Leper Chapel

The Leper Chapel, also known as the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, is the oldest complete surviving building in Cambridge and is an important historical landmark on a busy modern thoroughfare into the city. In conjunction with the Friends of the Leper Chapel, we are proud to look after this 12th century Romanesque building, which was originally the chapel of an isolation hospital caring for people with leprosy.

Every year The Leper Chapel comes to life through a variety of events. The building is home to community art, music and theatre events including the annual re-enactment of the Stourbridge Fair – once Europe’s largest medieval event.

The Vicar of the Church of Christ the Redeemer on Newmarket Road is responsible for worship at the chapel and special services are arranged at Christmas and Easter.

Visitor information
Events throughout the year
Dogs on leads welcomeDisabled access limitedWalks


Opening hours and getting here

Open: Visits to The Leper Chapel can be arranged, primarily available to groups. Please get in touch to discuss the possibilities by calling our office on 01223 243830.

Location: Barnwell Junction on Newmarket Road, Cambridge, CB5 8JJ – opposite Cambridge United. OS map reference: TL 471 594 GB Grid

Admission: On occasional open days there is a small charge for entry to the Leper Chapel. This charge goes directly to support the upkeep of the building. Members can look around for free on such days and entry on Stourbridge Fair Day is free for all. Donations for its care are always welcome. Art exhibitions, theatre performances and story telling events have separate costs per person.

Parking: Please note there is no parking at the chapel itself. Please park in nearby streets or come by bus or on foot.

Other modes of transport: If you are travelling by bus use the Stagecoach Citi 3 service and get off at the Coldhams Common / Ditton Walk stop. It is also possible to use the Newmarket Road Park & Ride bus.

What's on

The Leper Chapel is a magical space for art exhibitions and installations. Located in Cambridge – just off Newmarket Road, close to Barnwell Junction – the building is an unexpected oasis of tranquillity along a busy thoroughfare. In the past, many local artists have chosen to display their work here taking advantage of the building’s history, mystery and beauty. If you’d like to hire the Leper Chapel contact us for an informal discussion about the kind of event you have in mind.

And don’t forget, if you become a member of CambridgePPF you’ll be entitled to cheaper ticket prices and even free entry to some of our properties on special open days.

History of the Leper Chapel

The Leper Chapel dates back to the 12th century and is thought to be the oldest complete building in Cambridge. In 1199 King John granted The Leper Hospital the right to hold a three-day fair on the Vigil of Holy Cross. Rent from the stalls and booths added to the hospital’s income, which was otherwise derived from begging on the roadside, and from crops which they grew. Stourbridge Fair became the largest medieval fair in Europe and existed until 1933. The event attracted merchants and visitors from all over Britain and overseas, selling and buying a variety of goods including silk, wool, garlic, hops and cheese. Many of the commodities that were sold live on in the names of the surrounding streets – Garlic Row, Oyster Row, Mercers Row and Cheddars Lane.

Every year we recreate the Stourbridge Fair – albeit on a slightly more modest scale. At our community version of the event you can purchase items from stalls selling cheese, apple juice, garlic, cakes, honey and beeswax; watch medieval dancing and listen to stories and living history talks. There is even an alchemist and peddlars mingling with the crowds. If it sounds a rowdy affair, don’t worry – the University of Cambridge Proctor and Constables always come along too – just to keep everything in order!

Support our work at the Leper Chapel

The Leper Chapel is held in much affection by the local community and people are fascinated by its history. Events held at the chapel are always well supported and we would like to extend its use to provide even more educational visits, arts and cultural events and community functions.
At the moment, wider use of the Leper Chapel is constrained because of a lack of basic facilities. Together with the Friends of the Leper Chapel, we are developing plans for:

  • A water supply to the Chapel and for the neighbouring meadow
  • A small building at the rear of the property to provide toilets, kitchen and storage
  • Improved access for disabled visitors.

We also have further work to do to conserve the fabric of this important historic building – which will cost at least £50,000.

We’re always keen to hear from people who can spare an hour or two of their time to volunteer; or who would like to make a donation to help fund specific projects or purchase essential items. Becoming a member of CambridgePPF also helps support the upkeep of the Leper Chapel.

Leper Chapel news

Kickstart your Summer with CambridgePPF

1st Jun 2017Education and learningEnvironmentalEventsGreen spacesHistoric buildingsBourn MillHinxton WatermillLeper ChapelWandlebury Country Park

All the joys of June start here! It’s finally time for summer to spread some warmth and cheer! CambridgePPF has a fun-packed variety of family […] Read

Morris Men to greet the merry month of May

29th Apr 2016Education and learningEnvironmentalEventsFundraisingHistoric buildingsPlanningVolunteeringBourn MillHinxton WatermillLeper ChapelWandlebury Country Park

You can see our April enewsletter by clicking on the link to find out about some of the activities since our last newsletter. Click to […] Read

Spring has sprung at Wandlebury

23rd Mar 2016Education and learningEnvironmentalEventsFundraisingGreen BeltHistoric buildingsPlanningVolunteeringBourn MillCoton Countryside ReserveHinxton WatermillLeper ChapelWandlebury Country Park

You can see our March enewsletter by clicking on the link to find out about some of the activities since our last newsletter. Click to […] Read

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