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Church Post Code  PE28 0BB

Open to visitors


It was a gloriously sunny afternoon in April 2023; and we were on a mini churchcrawl which had started out by revisiting churches scattered around Grafham Water; with Grafham itself being the third church visited, in what turned out to be a five church crawl.

I had visited Grafham before, back in 2011, whilst staying for a few days in a bed and breakfast at neighbouring West Perry. The church was open then but the lighting on the day was quite poor. I visited again with David, late one Sunday evening three years later. We had taken in an evening prayer somewhere; can’t remember where, and we arrived at Grafham just as the sun was starting to set. A pleasant time was spent, listening to the birds final chorus of the day whilst looking at the subtle changes in the clouds as the sun set!

Grafham is a village on the extreme south of the catchment area covered by my websites; with Peterborough being around 25 miles off to the north. Huntingdon is some five miles off to the north east and Buckden is just over two miles to the south east.

Grafham had a population of 630 at the time of the 2011 census; a quiet, picturesque village, despite the A14 running to the north of the village and the A1 off to the east. The village is close to the north bank of Grafham Water, England’s third largest reservoir.


There was no mention of a church or priest here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. There was however a chapel mentioned close by in East Perry, which was dedicated to St Katherine. This chapel appears to have fallen in to decay during the 16th century. I did note, as will be mentioned later, that two of the bells in the ring here at Grafham are dedicated to St Katherine and it did make me wonder if perhaps these bells might have hung at East Perry and been moved to Grafham. Pure conjecture and possibly completely wrong but a suggestion nonetheless!

The church of All Saints can be found at the west of the village, set back a little from the main road at the end of a quiet lane.

The church that we see today dates mainly from the 14th century; consisting of west tower, nave with north aisle and south chapel, south porch and chancel. It is thought that there was a previous structure here, which dated from around 1125 to 1150. This would probably have been a basic wooden church which would have been replaced over time by the present structure.

The visitor enters from the east; with the spacious, well maintained church grounds stretching away to the south.

The west tower is thought to date from between 1380 and 1420; and is heavily buttressed with stair turret to the south east corner. A two stage octagonal spire rises up, which has two tiers of irregularly placed gabled lucarne windows. From ground level to the tip of spire is just over 88 feet.

The south porch dates from the 17th century; a plaque over the door containing the faded date of 1657. A further, more recent plaque indicates that the porch was rebuilt in 1902.

There is no real clerestory as such but two dormer windows were added to the south side of the nave in the 1700’s to let in more light. There is no south aisle here, but there is a south chapel which dates back to the early 14th century. It is likely that this would have been a chantry chapel, where a team of clergy would have been paid to pray for the donor and their family, to protect those still living and for the souls of those who had passed on.


A close look at the south wall shows a scratch or mass dial, which would have acted as a very early time piece; a sun dial which would indicate the time of the next mass. Close by ‘EB; and ‘WH’ each left their mark, carving their initials in to the stonework. Close by, but probably unrelated, is a much faded date which could be 1756.

A bench is set against the south chapel’ a lovely place to sit for a while, enjoying the peace. Thoughts turn to sitting here on a warm summer evening, cool drink and a pack up at hand; time passing slowly, listening to thunder rumbling off in the distance.

The church here has struggled structurally over the years. In 1724 it was recorded that the steeple and bell loft were in disrepair and it 1748 the archdeacons report that the ‘whole of the church very bad and nasty’! There was Victorian restoration here in the 1880’s and again in the very early years of the 20th century.

There are three bells in the ring here, with all three of great age and interest. These were looked at by Revd Owen, whose study of the church bells in Huntingdonshire was published in 1899. The situation today is the same as in Owen’s time.

The first of the ring is blank and undated, and is attributed to Watts of Leicester.  There were three founders of that surname working in Leicester and this bell could date as early as 1564 or as late as 1642.

The second of the ring is the oldest, being cast around 1400 by a London founder, liable to be William Dawe. This bell has the Latin inscription ‘SUM ROSA PULSATA MUNDI I KATERINA VOCATA’ which translates as ‘I am the rose of the world called Katherine’.

The third was also cast in Leicester, in 1530 by Robert I Newcombe. This bell is simply inscribed St Katherine.

With regards what I mentioned earlier, it does seem odd that we have a church dedicated to All Saints, with bells inscribed to St Katherine when there was previously a church with this dedication a short distance away!


Moving in through the south porch, there is an elaborately carved grave slab in the form of a priest which dates from the 14th century. Close by is a slab with the initials ‘RA’ and the date of 1669; this referring to a previous vicar here and the date of his passing.

The walls are whitewashed and the sun was finding its way in through the two dormer windows to the south; a pleasing interior! The north arcade is of four bays, with round piers and capitals. This arcade dates to around 1250, with this being the oldest surviving part of the church.

At the east end of the north aisle, there is the remains of a spiral staircase, which would have originally led to the rood loft. In pre reformation days, there would have been a screen separating chancel from nave, with this having an upper storey, the rood loft. This would have had a carving of the crucifixion, with Mary and John in their traditional positions alongside. These images were hated by the reformers and the overwhelming majority were destroyed in those turbulent times.

There are two tie beams at either end of the nave, wooden beams which run the width of the church from north to south walls, helping to strengthen the structure. A glance to the west shows the church organ in front of the tower arch; the early 13th century octagonal font standing in front.


The chancel dates back to the late 13th century and it is suspected that it has been shortened at some point in time. The chancel arch itself though is modern. The altar is plain and simple and the oak reredos dates from 1893 and takes the form of commandment boards.

Against the south wall of the chancel, in its usual position, is a double piscina, which was used for the washing of the holy vessels used in the mass.

The three light east window is of clear glass. The only stained glass here is a small panel in the south chapel; this being part of a trend that saw little or no stained glass in each of the first four churches visited that day.

There is a beautiful south window in the chancel with the sill providing the sedilia, this being the seating for the clergy as the mass was taken.


There are two bays leading in to the south chapel, with these having octagonal piers and capitals. This chapel dates from the early 14th century; and is much altered from how it would have been. The altar is no longer present and there is oak panelling low down on the east and south walls. The east window is of two lights and contains the only stained glass in the church, a modern depiction of Jesus looking at his disciples, with the wording ‘Peace I leave with you My peace I give unto you’, this coming from John chapter 14 verse 26.

What is original to its setting up though is the piscina. It is interesting to imagine what was going on in this particular space back in the mid 14th century, with the priests here praying for protection as the Black Death, the Great Mortality, ravaged the country.


The church grounds are spacious and well maintained. There is nothing of any great interest to be fair and there is nothing in the grounds which has its own Grade II Listing. One gravestone did catch my eye, lichen encrusted and leaning over at an angle; this just has the initials ‘AH’ and a date of 1775.

There is a right of way at the west end of the grounds and this allowed a shot of the spire rising up above a tree full of spring blossom; Grafham Water can be seen across the fields to the south west.

This is a lovely church; open and welcoming with friendly locals and I enjoyed my brief stay here. It was time to move on and it was a long awaited and anticipated return visit to nearby Buckden.  

All photographs used on this page are from the April 2023 visit with the exception of the sunset photograph which was taken on a glorious summer evening in 2014.

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