St Mary Magdalene, Ickleton, Cambridgeshire

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Feature Sets (3)


Architecturally, Ickleton is one of the most important Romanesque churches in the county. It was originally a cruciform church of c.1100 with aisleless chancel, aisled four-bay nave with clerestory, transepts and a central tower. The S aisle was widened (14thc.) to the width of the transept, and a chapel added to the N side of the chancel (15thc.), which was later removed although its entrance arch remains. The N transept has since been shortened to the width of the aisle. The original nave clerestory was very low, with windows above the apex of each arch. When the aisle roofs were raised, new windows were added at a higher level, but five rather than four, so that the clerestory is out of phase with the arcade. The chancel was rebuilt in the later Middle Ages, and again in 1882. The upper storey of the tower is 14-15thc., and it has a lead broach spire and a Sanctus bell. The church is constructed of flint and Sarsen pebbles. Restoration work following a deliberate fire in 1979 resulted in the discovery of a celebrated cycle of wall paintings from the 2nd half of the 12thc. decorates the N wall of the nave. Sculpture described here comprises the nave arcades, W crossing arch and W doorway.


The manor (19½ hides) was held by Count Eustace of Boulogne in 1086, his father having received it from William I. A further half hide was held by Durand from Hardwin de Scales. No church is mentioned.


Exterior Features


W doorway

Round-headed, two orders. First order has coursed half-column jambs with tall attic bases supporting rather flat cushion capitals with plain neckings and reeded abaci rather than separate imposts. The arch has an angle quadrant. Second order has en-delit nook shafts on tall attic bases with cushion capitals as first order. The arch has a fat angle roll.

h. of opening 3.09 m
w. of opening 1.47 m

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Tower arches

The W crossing arch retains its original jambs of two orders to E and W, but the arch is later (c.1300).

First order (shared):

Paired columns on flat roll bases with cushion capitals, reeded abaci and plain neckings.

Second order:

Plain and square with chamfered imposts with a bead on the face.



N and S arcades

N and S arcades of four bays, each with half-column responds at E and W, and the arcade supported on cylindrical columns. Of these, N1, N3, S1 and S3 are monolithic Barnack shafts, presumably reused, while the remainder are coursed. All bases are low, flattened rolls with simple spurs, and all capitals are simple cushions with roll neckings. The respond capitals are made of two-three blocks and have separate chamfered imposts, but the remainder are single blocks with integral reeded abaci.. Arches are plain and semicircular.



  • R. Bristowe, Ickleton Cambridgeshire (undated Guide)
  • C. H. Evelyn-White, County Churches: Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. London 1911, 104-07.
  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Cambridgeshire, Harmondsworth 1954 (2nd ed. 1970), 411-12.
Exterior general view from SE


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TL 495 439 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Cambridgeshire
now: Cambridgeshire
medieval: not confirmed
now: Ely
now: St Mary Magdalene
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter