By Ishbel Beatty
AN° DOM 1673
Do you know where you can see this date? It is incised in stone in the porch of St Denis’ church, East Hatley, above the door, and only visible if you go up close.
This is a precise date, for a precise purpose, like some of the gravestones around, but, apart from the church fabric, almost the only material object surviving from the village past.
Sir George Downing, 1623-84, was a minor politician, diplomat and several times a Member of Parliament (but not in Cambridgeshire).
His house in London gave its name to the street now best known for the Prime Minister’s residence. It was his fortune, following the death of the 3rd Sir George, grandson of the first, which led to the foundation of Downing College, Cambridge.
Interestingly, its date, 1673, is not obviously a significant Downing date – but it is the date of the Test Act, which stipulated only those taking Communion in a Church of England church could, as did Sir George, hold public office. Maybe, given his Puritan roots, he felt the need to make a public show of his credentials.
The plaque was cleaned in April 2018 by contractors working for the Friends of Friendless Churches as part of its initial refurbishment of the building’s interior.
Other pages on St Denis’ church…
- About St Denis’ church.
- Just how was St Denis’ saved?
- Taizé service at St Denis’.
- The Say rectors of East Hatley.
…and on Hatley St George church:
Updated 3 July 2017 with additional material by Joyce Denby.