Our history

The building, narthex and war memorial

St Mark's Church was built in 1901 to replace an small wooden church which had stood on an adjoining site. It had served the growing village of Newnham since 1870, as a daughter church of Grantchester.

In those days Newnham was quite isolated from the town of Cambridge, but the construction of the Fen Causeway encouraged more houses to be built around the old village in the early twentieth century.

Since then, within the boundaries of the parish of Newnham (including the old village and the newer houses built in streets off the Barton Road), the population has expanded to a total of about 3,000. Newnham was created a separate parish in 1918.

The architect of the present building was R Philip Day, Canterbury Diocesan Surveyor, and the total cost was just over £3,040. The builder was William Sindall.

Unusual Design

Though built at the end of the Victorian era, the style of the building does not reflect the long stone-built Gothic churches which predominated in the Church of England for most of the nineteenth century. A mellow red brick was used, and the church, unusually for the period, did not have a rood screen separating choir, chancel and sanctuary from the congregation.

During research for a parish archive exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the church building, it was discovered that the architect had originally intended to add a narthex (entrance area) at the west end. It was not built at the time owing to shortage of funds.

The parish decided to take on the completion of this feature of the church as a centenary project and raised £120,000 in six months to finance it. Jeremy Lander of the Freeland Rees Roberts Partnership designed a narthex, porch and a further feature “ an internal gallery “ in modern but sympathetic style. The builders were Grantchester Construction Ltd.

The Rt Rev Anthony Russell, Bishop of Ely, dedicated the new parts of the church in an inspiring service in October 2002.

War Memorial

Outside the church on the front lawn, the War Memorial bears the names of some 51 servicemen who died between 1914 and 1919 in the First World War and 24 servicemen who gave their lives between 1939 and 1945 in the Second World War.

A service of Remembrance is held at St Mark's every November with the laying of a wreath.

For more information about some of those commemorated please visit www.roll-of-honour.com