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Friday, 24 April 2015

Sutton-in-the-Isle St Andrew, near Ely

Sutton's famous tower
The long village of Sutton, Cambs (now known as Sutton-in-the-Isle) was built on an old island (the same one as Ely) of high ground surrounding nearby watery fens.  As well as Ely and Sutton, Witchford and Coveney also share this high ground. The latter 2 were obviously linked to witchcraft  a long time ago.

These days the fens have been drained and the fields are gradually losing their rich top soil. Sutton is now home to many who commute into nearby Cambridge and Ely.   It is about 4 miles west of Ely and about 12 miles north of Cambridge.  People also commute to Peterborough and even London.

Like Ely Cathedral, the tower is visible for miles around. It has a fine double octagon lantern on top - probably unique?  As you enter the village you turn left at the junction on the main street. Although visible from miles around it is very easy to miss the church! We did at first. The church is near the east end of the village.

Off the nave is a small chapel with 2 niches. The top one is clearly very old but the lower one with a statue of the Virgin and Child dates from before the Reformation. The statue was reportedly found when building new houses on the fen-edge below the older village on the hill some 50 years ago. Side windows in the nave have interesting tracery. The east window is believed to date from the 14th century.  Some of the glass in the church is semi-abstract in the style of John Piper. However much of the glass in the nave was covered when we visited and plain.

These days, St Andrew's is part of a larger benefice and shares its vicar with the villages of Witcham and Mepal. 

Date and bacon starter
There are several places to eat in nearby Ely but we ate lunch at the Anchor in Sutton Gault.  Sutton Gault is at the far west end of the village about 5 minutes drive from the church.  They have an excellent and reasonably priced lunch menu with a good choice of all courses and available as either 2 or 3 courses at fixed prices. First class service and food.

When we visited on a late Friday morning, the church was open. I gather it is locked in the afternoon?


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