Today's footsteps lead to the village of Duxford in Cambridgeshire. The name of the village is well known to those who come to visit the nearby Imperial War Museum, but few of those visitors come to the village itself. Our objective is something a little more peaceful and much more ancient.
Quite close to the A505 road and the Cambridge to London railway stands a small, stone building which could easily be overlooked. It is known as The Chapel Of St John The Baptist, though it's many years since it was used for worship. It was founded by Sir William de Colville some time around 1220 and served as a hospital. It was staffed by one or two Augustinian brothers who sheltered poor travellers and tended to the sick and aged. They collected tolls from the nearby bridge which they kept repaired. The chapel also held land and owned a watermill which financed their operation.
It passed to the Knight's Hospitalers in 1324 and continued to be used as a chapel though their activities were scaled down. It was largely rebuilt around this time. By 1540 the chapel had ceased to operate and fell into disrepair. It was converted into a barn and was used as an agricultural building until it was restored in 1947.
But Duxford is also one of those unusual parishes which, besides the little chapel, has two churches. One of these, St John's, is no longer in use as a church.
The building, as you can see, is a hotch-potch of styles from various centuries. Nothing quite fits together though somehow the church is undeniably beautiful and its situation is perfect. Sadly the door was closed and I was unable to track down the key-holder so I didn't get to see the interior but had to content myself with sitting in the churchyard gazing up at the twisted spire.
I wandered on and came across the delightful village green....
....before encountering the church of St Peter, the one which is still in use today. It was much restored, but not much improved, by the efforts of Victorian builders.
Just for good measure there's even a United Reformed Church too.
Somehow I can't help but feel that, over the centuries, we've largely lost the art of building attractive churches!