top of page


Church Post Code  PE28 4BQ

Church closed to visitors


Little Stukeley can be found some three miles north west of Huntingdon, with the village set alongside Ermine Street, the site of the major Roman road that connected London to York. Peterborough is a further 20 miles or so off to the north. The population of the village at the time of the 2021 census was 764.

Close to the village was RAF Alconbury, which was set up in 1938 and which was used by the United States Airforce from 1942. Things are a lot quieter in the area these days, with the base no longer used for flights, with much of the grounds and the runway sold off for a new settlement called Alconbury Weald.

The village was listed in the Domesday Survey of 1086, with a church and priest listed here at that time.

The church of St Martin at Little Stukeley stands set back from the main road; on raised ground, in a quiet and peaceful location, with the church having some attractive old cottages as neighbours. The top of the battlemented, pinnacled tower sticks out above the trees as the visitor approached the church from the south. There was a distinctly rural feel here with chickens roaming around the church grounds.


The church here is usually closed to visitors but I gained access on Ride and Stride day 2014. All interior shots are from that visit, with exterior shots from a later visit, when the light quality was really good. On ride and stride day 2014, the church at Little Stukeley was the first visited on a mini crawl; which continued with a visit to neighbouring Great Stukeley before ending with the two town centre churches in Huntingdon.

As was mentioned earlier, there was a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey and this was liable to have been a basic wooden structure. The church here was rebuilt by Archdeacon Henry of Huntingdon in the 12th century. The church that we see today dates mainly from the 13th century but incorporates much 12th century material. It consists of west tower, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch, north and south chapels and chancel.

This 12th century structure appears to have been a simple two cell structure of aisleless nave and chancel, parts of which still survive today. To this, a north aisle and west tower was added during the 13th century. Early in the 14th century, the chancel was rebuilt and a north chapel added.


 Around 1500 the nave and arcades were rebuilt and there was much restoration work undertaken here during the 17th century, with the south porch being rebuilt in 1652, the belfry stage of the tower in 1659 and the north aisle in 1673. Restoration in the late 1880’s included the north chapel being turned in to a vestry.

Looking at the church from the south this really is a very attractive village church. In my original website I commented that if anyone asked to be taken to a small, attractive village church then you could do far worse than to bring them here.

The west tower is heavily buttressed and battlemented, with crocketed pinnacles to the four corners. A close look shows some rebuilding work in the tracery of the windows, which looks to be fairly modern. Reset shafts from the earlier church have been incorporated in to the lower stage of the south face of the tower. A frieze runs along the top of the tower with a repeated quatrefoil design to the south and a series of blind arcades on other sides. Grotesques in the form of mythical beasts stand central on each side.

Entrance is through the battlemented south porch, which has a date stamp of 1652 over the top of the shallow ogee archway, with initials of what I assume to be the church wardens of the day carved in to one of the battlements. The clerestory stage is very short, with just two windows. Nave runs seamlessly in to chancel. A pleasing exterior, viewed on a gloriously sunny day; quirky though with the church to my mind looking too tall for its length!

little stukeley10.jpg

As with neighbouring Alconbury, plenty of carved heads look out from the nave. These include one beast with bulging eyes, which tongue out in gesture of insult. Close by we have what appears to be a lion’s head which has two bodies. A beautifully carved depiction of a bearded man wearing a cloak encrusted with orange lichen, peer out through weathered away eyes at those approaching from the south.

When Revd Owen published his study of the church bells in Huntingdonshire, which was published in 1899, there were four bells in the ring, and that is still the situation today. The first and second of the ring are both from Newcombe of Leicester, with the second being inscribed ‘S Martina’.  The National Church Bell Database just attributes these two bells to the Newcombe foundry but there were eight different members of the Newcombe family active between 1570 and 1612; the bells dating from that period!

The third was cast by Joseph Eayre of St Neots in 1759 with this bell having inscribed the names Joseph White and Edward Cocks, the churchwardens of the day.

The fourth was cast by Richard Holdfeld, who worked out of Cambridge. This bell was cast in 1607 and is inscribed ‘Non sono animabus mortuorum sed auribus vivencium’ which translates as ‘I sound not for the souls of the dead but for the ears of the living’

Owen goes on to mention that a date of 1659 is carved on to the bell frame, along with the initials of the church wardens of the day. This date corresponds to the rebuilding of the top of the tower.


The visitor enters in through the south porch, with angels on guard on either side of the inner doorway, with a holy water stoup alongside. A curious carving of a bearded human (sort of!) figure peers upside down at those entering.

It was bright and welcoming inside, with the lack of stained glass here helping in that respect. Looking at the pictures taken here back in 2014 my thought was ‘not a bottle of hand sanitiser anywhere to be seen’. I have probably visited 500 churches or so since covid hit and there have been hand sanitiser bottles in almost all; normally in the piscina for communion and near the entrance.

The fixtures and fitting here, both in the nave and chancel date from the time of Victorian restoration, with the north chapel converted in to a vestry at that time; partitioned off from the nave with an oak screen. A rug runs the length of the nave, and up to the alter, over Victorian floor tiles, running past the chancel arch which dates from around 1500. The altar is plain and simple, with oak reredos behind. The 15th century east window is of three lights and clear glass. A mutilated piscina, which would have been used on washing the ceremonial objects used in the mass in pre reformation times, can be seen in its usual position against the south wall of the chancel.


There are two bay arcades to north and south, with these dating from 1500 and incorporating much reused 13th century material. The piers are octagonal as are the moulded capitals. To the north there is a large bracket supported by a finely carved angel, which I assume once supported a statue in pre reformation times.

A bricked in doorway, high up to the north of the chancel arch is the door to the rood loft, which would have been taken down after the reformation. A rood screen would have separated nave from chancel with the rood loft above containing a carving of the crucifixion, with Mary the mother of Jesus and John, alongside the cross. These were hated by the reformers as being idolatrous and destroyed accordingly.

With the exception of a little medieval stained glass high up in a tracery window to the south, there is no stained glass here.

Moving in to the south chapel there are two wall mounted brackets, similar to that seen in the north arcade. British History on line notes that there were bequests during the 15th and 16th centuries to Our Lady of Grace and the Light of St George at the church of Little Stukeley and these may have come about as a result of those bequests.

Of the two in the south chapel, each are finely carved with one depicting a winged female figure holding what could be a prayer book. To me though, the other figure is of greater historic interest. This shows a human figure which has had its face partially erased. Perhaps we can see the hands of the restorers during the reformation who may have objected to the subject matter of this, for whatever reason.


Considering the fairly close proximity of the main road it is quiet and peaceful in the church grounds. Working my way around the chickens I took a look at the gravestones. To be fair, there is nothing of any great rarity or importance. No gravestones have a Grade II listing, but the village war memorial, which was erected in 1920 and stands to the south of the church, does have its own Grade II Listing. This lists the fallen from the First World War and has a single name added from the Second World War.

There are some finely carved gravestones here, dating back to the 18th century. A couple have the ‘deaths head’, a carving of a human skull designed to remind the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die. One of the deaths heads here is depicted alongside palm leaves. The palm leaf was an often used symbol of victory, with the victory here being over death; with this being seen as a testament as to the faith of the deceased.

Little Stukeley6.jpg
little stukeley7.jpg
Little Stujeley5.jpg

I enjoyed my time here very much and it was good to finally be able to see inside. It was time to hit the road again, this time on foot, making the short walk to neighbouring Great Stukeley; enjoying the views to the west across the fields and being happily distracted at the sight of a Red Kite circling in search of food. On the way I passed Grace Fellowship Baptist church, which according to Google is now permanently closed, which is a shame if true, with a fighter jet parked on the grass alongside, which I am told may be a F5E Tiger 2; a reminder to the days when there was a working airbase here.

As mentioned earlier, the church of St Martin at Little Stukeley is a delightful example of an English parish church and is well worth taking a look at if you get the chance.

bottom of page