St Andrew the Great

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St Andrew the Great
Church Of St Andrew The Great.jpg
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
ChurchmanshipLow Church / Conservative Evangelical
DioceseDiocese of Ely
Bishop(s)The Rt Revd Rod Thomas (AEO)
Vicar(s)Alasdair Paine

St Andrew the Great is a Church of England parish church in central Cambridge. Rebuilt in late Gothic style in 1843, it is a Grade II listed building. The church has a conservative evangelical tradition and participates in the Anglican Reform movement.[1] The congregation includes Cambridge residents, overseas visitors and students.


A church on the site of St Andrew the Great is first mentioned by name in 1200, and is possibly recorded in the Domesday Book. Little is known of the first building, which was probably a wooden structure, and was replaced with a more substantial stone building in the early 13th century, which was given to the Diocese of Ely in 1225-1228 by Absolom, the then rector. During the 16th century the church was a centre of Reformation preaching, with William Perkins serving as "lecturer" from 1585 until his death in 1602,[2] when he was succeeded by Paul Baynes and Ralph Cudworth.

By 1650 the medieval church building was in a poor state, and it was suggested that the parish be merged with that of Holy Trinity; it was however rebuilt largely at the expense of Christopher Rose (twice Mayor of Cambridge, in 1637 and 1654). Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1694, was curate of St Andrew's from 1662, where he set an example by his devoted attention to sufferers of the plague.[3] Temple Chevallier, the theologian and astronomer, was curate and then vicar from 1822 until 1835.[4]

To accommodate a growing congregation, the church was entirely rebuilt in 1842-3 in a 15th-century East Anglian style by the architect Ambrose Poynter.[5] It was rebuilt with a nave of five bays with side aisles and a west tower of four stages; the south porch and vestries were added later in the 19th-century. It does however retain elements of the earlier structure including early 12th-century double capitals in the heating chamber and some wall memorials, notably that of Captain James Cook.[6]

The Cook Memorial[edit]

The Cook Memorial

The church building contains a number of memorial tablets, most notably one of the explorer Captain James Cook and family. The memorial records Captain Cook, his wife Elizabeth, and their six children. Elizabeth died in 1835, aged 93, and was predeceased by all of her children; she is buried in the church alongside two of her sons, James and Hugh. She left a bequest to pay the minister, support five poor aged women and to maintain the monument.[7]

Recent history[edit]

St Andrew's was declared redundant in 1984[8] as the parish population had dwindled. However, the congregation of the nearby Holy Sepulchre Church ('the Round Church'), was looking for a new home as growth of the congregation had led them to run out of space. They raised the money to renovate St Andrew's, installing a new gallery, baptistry and rooms, and moved there in 1994. The parish associated with the church is now called Holy Sepulchre with All Saints. The Round Church is still used occasionally and is leased to Christian Heritage for exhibition and training courses.

The church has been involved in three church 'grafting' schemes, to All Saints', Little Shelford (1997), Christ Church Cambridge (2004) and St Matthew's, Cambridge (2008). In each case a minister on the staff moved with a substantial number in the congregation to join the existing congregation in those places.[9] In 2018, the church also was involving in 'planting' a new church in Huntingdon.[10]

Present day[edit]

The church is open for public services every Sunday: 10am, 11.30am (during University term time) and 5pm. Services are roughly an hour in length, with a strong emphasis on relevant Bible teaching. There are six age-banded Sunday school groups for children and also evening meetings for undergraduates (Tuesdays), 20s-30s (Wednesdays), internationals (Thursdays) and teenagers (Fridays and Sundays).[11]

The church is within the conservative evangelical tradition of the Church of England.[12] The parish has passed resolutions to reject the ordination and/or leadership of women. It receives alternative episcopal oversight from the Bishop of Maidstone (currently Rod Thomas).[13]

Notable clergy[edit]

List of Vicars[edit]

The following have recently served as vicar:[14]

  • 1955-1987: Mark Ruston
  • 1987-2010: Mark Ashton[15]
  • 2011–present: Alasdair Paine

Other clergy[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Local churches linked to Reform
  2. ^ Ferguson, Sinclair (1996), "Foreword", The Art of Prophesying, Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh. ISBN 0851516890.
  3. ^ Persons: Tenison, Thomas (1660 - 1695) (–) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 13 January 2018)
  4. ^ Persons: Chevallier, Temple (1819 - 1835) (–) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 13 January 2018)
  5. ^ Bradley, Simon. "Poynter, Ambrose". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Andrew the Great (1331889)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  7. ^ "St Andrew the Great Church, Cambridge". Captain Cook Society. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  8. ^ History of St Andrew the Great
  9. ^ Ash, Christopher, Davis, Mary and White, Bob (2012). "Persistently Preaching Christ", p. 123. Christian Focus Publications, Fearn. ISBN 9781845509828.
  10. ^ Christ Church, Huntingdon, Main Website
  11. ^ St Andrew the Great website
  12. ^ "Christmas 2016 Newsletter" (pdf). bishopofmaidstone.org. December 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  13. ^ "Christmas 2017 Newsletter" (pdf). Bishop of Maidstone. January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  14. ^ "The Benefice of Cambridge (Holy Sepulchre) (St Andrew the Great)". www.crockford.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  15. ^ Mark Ashton obituary

Coordinates: 52°12′18″N 0°07′18″E / 52.205°N 0.1217°E / 52.205; 0.1217