Churches and religion in Ketton

Church of England - St Mary's Church

The Grade I church is made of Barnack stone and is mainly a 13th century rebuilding of an earlier structure. The impressive west door can be dated to around 1190. In the 14th century the spire was built and new windows were added to the north aisle and the west end of the nave. Six bells hang in the tower - the largest of which is dated 1606 and the rest respectively 1598, 1601, 1609, 1640 and 1713. The walls of the aisles were heightened and the south porch was added. In 1861 the church, to the west of the chancel, was restored under Sir George Gilbert Scott.

  • There are six bells at St Mary's Church – the first dated 1598.
  • Inside the church is a monument to Francis Wotton who died in 1735 - “Here lies Francis Wotton, Esq. who exchanged his frail life in hopes of a glorious immortality through the merits of God, and the merits of Jesus Christ”. In 1782 Francis Wotton jnr sold the manor of Kilthorpe and lands in Ketton, Kilthorpe and Geeston to Sir Gilbert Heathcote.
  • On the chancel floor is a monument to Anthony Hotchkin who died in 1763 - a chevron between three lions rampant.
  • On the east wall of the north aisle is a monument to Ferdinando Caldecote who died in 1594.
  • In the chancel is a hatchment to Stephen Eaton Esq. who died in 1823 – a bend sable between three tygers heads erased gules, impaling Or, a fret sable.
  • In the south aisle is a monument on the wall to Cotton Thompson Esq. who died in 1835 - a chevron between three banks of cotton. Crest, a lion rampant.
  • There is a memorial to Agnes Elizabeth, aged 13, and Lucy Annie, aged 16, daughters of Samuel and Charlotte Hunt of Ketton House (later St Mary’s House).
  • There is a stained window inserted in the chancel in 1910 in memory of the Rev. Marshall Tweddell, late Rector of Barnack, Northants, whose family since his death resided at Ketton Priory.

In 1904 a lychgate was added. In 1909 a portion of the churchyard wall was taken down and moved forty yards.

There is a war memorial in the grounds made of Clipsham stone. "1914-1919 / Pray for the men of / Ketton who gave their / lives in the great wars / 1939-1945". The war memorial was unveiled and dedicated in 1921.

ketton st mary's church

On the 15th June, nearly 500 changes of various peals of six-bell ringing were rung upon the musical peal of Ketton in a correct and masterly manner by the society of change ringers at Stamford. These bells have been ably rehung by Mr Taylor of st Neots, after being in a dormant state for nearly 20 years, although they are the second best peal of six bells in the county of Rutland.


Mr Editor – I am induced to address to you the following observations in respect to the deplorable condition of St Mary, Ketton. This noble church, whose tower and spire are hardly equalled by any in the kingdom, is at present in a most neglected and wretched state. The great west window has been filled with clumsy stone bars; the nave is encumbered with hideous deal boxes of the most flimsy and shabby construction; the floor is damp, broken and irregular; the nave-arch is blocked up with boards; the chancel is entirely blocked off, and affords sad evidence of bad taste and ill-usage; the ancient, high-pitched roof has been displaced by one perfectly flat. The nave, however, has still some very fine old open oak seats, though in a broken and mutilated condition. A long deal stick is carried from pier to pier along the north side, fitted with pegs, which, when studded with hats and caps during service, must have a novel if not a very ecclesiastical appearance. That such a beautiful edifice should be permitted to remain in such a discreditable state, appears to me and to many, perfectly incomprehensible. There is no want of either piety of liberality in Rutlandshire. I therefore feel satisfied that a proper representation in respect to the state of this venerable building, would induce many friends of the Established Church to contribute towards its restoration – amongst others. Your obedient servant, Alpha.


On Saturday last the peaceable-disposed inhabitants of Ketton were very much disturbed with a party of loose characters, headed by a dissipated person, who, after being well regaled with drink, proceeded to the church, the ringleader taking with him gin &c, where they commenced a violent attack upon the bells.


Ketton Church Restoration - Save the Spire! To the EDITOR of the MERCURY. Sir, Honour to the noblemen and the ladies and gentlemen who have so munificently subscribed for this object! Honour to the worthy Vicar for his zeal and liberality! But, Sir, is it possible that no steps are to be taken to preserve the beautiful and tapering spire, the pride of the village, that to the Christian points the way to happier worlds? Allow me to make a plain and unprofessional statement as to the condition of the structure. From its apex the masonry for three or four yards seems to be in a shaken and huddled state, the effect most likely of some electric shock many years ago; and that part of the steeple is very much out of the perpendicular, a great blemish and eyesore, no doubt, to this otherwise elegant fabric. I do not apprehend any immediate danger here; but lower down, and from the first window of the spire on the eastern aide there are very serious fissures, which extend interiorly to the belfry; on the opposite side of which, over the door at entrance, there is a chasm of great width. The 12 spacious windows of the tower, set in clustered columns of great beauty, each intersected by a mullion, are left entirely open to the elements, so that the beams and framework of the bells are in a state of rapid decay; and in heavy, drifting rains the wet penetrates the steeple and runs down the side walls — so that, with a little stretch of imagination, the building may have a longing to fall, being weary of its ruinous and neglected condition. Will not the inhabitants of Ketton bestir themselves to rescue this gem of past ages from the certain destruction that awaits it in a few years? Let the parishioners on their own part appoint some competent judge in these matters to inspect the fabric outwardly, and then examine the interior, particularly the chamber where the bells are rung. There is very little to admire in the architecture of Ketton church, with the exception of the western doorway ; but the fabric of the spire is allowed on all hands to be a charming specimen of the masonic art, and is surely worth the expense of a few iron bindings to render it secure. February 12th, 1861. Yours, A. Traveller.


"Sir, Thanks to the generous patrons of the work, our church is revived to much of its original beauty. Public worship here is celebrated with the most assiduous zeal and devotion; the pealing organ and the voices of the young choristers swell the note of praise. As the crowning ornament of the exterior walls, the beckoning indicator to the house of prayer, and as an emblem of the asiring hopes of the Christian, the steeple is looked upon by most people as a necessary adjust of the church; besides which is form, rising amidst the quiet landscape, gives assurance to the wayfaring man that religion has an abiding influence around. This state of things must continue till metallic strengthenings, under the direction of a comptentn person, are applied to the walls, and the framework of the bells has either been renewed or placed on a firmer basis. As a general sentiment "the love of hoar antiquity" at Ketton may not be of the most sensitive character, but the whispering suggestions of reason and economy point to the security of the spire as being in every way desirable. This beauitful fabric placed in safety, and the bells in a condition to announce the fact, it may with truth be asserted that a great deal has been accomplished here in our time to realise the pious wishes of our forefathers who raised these sacred fanes with the fond hope that each generation as it passed from this transitiory value of life would leave them in a decent preservation to the next. Yours, &c. one of the old folks, Ketton".


A petition for the removal of the cross and candlesticks now in use at the parish church at Ketton was last week presented to the Rev J H Noyes, the Vicar. The following is the text of the petition (for the names of the inhabitants who signed it see advert): –

“To the Reverend the Vicar of Ketton. Reverend and Dear Sir – We, the undersigned inhabitants of Ketton, beg to submit to you as follows: – That we view with apprehension the consequences which might arise from the continued familiarising of the minds of the young, the school children, and others, with the presence of a cross and candlesticks some time since introduced into the parish church, and as such object do away with the distinction which it should ever be our desire to cherish between the Protestant reformed faith of the Church of England and the corrupted faith of the Church of Rome, we beg respectfully to request that you will give the necessary authority for their removal. Your obedient servants”.
Here follows the names of 55 householders. Henry Alfin, Frederick Andrews, John Andrews, John N Ansell, Frederick Beasley, Thomas Beasley, George Brocklehurst, Mark Brown, John Browett, Thomas Close, Sarah Coates, Samuel Cobley, Edward Darlow, George Dunford, Henry Dunford, Henry Freeman, T G Glanville, John Green, Robert Hare, Mrs Hart, William Hercock, John Hibbins, Francis Hibbins, William Hibbins, Samuel Hunt and family, John Islip, John Jackson, Frederick Johnson, John King, William Lattimore, Alfred Lemon, Joseph Loveday, William Meadwell, George Marriott and family, Charles Mitchell, Charles Mitchell jun, John Muggleton, Joseph Naylor, Henry Noel, Henry Pearson, John Scotchbrook, John Thomas Stangar, John & M Stainsby, Ann Storey, James Storey, Robert Lenton Swingler, Louisa Tidd, Stephen Turner, Matthew Tomblin, Richard Walker, George Woolley, H Wright, Richardson Wright, John Wright, W Wright, Aldgate.


A portion of the churchyard wall, forty yards, which extends from the south entrance to the west gates, has been taken down, and in order to re-build it two feet further back from the village street, which will be widened here, quantities of earth have had to be removed, as the old graveyard is elevated some feet above the street level. The path which ran near the wall must in consequence undergo a little alteration. A lych-gate, of English oak and roofed with Collyweston slates, will be erected at the west entrance. The improvements will cost a considerable amount and the work is entrusted with Mr G Hibbins, builder, of Ketton


A licence was granted in 1672 for Presbyterian meetings in a private house in Ketton (owned by Evers Armyn, an active parliamentarian and Justice of the Peace). Evers wrote reports on ecclesiastical matters in Ketton in 1639 and 1640.

Protestant Dissenters

The house of Joseph Luff at Geeston was registered in 1815, the denomination was not specified.


A group was licensed to meet in a building in the occupation of Zachariah Blake in 1820.

Independent/Congregational Chapel

The Congregational Chapel was built as an Independent Chapel in 1829, following the foundation of an Independent Church in 1827. The chapel was probably built by voluntary labour. One of its first deacons was John Hibbins, a member of the Ketton stonemason family. The gallery was added in 1832. Rev. Timothy Gammidge was the minister of from 1839 to 1855. The building is now called the St Mary's Congregational Hall having been purchased by St Mary’s Church as a church hall in 1993, replacing the Bishop Clayton Hall in the High Street.

ketton independent chapel
Images from Rutland Nonconformist Chapels and Meetings by Nigel Webb

On Wednesday morning a fire was discovered in the upper schoolroom of the Independent Chapel, by some men who were going to work. An alarm was consequently raised, and the fire was extinguished, not, however, before the Ketton library (which was in the schoolroom) had been reduced to ashes. The fire was confined to the upper and lower schools, happily not extending as far as the chapel but the varnish, painting &c therein were damaged by the heat and smoke. The chapel has only recently been fitted up, and was second to none in the county as an Independent Chapel. The cause of the fire is said to be from a woman dusting a heated stove on the Tuesday evening, and throwing the duster amongst some other rags and shavings, but the ignition was not perceived till the following morning, the company leaving the place on Tuesday evening, as they thought, all right.


A handsome writing-desk has been presented to Miss Stanyon, in recognition of her services in playing the harmonium at the Ketton Congregational Chapel.


Some children belonging to the Congregational Chapel Sunday School, on Wednesday week, under Miss Tomblin, gave an appreciated performance of the playlet entitled "The Golden Beam", the accompaniments being played on the organ by Miss V Dunford. The collection taken for the chapel funds was 10s 6 1/2d.

Primitive Methodist

In around 1860 there was a Primitive Methodist Chapel sited at the back of Stoneycroft/Hibbins House. It subsequently became the Salvation Army headquarters until it was sold in 1900. It is now Palm House at The Green.

ketton primitive methodist chapel

Wesleyan Methodist

The 1864 chapel in Bull Lane replaced an earlier chapel, licensed in 1834 and closed in 1864, believed to have been behind the bakery, in Bull Lane.

ketton methodist chapel
Images from Rutland Nonconformist Chapels and Meetings by Nigel Webb

Methodism in Ketton

The first mention of Methodism in Ketton is in 1834 when Joseph Cragg, a miller from Empingham, bought "a house and a spot of ground built on certain waste land in Ketton". Located behind the bakehouse in Bull Lane, it was a two room cottage which he then converted, mostly at his own expense, into a Wesleyan Methodist chapel.

Although it seems likely that there were already Methodists in Ketton to form a nucleus of a new congregation, this was a real act of faith. There could be no certainty that the new church would flourish or even survive, nor that Joseph would ever be repaid the purchase price of £28, in those days a significant sum sufficient to pay the wages of an agricultural worker for around eighteen months.

The new chapel opened for worship on 13 September 1834. In the event it did take root, and three years later was in a position to repay Joseph.

In July 1864, the Wesleyan General Chapel Committee gave permission for a new building at the bottom of Bull Lane but stipulated that the cost should not exceed £220, with any debt cleared within four years. Ketton does not seem to have felt too restricted by rules, since the contract price was £258 and the debt was cleared 21 years after opening!