Famous sundial and interesting church history in Great Staughton

The village of Great Staughton has some interesting history.

The village of Great Staughton has some interesting history. - Credit: ARCHANT

The village of Great Staugton lies approximately eight miles south-west of Huntingdon and has a population of 896 people, according to the 2011 Census.

Great Staughton was listed in the Domesday Book in the Hundred of Toseland in Huntingdonshire; the name of the settlement was written as Tochestone.

In 1086 there was just one manor at Great Staughton and the annual rent paid to the lord of the manor in 1066 was £10.

The Domesday Book does not explicitly detail the population of a place but it records there were 21 households in the area we now know as Great Staughton. Estimates of population at this time, suggest it was within the range of 73 and 105 people. By 1901 the population was recorded as 746.

 There is historical evidence of a settlement in Neolithic times, but in 1958/9 a Roman villa was discovered as part of excavation work to the south of the village.

The village has a splendid old church with a rich history and inside is a monument to the Dyer family. Sir James Dyer was speaker of the House of Commons in 1558 and also Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.

He died in 1582, and is depicted with his wife Margaret, who died in 1560. The memorial also shows Sir Richard Dyer, who died in 1605, and his wife, Marie.

Opposite the church is Place House, originally built in 1539 by Oliver Leder. The medieval building was originally a moated manor house. Unfortunately much of it was destroyed by fire in the 17th Century. The house now belongs to the Duberly family.

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The village also has a famous sundial which sits on The Highway near the White Hart Inn. It has the date of 1637 inscribed on it and the initials EI, which are believe to relate to Edmund Ibbutt, who was a major landowner in the village between the 1630 and the 1660. There are no records to show why he decided to erect a sundial at this particular site. He also donated a bell to the church which is still in use. 

In the 17th Century, there were the witch hunts led by Matthew Hopkins from Essex, who was known as the Witchfinder General. After a period of intense activity,  these were brought to an end by the Reverend John Gaule, the vicar of Great Staughton, who exposed the money-making nature of Hopkins’ activities.

With thanks to Anthony Withers and his book: A Book About Staughton.