There is a church in each village:
The Church of St Helen, Little Eversden
St Helen’s is at the end of Church Lane deep in Little Eversden. Its tower can be seen from the A603 but hardly from within the Eversdens.
The living of the parish of St Helen, Little Eversden, has been in the gift of Queens’ College, Cambridge since 6 February 1572, when it was given to the college by `John Chetham of Great Livermore in the County of Suffolk, Gent.’.
The church is mainly 14th century and was restored in 1891 – 92, with an official reopening by the Bishop of Ely on 23 June 1892. There were two reopening services and the Parish Monthly of July 1892 also records the following:
`In order to mark the occasion the Rector and Messrs Hagger, T Ellis, Porter, Royston and Browning entertained all in the parish above the age of 20. Nearly 70 sat down to tea in the Schoolroom and everything passed off pleasantly and well.’
The most interesting features of the church are:
- north porch, which dates back to the 15th century
- font, which is 13th century and has an octagonal bowl some of the glass in the first window on the north side of the nave and in the west window of the tower, which dates from the 14th and 15th centuries
- choir stalls which were reset from the chapel of Queen’s College, Cambridge
- rood loft stair opening on the north side of the chancel arch
There used to be a beautiful altar frontal depicting wild flowers. This was given by Diana Croft and worked by Richard Croft in memory of the Reverend Harold Croft who served in these parishes between 1983 and 1984 after his retirement from full-time ministry. The frontal was based on a watercolour design by Mrs Nellie Riley who lived in Little Eversden. The watercolour is on display in the chancel of St Mary’s Church, Great Eversden. Sadly the altar frontal was stolen during the Remembrance Day service in Great Eversden in 1998 and never seen again. The replacement, dedicated in 2001, is brought to the church only on special occasions.
The Church of St Mary, Great Eversden
There are fine views of St Mary’s as you cross the Meridian Line from Little Eversden. The church is hidden when the horse chestnut trees are in leaf. There has been substantial restoration work on St Mary’s tower (see below).
The original 15th century church in Great Eversden was badly damaged by fire when it was struck by lightning on 8 July 1466. It was entirely rebuilt in the late 15th or early 16th centuries, possibly using some of the original materials. Substantial restoration work was also carried out in 1864 and 1920.
The church is built of clunch, ashlar, field stones and brick. Its most interesting features are:
- heavily timbered north porch, which has the date 1636 in a plaster panel overhead
- roofs of the chancel and nave, of 2 and 3 bays, which are late medieval
- rood stair in the thickened East end of the North wall of the nave
- choir stalls, which include two misericords from the first half of the 15th century (the first two on the south side)
- the pulpit, which is part octagonal with carved panels in two heights and dates from the 17th century.
A watercolour design of wild flowers by Mrs Nellie Riley, who lived in Little Eversden, is on display in the chancel. This design formed the basis of a unique embroidered altar frontal for St Helen’s Church, Little Eversden. The frontal was given by Diana Croft and worked by Richard Croft in memory of the Reverend Harold Croft, who served in these parishes between 1983 and 1984 after his retirement from full-time ministry. The frontal was stolen in 1998 during the Remembrance Day service at St Mary’s. Visit St Helen’s for more about this.
The churchyard at St Mary’s is surrounded by a clunch wall, which is capped with triangles of limestone. Part of it collapsed and has been repaired.
There is more information in the Eversdens Archive 2000 to 2014 (click here to visit).
There is now online (thanks to Neville Pritchard) a fantastic record of Marriages, Baptisms and Burials in the Parish of Great Eversden from as far back as 1813. Click here to view.
St. Mary’s is currently undergoing major renovations and is being underpinned. It will reopen hopefully in October 2015, and remain open until after Christmas, at which point it will again close for internal works for a few months.