Church of St Thomas Becket, Ramsey :: Shared Description

The church originated as a hospitium or guest house of Ramsey Abbey, being founded around 1180. It consisted of an aisled hall of 8 bays with a chapel formed of a single bay at the east end. The latter now forms the chancel of the church. It is in late Romanesque style with a cross-ribbed vault, and probably represents the first phase of building as the arcades of the nave are in Early English style.

Sometime in the 13th century, the building was converted into the parish church, possible in 1237, but certainly by 1291 which is the first written record. Prior to this parish service were held in the Abbey church.

During the early Perpendicular period, a clerestory was created and new windows built into the aisles to create the church essentially as it exists, less the tower. Although some funds for a tower had been willed to the parish by the last Abbot, nothing was done until 1672 when the current tower was built to replace the previous small belfry. The new tower used stonework from the Abbey ruins which is reflected in the styling. It took the place of the most westerly bay of the nave.

The west doorway is 12th century in style and may well be the original west door, although much restored. Externally, the east end retains the Romanesque east wall with its three round-headed lancets surmounted by an oval 'vesica piscis' window. The south wall of the chancel shows remains of columns forming part of the warden's lodgings and/or vestry.

Inside, the fine Early English arcades stretch almost to the end of the building. The style of decoration of the capitals indicates essentially Transitional work. The original layout of hall with a small chapel at the east end has resulted in an unusual feature in the modern layout whereby the communion rail is well forward of the chancel arch in the nave.

Of other old internal features, there are a plain piscina and sedilia , somewhat restored, in the chancel, and an early font. This is thought to date from the late 12th or early 13th century. Hexagonal in shape, the bowl is supported on four columns of Northamptonshire or Purbeck marble, surrounding a 19th century main pillar. The latter was added when the font was discovered and restored during the main restoration of 1843-4. The poppy-head pews date from this restoration also.

The church is Listed Grade I.

Much of the information is derived from the church's own information leaflet.
by Alan Murray-Rust

12 images use this description:

TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey  by M J Richardson
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust
TL2985 : Church of St Thomas à Becket, Ramsey by Alan Murray-Rust


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Created: Thu, 17 Sep 2015, Updated: Thu, 17 Sep 2015

The 'Shared Description' text on this page is Copyright 2015 Alan Murray-Rust, however it is specifically licensed so that contributors can reuse it on their own images without restriction.

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