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Church of St. Mary the Great

Climb to the top of the tower for enchanting views of the city’s famous spires and learn about the church’s rich history.

The Church of St. Mary the Great is the official university church of Cambridge and has played an important role in the development of the city and the colleges. Admire the late Perpendicular design of the church and its 19th century stained-glass works, then ascend to the top of the tower for stellar city views.

A church has existed at this site since the 1200s, although the current structure was only built at the end of the 15th century, during the reigns of Richard III and Henry VII. Today, the church plays a small role in university legislation, stipulating that some staff and students must live within a certain distance of it.

Take a walking tour of the church with a docent to learn about its long history. Inside, you’ll find several interesting features including exquisite 19th-century stained glass and intriguing relics from the past, such as the hearse cloth for Henry VII.

Be sure to check out the 17th-century University Organ, which is used for the academy’s services. It is thought that this organ may have the largest repository of pipework by famous organ builder Father Bernard Smith in a single instrument. Rather unusually, the church also has a second organ, which was built in 1991.

To hear one of the organs in action, attend a recital here. Classical music concerts are often held in the church to take advantage of its excellent acoustics. Upon exiting, explore the market beside the church, where you will find all sorts of trinkets and treasures, such as antiques, books and food.

The church is open year-round from morning until late afternoon. There is a small fee to climb the tower, with discounts for families.

The Church of St. Mary the Great is found on the King’s Parade near the River Cam in the center of Cambridge. Take the bus here or walk to the church from the city center. Nearby attractions include the Cambridge Corn Exchange and the Cambridge City Council.


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Clayton Hotel Cambridge formerly known as The Tamburlaine Hotel RM607
Clayton Hotel Cambridge formerly known as The Tamburlaine Hotel

Clayton Hotel Cambridge formerly known as The Tamburlaine Hotel

     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Cambridge, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge and Cambridge Arts Theatre. St Catharine's College and Church of St Mary the Great are also within 1 mi (2 km). Cambridge Station is only a 2-minute walk.

    Cambridge Hotel City Center on the River Cam RM602
    Cambridge Hotel City Center on the River Cam

    Cambridge Hotel City Center on the River Cam

    Granta Place Mill Lane, Cambridge, England
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Cambridge City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of The Backs and University of Cambridge. King's College and Cambridge Corn Exchange are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 23 minutes by foot.

      Hotel du Vin & Bistro Cambridge RM624
      Hotel du Vin & Bistro Cambridge

      Hotel du Vin & Bistro Cambridge

         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Cambridge City Centre, this romantic hotel is steps away from Fitzwilliam Museum and University of Cambridge. King's College and Cambridge Corn Exchange are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 18 minutes by foot.

        Hilton Cambridge City Centre RM618
        Hilton Cambridge City Centre

        Hilton Cambridge City Centre

        Downing Street, Cambridge, England
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Cambridge City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and Cambridge Corn Exchange. University of Cambridge and King's College are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 19 minutes by foot.

          The Varsity Hotel & Spa
          The Varsity Hotel & Spa

          The Varsity Hotel & Spa

          24 Thompsons Lane, Cambridge, England
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Cambridge City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Pepys Library and Trinity College. King's College and Cambridge Corn Exchange are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 29 minutes by foot.

            West Court - Cambridge RM597
            West Court - Cambridge

            West Court - Cambridge

            West Court, Jesus College, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, England
               
              2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Cambridge City Centre, this hostel is within a 5-minute walk of ADC Theatre and Trinity College. King's College and Cambridge Corn Exchange are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 26 minutes by foot.

              Lux Living Apartments - Marino Place
              Lux Living Apartments - Marino Place

              Lux Living Apartments - Marino Place

              1 Hertford Street, Cambridge, England
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Arbury, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Kettle's Yard and Trinity College. King's College and Cambridge Corn Exchange are also within 15 minutes.

                University Arms, Autograph Collection RM723
                University Arms, Autograph Collection

                University Arms, Autograph Collection

                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Cambridge City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Parker's Piece, University of Cambridge and Cambridge Corn Exchange. Anglia Ruskin University and King's College are also within 10 minutes. Cambridge Station is 15 minutes by foot.