DENTON : CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS (RUIN)

Church Post Code PE7 3SD

Ruin fenced off at time of typing this

As a child, there was something about churches. I loved to see them, especially in the countryside; and to wander around the church grounds looking at the dates of death and the ages that the deceased lived to. This was a childhood interest that waned, but then came back again with the setting up of my original Peterborough churches website back in the autumn of 2006.

I am not alone in this interest. On any given day, a small army of churchcrawlers will be out and about doing what we do! I wonder what a collective noun would be for a group of churchcrawler; I have a few friends who would probably suggest a Boredom of churchcrawlers!

Then there are the people who show their love for these buildings in a slightly different way, in a more hands on fashion.

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Regular viewers to my facebook page will probably remember the efforts of Bob Davey, who stumbled across the abandoned church at Houghton On The Hill in Norfolk; derelict with roof and windows gone, choked in ivy and with evidence of devil worship having taken part inside. He, with a band of volunteers, saved the church, rebuilt it and it is now safe for future generations to enjoy.

Charities such as the Churches Conversation Trust and the Friends of Friendless Churches do the same, ensuring that our churches that are no longer needed for worship are looked after and not left to decay. And so it is with the Friends of Denton Church Ruin, who have tried to preserve the ruins of the church here. People such as these do the physical work; and they are to be admired for it!

Denton is a tiny hamlet, which can be found approximately 11 miles north west of Huntingdon. There are just the ruins of All Saints church and around a dozen houses. We are not a million miles from the busy A1M but all is quiet and peaceful here.

This is a small hamlet with a wealth of history. A church with a priest and 13 houses were recorded here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086.

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This is a part of the country where the ancient parish churches have suffered over the years. The church of St Mary Magdalene at neighbouring Caldecote was deconsecrated in the 1970's and was converted to a private home in 1988. The church at nearby Washingley was said to have been vacant in 1447, with the word being that the village had been decimated by the Black Death in 1349, and had fallen down by 1534; with parts of this church moved over to nearby Lutton.

It is thought that parts of the structure of the present building date back to the 12th century.  The chancel arch dates back to the 13th century and that the west tower dates from around the 1670's. The chancel, nave and porch also had some major work done on them during the 17th century. The 17th century work was financed by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton and his grandson Sir John, both of whom are buried at nearby Conington. Sir Robert was born at Denton and was a noted antiquary, MP, courtier and collector of manuscript, with the Cotton Library being an important collection of manuscripts contained within the British Library. This church, as with most other churches in the area, also had restoration completed on it in the 1860's.

    There were two bells in the tower. The first was dated to the early 16th Century, and had the initials ROS carved in to it. The second was dated 1671 and was made locally, by Tobias Norris III of the Stamford Bellfoundry, who were prolific bellfounders during most of the 17th century. It appears that the bells may have been re-hung at nearby Stilton.

Sadly, the church here was abandoned in the 1960’s and became a ruin, but maintained its Grade II listed status.

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 I re-visited the ruins of All Saints at Denton a couple of weeks before Christmas 2012 with a friend as we were on our way to a service at nearby Stilton. A huge amount of work had been done since my previous visit back in 2009. At that time the plant life appeared to be choking the structure and it was hard to establish what was still standing such was the height of the undergrowth. It was good to see that this had been cleared and that more of the structure of All Saints was intact than I had previously thought.

Looking at the church from the north, we can see that this was a basic structure of west tower, which is offset to the south west, nave, north porch and chancel. Only the lower stages of the north porch remain. The church was aisleless and there is was no clerestory. The walls of the nave and chancel are wholly intact, and a date stamp of August 1629 indicates the date of some restoration work. There is a bricked in doorway on the north chancel wall,

The east window is of three lights and a nice touch was that a wreath was still there from Remembrance Sunday, under the east window where the altar would have been.

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On our visit a sign was up giving notice of an open afternoon, with an open air carol service being held three days before Christmas, this sadly having to be cancelled due to the wettest English winter for many years. The Friend Of Denton Church was formed to preserve Denton church as a safe ruin and to provide a place for wildlife to thrive. What a good thing!  On my first visit to this church, there was a constant buzzing on insects; which was lovely.

Sadly, since my last visit here, things have been difficult. At one point a planning application was put in to convert the church to a private dwelling. By the looks of it this fell through but the state of play now, at the time of reworking this page in late December 2021, is that there is safety fencing now around the tower and warning signs that the structure is unsafe. 

I hope that the work achieved here by the friends will not be lost and that this battered and bruised church will be allowed a dignified 'retirement'. It is good that this church, though no longer used for worship, is still loved!