Capturing Cambridge
  • search
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Parish Church Godmanchester

St Mary the Virgin, Godmanchester

History of St Mary the Virgin

Listed Building

C13, with C14-C15 phases; tower of 1625; restored by George Gilbert Scott in 1853.

This church contains the grave of Mary Weems, murdered by her husband Thomas in 1819.

The most detailed account of this crime is in ‘Cambridgeshire Murders’ by Alison Bruce.

See Cambridge Chronicle and Journal 14.5.1819.

Thomas had courted local girl Mary Ann Swayer in 1818. When he started to show disinterest she feigned pregnancy and Thomas was forced to marry her. He subsequently moved to work as a miller in north London.

While there he met Maria Woodward and proposed to her. He then told her that he needed to return to Huntingdonshire for money. In May 1819 he journeyed back to Godmanchester and met an old friend, John Beck, a post boy, who offered him a lift in his chaise. Thomas told John that he had met a woman in London whom he intended to marry. John knew that Thomas was married already but Thomas told him that he was going to get rid of his wife.

Later the same week John saw Thomas and his wife Mary together. Thomas said that they were going to walk to London the next day.

On the 7th of May the two of them were seen walking south near the villages of Wendy and Arrington by a Susannah Bird who lived in Wendy. Later in the day Susannah came across Thomas now alone. He told her that he had left his wife in a field. Susannah returned to the area where she had last seen the couple and found the body of Mary strangled in a ditch.

Thomas was convicted of murder at the assizes in Cambridge, 4 August 1819. He was hung on 6th August and the judge directed that his body should be dissected and anatomised.


Do you have any information about the people or places in this article? If so, then please let us know using the Contact page or by emailing

Dear Visitor,


Thank you for exploring historical Cambridgeshire! We hope you enjoy your visit.


Did you know that we are a small, independent Museum and that we rely on donations from people like you to survive?


If you love Capturing Cambridge, and you are able to, we’d appreciate your support today.


Every donation makes a world of difference.


Thank you,

The Museum of Cambridge