The History of St Bene’t’s Church

St Bene’t’s has been a place of Christian prayer and worship for nearly a thousand years. The exact date is in dispute; estimates vary between the tenth century and the reign of Edward the Confessor, but there are good grounds for placing it in the reign of King Canute about the year 1020.

It is the oldest building in the county of Cambridgeshire. In spite of its name, St Bene’t’s was never monastic and has been a parish church from the beginning, but services were held in the church by Corpus Christi College between 1353 and 1579, and for a time it was their only chapel.

In 1945, the vicar resigned when his own college reopened, and the brothers of the Society of St Francis stayed on at St Bene’t’s, moving to Botolph Lane. They remained there until 2005, when, under Brother Samuel, they left to begin a new project at Hilfield Priory in Dorset.

A rather long interregnum followed, which was brought to an end by the appointment of the Reverend Angela Tilby in 2007, who subseqently went to Christ Church, Oxford, in 2011. Since 2012, the vicar is the Reverend Anna Matthews, who was previously at St Albans Cathedral.

You can find out more on the architecture of St Bene’t’s from a talk given by Richard Ames-Lewis, as part of a Sunday Supplement series: