Little Gransden history

The first record of a priest here was in 1183, and parts of the present building date from medieval times, but the present appearance of the church owes most to Victorian restorations of the chancel (1858 and 1875) and the whole church (by J. P. St Aubyn 1885-8), and to rearrangements, including the raising of the East window, the addition of the organ chamber and North porch.

The 19th and 20th century stained glass EAST WINDOW (1908) includes the two panels connected with the dedication of the Church; the Ascended Christ with the tokens of divine majesty above, and below Christ vested as a Priest. St. Peter with ‘the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven’ and St. Paul with ‘the sword of the Spirit’ kneeling before him.

In the Sanctuary is a double PISCINA on the South side, for cleansing Communion vessels. This is partly medieval.

On the North side of the Chancel is the ORGAN, which was installed by a North London organ builder, named Pease, probably in about 1902. It has been described as "a concoction of second-hand materials not very skillfully contrived". In 1976 Norman Hall & Sons completely dismantled and repaired the Organ.

The BRASS in the Chancel floor is inscribed in memory of William Knight, Rector 1599-1623. A verse translation of the Latin runs as follows:

Here lies beneath a massive stone, The body of William Knight;

He lived of years threescore and one, Ere he forsook the light.

A loving master all through life, The poor in him could trust;

He kept them free from broils and strife, Nor suffered them to rust.

For twenty years and four did pray, And preach this faithful priest,

Till dull November’s seventeenth day, Did call him to his rest.

His Agnes dear with children ten, He left to mourn his fate;

In sixteen twenty three, ‘twas then, From Jesus’ birth the date.

The oak SCREEN of the 15th century was painted and gilded at the expense of the Revd. Daniel Elsdale, who presented the figure of our Lord on the Cross, at Easter 1908. The text beneath is St. John xii.32.

The six-sided PULPIT will originally have had a sounding board. In the mid-eighteenth century it stood against the easternmost pillar on the South side of the Nave and bore the date 1626. Carved underneath the book rest can be found an eagle.

The LECTERN dates from 1888.

The spirited ROYAL ARMS of carved wood in the South aisle are of 1801-1816.

The seven-foot oak CHEST is possibly from the sixteenth century.

The flag of the British Legion hangs on the wall of the North Aisle over the British Legion Role of Honour.

A list of rectors of the parish hangs close by, drawn up in 1910 by the Rev. J. H. Crosby, Librarian of Ely Cathedral.

Our most ancient furnishing is also functionally among the most important, the thirteenth-century FONT for the sacrament of Baptism. Its octagonal limestone bowl is set on a clunch stem. The oak cover is modern. Its traditional situation near a main entrance to the Church, the West door, corresponds to the position of Baptism at the entrance to Christian life.

Under the TOWER is the 1745 COVER from the top of the Tower staircase, which bears the names of Rector James Musgrave, and the Churchwardens. The GRAFFITO of a figure with a sword, 19 ½ inches high, scratched on the South side of the West door on the inside wall of the Tower is a survival from the Middle Ages.

The Tower has three bells that are hung for chiming only. Of the three BELLS the first, the treble has a mutilated inscription and is probably seventeenth-century. The second is ascribed to the London founder Thomas Bullisdon in the early sixteenth century and is one of the three noted in the Edwardine Inventory; it bears a black-letter invocation of St. Nicolas. The third dated 1616, is inscribed Non clamor sed amor cantat in aure Dei, ‘Not noise but love that makes music in God’s ear’.

Alfred Newby, Rector 1856-1882, planted many of the trees and shrubs. North of the Church is the medieval socket of the CHURCHYARD CROSS.

On the south boundary there is the MUSGRAVE FAMILY VAULT built of Portland stone brought here at the same time as that for the Fellows’ Building at King’s College, Cambridge (faculty dated 1728) by James Musgrave, Rector 1714-1746. He was the founder of a charity with unusual conditions, among them the instruction that on the 31st May each year a bell was to be tolled for an hour from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. and the poor of the parish might then present themselves in person at the tomb and each receive a shilling. The person who tolled the bell was also paid a shilling. (The Musgrave charity continues to give annually to the retired and offers grants for books to students going onto further education).