Footprints of Faith

Walks for schools through culture, history and belief in Cambridge

Stop 6: St Bene’t’s

At each stop on the walk there will be a story and an activity. Resources for these can be picked up at the Round Church at the start of the walk. These will include a teacher’s booklet (containing a set of maps, useful phone numbers and contact details, information about loos and picnic/snack points); instructions for the stories and activities; a set of resource cards displaying relevant images; a set of artefacts.
However, copies of worksheets for children to use during the walk need to be downloaded and printed off at school and brought with you.

Stop 1 | Stop 2 | Stop 3 | Stop 4 | Stop 5 | Stop 6

Story Six: Thomas Hobson (1544–1630)

• Point out site of ‘The George’ on the way to St Bene’t’s Church (by the entrance to St Catherine’s College); assemble near the bell tower inside St Bene’t’s

This is a story about Thomas Hobson. He was buried here at St Bene’t’s nearly 400 years ago, but nobody knows exactly where any more. Thomas was born in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Whilst he was alive, the bells were put in the bell tower (point out the bell ropes), and he might even have helped to pay for them. Here is a money belt. (Artefact 13)

I wonder if anyone would like to wear it?

Two portraits of Thomas Hobson show him wearing a big purse.

• Show the picture of Hobson – Resource Card N

Thomas Hobson paid for quite a lot of things to help people worship and live in comfort. But he didn’t start out in life with a lot of money to spare. His father owned a cart and four horses, and Thomas inherited them. He built up a business transporting things and people, and after a while Thomas made enough money to buy an inn called ‘The George’, just outside St Catherine’s College. It had room in the stables for 40 horses!

During Thomas’ life-time there were big changes in the way people worshipped. The Bible was translated into English, so everyone could understand it.

I wonder what language it was in before?


Thomas gave a big English Bible to St Benet’s’, so that the people who came to church could hear and read God’s Holy Word in their own language. He had made lots of money with his business, and he wanted to give some of it back to God. He gave a really grand version of the Bible, printed to look like a mediaeval manuscript. It is called a Black Letter Bible, which means it is in a special gothic script. This is what it might have looked like.

• Show the picture of a page of a Black Letter Bible – Resource Card O

Being right in the middle of town, Thomas could see some of the problems of town life. One big problem in Cambridge was water. The local water was so dirty that people drank small ale, which was a kind of weak beer. They hoped the alcohol would kill off the diseases. Students at St John’s College were given eight pints of small ale a day to drink, and they had their first pint at breakfast! There was a lot of plague and fever in Cambridge, especially in the summer, because of the King’s Ditch, which people used to empty their rubbish bins into.

I wonder what sort of things might have been in the Ditch?

Yes, they even emptied their toilets into it!

I wonder what it smelt like?

When they were building the new John Lewis, they found part of the King’s Ditch, so it was close to here. Thomas Hobson got together with some other people and they paid for Hobson’s Conduit to be built.

• Show the picture of Hobson’s Conduit – Resource Card P

It was a series of channels which brought clean running water into Cambridge from the Ninewells spring near Great Shelford. It was used to flush out the King’s Ditch, and there was a pump in the market square, where people could fill up bottles and jugs. You can still see the channels along Trumpington Street, and the old pump has been moved to the corner of Lensfield Road. It made life a lot easier for the people living in the middle of town.

Thomas gave the people of Cambridge clean water to drink, and when he gave the Bible to St Bene’t’s Church he gave them the Word of God, which Christians believe is also the water of life – the living water that will never run dry.

We have clean water in our country, but there are still lots of places in the world where people don’t have clean water, or even much water at all.

I wonder if you know any countries that don’t have enough water?

I wonder what people could do to help them?

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Activity Six: Uses of Water

I wonder where we get our water from?

I wonder what sort of things we use water for?

  • Discuss in groups
  • Fill in chart with all the things we use water for – you can add some extra lines if you can think of more than 10
  • Underline or circle the things that are essential to life – leave out the things we don’t really need

Background information for teachers

Stop 1 | Stop 2 | Stop 3 | Stop 4 | Stop 5 | Stop 6

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