St Giles’ Church is just outside Cambridge city centre, past Quayside. It’s a very inclusive church, welcoming people of all backgrounds, sexes, sexualities, faiths…anyone, it seems, which is how it should be. They even do Romanian services, which I hadn’t seen in Britain before (the Catholic church in Cambridge has a long established Polish mass weekly). In fact the only people not welcome are those intending to cook or camp in the grounds.
The lamp over the gate says 1092, but the building currently there actually dates from 1875, with further work completed in the early twentieth century. The church has a fairly plain central area, but the choir area behind the pulpit is very attractive.
Now this post might turn very boring if you don’t like stained glass. If that is the case, then look away now…
Around the edges of the church is a set of 18 glass depictions of saints, kings and a curiosity. These are Gregory, Augustine, Athanasius, Cyprine, Ignatius, Clement, Hugh of Lincoln, Edward the Confessor (2 for the price of 1 – also a king), Dunstan, Bede, Teresa, Francis of Assisi, and Katherine of Siena (and one more) being the saints; Alfred, Charles I and Henry VI the kings; and the most interesting figure being Samuel Seabury.
He was an American rector and later bishop, who argued the Loyalist cause during the run-up to the American Revolution, but who chose to accept the new Government afterwards. This meant he could not swear allegiance to the King as part of his ordination as a bishop in the Church of England, meaning he chose to be consecrated in the Scottish Episcopalian Church. This precedent of a Jacobite bishop in the US caused alarm to Parliament and the Hanoverian King, and the law was changed to allow foreign bishops not to have to swear for the King.
Anyway, the glass is all pretty impressive, and I also liked the little pictures of the stations of the cross which punctuate the windows. At the entrance to the church there is a little play area for children with some toys and books. St Giles’ church is a little out of the way, but it’s worth dropping in if you’re passing – or Romanian orthodox.
Address: Castle St, Cambridge CB30AQ