History and Architecture

** Copied from the Woodhurst village site **

St John the Baptist Woodhurst
St John the Baptist Woodhurst

It is not known when the first church was built in Woodhurst. In the Domesday Survey it mentions two churches for Slepe (the former name of St Ives). As Woodhurst was included in Slepe one of the churches could be one in Woodhurst.

The oldest part of the present church dates from the 12th century. This is the north wall, which has a late 12th Century doorway. The south aisle was built in the late 14c. There are four bays with pointed arches and round columns with moulded bases and capitals separating this aisle from the nave of the church. These columns were at one time brightly painted and evidence of this can be seen if you look carefully.

A consecration cross has been scratched into the column nearest to the altar in the south aisle. In the window nearest to this altar there is a late 14c piscine with an octofoil basin.

The brick floor of the nave and south aisle was laid during the latest restoration in the 1980s. The present chancel, which is built of yellow brick was built in 1848, nothing is known about the previous chancel.

The pepper-pot bell turret is early 17c. There are three bell pits but only one bell made by W Haulsey of St Ives dated 1624. A recent visit by an expert in church bells revealed that the bell pits are considerably older than 1624. This indicates that the present tower replaces one that was probably damaged. In his will dated 1528 Richard Carter gives 20d to the bells.

It is probable that when the tower was built the roof was raised and the clearstory windows added. The font is a 13th Century octagonal bowl with a tapered stem, which is more modern. The carved wooden cover was made in 1990. The 16th Century oak chest is in two divisions at the top with four strap hinges and a slot for money. Amongst the pews and four mad up of early 17c panelling, two pews carved with designs, one with the date 1631. It is said that they may have been made from panelling at the old Manor House. The three pews at the back were brought to the church when the chapel closed. The kneelers have been made by parishioners, many to celebrate special occasions.

Three items of church plate given by Mrs Frances Browne, the lady of the Manor in the 18th Century, are kept in the bank. These are a silver chalice dated 1737 and a silver late and paten dated 763. The silver chalice and paten used monthly for communion were given by the Gurry family in 1933. The Bible was presented by the family of the late Jack Walter Game Marjason by his wife and family in 2000.

Christian Worship in and around Somersham, Cambs