Parish of Fen Drayton with Fenstanton

Brief Church History



Here are a number of things you may like to look for while you are visiting the church.

It dates from the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries, and perhaps the most striking feature is the chancel. Put up complete in the years 1347-52, it is an outstanding example of the decorated period of architecture; the tracery of the east window, and the sedilia (on the right of the sanctuary facing east), are worth studying. In fact the chancel is slightly bigger than the nave. The window, describing episodes in the life of St Peter, dates from the 1870s, and was completely removed and releaded in 2004-5. William de Loughton, the Rector at whose expense the Chancel was built, is buried immediately in front of the present sanctuary steps (where the missing brass is clearly visible).

Stone for the nave came from Barnack (between Peterborough and Stamford) and was transported by barge up the river Nene to the Wash and back down the river Great Ouse.

The two special features in the church which most visitors look for, are the memorial to ‘Capability’ Brown of landscaping fame, on the left looking up the chancel; and the tablet and other mementos devoted to John Howland on the West wall of the nave on the north side (immediately in front of the door to the kitchen).

Capability Brown owned the Manor House in the village, and was buried in the churchyard. It is not thought that he lived for very long in the house (he was constantly on the move): some put it at no more than a week! The lady on the right hand side of the chancel leaning over an urn, is also a member of the Brown family.

John Howland, the son of Henry Howland, sailed to America in the Mayflower in 1620. The exhibits include the Mayflower 'compact', and a drawing of one of the original houses, now known as Howland House, in New Plymouth, Massachusetts. The descendants of John Howland are reputed to include Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Winston Churchill: his descendants are incorporated within the Howland Society of USA, who will be paying us a visit in 2011.


The modern hanging over the north aisle altar shows symbols of St Peter and St Paul, and is constructed from a number of different materials, which reflect Wall Hangingdifferently in different lights. It was given to the church in 1992, and dedicated by the Archdeacon of Huntingdon in 1993. You may have noticed the crossed keys (St Peter) and sword (St Paul) over the porch gates as you came into the church.

The same artist, Ian Thompson, designed the Millennium Window at the head of the south aisle, which was painted by Nicholas Bechgaard, and installed in the year 2000. It was dedicated by the then Bishop of Huntingdon, Rt Revd John Flack. 


Those who are prepared to look upwards should note not only the corbels, but more particularly the wooden angels which support the roof of both north and south aisles. We are told that it is rare for such angels to be depicted with their legs revealed (on the south side) in that manner!

There are six bells in the tower, of which the Treble was given by the John Howland Society in 1981. The oldest bell dates from 1603; in 1996 the five oldest bells were removed and sent to John Taylor of Loughborough for fitting of replacement headstocks and bearings

We hope that you will have had time to look briefly at this magnificent mediaeval church, to offer thanks to God for its preservation, before continuing on your journey.




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