st marys church

A warm welcome and thank you for visiting our website.

We are an inclusive Church of England parish church and we try our best to give a warm welcome to everyone. Whether you are looking for information about the church and its activities, or want to explore the Christian faith, we hope that you find our website useful.


This text is on display in our porch and it sums up well what we try to offer:-
If you are curious
and have come to see
If you are weary
and have come to rest
If you are grateful
and have come to give thanks
If you are hurting
and have come for comfort
If you are listening
and have come to pray
If you are seeking
and have come for answers
We welcome you in Christ’s name!


Our church has stood on this site for 600 years. It was built about 1400 at the expense of Thomas Patesley who was then the incumbent. A rubbing of the original brass on his tomb hangs on the west wall (9*). This building probably replaced a Norman church on the site the only remains of which are seen in the niche (6) and the piscina (7) at the eastern end of the south aisle, now the Resurrection Chapel.

The church suffered at the hands of William Dowsing, a notorious Puritan iconoclast who paid an official visit to the church in 1643 and ordered, amongst other things, the destruction of the original stained glass only fragments of which can now be seen in the windows on the north side of the nave. The original 14m high stone spire was blown down in a gale in 1708 and the tower collapsed in 1798. These were replaced in the first years of the 19th Century using local labour with material salvaged from the wreck. As a result the nave lost one complete bay at its western end, leaving it more or less square in plan. The restoration of the interior, including the laying of the Minton tiles on the floor, was largely carried out during the incumbency of the Revd A.T.Crisford (1852-83). The restoration of the chancel was carried out at that time by the lay rectors, the Master and Fellows of Jesus College, Cambridge. The stained glass (5) in the chancel, examples of the early work of the firm of Constable of Cambridge, are memorials to Mr Crisford’s son.

Above the chancel arch is a “Doom” (2), a representation of the Last Judgment, only recovered from under layers of limewash in the middle of the 19th Century. The chancel or rood screen (1) is a restored original. Traces of coloured paint dating from the 15th Century can be found on it. Carved into the back of this screen are representations of the Green Man, an ancient pagan entity. The pulpit (3) dates from 1636 and was originally a “three decker”. At the east end of the north aisle is a parclose screen (4) which formerly enclosed a chantry (a chapel dedicated to the saying of Masses for the Dead). The plinth of the font (10) dates back to the earliest days of the building as it bears the arms of the diocese of Ely and those of John Fordham, Bishop of Ely 1388-1425. There is a ring of 8 bells. Above the porch (8) is a room which used to provide accommodation for a curate.

*Download the church plan

Anyone who is interested in a more detailed description of the church can download it here.

The Tower

The Bells are an anticlockwise ring of 8, the tenor weight is 8 1/2 cwt, currently rung from the ground floor.

Service ringing is on Sundays at 9.30am – 9.50am.

Practice every Monday 7.45pm – 9.15pm (followed by social gathering in a local pub).

The bellringers are a very friendly group who always welcome visitors. We ring for weddings and other events as requested. We enter the local Gipson Trophy striking competition every year (it’s a league competition with a ‘home’ and an ‘away’ match with every other tower) and are delighted to have won for the last two years. If you would like to learn to ring we would be very pleased to help you learn this traditional, stimulating exercise.


Tower Captain: Ann Seaman
tel. 07710 452647

Tower Secretary: 

The Church Garden

The Friends of Great Shelford Parish Church

The Friends of Great Shelford Parish Church was founded in 1996 to help maintain and improve the church’s fabric, the churchyard and the general amenities of the church for the benefit of the whole community. Members contribute to those aims primarily through their annual subscription but also through donations and by supporting our fund-raising events.

The Friends work closely with the Parochial Church Council. The Incumbent and Wardens are ex-officio members of the management committee. But the Friends are a Registered Charity quite separate from the PCC and so they are able to focus support on projects that reflect their own community-orientated objectives. This is to encourage an involvement by all who treasure the church building as part of their heritage and want to see it conserved for their own generation and beyond.

Recent projects that the Friends have sponsored include the building of the new Community Room, improvements to the baptistry lighting and the up-grading of the churchyard paths. The Friends have also contributed in recent years to the cost of insuring the church and the floodlighting of the tower at Christmas.


Being a Friend can cost as little as £5 for a year’s subscription. But members are invited to contribute more if they can! New members are always welcome. Application forms are at the back of the church or why not just ask us to get one to you.

Treasurer: Simon White
Tel: 01223 841569

Chair: Bob Doel
Tel: 01223 843946


How you can donate and help our Church


Thank you for support given to St Mary’s.