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Down a grassy Cambridgeshire lane, surrounded by trees, arable fields to the west and pasture to the south, lies the church at Steeple Gidding. It is only half a mile or so on footpaths across the fields from the church at Little Gidding - see previous post. A church has been here since at least the twelfth century, the date of the south doorway which is the oldest part of the existing building. Records show that it had a tower by 1260 and that must have led to the name of the small settlement of which it is a part acquiring the prefix "Steeple" to distinguish it from nearby Little Gidding and Great Gidding. Most of the building dates from the 1300s, including the tower which must have replaced the original one. Pevsner describes this, very appropriately, as "rather underfed" due to its slender proportions.
The interior is now largely empty of furnishings and pews. It was declared redundant in 1971 when the congregation had but one communicant (aged 90). It is now in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust. Though it's sad to see a church fall out of use a stripped interior does present opportunities, not least to admire the marvellous medieval stone floor. The light through the south aisle and clerestory windows, uninterrupted by ranks of dark pews, tables etc, made the old stone positively glow on the day of my visit and simply I had to take a photograph. It appeared that the church may have been used for an occasional service, as sometimes happens in redundant churches that remain consecrated, because the two remaining pews had been moved together to face the chancel arch. George Gilbert Scott renovated the building in 1872-73 and appears to have done so sensitively. Further work was done in 1899 and more recently, in 1976. It was a pleasure to come upon the church and equally good to see it being kept both weather-tight and open to visitors.
What did slightly disappoint me, however, was the large, wide, yew tree on the south side of the building, perfectly positioned to prevent me taking a photograph of the church from my favourite position in the south east corner of the churchyard (see small photograph). It sometimes seems that such trees are deliberately planted to thwart me!
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/30 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On