East Hatley church opens doors for Heritage Open Days event

PUBLISHED: 12:50 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:48 10 September 2019

St Denis'’ Church in East Hatley, Cambridgeshire, will be open for visitors as part of Heritage Open Days. Picture: Peter Mann

St Denis'' Church in East Hatley, Cambridgeshire, will be open for visitors as part of Heritage Open Days. Picture: Peter Mann

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There's another chance to see inside historic St Denis' Church and Hatley St George Church this weekend.

St Denis'’ Church in East Hatley, Cambridgeshire, will be open for visitors as part of Heritage Open Days. Picture: Peter MannSt Denis'’ Church in East Hatley, Cambridgeshire, will be open for visitors as part of Heritage Open Days. Picture: Peter Mann

Two Cambridgeshire churches near Royston normally locked will be open to the public this weekend.

As part of the Heritage Open Days (HOD) festival, St Denis' Church in East Hatley will be open for the second year running on Friday, September 13, Saturday, September 14, and Sunday, September 15, from 10am to noon and 2pm to 4pm.

It's an opportunity to look inside at what is normally a locked building.

The Friends of Friendless Churches owns this redundant church and has completed the first phase of renovation work to the interior.

St Denis'’ Church in East Hatley, Cambridgeshire, will be open for visitors as part of Heritage Open Days. Picture: Peter MannSt Denis'’ Church in East Hatley, Cambridgeshire, will be open for visitors as part of Heritage Open Days. Picture: Peter Mann

You can see the new floor in the nave with inspection hatches to reveal the medieval timbers beneath, and glazed chancel windows installed by the FoFC's contractors, Lodge & Sons.

While it's a free event, contributions are welcome towards the huge cost of fixing the walls, restoring the chancel, installing a stained glass window at the east end, and stabilising the crumbly wall so the church can be open every day. Last year over £70 was raised for the FoFC.

St Denis' is a Grade II-listed, redundant church in a churchyard which remains consecrated ground, open for burials, and is also a nature reserve.

The church dates from 1217, but many of the surviving medieval elements are from the 14th century.

Most of the visible work is by the 19th century architect William Butterfield, showing his High Victorian fondness for polychromatic stone and brickwork, albeit kept low-key for a country church.

The church fell into disrepair and was abandoned in 1961.

St Denis' retains the 19th-century font, ghosts of the pulpit and reredos - and a Portway stove.

These stoves burned fuel so slowly that they became known as 'Tortoise' stoves and each bears the motto 'Slow but Sure'.

Hatley St George Church will also be open on Friday, September 13, Saturday, September 14, and Sunday, September 15.

On the Saturday, it will be open as part of the Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust's Ride and Stride day.

See www.camhct.uk/ride - then follow the link to 'Information for Riders and Striders'. Gamlingay is listed under St Neots Deanary.

See websites heritageopendays.org and hatley.info for further information.

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