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St Michael, Sutton, Soke of Peterborough

(52°34′33″N, 0°23′2″W)
TL 096 988
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Soke of Peterborough
now Peterborough
  • Ron Baxter

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St Michael's has an early 12thc. nave with a 13thc. bell-cote on the W gable. A S aisle with a two-bay arcade was added at the end of the 12thc., and the nave was heightened and a clerestorey added in the 15thc. The chancel arch is a fine piece by the Castor workshop. To the S of the chancel is a large 13thc. chapel converted to house the organ, and vestry. Construction is of coursed irregular blocks of Barnack limestone. The chancel and S aisle were restored in 1865-68. In addition to the chancel arch the church has a set of 12thc. corbels set high in the S wall of the nave, a small doorway reset in the S aisle wall, and inside a recumbent lion, perhaps from an elaborate doorway.


A confirmation of the grant of lands to Peterborough (Medeshamstede) by Wulfhere, king of Mercia, in 664 includes Sutton, but this is generally thought to be a post-Conquest forgery. The grant was confirmed by Edgar (972), William I (1070) and John (1199). Like most of the Peterborough villages it does not appear in the Domesday Survey, but in the 12thc. the manor was held for the abbey by the almoner. The church was built as a chapel of ease to Castor, c. 1120, and was originally dedicated to St Giles, the dedication was altered to St Michael and All Angels after 1528.

Parish church from 1861, now benefice of Castor with Sutton and Upton with Marholm.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches



Interior Decoration


The lion is similar to the one at Little Stukely, but larger. Pevsner suggests that it came from a doorway, like the Prior's doorway at Ely Cathedral, and is ultimately Italian in inspiration. He also reports that the back shows signs of having carried a shaft, but the evidence for this is not strong. The chancel arch is clearly by the workshop that was active at Castor and Maxey at some time in the 1st decades of the 12thc. The arcade, with its bell capitals and deep chamfers, may be 13thc. despite the round arches.


Victoria County History: Northamptonshire. II (1906).

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Bedfordshire and the County of Huntingdon and Peterborough, Harmondsworth 1968, 350.