Swaffham Prior – a tale of two churches

On Saturday I spent a lovely afternoon in Swaffham Prior, a village ten miles north-east of Cambridge. I last visited the village about eight years ago, it was nice to re-visit.

Swaffham Prior is one of those villages that has a peaceful, relaxing ‘sunday afternoon’ feel to it whichever day it is.  We could feel the relaxed atmosphere as soon as we got off the bus in the high street.

A short walk from the bus stop is the fascinating and unusual church yard.  It is unusual because two churches share the site, making the church yard a very impressive sight.

The two churches once served two different parishes despite the village having only a few hundred inhabitants.  In 1667 the two parishes were united, to be served by one priest, by an act of parliament.  St Mary’s (the church on the left of the pic above) became the adopted church and is still used for services.

It is lovely and light inside and I was able to take some pictures on my mobile, which never usually works very well in other churches.

Whilst St Mary’s is still used for services St Cyriac’s is empty.  Although St Cyriac’s had lost favour with the congregation it was given a one hundred year reprieve from 1779, when St Mary’s was struck by lighting.  However, St Mary’s was eventually restored finding favour again from the early 1900’s.  More information on the history of St Mary’s can be found here.

Despite being a redundant church St Cyriac’s (full name St Cyriac and St Julitta) is still an impressive building.  Despite being empty inside (see pic below), it has lots of character and is a great community space.  It also has several boxes of second-hand books to buy, which was a nice addition, anywhere selling books is fine with me!  Naturally I couldn’t resist purchasing a few of the lovely things!  All money collected goes to keeping the building open.

After our church visit we had lunch at the lovely pub before wandering around the rest of the village.  Swaffham Prior also has two windmills which I remembered well from my last visit as I love windmills. So after lunch (a very nice cheeseburger and chips is available should you ever find yourself there!) we went to have a look at those too.

Fosters Windmill is a working flour windmill and opens it doors to visitors on the second Sunday of each month.  When I last visited I got to look around and go up to several of the other floors.  It was fascinating to see a working windmill in action.

The windmill is closed to visitors at all other times, however the owners kindly let us take photos.

The other windmill is part of a house conversion, I am a very big fan of unusual conversions, especially when they involve windmills! We had a quick look from afar, mindful of invading the owners privacy.

Once we had finished wandering around Swaffham Prior we decided to walk over to Swaffham Bulbeck, which is the next village on the way back to Cambridge.  It takes around half an hour to walk, I’m sure it’s a lovely walk when it doesn’t start bucketing down with rain half way there!

I took this photo on our walk…

As we were a bit wet by the time we got in to Swaffham Bullbeck we took refuge in the nearest pub, as you do, so didn’t get to look around properly before catching our bus back to Cambridge.  I think I will return to have a look around and get a proper feel for the village.  Another blog post in the future maybe!


About Maria Explores...

Blogger and Freelance Writer
This entry was posted in Cambridge, History and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Swaffham Prior – a tale of two churches

  1. Two churches, two windmills, two pubs…double the fun all the way! This was a lovely post, Maria. I really enjoyed it.

  2. viveka says:

    Thanks for bring me ago … !

  3. How beautiful!

    Thanks so much for sharing the history of this place along with your wonderful photos! 🙂

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