St Giles, Chesterton- Church of the Month February 2012
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Take a look at an ordnance survey map of Chesterton, just off the Fosse Way, and you’ll notice that, unlike many rural parish churches, St. Giles is not at the heart of its community. The church is out on a limb close to an ancient fish pond that is a haven for wildlife and wildfowl. The noise from the M40 is evident when the wind is in the wrong direction but there is no doubting the real beauty and peaceful setting of this isolated place of worship.

There has been a place of worship here since the 12th century and at one time the settlement was a thriving agricultural community. It’s recorded in the Domesday Book and one theory suggests that the arrival of the plague may have decimated the population, hence its remote setting.

Above the porch an old sundial greets visitors with the odd words ‘See, and be gone about your business’ which somehow doesn’t encourage a stay - but this is a church worth exploring.

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Before you enter the church walk around the churchyard to the north side of the church where you’ll see a grand gateway, standing remote and alone, designed by Inigo Jones, that at one time would have led those attending worship at the church back to the now demolished manor house.

Inside the small interior is beautifully maintained and on the left of the porch you’ll find monuments dedicated to the Peyto family who set up house in Chesterton in the 14th century. They were a hugely successful family of lawyers, landowners and politicians and this is reflected in the grandeur of the memorials. The figures of their ten children around the base of the tomb to Humphrey Peyto and his wife are clothed in brightly coloured robes and armour and one – who probably didn’t survive – is wrapped in a shroud.

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St Giles sits on a network of footpaths that lead to surrounding villages and it’s also close to the Centenary Way. There is a small amount of parking at the church.

Further details from the DI website at

and at British History on-line at