Tuesday, 22 November 2011
St Mary The Less
I will get back to the mile of English road which we began in the last post. However I intend to briefly digress for a quick visit to one of the less well-known churches in the city of Cambridge to see something which may interest the Statesiders among you. We get a lot of American tourists in Cambridge but I'll bet that few of them go home with this obscure little nugget of information.
We have to go to the church of St Mary The Less, or Little St Mary's. It's the church which is "little" or "less" not the saint herself, and it is so known to differentiate it from Great St Mary's, the university church which stands right in the centre of town. St Mary The Less is easy to walk past without noticing, hidden as it is behind trees and tucked in between the huge United Reform Church and Peterhouse College. It also lacks a tower or spire to give it distinction.
But Little St Mary's Lane is a quaint area which is worth exploring, though again very few people do so.
And the church has a secluded little graveyard behind it, pretty in summer and atmospheric in winter. The church itself though is so shy and self-effacing that it's impossible to get a satisfactory picture of its exterior. We'll have to venture inside....
....to find a surprisingly light and airy building, elegant and uncluttered. There's a striking representation of the Virgin Mary in a side chapel too.
But this is what I've brought you to see....
....a memorial to Godfrey Washington b.1670 - d.1729, a former minister of this church, we are told. He was from the same family as George Washington, the first President of the USA. If you cast your eye to the family coat of arms above the inscription you'll see the "stars and stripes" of the Washington family which were to form the basis of the US flag.