An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.

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'Keyston', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire, (London, 1926) pp. 163-167. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

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51. KEYSTON (A.d.).

(O.S. 6 in. XVI N.E.)

Keyston is a parish and village, on the Northamptonshire border, 6 m. N.W. of Kimbolton. The Church is the principal monument.


(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist stands in the middle of the village. The walls are of roughly coursed Weldon-rubble with dressings of Weldon and Barnack stone; the roofs are covered with zinc and lead. The Nave and North and South Aisles are of mid 13th-century date, and the Chancel is of the end of the century. The West Tower was added about the middle of the 14th century, and the South Porch was built about the same time. Towards the end of the 15th century the E. wall of the chancel was re-built and the N. and S. walls were heightened. About the same time the North and South Transepts were built, a clearstorey was added to the nave and the aisles were largely re-built. In the 16th century the roofs were renewed and the former stone vault to the W. tower was probably replaced in the same century by a wooden floor. Modern repairs of 1883, 1898 and subsequent dates have been extensive.

The church is architecturally interesting and the W. tower is a good example of its period. Among the fittings are some interesting fragments of stained glass and a good 17th-century lectern.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (36 ft. by 19 ft.) has a five-light E. window, all modern except the jambs, two-centred head, chamfered two-centred rear-arch and some re-used stones in the splays. In the N. wall are two windows, the eastern is of late 13th-century date and of two pointed lights with a pierced spandrel in a two-centred head with moulded labels and defaced head-stops externally; the western window is of the 15th century and of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with moulded labels and external head-stops; the rear-arch and label are of late 13th-century date and belong to a window, of which the E. splay remains, a yard to the E. W. of the eastern window is a blocked late 13th-century window, not visible externally, the internal label of which is continuous with that to the first window; further W. is a blocked doorway of fairly recent date. In the S. wall are three windows, the easternmost is similar to the corresponding window in the N. wall; the second window is of the same date, with the opening widened and filled with an early 16th-century window of three cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label and carved beast-stops; the original internal label has been mostly removed and the internal sill raised; the westernmost window is uniform with the corres-ponding window in the N. wall but with mask-stops to the internal label; the slightly repaired late 13th-century S. doorway has moulded and shafted jambs with carved 'stiff-leaf' capitals and moulded bases and a moulded trefoiled arch with foliated spandrels and moulded internal and external labels. The side walls of the chancel have an internal moulded string-course at the level of the window-sills and externally there is an old gargoyle re-set on the S. wall. Above the windows, on both N. and S. walls, an offset marks the level of the original roof, the upper part of the walls being of 15th-century date. The two-centred chancel-arch is of c. 1300 and of three chamfered orders with a moulded label on the E. side, but on the W. the label has been cut back to the wall-face; the slightly restored responds have each three attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, the latter mutilated on both sides.

Keyston, Parish Church of St John the Baptist

The Nave (58½ ft. by 18½ ft.) has a mid 13th-century N. arcade of five bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders, and shaped stops to the outer order; the moulded label on the S. face has a carved stop above the second column and a mask-stop at the E. end; the E. respond is semi-octagonal, the W. respond semi-circular and the piers are alternately round and octagonal and all with moulded capitals of varying sections and moulded bases on square plinths. The S. arcade is of mid 18th-century date and of five bays similar in general design to those of the N. arcade; the E. respond is semi-circular, the W. respond is semi-octagonal, the piers are alternately octagonal and circular and the moulded capitals are of varying section; the base to the E. respond has been nearly all cut away; the moulded label, on the N. face of the arcade, has a beast-stop at the E. end and a mask-stop over the first column. The late 15th-century clearstorey has on each side a range of five windows each of two trefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a moulded label; at the sill-level is an internal moulded string-course.

The North Transept (22½ ft. by 13¾ ft.) has a moulded plinth and parapet. In the E. wall are two late 15th-century windows each of three cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head with moulded reveals and label. In the N. wall is a late 15th-century four-light window with trefoiled lights below an embattled transom and an upper tier of cinque-foiled lights in a four-centred head with moulded reveals and label. In the W. wall is a three-light window similar to those in the E. wall.

The South Transept (22 ft. by 16 ft.) has a moulded plinth and parapet. In the E. wall are two 15th-century windows, each of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred head with moulded reveals and label; the label of the northern window has mask-stops but those to the southern window are carved. In the S. wall is a two-light window with a four-centred head; it was probably built in the 17th century with the re-used material from a former larger window, the splays of which are visible. In the W. wall is a three-light window similar to those in the E. wall.

The North Aisle (11½ ft. wide) has a moulded plinth and restored parapet. In the N. wall are two late 15th-century three-light windows similar to those in the N. transept; the mid 13th-century N. doorway has a two-centred head of two chamfered orders, the inner continuous and the outer originally carried on detached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, of which only the capitals and the base to the W. shaft remain; the arch has a moulded label. In the W. wall is a window similar to those in the N. wall.

The South Aisle (11½ ft. wide) has a moulded plinth carried round from the S. transept. In the S. wall are three 15th-century windows, similar to those in the S. transept and with head-stops to the labels; the 14th-century S. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred head with a moulded label and carved head-stops. In the W. wall is a late 15th-century window of three lights each with two trefoiled heads and a pendant in the middle and with tracery in a four-centred main head with moulded reveals and label.

The West Tower (12¼ ft. by 10¾ ft.) is of mid 14th-century date and of three stages (Plate 94); it has a moulded plinth and is surmounted by an octagonal broach-spire (Plate 36) of stone. The tower-arch is two-centred and of three chamfered orders with a moulded label on the E. side with carved head-stops; the outer order on the W. springs off the tower-walls, but the others are carried on responds of the same section as the arch and with continuous moulded capitals and bases; on either side of the arch, on the E. face, are weathered buttresses, with moulded plinths. The W. doorway has moulded jambs and a two-centred head with a moulded label and head-stops. The doorway is set within a shallow porch built in the thickness of the wall; the outer archway has shafted jambs with moulded capitals and chamfered bases and a moulded ogee arch, cusped and sub-cusped with rosettes to the two upper cusp-points; the two spandrels are carved with a cinque-foiled panel and the upper part of a horned beast respectively; the arch has a crocketed label terminating in a carved finial, and above is an outer label of gabled form and embattled, the whole composition is set in a slight projection flanked by small buttresses terminating in pinnacles. The porch has an ogee barrelvault. Above the porch is a lozenge-shaped window with a moulded surround and quatre-foiled tracery. The first stage of the tower was originally vaulted, but this has been replaced, probably late in the 16th century, by a wooden floor; of the vaulting only the two-centred wall-ribs and the grotesque angle-corbels remain. The second stage has in each wall, except the E., a window of one trefoiled light with a moulded label and beast head-stops. In the E. wall is an opening to the roof with moulded jambs and segmental-pointed head. The bell-chamber has in each wall two transomed windows each with two upper and lower trefoiled lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with twin moulded labels ending in grotesque head-stops; the jambs are splayed and enriched with carved flowers on a running stem and the cusping to the tracery has rosettes at the points; the transom is embattled and the upper lights have rough stone fillings with triangular piercings. Above the windows the walls are recessed and each face between the buttresses has a range of five panels with blind tracery in square heads. The circular staircase in the S.E. angle of the tower is roofed with a quadripartite vault with semi-circular chamfered ribs. The octagonal spire has shaped finials terminating the broaches and three tiers of four gabled spire-lights, the first and third tiers being on the cardinal-faces and the middle tiers being on the intermediate faces. The windows in the first tier are each of two pointed lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a moulded gable, round cross at the apex and mask-stops as kneelers; the lights are divided by a central shaft and the jambs have attached shafts, all with moulded capitals and bases except one shaft on the E. face which has a carved foliated capital. The windows of the second tier are smaller, but of similar design, with a trefoil at the apex to each gable. The windows of the third tier are each of a single light with a trefoiled ogee head and a trefoiled finial to the gable. The top of the spire has been restored.

The South Porch is of mid 14th-century date and has a moulded plinth and parapet. The S. wall has a low-pitched gable and a two-centred outer archway of two wave-moulded orders with a moulded label and carved head-stops; the outer order is continuous and the inner is carried on attached shafts with moulded capitals and modern bases. The side walls have each a window of one trefoiled light with a moulded label; the head of the E. window is modern.

The Roof of the N. transept is of late 15th- or early 16th-century date, partly repaired; it is of low-pitch and of two bays with a cambered tie-beam and curved braces with foliated spandrels carved with foliage and an eagle, moulded purlins, intermediate principal rafters, and a moulded wall-plate with modern embattlements; the spandrel between the tie-beams and the pitch of the roof is carved with conventional foliage, a grotesque face and two roses; the braces to the tie-beams spring off moulded and embattled stone corbels. The 16th-century roof to the S. transept is of two bays with cambered and moulded tie-beams and curved braces, wall-posts, ridge and purlins; the wall-posts rest on corbels, two of which are shaped, and two carved with heads; in the middle of the tie-beams are carved bosses of foliage and tracery, and the purlins have carved stops of foliage and men's faces. The northernmost bay has been re-built but incorporates the old purlin and ridge. Lying on the floor of the transept is the carved and moulded tie-beam from the S. aisle and set in the N. wall above the first pier of the nave-arcade is an old wooden corbel. The early 16th-century roof of the nave is of five bays similar in general design to the roof over the S. transept; the spandrels between the braces and the tie-beams have pierced traceried panels, but some of these are missing; the bosses in the middle of the tie-beams are (a) grotesque human head, (b) rose, (c, d and e) human heads, (f) foliage; the whole roof has been partly restored, and the rafters to the fourth and fifth bays are modern; the E. truss has remains of painted decoration in bands. The repaired roof to the N. aisle is of early 16th-century date and of the pent-type; it is of four bays, of which the three westernmost are sub-divided into two by an embattled intermediate principal; the tie-beams are supported by moulded and curved braces forming four-centred arches, with carved foliage in the spandrels and a large foliated spandrel under the higher end of the roof; they rest on semi-octagonal moulded corbels, of which two are carved with a shield and a rose respectively; the ridge and wall-plates are moulded and the latter on the N. side is also embattled. The roof to the S. aisle is for the most part modern but of 17th-century origin; it is of the pent-type and of four bays with curved and moulded braces on the S. side and stop-chamfered purlins; at the W. end are two wooden corbels carved as faces. The 16th- or 17th-century roof to the S. porch is of two bays with moulded and cambered tie-beams, moulded ridge and purlins and modern rafters.

Fittings—Bells: five; 1st, 3rd and 4th by Newcombe and Watts, 1592. Bracket: over W. doorway, semi-octagonal with moulded edge corbelled back and supported by small figure, early 15th-century. Brass Indent: In N. transept—on W. wall, in stone slab with two-centred head, of figures of man and his wife with inscription-plate below, device and letter D on left-hand side and monogram on right-hand side, early 16th-century, slab re-set. Coffin-lid: Against W. wall of S. aisle, with moulded edge and coped top carved with cross with foliated head and base, 13th- or 14th-century. Doors: In N. aisle—in N. doorway, of oak battens, nail-studded and with two-centred head; now nailed up and in bad state of repair, 16th-century. In S. aisle—in S. doorway, of oak, nail-studded, with close battens on back and modern strips round margin; two strap-hinges with foliated ends, ring-handle with scutcheon, 16th-century. Font: In S. aisle—octagonal bowl with tapering sides and chamfered upper and lower rims, 13th-century. Circular shaft with chamfered base on square plinth with chamfered edge, 13th-century, now supporting modern font. Glass: In chancel—in tracery of second window in N. wall, winged lion standing on a scroll inscribed "Marcus" in 'black-letter' on light diapered background; six quatrefoils, three with oak leaves, two with double roses and one with conventional rosette. In tracery of second window in S. wall, six quatrefoils similar to those in corresponding window in N. wall and a tracery-light with figure of a saint (? St. Barbara) with nimbus, long hair, embroidered gown and plain cloak, holding in right hand a palm-branch and in left hand a tower (?), all on field of oak-leaf. In heads of main lights two ornamental quarries, all 15th-century. In N. transept—in southernmost window in E. wall, in upper parts of three lights, borders with crowns together with initial R, alternating with plain blue and red glass; in middle of first and third lights, a star in surround of banded foliage; in second light, upper part of virgin saint wearing a white robe with oak-leaf embroidery. In adjoining window, remains of similar crown and letter-border and, in centre-light, head of a crowned virgin saint. In N. window, roundels in heads of lights, including four stars, six crowns, a double rose, conventional ornament, two Rs, fragment of 'black-letter' inscription, etc., all glass in N. transept late 15th- or early 16th-century. In S. transept—in W. window, an oak-leaf quatrefoil. In S. aisle—in first window, five oak-leaf quatrefoils, similar to those in chancel. Lectern and Readingdesk. Lectern: (Plate 32) of oak, with arabesque panels to front of desk, turned stem and flat tripod base with moulded edge, c. 1640. Reading-desk: of oak, made up probably from former 17th-century communion table, with four turned legs at corners, fluted top rails with small brackets under front and modern panelling. Locker: In N. transept—in E. wall, rectangular with chamfered jambs, head and projecting sill, 15th-century. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In S. aisle—at W. end (1) oak cadaver (Plate 10) in shroud on oak slab with moulded edges and remains of red colour, late 15th- or early 16th-century. Loose, at W. end of S. aisle, (2) to John We .. den, 1704, head-stone. Floor-slabs: In chancel—on S. wall, (1) to "I.W." 1680; (2) to John Gardner, 1707; (3) to Francis and Catherine, children of John Gardner, early 18th-century. In N. transept—(4) to Ann, daughter of Robert Hampson, 1666; (5) to Alice, wife of Robert Gowler, 1(6) 85; (6) to R . . ., illegible, probably 17th-century. Piscinae: In S. transept—in E. wall, with chamfered two-centred recess and octofoiled drain, 14th-century, probably re-set. (See also Sedilia.) Scratching: In S. porch— on jamb of W. window "I.R." Seating: In nave and aisles—with square panelled ends, moulded rails and styles; seats to pews in nave modern, in aisles original, pew nearest S. door dated 1608. In N. transept—long modern seat with ends made up of panelling similar to pews in nave, one end inscribed, "D. Lee her Seat." Under S. arcade—against E. respond, modern triangular seat incorporating moulded bench-rails of c. 1608. Sedilia: In chancel—of three bays ranging with piscina which forms a fourth bay; bays divided by small circular shafts with moulded capitals and bases, chamfered jambs and trefoiled heads, spandrels carved with rosettes, moulded label; piscina with projecting basin and octofoiled drain and sedilia with stepped seats, c. 1300. Sundials: On S. wall of S. transept, square stone with scratched dial; on face of E. angle of buttress, scratched dial, almost obliterated; on N. side of E. buttress, deeply cut and re-set. Miscellanea: On E. wall of chancel, at N. end of gable, recessed panel carved with a rayed rose; at S. end of gable, carved head of bishop. In churchyard— lying against W. wall of S. aisle, fragment of carved gargoyle, 15th-century. Built into E. wall of porch, rectangular stone, 17 in. by 7½ in., carved on face with interlacing ornament, also a smaller stone with similar ornament, 11th-century. In S. wall of tower, at belfry-level, similar but larger stone, much weathered. Stone coffin —in field about 150 yards S.E. of church, tapering, probably 13th-century. Over ditches to road S. of the church, two coffin-lids, probably 13th-century.

Condition—Good, except roof of S. transept, which is in an advanced state of decay.


(2). Earthworks, said to be site of old Manor House, 200 yards S.E. of the church, consist of a rectangular island surrounded by a dry ditch and various banks and ditches to the E. and W.


(3). Manor Farm, house 100 yards W.S.W. of the church, is largely modern, but incorporates some 17th-century walling of cornbrash-rubble, belonging to an earlier building.


(4). House, two tenements, on the N. side of the road, 100 yards N.E. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of cornbrash-rubble with dressings of Barnack stone; the roofs are tiled. The E. part of the house was built early in the 17th century; the western part was added or re-built later in the same century and the S. wing added c. 1700. The E. gable has a late 17th-century chimney-stack with two square shafts and a common entablature. In the S. gable of the wing is a sundial with the initials and date R.W. 1700, above. Inside, the building has some original chamfered ceiling-beams and one room has some early 18th-century panelling.


(5). House, 25 yards E. of (4) is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered on a stone plinth; the roofs are thatched. It was built c. 1700, but has been refaced with modern brick. Inside the building one original chamfered ceiling-beam is exposed.


(6). Pigeon-house, in farmyard, 250 yards S. of the church, is a square building of stone, built c. 1700. Only one wall is standing to any considerable height. The walls inside are lined with nests.



(7). Mounds, two, 700 yards N.W. of the church and about 240 ft. apart. They are about 52 ft. in diameter and are each surrounded by a ditch. One is 5 ft. and the other 3½ ft. high.

Condition—Fairly good.