Well, this was a nice surprise. I 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.
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 has been formed to preserve Denton church as a safe ruin and to provide a place for wildlife to thrive. What a good thing! On my previous visit what was noticable was the constant background buzzing of insects, which was lovely.
There was a church mentioned at Denton in the Domesday Survey of 1086, and at the time of the last service held here around 1952 it was thought that small parts of the structure of the building dated back to the 12th century. The church has been a ruin since the early 1960's. It is still a Grade 2 Listed Building.
The chancel arch dates back to the 13th century, and it was thought that the western tower dated from around the 1670's or thereabouts. 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 done 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 fairly locally, by Tobias Norris III of the Stamford Bellfoundry, who were prolific bellfounders during most of the 17th century. Some reading this may now of my interest in the Stamford Bellfoundry and if anyone knows what happened to this bell (melted down of re-hung in another church) then I would be pleased to hearn from you.
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 and had fallen down 1534.