About the parish
The Geography of the Parish/Benefice
Bluntisham and Earith are two villages about 1 mile apart, close to the River Ouse in Cambridgeshire. They lie on the A1123, which links them with Cambridge (approx. 15 miles) via the A14 and with St Ives (3 miles) and Huntingdon (9 miles). There are fast train services from Huntingdon to Peterborough and the north, and London and the south. Bus services to and from Bluntisham are fairly limited and most residents find it necessary to have their own transport. However, there is a good bus service from St Ives to Cambridge and Huntingdon.
Situated on the edge of the fens, the land in this area is low lying and mostly flat. Fruit farming used to be profitable here but has declined since the influx of cheap fruit from abroad. Fields of rape have replaced many of the orchards and some farmers have found it necessary to put their land to other uses. As a result, there is a thriving golf course in nearby Pidley and a raptor centre just outside the parish boundary. However, it is still possible to buy locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables in season from farm shops and roadside stalls.
Both villages have primary schools and some of the children continue their education at Ramsey Abbey, a comprehensive school in Ramsey while many from Earith travel to Cottenham College. There is a strong joint Church of England / Roman Catholic secondary school in Cambridge- St Bede’s - which admits children of Christian families. There are a large number of children from the villages who attend St Bede’s and there is a dedicated school bus direct to the school. There is also an independent primary school, Whitehall School, in nearby Somersham, and Kimbolton School , an independent and co-educational day and boarding school near Huntingdon.
2001 census – Bluntisham population: 1976, 788 households, 75% stated religion as Christian. Earith population: 1677, 631 households, 71% stated religion as Christian.
Parish / Benefice / Team Parish boundaries; presence of other Christian churches or other faith communities
The benefice currently comprises the parishes of St Mary (Bluntisham cum Earith), St Helen, (Colne) and St John the Baptist (Holywell cum Needingworth) the five villages are very close together and so the congregations are drawn from all villages. Joint services take place on 5th sundays. As the Prime Meridian passes through all three parishes it has been proposed to adopt an informal benefice name of Meridian Benefice.
The Patron is Christ Church Oxford , and they have traditionally provided generous support to the benefice and previous incumbents.
This beautiful 13th century church lists the Rectors back to 1217 including Henry Sayers the father of Dorothy Leigh Sayers, christian author and creator of the Lord Peter Wimsey series. His partial restorationand expansion to a ring of eight bells in 1910 was completed in 2004 when the bells were rehung in a new iron frame. This made full circle ringing possible for the first time for 160 years.
St Mary’s Church serves both villages and parts of it date back to the 13th century. It is an attractive building and has recently undergone extensive restoration. It stands on the edge of Bluntisham, overlooking Bury Fen. The church is kept locked but prospective visitors can obtain a key from the Rectory, which is nearby.
St Mary’s is fortunate to have a spacious Church Hall. It is an unassuming Victorian building next to the church, set well back from the road. Under the direction of the previous rector, it was renovated and refurbished in the 1990s and is extensively used by church members for coffee after church services, meetings and various celebrations. It is also rented out for art classes, a mother and toddler group, parties and other social events.
St Mary’s boasts a fine, new purpose-built Rectory (built in 2006). The house is situated about 200 yards opposite side of road from the church on Rectory road towards St Ives.
The Rector is a trustee of the Saywell School Trust and others.