Castle Camps

The Parish Church of All Saints

All Saints

All Saints Church stands on high ground, at 415 feet above sea level. The first church in the parish was built by the Normans, probably to serve as a Garrison Chapel  as well as a Parish Church. It was within the Castle grounds and constructed in the late 1000's or early 1100's. The earliest record of the name "All Saints" is in 1470. The old tower, which collapsed on 18 July 1850, was built about 1400. Norman remains were found in the tower and it seems that the church itself had been built 50 or so years after the tower. The remains of two bodies were found under the tower, one in a coffin of solid oak and are believed to be of the Saxon period.

There are relatively few churches that are also part of a larger complex - in the case of Castle Camps this includes the castle moats, and manor house within them, the church and the remaining features of the abandoned medieval village.

New windows were installed in the Chancel in the 15th century and the Nave was rebuilt, making it wider and higher than the Chancel. The Nave roof dates to about 1500 and has king posts upon tie beams. The church registers begin in 1563 and are virtually complete. By 1615 there was a rectory and between 1635 and 1724 this was rebuilt in brick, partly with materials from the decaying "castle".

On March 20 1643, during the Civil War, Dr Gray was ejected from the Rectory for supporting the Royalists, and five days later, Will Dowsing, who was the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Eastern Counties, destroyed the painted glass windows in the Nave and Chancel, and broke the cross on the Nave roof. (You can see the broken cross in the photo above).The next year the altar steps were levelled. By about the 1660's the Altar rails had been reinstated and in 1665 a chimney was inserted in the Chancel. The Lord Bishop of Ely is reported to have inspected the Church on 9th September 1685.The Chancel screen still survived in 1744 but only the base was left in 1851.

All Saints

There was much renovation and restoration in the 19th century. Early in the century a new ceiling was fitted to the chancel and also an East window with cast iron tracery. In 1818 the lead roof was replaced with slates, which were themselves replaced in 1883.  The ocatagonal font which was 15th century was largely recut in 1850. The new tower was begun in 1851, (with the Saxon remains carefully replaced under its foundations) and is built on a solid bed of concrete. The walls average 4' thick and are two thirds solid brickwork. The architect was WGE Pritchett of Bishops Stortford, and the cost was £754.

Church Porch

The Rev Pearson rebuilt the 15th century porch in 1855 and new windows were inserted in the Chancel in 1856 to replace the old wooden frames, thus heightening the walls. In 1881-82 the whole church was restored by JP St Aubyn. Stone tracery replaced the cast iron in the East Window and the West gallery was removed and internal woodwork entirely renewed. Choir stalls were built in 1883 and later in 1908 the Nave's north windows were renewed. 1913 saw the Nave's roof timbers mostly replaced and some 14th century glass in the South windows was reset in 1923.

ancient window glass 14th C window glass

In 1552 the Church plate included 2 silver Chalices and Patens. In 1890 the Parish Magazine listed it as "a silver paten (of 1684) inscribed "For the towne of Castle Camps. EBW 1686". A cup inscribed "Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire, 1778" and a Flagon and Silver Dish, "presented to the Parish of Castle Camps by the Rev. George Pearson, BD, Rector, 1846".  

In 1982 the Archdeacon of Ely, David Walser, recorded that there was:Alms Dish silver plate, 1846; Silver Chalice 1778, Silver Paten 1686, Flagon 1860 - Dayrell, Salver EPNS plated, Francisci Dayrell 1860; Paten 1860, In Memoriam: Francisci Dayrell. In addition the following are shared with Shudy Camps. Baptisms Shell, Sick Communion Set, Chalice 1860 and Paten 1860.

The brass and inlaid alter cross is inscribed: To the Glory of God and in Memory of Catherine Hester Pearson. Born 1827. Died 1910. Given by her sisters F.E.P and A.S.B. Easter 1913

The pair of brass Alter Candlesticks with one inscribed: In Memory of Frances E Pearson. Died 1913 aged 83. The gift of her four brothers, George, Charles, John and Edward and her sister, Sophia Bankes.and the other F.E.P. 1913

There is also a small wood and mother-of-pearl cross, labelled Given by Hy Weld Stewart. Summer 1951

The parish has been run jointly with Shudy Camps (formerly Little Camps) since 1945, and All Saints has remained the senior church. The old rectory was requisitioned by the RAF during the Second World War then sold in 1952 when it was renamed Berghane Hall. 



Bartholomew Stavers died on 11 December 1784, and is commemorated in a memorial on the North Wall of the church. In his will he left £100 in 4% Consols. Ten shillings of the interest was for the upkeep of the tablet and his tomb, which is just outside. The remaining £3.10.0 was for the poor of the parish. He wanted this to be distributed on St John the Evangelists Day. Although not always done on this day, parishioners have had gifts all the years since.On 27th December 1984 on the bicentenary of the death of this worthy man, the Rector fulfilled his wishes. Earlier on December 16th greenery was placed on his tomb, and prayers were said to honour his memory.

Stavers Memorial