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Church of the Holy Trinity

A Grade II* Listed Building in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.2059 / 52°12'21"N

Longitude: 0.1203 / 0°7'13"E

OS Eastings: 544984

OS Northings: 258527

OS Grid: TL449585

Mapcode National: GBR L79.M86

Mapcode Global: VHHK3.1TGB

Plus Code: 9F42644C+94

Entry Name: Church of the Holy Trinity

Listing Date: 26 April 1950

Last Amended: 24 November 2010

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1331864

English Heritage Legacy ID: 47611

Location: Market, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2

County: Cambridgeshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Market

Built-Up Area: Cambridge

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Holy Trinity Cambridge

Church of England Diocese: Ely

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26-APR-50 (South side)
Church of the Holy Trinity
(Formerly listed as:
(Formerly listed as:

C14-C15 with later phases, restored by G. F. Bodley 1885. Spire 1901.

MATERIALS: The lower part of the W wall is faced with flint pebbles, the brick chancel, organ chamber and upper part of the tower are roughly dressed C19 ashlar, and the rest is rendered in Roman cement. Lead roofs.

PLAN: Cruciform church. Chancel with N organ chamber, nave with large N and S transepts, N and S aisles (that on the S slightly longer than the nave) and W tower set within W bay of the nave, N porch and S vestry.

EXTERIOR: The exterior is notable for the contrast between the smooth rendered body of the church and the roughly dressed C19 stone facing of the E end and upper part of the tower. There are embattled parapets throughout. The windows are largely Perpendicular in style, with vertical tracery, except for the chancel N and S walls, which have C19 Decorated style windows, and the aisles, which have mainly late C14 Decorated windows with flowing tracery. The late C15 transept windows are very large and form a distinctive feature of the church. Unusually for a parish church, the clerestory continues around the transepts.

The W end is tightly hemmed in by adjacent buildings. The lower part of the C14 W tower incorporates the W wall of the late C12 church, and has a Decorated window. Above the roofs, where the tower is more visible, it has been refaced in rough masonry. The tall, slim spire of 1901 rises above a plain parapet, and is in a schematic Decorated style with unornamented, gabled lucarnes.

INTERIOR: The interior is lofty and light. It is fully plastered and painted, including the arcades and windows, and appears more architecturally uniform than it really is. The western three bays of the N and S nave arcades are C14, and have wave moulded orders on complex, shafted piers. The wide piers between the two western bays on each side support half-arches to the tower, and indicate that the tower was contemporary with the arcades. The E, N and S tower arches are similar to the nave arcades. The wide arches to the N and S transepts were rebuilt in the C19 using much of the original C15 material, and have two orders, the outer continuous with a band of cinque-foiled panelling, the inner on shafts. The chancel arch, entirely rebuilt in 1834, is similar, and internal buttresses added in the C15 also have tiers of cinquefoil panelling. Unusually, a gallery is preserved in the S transept. Of c.1806, it stands on three four-centred arches and has narrow vertical tracery panels on the front.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The church was reordered in the late C20 and has a low platform in the E end of the nave. The sanctuary has blind traceried timber panelling and an elegant gilded wooden reredos by Bodley: this has an arched, shouldered head, and is divided into three traceried panels with carved figures, Christ in the centre flanked by the four evangelists, all under ogee arches. The altar frontal is also carved, gilded timber with scenes from the life of Christ. Fine C19 gilded timber organ case with Gothic canopies above the pipes. C19 pulpit, polygonal, with blind tracery panels. C19 seating: a few benches in the transepts have poppyheads and blind tracery fronts, others have square traceried ends.

Roofs: Except in the chancel, the church retains its medieval roofs. That in the nave is of six-bays, and has moulded tie beams, purlins, wall plates and rafters. It stands on short posts on corbels with demi-angels. The transept roofs are similar, as is the N aisle roof. The S aisle roof is early C16 and has four bays divided into panels with a rafter and two purlins, all moulded. The N porch has a plastered ceiling divided into panels with foliate bosses and moulded ribs.

Two windows by W H Constable of c.1855 in the N and S transepts. In the S aisle, some unusual C19 glass with diagonal bands with biblical texts, and floral quarries in diagonal bands in the opposite direction. Possibly early C19.

Many good C18 and C19 wall tablets, including one to Charles Simeon, vicar, d.1836, in an elaborate Gothic frame by Humphrey Hopper. Royal arms of 1814-37 over the tower arch, and below it an early C19 painted text. A cabinet in the chancel is made of panels from the C18 pulpit.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Fine C19 Gothic-style cast-iron fence on N and E sides with narrow, early C14-style trefoiled arcading divided by bands of quatrefoils. The open polygonal gate posts have trefoiled panels and foliate finials.

HISTORY: A church on this site was destroyed by fire in 1174, and the lower part of the W wall may survive from this church. It was seemingly a large church, as the transepts also have early origins, although of what date is not known. The chancel was rebuilt c.1300, and in the late C14 there was extensive work on the nave including the addition or rebuilding of the N and S arcades and aisles, and the construction of the W tower inside the W end of the nave. The N and S transepts were rebuilt in the C15. The nave clerestory was also added in the C15, and the W tower was given larger buttresses. The N porch was added in the late C15, and in the early C16 the S aisle was widened and lengthened towards the W. Galleries were added beginning in 1616, but only that in the S transept, survives. The transept aches were rebuilt c.1851. The chancel was wholly rebuilt in brick in 1834 and was refaced in stone in 1885, when the organ chamber was also added, as part of works to designs by Bodley, which also included other restoration. The spire was rebuilt in 1901.

Having been an important focus of corporate religion in Cambridge in the middle ages, with at least six guilds and several important devotional images, in the post-reformation period Holy Trinity became a centre of Puritanism and later of Evangelism. A town lectureship was established there in the early C17, and subscribers for a N gallery to provide extra seats included parishioners from at least eight other parishes. The noted evangelical, Charles Simeon (1759-1836), who was appointed vicar in 1782 against the wishes of the congregation, was not initially well received, but by the early C19 his preaching was so popular that people flocked to his services. The S transept gallery was installed to provide extra seating in 1806 and was paid for by Simeon himself. There were also other galleries in the church, later removed. Simeon was influential in founding missionary societies, notably the Church Missionary Society, and the church (which has a strong Evangelical tradition) retained close associations with the Society even after his death.

RCHME City of Cambridge, II (1959) 257-60
Pevsner, N., Buildings of England: Cambridgeshire (1970), 231
VCH Cambridgeshire III (1959), 123-32
DNB, q.v. Charles Simeon

The Church of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Medieval parish church, with surviving work of the C14 and C15, restored and partially rebuilt in the C19.
* Good C15 roofs in most of the building.
* Unusual survival of an early C19 gallery in the S transept.
* Good late C19 reredos designed by Bodley.
* Strong historical associations with the Evangelical movement, notably with Charles Simeon, vicar 1782-1836.

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