HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 13th century glass in the chancel
A very simple country church of great beauty, St Michael's consists only of an aisled nave and chancel, roofed with thatch, and a double bell turret at the west end.
The nave is primarily 14th century, with alternating octagonal and rounded arcade pillars. One of the most interesting historical features of the interior is a very fine 13th century double piscina set into the south wall of the chancel, near the altar. The piscina has a pair of drains, and is very similar in style to one in Jesus College Chapel in Cambridge and the more elaborate ones at Histon.
There are remnants of 13th century glass in the westernmost window in the north wall of the chancel. Here the technique is not what would later be called stained glass, but rather 'grisaille', a form of painting over clear glass. I'm not aware of any parish church with an older example of such glass in England. That in itself makes St Michael's a bit special.
To the north of the churchyard is a fascinating holy well, now covered with a Victorian wellhead. Apparently, for centuries local children were not baptised in the church font, but in this well. This tradition, which may have dated back to the medieval period, fell out of use in the late Victorian era.
The church is no longer used for regular worship and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.
About Longstanton, St Michael's Church
Address: St Michael's, Longstanton, Cambridgeshire, England, CB24 5BZ
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: 7 miles north west of Cambridge off the B1050
Website: Longstanton, St Michael's Church
Churches Conservation Trust
Photo Credit: Keith Edkins, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
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