Cambridge Pilgrimage in a Day

East England, 1 day

Cambridge City Half-Day Pilgrimage – 5 miles. Circular from/to Cambridge Train Station.

Cambridge Pilgrimage in a Day – 12 miles. Knapwell via Madingley to Cambridge.

The University Church of Great St Mary’s in Cambridge was only completed early in the sixteenth century, shortly before pilgrimages were banned as part of the Reformation, and as such, has not enjoyed a history of pilgrimage. As a religious centre, Cambridge was also rather eclipsed by the nearby shrines of Bury St Edmunds and Walsingham, to which pilgrims flocked throughout the Middle Ages. The starting point of this pilgrimage is the Church of All Saints in Knapwell, a hamlet whose name derives from the Red Well located nearby. Along this route, pilgrims will come across buildings dating from the fourteenth to twentieth centuries, and it is fitting that the starting point should be one of the oldest churches to be encountered along the route. Pilgrims along this route will follow in royal footsteps. Charles I stayed in Childerley in 1647 on his way to meet Cromwell in Newmarket, and Prince Albert visited Madingley Hall to reprimand his son, the future Edward VII, shortly before his death. A particular highlight is the American Cemetery in Madingley, from where (on a clear day) Ely Cathedral can be viewed.

Knapwell can be reached by a somewhat sporadic bus service, however, the more regular number 4 bus service runs to the nearby Broadway, which adds 1.6 miles (about half an hour) to the start of the walk. An alternative is to do the walk in reverse, finishing at Knapwell, and returning to Cambridge. There are several pubs en route, a picnic spot in Childerley, and public toilets at the Madingley cemetery.

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