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Keyston (Hunts) St John the Baptist's Church - - 68972.jpg
St John the Baptist's Church
Keyston is located in Cambridgeshire
 Keyston shown within Cambridgeshire
OS grid reference TL044735
District Huntingdonshire
Shire county Cambridgeshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PE28
Dialling code 01832
EU Parliament East of England
List of places

Coordinates: 52°21′N 0°28′W / 52.35°N 0.47°W / 52.35; -0.47

Keyston – in Huntingdonshire (now part of Cambridgeshire), England – is a village near Molesworth west of Huntingdon.

The village lies at the western end of Huntingdonshire and the parish's western border coincides with the county boundary with Northamptonshire. The village is built around the brook that runs through its centre with the brook at about 45 metres above sea-level.

The civil parish of Keyston was abolished in 1935 in creating the larger parish of "Bythorn and Keyston", and the ecclesiastical parish followed a year later.[1][2]

Known as Chetelestan in the Domesday Book, the name Keyston means "Boundary stone of a man called Ketil".[3] By the 13th century it was known as Keston, and Keyston from the 16th century.[4]


The poet John Donne was granted the living to the Rectory in 1616.[5]


The village church of St John the Baptist dates from the 13th century, with the present nave and aisles having been built in around 1250. The chancel followed in around 1280 and the tower in around 1300.[1]

The church is renowned for its oaken cadaver, a memorial consisting of a wooden skeleton, taken from a fifteenth-century tomb. It is reputed to be one of only two such carvings in the country.[6] The baptismal font has a modern octagonal bowl on a 13th-century circular stem and base and a square plinth. The 13th-century octagonal bowl with tapering sides was found, in the 1890s, in the rectory garden, and now lies separately in the south aisle.[7] The first pew on the right, on entering the church, is carved with the date 1608.[6]

Since 2008 the interior of the church has suffered from a severe infestation of bats, a protected species, and therefore requires thorough cleaning before services and ceremonies can take place.[6]


There are five bells, inscribed as follows:

  • Feare the Lorde 1592.
  • William Marks churchwarden: . I: Eayre fecit. 1743 gloria Deo soli: . Francis [?] Clitherow Esquire
  • Remember the ende 1592.
  • Give God the praise 1592.
  • Thomas Rvssell of Wootton near X Bedford made me in 1733 Thomas Simonts churchwarden.

The first, third and fourth are by Watts of Leicester. In 1552 there were four bells and a sanctus bell. By about 1709 there were five bells but whether this includes the sanctus bell is not clear.[7]

Village life[edit]

The village is also home to The Pheasant pub, known for its cuisine.[8] Keyston also has a small airfield.


Year Population
1801 212
1851 199
1901 175
1921 182
1931 151

Census figures after 1935 are included in the parish of Bythorn and Keyston.


  1. ^ a b "Keyston Parish Page". Genuki. 
  2. ^ "Bythorn and Keyston". 
  3. ^ A. D. Mills (2003). A Dictionary of British Place-Names. 
  4. ^ "'Parishes: Keyston', A History of the County of Huntingdon" 3. 1936. pp. 69–75. 
  5. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica - John Donne. 1911
  6. ^ a b c "St John the Baptist", leaflet in the church, September 2014
  7. ^ a b [1]
  8. ^ "The Pheasant".