We have travelled through the Village of Benwick in Cambridgeshire, more times than I can count, and I always say, where is the church, thinking we must stop one day and explore. A couple of Sundays back we did stop for me to take a photo of the village sign, although no church, it does depict a ‘Crane Bridge’, although I had to look that up, as bridges are not one of my strong points. We had a quick look for a church, found a small modern church, but no older building or even any ruins……..interesting as they now have a modern building, it must be replacing something. There is a new bridge now over the River Nene, but it is in keeping with the one on the sign and the area is very much an agriculture region, hence the tractor.
When we got home, I found that there had been a chapel in 1518, St James at the top of the High Street, but all trace of that has now vanished. But on a sadder note, there had been a church, St Mary’s built by Samuel Teulon (1812-1873) a Victorian architect. Some details that I found…..The foundation stone was laid in 1850 and the church was completed in 1854. It was built in Norfolk Carr stone, with Caen stone facings, making it a unique looking church. It cost £2,500 to build and seated 400. The tower contained two bells, and a clock was added in 1871 by the Parish Council. But the Church began to tilt at some point, and in 1966 the tower was removed. The clock was then moved on loan to March Museum. Over time, more of the church became condemned, and the last service was held in 1980. In 1985 the Church was demolished.
I found a photo of the church and its a great shame the church suffered the fate of many fen churches, sinking into the soft earth. You see many towers, leaning at odds with the main body of the building, while travelling around the area. But although the sign showed no church, there was quite an interesting story to go with it. I think I will have be a little more lenient with theses village signs, as they all do seem to have a story to tell.