top of page


Robert Bruce Cotton was born 22 January 1571 in Denton, to Thomas Cotton and his first wife, Elizabeth (original family name was probably de Cotun). Family had profited well by the dissolution of the monasteries and by marriage.


They were neighbors and `kinsmen' of the Huntingdonshire Montagus (that is, the Duke of Manchester), and distant relatives of Robert the Bruce of Scotland


Entered Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1581 and received his BA in 1585. Had begun `antiquarian studies' under William Camden at Westminster School before going to Cambridge.


He began collecting notes on the history of Huntingdonshire county when he was seventeen and never stopped collecting information, specifically old government documents. His collection of records surpassed that of the government. He effectively established the first public law library, open government `public records', and what we might call today a scholarly `think-tank'.

Mid 19th Century map of Denton
Robert Bruce Cotton


About Us: Denton Church Ruin



Denton Village Website:



Denton church ruin is a Grade II listed building, which means it is of National Historic Architectural Importance. The oldest part of the church dates to the 12th century, but the majority of it was re-built in the early 17th century by the local landholder, the famous antiquarian, Sir Robert Bruce Cotton.



This makes the building of particular interest as few churches were built during this period. Cotton also used some architectural elements more common in non-religous buildings. The church is prized for its historic architectural features as well as for its wonderful atmosphere. 



The ancient church, is a much loved historic building at the heart of the small community.



Since 2011 the 'Friends of Denton Church Ruin' has sought to preserve and enhance the church and its surroundings, well known locally to walkers, photographers and historians. The church hosts a series of events through the year, including popular Spring and Autumn fairs and Christmas Candlelit Concerts to raise funds for urgent and continued maintenance of the church, keeping it open to all.



Denton has always been a small and relatively poor village, mainly occupied by agricultural labourers. By the mid 19th century the population numbers of this and the neighbouring village of Caldecote were so low that a single Rector cared for both villages. In 1928 the Rectorial care was united with Stilton, and the church was no longer in use. Burials continued in the graveyard but in the mid 20th century services stopped and all internal fittings were removed, along with the church bells and the roof.

DEnton Church ruin
bottom of page