Cambridgeshire Churches

Little Eversden, St Helen

Little Eversden in the late sunshine

St Helen is a tidy, compact-looking church. The exterior is surprisingly devoid of windows, when viewed from the north, and the tower is small and lacks a stair turret. But it's charming, and has a rare 15th century timber porch. The tracery in the side panels of this is quite elaborate, and when we visited it was touched with gold by the evening sunlight.

It feels a bit churlish to mention this, but our first view of the interior was unfortunately of black plastic hanging between two of the tie-beams on the roof - it looks like they've been having difficulty with plaster falling from the ceiling. I'm sure it's only temporary, and the roof is quite nice - a Victorian timber affair with criss-crossing beams and braces everywhere.

Little Eversden looking east

As with many churches in this part of the county, the tower of St Helen's has a stair turret on the inside, rather than the outside. I'm not entirely sure why they did this - perhaps to preserve a more regular profile for the exterior, or to save a little bit of masonry. It makes the space under the tower interestingly irregular, anyway, and this stairway was particularly nice - the door at the bottom looks very ancient, and there are two stone heads at the top of the stairs where they join the wall, leering down with huge lips and big eyes.

the old rood stairs

Most of the church is 14th century, although it does have a 13th century font (which looks like it's starting to crack into pieces). There is a little bit of medieval glass surviving in the first window on the north side of the nave - it's impossible to make out any images but the colours are very rich, lovely intense blues and reds and purples.

The little church guide claims that there's also some medieval glass in the west window of the tower, but I couldn't see any. Next to the window with the medieval glass is the rood stair, which enters the wall rather mysteriously about a metre and a half from the ground. There's no sign of where it came out up above, and the Victorians did a good job of erasing all other signs of the medieval furnishings in the church.

the stalls

They did, though leave us a nice set of choir stalls in the chancel. These were originally made by Bodley for the chapel in Queens' College, Cambridge - why they ended up here, I'm not entirely sure.

I quite liked them - the seats are separated by armrests and nicely turned dowels, and the backs are filled with blind arcading of alternating quatrefoil and cinquefoil arches. The blank spaces between the dowels and arches are decorated with medallions containing complicated geometric designs in alternating five- and six-fold symmetries.

St Helen was open when we visited.

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