7-9pm).

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