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“Nice view and historical place”

Great St Mary's Church (Church of England)
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Walking Tour of Cambridge University
Ranked #21 of 159 things to do in Cambridge
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Overlooking the market place in the centre of Cambridge, this beautiful church dates back to 1205 - even older than the University of Cambridge! Great St Mary's was built, rebuilt, burned and built again over the centuries. The current building is largely Tudor. King Henry VII donated 100 oak trees to build its roof and Queen Elizabeth I visited the church in 1564 and gave an impressive Latin speech to the assembled scholars. Interactive touchscreens and a short film about royal Cambridge offer a perfect introduction to the history of Cambridge. Visitors can climb the tower for stunning views of King's College Chapel and the city. We also offer brass rubbing and children's activities during busier times of year. Great St Mary's is the church at the heart of Cambridge and hosts regular services, concerts, debates and community events.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Activities for young children
Level Contributor
1 review
“Nice view and historical place”
Reviewed 19 February 2014

I went two weeks ago. St mary's church is fixing now. but you enable visited. if you rise to the top, you can see nice scene

Visited February 2014
Thank ChulHo S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Taipei, Taiwan
Level Contributor
293 reviews
277 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 428 helpful votes
“Seeing from the Top”
Reviewed 31 August 2013

St Mary the Great also known as Great St Mary’s is a Church of England. It is also one of the 39 Greater Churches. It has been selected by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. It is the University Church of University of Cambridge. The first church on site was built in 1205, destroyed by fire in July 1290, and then rebuilt. The current church was built between 1478 and 1519 with the tower finished later in 1608. It had been restored many times, and the latest refurbishment is underway since March 2013 and is scheduled to finish in February 2014.

The church is located between the University Senate House and the Market Square at the north end of King’s Parade. As a University Church, it has to do with the University's legislation: for example, University Officers must live within 20 miles of Great St Mary's and undergraduates within three. The church also hosts University Sermons and houses the University Organ and the University Clock.

This was the first attraction we visited in Cambridge. Because it was under restoration, we were hesitant to get in. Inside the church it was dark with no light, and we could not see anything. The lady at the temporary desk told us the tower was open to the public and guaranteed we would have a wonderful view and take good photos due to the good weather. It costs £3.50 per adult. She also asked us to read a statement “Please note that access to the tower is via a 123-step medieval turret staircase; therefore, persons with heart conditions or medical issues where the effort of climbing is considered hazardous should refrain from making the attempt.” The staircase is very narrow and steep and can only allow one-way traffic. On the way to the top, you can see the ropes of the bells in a small room. We should thank the renovation, for less tourists visited the tower. It was worth the tough climb for the fantastic views of the city, the colleges, and surrounding countryside in Cambridge. There is a high fence in the tower, but they opened some windows for us to take photos. We didn’t feel the tower was particularly high, but all the buildings surrounding the tower were lower. Although it was tough, we were happy to go up to the tower and had a stunning view of the city.

Visited July 2013
1 Thank jameshuang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
151 reviews
71 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
“Historic Church in the Centre of Cambridge well worth a visit”
Reviewed 14 May 2013

This is the University Church which is used for many significant events in the Church and University year. It is well maintained and well staffed by people who realize the importance of the building and the history behind it. There are lots of interesting stained glass windows, statuettes and church fittings. Amongst the fittings is a set of twelve bells which are rung by members of "The Cambridge University Guild of Change ringers" and others. This is a new set which replaces a worn out set but some of the old set have been kept as they are part of the clock chime which was copied by the government and called "The westminster Chime" it should be called "The Cambridge chime"!
You can climb the tower and view the colleges of Cambridge from the tower roof, as well as admire the market square, the guildhall, and the centre of Cambridge.

Visited May 2013
Thank geoff_grayton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Little disappointed with the view from the top”
Reviewed 6 May 2013

I was little disappointed with the view on the top of the tower. They fence up the surrounding hence this affect the view, and the staircase to climb up the tower is very narrow and curvy. There are only a staircase available for visitor to climb up and come down, so it will be dangerous if too many people use the staircase at the same time especially when they are heading in different direction. Better don't climb up to the top of the tower if too many people do so. Don't feel regret if you miss out to visit this place, as it doesn't really worth for 3 pounds.

Visited January 2013
Thank LiYongOng
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Barrie, Canada
Level Contributor
15 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“An intimate parish that can seat 1000!”
Reviewed 1 January 2013

Beth and I had the very good fortune of visiting Great St.Mary's over the Christmas season this past Christmas. We attended services at 8:00 AM (BCP), Common Worship Eucharist at 9:30 and the Candle-light Carol service at 6:30. If we were residents in Cambridge, this would be the church that we would attend regularly. We met some wonderful, friendly and enthusiastic parishioners who treated us as family! Of especial note are: Joanna, Stewart and Peter. Stewart engaged us in lively conversation after church and just prior to scaling the 132 steps! He has a wonderful sense of humour! After the evening service he made a point of visiting with us and talking about St./ Mary's - a topic dear to his heart, obviously! I had an informative and stimulating conversation with Peter and his Pastoral work especially as University chaplain. Good luck in your thesis work, Peter. Joanna took us under her wing in a very personal and practical way. The Carol service was most moving and in spite of the number of worshippers was intimate and most meaningful! We felt in many ways it rivaled the Christmas Eve service at King's College which was moving and overwhelming in other ways! God bless our frinds and congregants at Great St. Mary's, Cambridge!

Pax, Tom and Beth

Visited December 2012
1 Thank Tomas93
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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