History and Information
The Church standing today almost certainly replaced an earlier building. Lysons, in his Magna Britannia, states that Bartlow is the Church built by King Canute in 1020 AD in reparation for the blood spilled in the battle of Assandune (Ashdon) between the Saxons and the Danes. This is disputed by later authorities, and Ashingdon in S Essex is the most likely site of the battle.
The present Church belongs, in the main, to the decorated period from about 1300 AD. The North and South windows of the Chancel are of this period as is the Nave which, however, has some perpendicular insertions. The East window is from about 1500 AD and probably replaced smaller windows. The Round Tower is Norman and of a kind rare in Cambridgeshire. Its wall is about five feet thick at the base. For more information click http://www.druidic.org/camchurch/churches/bartlow.htm
The porch is perpendicular; the common rail is 17th Century and has notable balusters.
The Wall Paintings are of great interest and date from the 15th Century. For more information click http://www.paintedchurch.org/bartlwei.htm
1. St Michael weighing the souls: The devil is seen trying to weight the scales in his favour, but is thwarted by Our Lady using her influence on behalf of the sinner being judged.
2. St Christopher: This is only the top half of a much larger picture. On his left shoulder is seen the Christ Child.
3. Over the door is St George and the Dragon. Only the dragon remains.
Stained Glass: The West Window is by Clayton and Bell c.1881. There are traces of mediaeval canopy work in the North and South Chancel windows.
Registers dating back to 1573 are now in the care of the County Archivist, Shire Hall, Cambridge, where they may be consulted free of charge.
Bartlow people have worshipped here for nearly 700 years under the protective gaze of St Christopher, during which time many changes have occurred. When he was first painted the services were in Latin. He watched over the events of the Reformation which brought in Cranmer’s Prayer; he saw the dread days of the Commonwealth and the over hasty destruction of much beauty. On March 22nd 1643 one William Dowsing “brake down a crucifix and a holy lamb and about ten superstitious pictures”, a fate shared by many other churches in East Anglia.
St Christopher outlasted the ravages and neglect which befell the Church in the 19th Century when so many sacred buildings fell into disrepair or were put to other uses. He smiles down on our present day attempt to make the worship of Almighty God lively and intelligible.
Sunday by Sunday this Church is used by a small but devoted congregation, and this village of 85 adults and 23 children contributes to the upkeep of this building: help has been forthcoming from the Department of the Environment and we still need more money to repair the windows and decorate the interior. We have received this Church on trust from past generations and we hope to pass it on in good repair. Much has been accomplished but much still needs to be done.