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Little St Mary's Churchyard


Features of Little St Mary's Churchyard include lawns and various flower plantings.

The church is surrounded by a graveyard which has been divided into two contrasting parts. The first is to the north and the east which has been cleared, levelled and grassed over, and kept tidy by the City Council. It contains a memorial area and trees commemorating individuals and events. The bird bath is a memorial to Burns Singer, the Scottish poet and marine biologist.

A gate in the iron railings marks the transition to the second garden area which lies to the south and west of the church. This area is gardened by parishioners and volunteers who with Constance Babington-Smith have kept the garden accessible for over 20 years. The transformation into a semi-wild garden was devised by Robert Lachlan, a distinguished mathematician and Fellow of Trinity College.

The churchyard had been closed to burials for 80 years and was derelict with some gravestones broken. Unmarked graves include the German Painter, Valentine Ritz, who painted Isaac Newton and other Cambridge worthies, and the exiled Dutch composer Pieter Hellendaal. The garden is further sub-divided into the nearer and the further garden separated by raised ground which supports tall trees and shrubs.

As most of the garden is within the shade of the church and Peterhouse College, sun loving plants are rare. But in spring, aconites, snowdrops and celandines carpet the ground. Along the Peterhouse wall grow Asiatic teazles and in summer white comfrey, a native of Turkey appears amongst green alkenet. The comfrey was first identified in this churchyard by Charles Cardale Babington in his 1860 ‘Flora of Cambridgeshire'. A camomile lawn has been planted near the south porch.


St Mary The Less was originally called St Peter-without-Trumpington-Gate, and was appropriated by Peterhouse to serve as the college chapel until 1632.

Features & Designations


  • Lawn
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Key Information









  • Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust