The church, located in the centre of the old town, was mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) and has Grade 1 listed building status. The stone structure, built in mixed Gothic or Early English style, consists of a chancel, nave, aisles and tower with spire. The roofs are timber covered with lead. The chancel is 13th century, the nave 16th century, the tower and spire early 17th century. The nave is separated from the aisles on each side by five corresponding high pointed arches. The clergy vestry is off the north side of the nave and the choir vestry at the base of the tower. The organ is in the chancel. The white interior, combined with a variety of beautiful stained glass windows, creates a light and bright atmosphere.
Further details about the building can be found in the Guidebook which can be obtained at the church.
We are very fortunate to possess a fine 2 manual organ of significant historical importance, built by Messrs Bryceson of London in 1859. It can be seen as a tribute to the quality of the original craftsmanship that no major work was carried out on the organ for 117 years. In 1976 it became necessary to carry out a modest programme of cleaning and overhaul, and this restoration helped to keep the organ going for a further decade or so. However, it soon became apparent that the more deep-seated problems needed to be addressed.
It was therefore decided to carry out a major restoration of the whole organ, rather than tackle the problems in a piecemeal fashion, and also to undertake some improvements made possible by modern technology which were not available to the original Victorian builders. This would mean that the organ could continue to serve the parish faithfully until at least the middle of this century without further major expense.
The first phase of this major restoration was undertaken in 1994 at a cost of £60,000. As well as many generous donations, there were numerous and varied fund-raising activities undertaken by many different individuals and groups to raise this large amount of money. A subsequent bequest made possible the completion of the second phase in 2002 to electrify the stop action and the accessories.
The result of all of this work is a tremendous musical instrument of which the church can be justly proud. For a more detailed technical specification please visit the National Pipe Organ Register pages on www.npor.org.uk, enter Godmanchester in the address block, and follow the link to the church.
The church has a fine set of 8 bells, which can be heard throughout the town. 7 of them were originally cast by Thomas Osborne in 1784, and were re-hung in 1870 when the tenor bell, cast by John Taylor, was added. The tenor bell weighs 19-2-19 cwt (ie, 19 cwt, 2 quarters and 19 lbs). They are used in change-ringing, an art which was first developed in this region. In ages past, ringing the bells was the chief means of advertising church services, and they still call the faithful to worship today. One of the bells is inscribed: ‘Our voices shall with joyful sound make hills and valley echo round’
The hall is a wooden structure originally built as a workshop on the water meadow by the river where aircraft were built in WW1. It was purchased by a churchwarden in 1938 and moved, by agreement with the Diocese, to its present site adjacent to the vicarage garden. A kitchen, toilets and two small meeting/storage rooms were added at a later date. The Diocese insisted that the land on which it stands and the wall between the site and the vicarage garden should be separated from the benefice, and so they were purchased by the PCC, who are still the trustees. Considering its age and regular daily use, the hall is in reasonably good structural order, adequately maintained and well equipped. The costs of running and maintaining the hall are met by the income from a contract with a day nursery which uses the facilities every weekday from 8.00 to 6.30.
The churchyard, which was closed in 1959 by an Order in Council, is in good condition. A designated area is maintained to a very high standard for the internment of ashes. Responsibility for the upkeep of the churchyard rests with the Town Council who pay fees to the church for the grass cutting and minor tree work carried out by a team of volunteers.