Are you looking for panoramic views over Cambridge? If so, Great St. Mary’s church is the place for you. This stunning church has a rich history and heritage and has played an important role in the history of the University and City of Cambridge through the last 800 years.
Great St. Mary’s has been a place of worship since the Angles and Saxons fought Vikings in the market square of Cambridge. The foundations originate from 1010 and written records confirm that a church has existed there since 1205. That is well before there was a University or a single college in Cambridge. Great St. Mary’s church that you see today has gone through many changes during its time.
The church has been burned to the ground (1291), rebuilt (1351), expanded (1475-1519), and a tower raised (1690). The interior was previously very different with a painted and gilded ceiling, stained glass and painted walls. Most of this has changed through time and what you see today is the result of a major Victorian restoration (1863).
The church has a beautifully high ceiling with stained glass windows throughout. There is also a gift shop should you wish to purchase any memorabilia. But most importantly, the church will give you the best publicly accessible view of the city, the colleges and surrounding countryside in Cambridge from the church tower. You can climb this at most times of the year but be warned, access to the tower is via a 123-step medieval turret staircase. When you reach the top, you have a magnificent birds eye view of Kings College, Trinity College and the countryside beyond.
Entry to the church itself is free, however donations are welcome and for just a small fee you can climb the tower.
Go and check out this fantastic view next time you visit Cambridge. The front of house staff would be more than happy to recommend any other points of interest for your group also.