History of All Saints Church Longstanton

All Saints Church

Dating back to the mid fourteenth century, All Saints’ Church Longstanton is a Grade 1 listed building, located in the centre of the village. 

The Church is steeped in history spanning over 800 years and the influence of the Hatton family, who were Lords of the Manor from the sixteenth century to 1812, as well as RAF Oakington Airfield, is still evident today in the church and around the village. 

The name of Sir Francis Drake’s ship, in which he sailed around the world, was changed from “Pelican” to the “Golden Hind” in recognition of the patronage of Sir Christopher Hatton, Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth I, who was cousin to John Hatton, Lord of the Manor of All Saints. 

As well as a place of significant historical interest and Christian worship, the Church is open to a whole range of activities that include established community events, such as, baptisms, weddings, funerals, musical concerts, art & flower shows, school visits, (especially Hatton Park Primary school, which has historical links with the Church) festivals and other children’s events.

The first record of a church is 1217, and records of priest’s date to Fulke de Penebrugg in 1286. However, to the right of the porch is a carved stone which originally held a Saxon cross, probably where Christians gathered for worship before a building existed. There may well have been a Saxon church here, but, being built of wood, there is no direct evidence of this.

There is no mention of a church in the Domesday Book, but this is not surprising. The survey was about land and the number of people in each parish (for taxation purposes), so there was no need to mention a church building. There were 67 peasant tenants in 1086, making this one of the most populous villages in the area.

At some point a stone church was built, but not the present building. The church was destroyed by fire on 7th June 1349 and all that remains is a small niche in the north wall of the chancel.

The present church was rebuilt substantially by 1361. Constructed from fieldstone with ashlar dressings and a rubble core, this was the most cost-effective way of building a stone church in Cambridgeshire. Only a minimal amount of stone was needed, and this probably came from Ketton in Rutland.

The FONT is the place of baptism. It is over 500years old although the carved faces (you need to stoop down to see them) look quite modem. In 1662 the Bishop of Ely asked in his Visitation returns as to how many people in the parish were unbaptised. The answer was 2: "... the one a daughter of Widow Coale of the parish about 12 years of age and the other a boy of 16 years old, an apprentice called Binge, whose parents live not in our parish ..."There would be a very different story if the same question was asked today!

The TOWER has a ring of eight bells. Formerly there were three bells, two of them dated 1637 and 1655 respectively and cast by Miles Gray. Through the interest of The Revd H B Woolley they were re-cast and increased to eight in 1912.

We are always on the lookout for those who wish to develop the art of campanology. Interested? Do let us know. Church bells usually ring out before services and serve as a reminder to the community that an act of worship is about to begin.

The previous pipe ORGAN was French and was brought to this country by refugees from a French convent. How they got it here we're not sure! The organ was dedicated at a special service in 1907. Music has always played an important part in Christian worship, and we give thanks to those who sing and play, Sunday by Sunday.

On the north wall there is a stained-glass window commemorating 7 Squadron RAF the Pathfinders who were based at RAF Oakington during World War Two. All Saints' has become a special church to them, and the memorial window was dedicated on 17"' August 1992. If you want to know more about the window, see the brief article at the end of this guide.

This place (and the war graves in the churchyard) remind us of wasted lives and a war-torn world, but also of immense human courage and self-sacrifice. This is the world in which we are called to offer lives of Christian service. At the end of the north aisle is the so-called HATTON PEW. The Pew was originally in the middle of the church but was moved to its present position about 100 years ago.

The Hatton family was very influential in the life of the church (and the village) and you will learn more about them in a short while. The carvings on the pew date to 15540/50, which makes it earlier than the time of the Hatton family. There would have been other pews like this, but there is no record of them.

The pew reminds us of the countless men, women and children who have made this place their own down the centuries.

The PULPIT is a modern and unpretentious piece of furniture, but it reminds us of the importance of the Bible in our lives.

The CHANCEL is the "holy place", and the Lord's Table reminds us of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is here that we come to receive bread and wine, a reminder of what Jesus achieved for us on the cross - an opportunity for a relationship with God himself.

We know that the chancel was thatched in 1623-but not by 1742.

 The large five-light East window dates from the middle of the 14th century.

In the south wall of the chancel there is a piscina and sedilla. The piscine is where the priest washed the chalice and paten after the 'mass', and there was a second basin to wash his hands. The sedilla - a set of three seats within the south wall- was for the priest and any assistants.

The two blocked windows may well have been chancel ventilators (low windows with grille and shutters) that could be opened to admit fresh air when the smoke of the candles and incense became overpowering.

The chancel would have been separated from the nave by a timber rood screen. In 1742 it was described as a "good and neat screen". It would have originally held a rood (old English word for 'cross') showing the crucifixion with images of Mary and John the disciple on either side.

 As you leave the chancel, look up above the ARCH and you will see some remains (not very impressive) of a 14th century wall painting. It is known as a "Doom painting", showing Christ presiding in glory over the Last Judgement. The picture would have been washed out, along with any other painted decoration in the church, at the time of the Reformation.

At the end of the south transept is the HATTON CHAPEL, formerly known as the "Cheynes Chapel" after an earlier Lord of the Manor. In 1511 Thomas Cheynes gave his Cambridgeshire manors to Thomas Vaux on the marriage of his daughter and heir Elizabeth. Later William Vaux refused to attend Church of England services and to submit to the authority of the Established Church.

For this he was fined, and his manors forfeited to the Crown. Sir Christopher Hatton, Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth I, gave the Manor of long Stanton to John Hatton, his cousin.

There is an interesting link here with Sir Francis Drake. Sir Christopher Hatton was the patron of Sir Francis Drake, who changed the name of his ship from "Pelican" to "Golden Hind". The Hatton crest is a golden hind and you will see the crest in various places around the church.

The Hattons were resident Lords of the Manor from 1570-1812. In 1812 Sir Thomas Dingley Hatton (a bachelor) died in an accident. There were Hattons living in Cheshire and the last of these married Richard Wood. He and his wife (who gave the East window) gave generously for restoration work in the church, the last work being completed in 1908, shortly before he died.

The MAUSOLEUM was put up in 1770 and all niches in the vault, except one, have been used.

The TOMB is that of Sir Thomas Hatton (1583-1658) and his wife, Mary. Among other things he was an MP and, at one time, Ambassador to France. The tomb has them side by side with their six children kneeling - boys to the north, and girls to the south.

In the Hatton Chapel there is a MEDIEVAL CHEST which came from St Michael's Church, Longstanton (now redundant).

Apart from the lid the chest is in excellent condition and strikingly similar in manufacture and style to several chests in other parts of the country which can be dated towards the end of the 13th century.

The front of the chest is made of two broad uprights known as 'stiles', their wood grain set vertical, which extend below to keep the body of the chest off the ground. Between the stiles, held with mortice, tenon and pegs, is a panel of horizontal grain carved with two rosettes.

The front originally had three equally spaced locks, plus a later one off-centre. Each end of the chest is braced or framed with a stout horizontal bar and two vertical bars above and below it. The back of the chest is plain. Inside the chest along the left-hand side is a compartment known as a 'till' with its own lockable lid, which is hinged by pivots into the front and back of the chest.

At first sight this till appears to be about 5" deep, but the bottom of the till is pivoted near the front and it is possible to reveal another compartment of equal depth beneath. This false bottom can be fixed shut (if you know how ...). In an era before banks and safes, church chests were a vital depository for valuables-Communion plate, money, documents and the like. Sufficient to say that no such valuables are now to be found in the chest!

All Saints' Church has not always looked like this-there have been many changes over the centuries, and no doubt it will continue to change as Christians seek to meet the needs of a growing community and a new generation of worshipers. What we can say is that for over 1,000 years Christians have worshipped on this site-and continue to do so. It is not a museum; it is not just an ancient historical building. It is a place where people can come to worship God and meet with Him.