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St Denis, East Hatley

11:00am-4:00pm on Friday 9 September
11:00am-4:00pm on Saturday 10 September
11:00am-4:00pm on Sunday 11 September

St Denis, East Hatley, St Denis, East Hatley, SG19 3JA

The church was first recorded in 1217 – and made redundant in 1959. What followed is a classic example of a building emptied of contents and unloved: thieves stole whatever was left (including the floor), vandals smashed all the windows and by 2003 Mrs Nature had thrown a covering of ivy over the entire building.

Fortunately, it was rescued, helped by being Grade II*. In 2006 St Denis' was restored to a safe shell, still without windows or a floor. Thankfully, the Friends of Friendless Churches took ownership in late 2016 and through grants and its own resources, has put in new floors, windows and – this year – re-plastered the interior and restored the reredos.

From being a sad, neglected and ruinous structure, we now have a handsome building to be very proud of.

Two notable figures connected with St Denis’ are Sir George Downing (of Downing Street fame) and William Butterfield, the leading Victorian architect. Both carried out major restorations of the church – Downing in 1673, when he lived in and owned East Hatley, and Butterfield in 1874.

Downing celebrated his patronage with a stone cartouche of his coat of arms over the south door. Butterfield took a 'quiet' country church approach to his work, albeit rebuilding the chancel in his polychromatic style.

The emptiness of St Denis’ adds to its magic: indeed, a visitor from 1422 would feel at home, amused perhaps by seeing the medieval putlogs and Butterfield's stove and font.

The graveyard is a Local Nature Reserve.

Image copyright: Buzz Associates (Peter Mann)

Booking Information

Booking not required


Partial access - please contact us for details

Additional Information

All Ages, Other, In person, Free

No vehicle access to the church – only a footpath, which, like the grass in the graveyard, can be wet/slippery. Wheelchair access quite possible, but a few exposed tree roots along the footpath will make for a bumpy ride. There's no electricity, running water or loo. Plenty of room in the graveyard for a picnic – but bring your own. Please park sensibly in the road near the footpath. There's a step inside the church from the nave to the chancel. Some hatches in the floor will be lifted to show the medieval timbers under – be careful where you step!