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St Mary, Tilney-cum-Islington
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Some ruins hide away, lost because they are too remote for anyone to know or care anymore. But St Mary is now hard against the fast Wisbech to Lynn dual-carriageway, a farm track from the roundabout leading you to a building that functions as little more than a view for passing drivers these days. A small cruciform church, the 15th century tower survives but the 13th century nave is now roofless. As is common with churches that were slowly abandoned, most of the furnishings were destroyed by a combination of vandalism and neglect, but the two bells still ring out over Histon in the busy northern suburbs of Cambridge, which is a nice thought.
The chancel is still roofed and is bricked off with its own entrance, but is no longer in use looking through the grill, you can see the Victorian sanctuary step and three memorials to the Bagget and Dixon familied on the north wall, thats all.
St Mary is not a particularly attractive ruin, and I was a bit surprised to see that the Churches Conservation Trust are responsible for its upkeep I doubt theyd take it on nowadays. Indeed, while they do an admirable job in maintaining the structure, it is perhaps significant that the signs still bear the old name of the Redundant Churches Fund, and I was told by my mole inside the CCT that the organisation would love to shift this one off its books if it possibly could.
Simon Knott, July 2005
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