Sudbury, Derbyshire – All Saints

On Saturday afternoon (20 October) we drove across to Sudbury Hall National Trust property. Even disabled drivers have to park in the main car park and there is an electric van – but it’s not very easy to enter. We started with the Second Hand Bookshop, then did the Museum of Childhood – it’s all accessible and good fun. An interesting display about the portrayal of race – more information here. And they have a dalek.

The House is not accessible for those in wheelchairs, so we went for a walk/roll through the gardens and up to the church.

We came to All Saints church, and moved from the marketing and publicity budget (and the vision) of the National Trust to that of an Anglican PCC. The church is at SK 158321, . It is on the derbyshirechurches website, with a facebook page. At least it was open. Apologies for the quality of the photos, the sun was low and at the wrong angle.

There was a church here at Domesday, probably Saxon then replaced with a Norman stone building. It was rebuilt about 1300, and the pitch of the Nave roof altered about 1400 to accommodate the Clerestory windows. About 200 years later, at about the time of the building of the Hall, the South porch was built and a balustrade parapet was added to the tower. The church was comprehensively restored in the 1870s and 80s by George Dever, for the 6th Lord Vernon. He raised the tower, added the pinnacles, replaced some of the windows, re-roofed the whole building, replaced the north transept with a second north aisle, removed the gallery, and installed new pews. You enter the porch under a War Memorial. The font is 1877, and the marble tondo (that’s what the NT guide calls it) commemorates two young children of the 6th Lord Vernon. They died in 1862 – rather oddly, a plaque underneath names three children who died. (I look ‘tondo’ up – defined as ‘a circular painting’).

Exploring the church there are some lovely memorials. This is the memorial to the parents of the children – Augustus (6th Lord Vernon), Harriet, and their son George (7th Lord Vernon). Augustus did a huge amount of work on the Church, Hall and Estate before he died in 1883. George inherited almost £25,000 a year, but was soon in financial difficulties. He married an American heiress, Frances Lawrance, but died at the age of 44.

We can go back a bit further, to George the 4th Lord and his wife Frances (died 1835 and 1837 respectively) – he had a keen interest in naval affairs, she was the daughter of an admiral (she also brought the lucrative coalfields and cotton mills at Poynton in Cheshire into the family). He died at sea, aboard his yacht Harlequin at Gibralter. The body was brought back to Sudbury on her, and buried in the churchyard, with eight of his sailors acting as pall-bearers.

George Venables-Vernon (died 1780) was created the 1st Baron Vernon of Kinderton in 1762. He had three wives, Mary, Anne and Maria. Maria’s brother, Lord Harcourt, had been George III’s governor when he was a child – which probably helped get the peerage. Louisa was one of the daughters of George, the 2nd Lord. Going back further we have John and Mary Vernon. Read the beautifully written notice about them, and admire the craftsmanship.

In the corner of the Vernon Chapel are two C13 ladies – the oldest effigies in the church. They are almost certainly ladies from the Montgomery family, who held the manor from after the Norman Conquest until 1513, when Ellen Montgomery married Sir John Vernon, the younger son of Henry Vernon of Haddon.

The final monument I photographed is George Vernon, died 1702. I like the way Catherine is described as his “surviving comfort”. He was the builder of the house.

This portrait is of Edward Vernon Harcourt. Born here in 1757, Bishop of Carlisle 1791, he became Archbishop of York in 1808 and died in 1847. He had sixteen children.

In the Chancel is the Evacuee window, which was designed and made by Michael Stokes as a Millennium window. It was commissioned by a small group of evacuees from Manchester, children who came to Sudbury during the last War.

The East window was presented to the church by Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort in 1850, to the memory of George Edward Anson, brother of the then Rector, who had been Prince Albert’s Private Secretary and Keeper of Her Majesty’s Privy Purse. The glass is by a German artist. The reredos is 1885, in memory of the 6th Lord Vernon. Most of the rest of the glass is Victorian too – I loved the dragon and the shoes. I think the woman beating down the dragon is St Margaret of Antioch, but my readers may know better, and it is St Cecilia on the left.

A final view, and an angel with a shield.

Time for a walk back across the front of the house, and into the NT tearoom.


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Longford, Derbyshire – St Chad

St Chad’s church, Longford, has a page on the Derbsyhirechurches website, but there is no mention of a church website there or on a achurchnearyou. It is at grid reference, SK 214383, and is off the road, in parkland by Longford Hall. Road access is through a gate which was opened for us as we were going to sing Evensong, but whether you would be able to drive down there (and whether you would be able to get in or not), I wouldn’t like to say. I had the opportunity of doing a quick trot round with my camera, but no doubt there is much I missed. I failed to get a photo of the combined choirs, which was very silly of me.

It is a Norman church, and a Norman font. Aisle are C13, clerestory is C15. A major renovation in 1830, the East Window is 1843. Nice faces as you enter the porch.

There are gorgeous faces high in the Nave roof, and some interesting ones in the Chancel (especially designed for mobile phone storage).

One early tomb slab.

There are several effigies of members of the Longford family. There is an article about them here. I think this is Sir Nicholas, who died about 1404. I like his belt, and some of the carvings in the arcade.

In the north aisle we have an alabaster corner. To the west are two knights – Sir Nicholas 1350, and Sir Nicholas 1416.  The other pair are Sir Nicholas (1610) and his wife (1620).

There is a selection of more modern memorials. Thomas William Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester, 1842. Another memorial I thought, and then realised this gentleman is (I think) Coke of Norfolk – the great agricultural pioneer. There is a piece about him on the Holkham Hall website. I remembered him from A level geography, and there is a biography of him here.

In this memorial his wife, Anne Amelia, Countess of Leicester 1844 is being taken to heaven.

Sedilia and altar too.

It was a good evening – lovely to fill the church with music.


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Torpenhow, Cumbria – St Michael

The final church visit of the day was St Michael Torpenhow – NY 206397 – website. The guidebook was first produced in 1969 “and coincided with the truly remarkable Parish Flower Festival.” Even now the PCC are meeting to plan the 50th anniversary celebrations of a remarkable Parish Flower Festival! They suggest the Britons called the small hill a ‘Pen’. The Saxons, not understanding ‘Pen’ called it a ‘Tor-pen’ a pinnacle pen. The next bunch called it the ‘how’ (hill) of Torpen. Believe it if you wish!

The church dates to about 1120, and is a C12 church which has not been much altered. A Will of 1319 refers to it as St Michael’s. For many years it was held by Rosedale Priory in North Yorkshire – a lovely church I haven’t been to for years, but a very long way from Torpenhow. There may well have been a Saxon church on the same site – this Norman church has an aisleless nave and a chancel separated by an arch. Some of the stone seems to have come from a nearby Roman camp. I liked the Bellcote and the Norman arch in the porch, and the sundial above it – not a lot of sun in the porch!

The Norman arch inside the church has wonderful carving – Clare found the light-switch and I enjoyed taking photos.  Can you imagine what the Vicar said when he saw the figures?

I liked the little door into the North Aisle, and there are some lovely bits of stones and carving scattered around. I should sit and work out exactly how the chancel developed – or just enjoy it. The chancel was extended in 1160 and the north aisle added in 1260.

In 1703 Bishop Nicholson wrote “The body of the church was lately beautify’d by Mr Thomas Addison; who having enlarged his paternal estate at Low Wood Nook, and wanting a Seat answerable to his present Quality, offr’d to cover the Middle Isle with a fair painted canopy of Firr”. That was in 1689, and the ceiling reminded me of the one at Grandtully in the Highlands’ – though that’s a little earlier (1636). Have a look at my blog. Apparently it was once the ceiling of a London livery company – can you imagine how they transported it to Cumbria?


It is a lovely Norman font, although the column is C15. The Memorial is to Thomas Nicholson, Vicar, who died in 1735. He did a lot of restoration work on the church and Vicarage. A World War list too, and some nice stained glass.

I liked the books on the graves outside – must do something like this for northernreader. She will need books in death as well as life. I assume it is the hand of God, about to turn our page. We meditated on our existence – we had not lunched!

We drove into Carlisle and had lunch at Tullie House, then went and collected Jonti. He is a chorister at the Cathedral, so went to rehearse, and Clare and I did a bookshop. Evensong was lovely – Rose responses, and I could hear him singing away. I got down to the station in time for the 1846 which was on time, but I had a reserved seat on the 1857 which was 20 minutes late. No, I couldn’t get the earlier train. The 1857 got later and later, and if I had been catching the connection I would have missed it. Fortunately my car was parked at Crewe. Why is it that every time I have a day out in Cumbria, Virgin Trains spoil it?

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Bassenthwaite, Cumbria – St Bega

Clare and I were a bit confused because the church we had just visited didn’t seem to fit the description in Betjeman’s Best British Churches.  A bit of investigation (i.e. the Cambridge Geographer read the map) took us to St Bega’s church, Bassenthwaite – NY 227287. They have the same website as the previous church – here. We parked and walked down to the church.

It was probably a pre-Norman foundation, and was given to the monastery at Jedburgh in the C12. Pevsner says it is disappointing to find it is so Victorian, with the interior by S. Watson of Penrith in 1874. (There is a painting of it, pre-restoration). We were not disappointed! The strange metal thing is an hour-glass stand – I want one!

The Highmore Memorial, probably late C14, is inscribed ‘His jacet Robertus de Hehmur cujus anime propricietur Deus’ (Here lies Robert Highmoor, upon whose soul may God be merciful). Alongside the cross, which stands on a Calvary mound, is shown a knight’s sword. I like the memorial that says Grace was “about her fiftieth year”. The Royal Arms is George II.

I like the East Window – and the lions look very hungry. I liked the photo of the lions (sorry, ladies) of NADFAS handing over their record of the church to Canon Harker in 1992. I wonder if photos of me will look so dated in 26 years time (and I fear I know the answer!).

We went outside and enjoyed the location. I also looked up St Bega – apparently she was a Princess of Ireland, also known as Bee. She fled the Royal Court rather than marry a prince from Norway, and tradition says she was miraculously transported to Cumbria (more fun than Virgin trains). She founded the monastery at St Bees.


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Bassenthwaite, Cumbria – St John

We drove north along the east side of Bassenthwaite, and found St John’s church at NY 229316. The website is here. Pevsner says the church is 1878 by David Brade of Kendal, and describes it as “expensive but ill-proportioned”, though he says the inside is better. It didn’t do a lot for either of us. Tall, must be a pain to heat, and the 1900 stained glass by Clayton & Bell is not particularly inspiring.

What lifted the church for me was this lovely map of the Lake, and the three windows by W. Wilson 1961. I have done some research – there is an article about him:  Images of broken light: William Wilson (1905-1972) The Journal of Stained Glass 2006 (30) pp 140-50

Pevsner describes the font as “a monster block”. The woodwork is rather lovely.

What can we find out about Lieut. Henry Rathbone Hele-Shaw R.F.C, died on the Somme, 19 July 1916, aged 20? There is a little on this blog – Cumbrianwarmemorials. “Henry Hele-Shaw was the only son of Dr Henry and Mrs Ella Hele-Shaw of Westminster, neighbours of Morris & Co. Educated at Marlborough he had just obtained a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge when war broke out. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in late 1915 acting as a ferry pilot before joining 70 squadron where he was very soon wounded. Shortly after re-joining his squadron he was shot down on 25 September 1916.” Just another of that generation of young men who never grew old.


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Crosthwaite, Cumbria – St Kentigern

On Tuesday 9 October I wanted a day with Clare, so braved Virgin Trains to go north. She met me at Penrith station, and we drove west, past Keswick on the bypass, and into Crosthwaite. The church of St Kentigern is by the school – NY 257243, website. It always good to know where the Gas valve is!

St Kentigern, also known as Mungo, is a Scottish saint. He came here in 553 AD and set up his cross in a clearing or ‘thwaite’. There have been several different churches on this site – which remained in Scotland until William Rufus took it for England in 1092. The first written evidence for a church here is one built by Alice de Romelli in about 1190. Apparently traces of it can be seen in the north wall. In 1198 Richard the Lion Heart gave the church to the monks of Fountains Abbey, and there was a rebuilding in the reign of Edward III. The current building dates from 1523, and was heavily restored by Gilbert Scott in 1844.

It is quite some building, not a church you can miss. The sundial is dated 1602. One guide says it is probably the oldest sundial still in place (probably fair enough to say the oldest which isn’t simply a hole and a series of scratches on the wall), a leaflet says it works when the sun shines …. . The tower clock is 1720 – another one with just one hand (see Whalton in Northumberland). A bearded man welcomes you in – that’s a PhD, beards on faces carved on church porches.

The font dates from 1395, and commemorates Sir Thomas of Eskhead. He was Vicar here between about 1374 and 1392, and the inscription asks for prayers for his soul. On the north wall are a series of Consecration Crosses for the 1523 church. There are 12 in all – although every church would have had them, they are rarely seen.

You can see another Consecration Cross next to the War Memorial, there is a Victorian pulpit with impressive floral display, an impressive organ (Bishops of London 1837, enlarged by Jardines of Manchester, rebuilt as a War Memorial in 1920, rebuilt again in 1980), and some sensible (and neat) disabled adaptations.

The East End  has a memorial to Edward Stephenson, late Governor of Bengal, died 1768 – website. The mosaic shows the salmon which retrieved the lost ring of a Scottish queen and bride to be – Kentigern was involved too. The brass work in the reredos was made by the Keswick School of Industrial Arts, which was founded by Mrs Rawnsley. Her husband, Vicar here from 1883 to 1917, is one of the founders of the National Trust. This is on the NT website. (He is buried in the churchyard, but we couldn’t find any sign to his grave). Canon Rawnsley was behind the re-design of the East End with his architect Mr Ferguson. The glass is by Kempe – St Herbert (a local saint) to the north and St Kentigern to the south.

There are quite a lot of other interesting memorials. Thomas Radcliffe and his wife are 1495.

Robert Southey was Poet Laureate and worshipped in this church for 40 years until his death in 1842. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of him – read this website. There is a memorial to him in the church, and his grave is signposted outside. It seems as if money raised in his memory was also a catalyst for the 1844 rebuilding and renovation of the church.

There is a little medieval glass, and quite a lot of Victorian glass – including Jesus with muscles.

Inside the porch were some notices telling us what to see in the graveyard, so we went for an explore of a huge churchyard. A couple of interesting WW1 people, though we didn’t find the nurses’ grave. Apparently the red altar frontal at Carlisle Cathedral was given in memory of Nurse Hermione Lediard – website. (Clare, as mother of a Carlisle chorister, please take note, I expect a photo). Percy Ogden has been written up in this blog. “Mr. Percy Ogden, who died at the Military Hospital, Shornecliffe, on June 8th, after a few days illness, was in his 42nd year, and was a lieutenant in the R.F.C. He was the son of the late Thomas Ogden, founder of Ogden’s Ltd., which in 1902 became a branch of the Imperial Tobacco Co. (of Great Britain and Ireland Ltd.). He was a director of the latter company, and of late years he had undertaken charge of its manufacturing operations in this country” (14 June 1917).

I had not realised that Bishop Eric Treacy was buried here. His grave is the other side of the railway line from the church – but I’m sure he’d love to see the Penrith-Keswick Cockermouth line reopened. The line is here – website. The National Railway Museum (though for a reason I can not understand those in charge have dropped the word ‘National’) has a blog about him – here. His work is exceptional – and he was a brilliant parish priest and bishop. May he, and his wife, rest in peace and rise in glory.


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Egginton, Derbyshire – St Wilfrid

Chris and I drove a couple of miles down to St Wilfrid’s church in Egginton – grid reference SK 267278, website. It has a 56 page glossy guidebook. The line of the A38 is a Roman road, and “The farmstead of Ecga” may well have been settled in the C6. Wilfrid, or Wilfrith, was an Anglo-Saxon who lived from 634 to 709. A novice at Lindisfarne, he visited Rome, then received the monastery of Ripon in 661. Later he was Bishop of Hexham.

There was a priest, church and mill here by the time of Domesday. The present Chancel dates to about 1300. For several centuries it was under the care of Dale Abbey, which lasted until 1538. The low west tower must have been built not long before the Reformation. In 1552 the inventory of the church read “Will Babyngton parson. 1 chalis of silver with a paten parcel gilt, 1 pyx of laten, 1 canape, 1 crosse of copper and gilte, 2 candlestycks of brasse, 1 hollywater pan of brasse, 1 bell in the steple, the other 2 were sold for the repayrying of the Moncks’ bridge, 3 odd coopes, 7 vestments, 3 aulter clothes, 2 albes, 3 towels and 1 corporas, 1 lytle hand bell, 1 lytle sacrying bell, 2 crewetts of pewter, 2 syrplesses”.

One of the Babington family was the Roman Catholic Anthony, who had been Mary Queen of Scots’ page when she was held in captivity in Sheffield. He became involved in a plot to murder Elizabeth and replace her with Mary – in 1586 he paid for that with his life. Some of his possessions, including the right of presentation here, were transferred to Sir Walter Raleigh.

During the Civil War, the Every family who owned the village, were Royalists, and there was a skirmish with the Parliamentarians just to the north of the village in March 1644 – the Royalists lost. The family somehow survived, and Sir Henry Every flourished after the Restoration, becoming Deputy Lieutenant and a Justice of the Peace. He was buried in the church in 1700. One of Henry’s sons was Simon, ordained at 28, he fathered six sons and eight daughters, died in 1753 at the age of 93.

The Trent and Mersey Canal was opened by 1776 (I really must have a walk along it sometime soon), the village was enclosed in 1791, and the Turnpike Road became busier. The Monks Bridge has been bypassed, but I need to explore. The Old Hall burned down in 1736, a new one was built. That was derelict  by the middle of the C20, but a new house was built in 1994.

Although the church is now entered through the north door, we went for a walk round the south side. Past two War graves, then I admired the lovely wall, and the gravestone of Mary Ledward “for many years a servant in the family and for the last 30 years the faithful and respected housekeeper to the Revd. John Leigh, Rector of this parish. A grateful master for her fidelity causes this stone to be erected. Words are useless when her character has left her memory behind her. She died in perfect quiet on the 22nd June 1853 aged 84 years.” I wonder how many pastoral crises she handled.

A nice looking church, with an 1893 font under the tower – not the best place for it. I liked the little face.

The Bishop is Edward Francis Every, baptised in this church, Bishop of the Falkland Islands 1902-1910, Bishop in Argentina and Eastern South America 1910-1937, and Assistant Bishop of Derby and Rector of Egginton 1927 until his death in 1941. He is buried here. The flute and clarionet were presented to the church in 1912 by Mr Thomas Hulland. They were used in this church, together with a bassoon and violoncello, to accompany the singing before an organ was introduced (probably about 1845). In the churchwarden expenses for 1782 appears “Paid for the bassoon reeds, 5s. 0d.” An interesting selection of other memorials.

This is the West Tower window. It depicts St Wilfrid, was designed by Sarah Burgess (who did St Helen at Etwall). It was installed in 2003, and constructed by Tony Sandles of Saffron Walden. The panels represent the landscape around Egginton, the coloured shafts recalling the decorated willows celebrating the osier growing within the village.

The other modern glass is the south aisle window, with the theme “I am the resurrection and the life”, which is used to depict the natural world around Egginton, fields, trees, bird and animal life. It includes some local features. It was designed and crafted by Michael Stokes of MDS Glass of Edwinstowe, Nottingham.

The East Window dates from the C13 or C14. In its original state it would have been full of glass – all that remains from this period are six small figures and the border. It was cleaned and repaired in 1984. The Nativity scene is in the North Chancel window. It is from the studio of Charles Eamer Kempe – I love the angels.

The pulpit is Jacobean, and I think it is lovely. I like the figures – exceptional. It needs some research – I feel another PhD coming on.

Lovely chair, a selection of books in a convenient niche, a cross, a hatchment, and a wonderful notice on the piano. Another visit I enjoyed.


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Etwall, Derbyshire – St Helen

On Monday 8 October I had arranged to meet Chris my predecessor for a coffee. She is currently looking after Etwall and Egginton, two churches just outside Derby. This means she has the keys for Etwall and Egginton so she can show me round. St Helen’s church Etwall is in the middle of the village at SK 269319, and has a website. The church is apparently open on Wednesday afternoons.

You can imagine a small wooden church near Etta’s Well, perhaps replaced by a stone church in Saxon times. Domesday records that there was a priest and a church here, and at some point between 1154 and 1181 it was given to Welbeck Abbey, and in 1370 the Manor of Etwall was presented by John of Gaunt to the Priory of Beauvale. The south doorway and a two arched arcade date back to Norman times. There was more building undertaken in the C13, which can be seen in the Chancel – the stone gospel shelf on the north wall is rare, one of only eight in the country. (Northernvicar breathes a sigh of relief that he has included it in one of his photos).

Most of the church is C15 and C16. In 1536 it was recorded that the value of the Vicarage with the tithes of hay, lambs, wool and hemp was £8, and the rectory pertaining to Welbeck at £10. (I wonder what the priest of 1536, off to spend some time ploughing his strip and land, and having to negotiate his tithe from his neighbours, would make of the fact I am sat here, typing this on my laptop, and my wages arrived from London this morning – no doubt he would be amazed how much I’m paid!!)

We entered through the back door, and the Vestry has a wonderful ceiling. The guidebook uses the monuments to bring this church alive, so let’s do likewise. The earliest dated memorial is this incised alabaster slab which was dug up during the alterations in 1881. Richardus and Johana, surname illegible, he died in 1503.

The top left hand brass below is Elizabeth Port. Her husband was Henry. He died in 1512, and his brass has gone. Apparently Elizabeth is dressed in a fashion only allowed to those who had taken a vow of chastity.  Henry was a mercer of Chester, and his son John was a lawyer who married Jane, the daughter of and heiress of John Fitzherbert of Etwall. You can imagine Elizabeth coming and living with her son and his family. John was knighted in 1525 and became a Justice of the King’s Bench in 1527. He was one of the panel of judges at the trials of both Thomas More and Anne Boleyn, and after the Dissolution he managed to obtain the rectory of Etwall from the Welbeck Abbey estate, and the Manor of Etwall from the Beauvale Priory estates. (Does anything change?) . He was also the founder of Repton school. He and Jane had a family, and after her death he married Margaret, daughter of Edward Trafford. In his will he asked to be buried “under the arche that is between the chancel and the chapel where I am my wife had used commonly to knele”, and in 1541 he got his wish. He is wearing his robes of office with a collar and a pendant, with a wife on either side. The heads of all the three have been hacked away. On the sides of the tomb are the arms of Port impaling Fitzherbert and Port impaling Trafford, and the emblems of the Passion. The capital on the east side of the arch is intricately carved with a rose and pomegranate design, one of the badges of Mary Tudor. The guide does not explain the ‘slabs’ of stone holding the three of them in place.

His son, presumably from his first wife, was another John – and the right hand brass at the top above is him and his two wives, one of whom was also an Elizabeth. (I hope I’ve got this right). He was an extremely wealthy man from both father and wife. His wealth must have come in useful when, according to a letter found in the archives at the Tower of London, “at Derbye the 25th days of June, 1545 … the Dev[ill] as we do suppose began in Needwood which is XI miles from Darbie and there can be cast down a great substance of wood and pulled up by the rotts, and from thens he came to Enwall whereat one Mr Porte doth dwell, and there he pulled down ij great elms, that there were a dozeyn or xvj loode upon a piesse of them, and went to the church and pullyed up the lead and flonge it upon a great elms that standeth a payer of butt lengths from the church and hangyd upon the bowys like streamers.” The Gerald family inherited the Manor – they were Catholics, so live cannot have been easy for them.

The C17 has left us some lovely woodwork, the main south door, the reading desk dated 1635, and the carved pews in the Port Chapel. These pews were used by the pensioners from the Almshouses, and are fitted with pegs where they could hang their hats and cloaks. Above the altar are the armorial bearings of two of the Trustees, Gerard and Hastings.

The advowson and the manor eventually passed to the Cotton family in 1695, and remained with them for over 200 years. The Royal Arms of George III date to 1805, the year of Trafalgar, and there are three nice hatchments. The one with “Resurgam”, I will rise again, is that of the Reverend Charles Evelyn Cotton who died in 1857. His widow Frances Maria, nee Bradshaw, died in 1868. Apparently the black and white background means his partner was still alive. The Cotton half of the arms is on the left, the Bradshaw half on the right.

There are some lovely memorials. Here are two: Mary Mainwaring died 1747 (I think) and Rebecca Beer died 1829. I like the idea of being Master of the Hospital – shades of Barchester (I can imagine myself as Mr Harding).

The stained glass is Victorian, but none the worse for that. Note the two odd oblong windows above the East Window, with its pelican. A Victorian pulpit too.

At the back of the church they have done some work with a loo and tea point, and this rather lovely embroidery of St Helen was commissioned from Sarah Burgess in 1998. It shows St Helen in a pose taken from a figure in a wall painting in the Catacombs in Rome. Her arms are extended in blessing over the landscape around Etwall. The background of the central panel is made up of interlocking crosses forming a pattern developed from a Byzantine icon. The Chi Rho symbol, made of the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, was said to have been seen by Constantine in the sky above the battle of Milvian Bridge. Helen was Constantine’s mother, and in her old age she travelled to Jerusalem to find the Holy Cross (see the blog on Ashby-de-la-Zouch). The textile was installed in July 2000, and I think it has lifted the back of the church. Thank you for that Millennium vision.

Outside the church we had a look at the Sir John Port Almshouses. They date to 1681, with minor later repairs. The Screen is by Robert Bakewell, as is the lovely one in Derby Cathedral (which I will get blogged one day).


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Chesterfield, Derbyshire – Christ Church

On Sunday 30 September there were a couple of churches in Chesterfield doing WW1 Commemoration events. Our friend Anne had been with us for the weekend and was returning to Northumberland – so Chesterfield is en route. Christ Church is at SK 385723, and has a website shared with Holy Trinity (which we visited several years ago). The Derbyshire Churches website gives it a couple of sentences: “Christ Church on Sheffield Road is the sister church to Holy Trinity and both share the same vicar, David Horsfall. The Foundation Stone of this church was laid on 5 September 1869 by the Venerable Thos. Hill B.D, Archdeacon of Derby, and consecrated on 20 September 1870 by the Bishop of Lichfield.” Pevsner is even briefer: “Of 1869 by S. Rollinson, aisles of 1913-14 by S. Rollinson & Sons. Of stone, lancet style with W bellcote. N aisle converted to a meeting room.” The church has excellent access.


The Derby Diocesan website has a link to photos of the WW1 event – here – and as soon as we arrived it was obvious a huge amount of work had been done.


My dad had one of these stereoscopes, and it was great to be able to pick up the slides and use it properly. It is funny how 3D seems to bring a photo alive.

There was a chap who has obvious gathered a collection of fascinating items, and was demonstrating the weapons and chatting to people. The only problem was that someone else was doing a talk with powerpoint, and it was hard not to disturb him.

The side altar had been transformed with a cascade of knitted poppies – a lot of work had gone into this.  Quite profound with the blank face of the soldier in front.

The choir stalls in the Chancel had been made into trenches and if the photos are believed the school children enjoyed them. The War Memorial window is quite fascinating – I’ll use it to illustrate my Remembrance Sunday sermon at St Matthew’s. The joint school choir has opted to sing Imagine  by John Lennon, so I have to counter “imagine there’s no heaven” with some more positive images. The other Chancel windows have a War memorial feel as well. The windows are in memory of Thomas Stubley and Clarence Victor Campbell. The parish had researched them, and all their other WW1 dead. Apparently the image of the soldier and Christ was taken from a picture postcard which was sent to him in France, and which had been a source of great strength to him. Michael and Gabriel are in the other window.

Private Charles Gordon Shaw was mortally wounded on the first day of the Somme offensive. He was rescued from the battlefield by his close friend Sergeant Dick Wragg, who saved three men that day and was awarded the DCM for his bravery. He was shipped back to England where he died of his wounds six days later. Dick’s original headstone has been laid here so that their story will be forever joined.


The milk carton hooks made me smile. We had spent so long here that the other WW1 Chesterfield church will have to wait until 2118.


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York, Yorkshire – Priory Church of the Holy Trinity

A afternoon in York on Thursday 27 September was an opportunity have supper with the kids – and do some book shopping. I left Julie in one shop and did a church visit. The Priory Church of the Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York – grid reference SE 598866 – website – welcomes you with their stocks! Inside they welcome you with an exhibition about Faith – surely something we should all have. Apparently there is also an app – search York churches.

It has been suggested that this is a very early, even Roman, site – York Minister occupies a site in the Roman military settlement, this site is in the civilian town the other side of the Ouse. Holy Trinity was certainly founded before the Norman Conquest, and it is recorded by 1066 as a church dedicated to Christ Church supported by a community of secular priests or canons. In the Domesday Book it was listed as one of the five great northern churches. It was re-founded circa 1089 by its new Norman lord as a Benedictine priory served by a community of monks. It may well have been a double church – Holy Trinity for the monastic community, and next door St Nicholas for the lay community of the parish. The monastic complex covered about 7 acres. At the Dissolution the monastic buildings were demolished, but the church remained – it is now only half the length and width of the original.

The original font has at some point been replaced by this one with an amazing carved cover. The gilded dove suspended over the font is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

The St Nicholas Chapel dates from 1453 and the window depicts the C3 saint restoring to life children who had been killed by a wicked inn keeper and kept in a brine tub. We have a Victorian window on the “suffer little children” theme. The Great East Window is by Charles Kempe, it depicts St Thomas of Canterbury, St Martin and St Benedict, whose altars were in the former monastery church, and St James. The reredos depicts saints associated with the North – Paulinus, Wilfred and John of Beverley; Bishops of York, Cuthbert and Aidan of Lindisfarme with Hilda of Whitby.

There are lovely monuments. The white marble tablet was erected in memory of Dr Burton, a parishioner of the church. He was the author of Monasticon Eboracense, and is well known to the world as Dr Slop of Tristram Shandy. Hanging from the scroll is a seal, with the motto ‘Diligentia Sapientia et Virtute’ and bearing the shield Dr Burton 1771. Mr and Mrs Jubb sound rather lovely too.

There are some interesting War Memorials – including one which shows what affect the War had on individual families. There is a superb display about the War – and this church has superb displays about everything. There is nothing grotty, photocopied and second-rate here. There is plenty to look at, plenty to read, and good children’s activities (does that means activities for good children?).

The eagle is flying, the roof bosses worth looking up at – and this statue of the Holy Trinity, carved by Matthias Garn, is a reproduction of the original medieval statue that used to be here. God the Father is seated in majesty, the Son of God is represented by the crucified Christ, with the Father holding the cross beam of the cross, thereby showing his consent to the crucifixion. The Holy Spirit is represented by a dove emanating from the mouth of the Father, showing he is the source of all things. The Father shares the pain of the Son, the Spirit flows over and towards the Son, uniting all.

On a lighter note, this advertising board just across the road made me smile.

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