Kniveton, Derbyshire – St Michael and All Angels

On Friday 14 October we drove across to Ashbourne for Oxfam books and Waitrose, then came home via the village of Kniveton, and St Michael’s church SK211503. There is no parking on the road outside, so I used a corner of the school car park. Lovely milestone just opposite the church, and a nice welcoming notice on the gate itself. Apparently the road was the Alfreton to Ashbourne turnpike of 1759.


dsc04753The yew tree is probably a thousand years old. At Domesday Kniveton was referred to as the manor of Cheniveton, which was held by the Kniveton family for many years. In the Civil War Sir Andrew Kniveton was a staunch Royalist, and the family paid the price. A church has existed here for many years, and parts of this building date from the C12. The lovely tower is C13 and houses a couple of bells, one C16, the other inscribed “God Save the King, 1665”. I liked the gargoyles.


The nave and porch are Norman, and there are some interesting carvings.


The church felt lovely as I opened the door and walked in. Peaceful and well cared for.


Just inside the door is this circular stone carving. It was found when the church was re-pewed in 1842, but its original placing in the church and date of origin are unknown.

dsc04773The window depicting Christ the good shepherd dates to 1888, the other two are 1908. I like the expressions on the faces of the sheep.


Some C14 glass in a chancel window, the crest of the Kniveton family (C15) and a nice east end. The East window is 1879.


Nice banner. One large memorial with poem.


The font is in the Early English style and dates from the C13. The date of 1663 relates to the restoration of the church.

dsc04775The church was redecorated earlier this decade, and the certificate awarded by the Painting and Decorating Association is proudly displayed. They have done an excellent job putting in a kitchen unit and a disabled loo. Although the photo of the open door makes it look as if the loo encroaches on the font, it doesn’t feel like that. Well done!


A nice churchyard, with slate headstones and autumn colours.

dsc04781dsc04783We went on to Carsington Water – website – and had a lovely cake. I had a walk to Stones Island, with stones by Lewis Knight (1991). This looks like a place for a good explore.


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Derby Roundhouse


Derby Roundhouse dates back to 1839. It is at SK364356, just to the east of the railway station. It is now the HQ of Derby College, and there are regular guided tours, for the princely sum of £6 – book through this website. I went on Saturday 8 October. The College website has a page about the Roundhouse here, and there are rather amazing Christmas parties at this website.

The railway came to Derby that year, with a line from the London and Birmingham at Rugby north to Chesterfield, the old route east of Sheffield, up towards York. Robert Stephenson, engineer to the North Midland Railway, worked with Francis Thompson on the Roundhouse design. Thompson was the railway architect, and designed 26 stations between Derby and Leeds.

The Roundhouse is basically a railway shed around a turntable, and it could store sixteen locos. Around the Roundhouse other sheds were open and here Matthew Kirtley built his fleet of engines, carriages were built here, and there was a clock workshop (apparently reached by what is now the spiral staircase in the librarian’s office. By 1900 the Loco Works employed 4,500 people. In WW1 500 women were employed in the manufacture of parts for Howitzer guns, shells, vehicle components and aeronautical supplies. In WW2 they built aeroplane wings, fuselages and field guns. In the 1950s a thousand diesel locos were built here, but the engine production ceased in 1966 and everything had closed by 1980 (second picture is 1978).


The early 80s saw most of the Loco Works demolished, leaving only the Roundhouse, offices, carriage shop, engine shop and stores. The whole area stood derelict for a couple of decades, until 2008 when, with several million from HLF, it was restored for Derby College. The project, which included the new Kirtley building in the middle, was designed by Maber – website.


I got there early so went to the station for a coffee – and photoed the class 31.

dsc04655Apparently this was the pedestrian entrance to the works, reached by a footbridge that had crossed the tracks – at some point I need to explore the railway quarter on the west side of the track. The engines entered here.dsc04660



dsc04661Lovely the way the Roundhouse is reflected in the new building.

dsc04664dsc04667dsc04668PP is the parish of St Peter and St Paul in Derby, L the parish of Litchurch – the city parish did not want the railway, so it went outside.


There were about a dozen of us on the tour, and we started in the Stephenson building – photo walls of dots, and a letter from George himself. A beautiful wooden door into the first railway shed. The College has filled the interior with pods, so they have not interfered with the structure of the building.


The Engine Shed restaurant is the training restaurant – website – it looks rather good (though we were told it gets better as the year progresses and the students get more experience). There is a nice story that all the windows have the same pattern of leads, except for one. Apparently the smith was having an affair. His wife found out and destroyed his patterns so he had to start again. Our guide commented that, if she had access to his forge and a lot of hot metal, he would probably have paid for his sins in a different way.


On the wall are some lovely engineering drawings, all signed off by Mr Stanier himself. There is also a display about Matthew Kirtley, the manager, with a letter from his workmen. I did wonder what Kirtley would make of the posters telling students where to collect free condoms.


The Library is a lovely building, with a picture of the directors and engineering team – Kirtley is the chap painted yellow (“he visited the paint shop every morning”).


The Roundhouse is an excellent building, though I wonder when the crane was inserted into the wooden roof structure.



It is a shame that they have grotty tape under the projector screens and ropes to ensure you don’t trip over. It needed a bit of a tidy too – students can be messy young people! We ended with coffee. It had been a good tour, and it would be totally accessible for Julie in her wheelchair. I highly recommend it – they have done an excellent job.



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Kirk Hallam, Derbyshire – All Saints

Up on the borders of Ilkeston – part of Derbyshire that the tourists don’t visit. All Saints, Kirk Hallam is at SK458405, and next to the Vicarage. I should have called there for the key. The parish has a Grade I listed church, and has a website. The church is Norman in origin, but now mainly C14 and 15. The font is Norman, and the church was restored in 1859 by G.E. Street. Pevsner says there is good stained glass and some stylish monuments inside. That was the end of our tour, so we went on to The Bridge in Duffield for lunch.





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Stanton-by-Dale, Derbyshire – St Michael with All Angels

Not far from Risley is another of the benefice churches, St Michael with All Angels, Stanton-by-Dale. This is in the village at SK464382. There is a notice inviting me to collect a church key – I should have done, and will come back and do so.


Stanton was one of the early possessions of Dale Abbey. The Abbey was a house of Premonstratensian Canons, founded about 1200 and completed about 1250. At the Dissolution in 1538 the Parliamentary Commissioners recorded “Stanton juxta Dale is a viccaridge really worth seven pounds per annum, the place is void, in a peculiar antiently an abbey, fit to be united to Stanton and Stanton made a Parish Church.” The architecture is mainly c1300, though the tympanum of the south doorway may be Norman.


The tower is probably 15th century. When I get in I will find three Kempe windows, and a church restored in 1872.

I had a lovely wander looking at tombstones. Two old ones, then lots made of slate. Here is a current blog by a stone carver, and I’ve found a book Gravestones, Tombs and Memorials: symbols, styles and epitaphs – England’s living history, by Trevor York (2010) which I will read. Any of my readers suggest anything else?


There is a lamp commemorating a plane crash in the last War, and the crew are listed on the village war memorial.


The almshouses are 1711 – perhaps I’ll sign up for one.



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Risley, Derbyshire – All Saints’

I started Friday 7 October with an early morning trip to Sheffield to give an armful of platelets. Having had sons and wife who have received blood, I have been a blood donor for many years. Now I go about once a month to give platelets – they are the very small cells which work with the clotting factors in plasma to form a mesh “plug” to stop or prevent bleeding. For more details have a look at this website and, if you can donate blood or platelets, please go and do so.

We had had all the children from Walter Evans School in St Matthew’s Darley Abbey on Thursday for their Harvest Festival. A lovely service with smashing youngsters. At the end of it I unclipped the radio mic, and dropped the clip down the heating grill. It descended into the bowels of the church, never to be seen again. Our AV people are here, so I had a drive to Risley to buy two new clips – always wise to have a spare! We then drove home and stopped to look at three churches. All three were locked.

I would love all churches to be open, but I live in the real world. I know how difficult it is to get someone to unlock and lock every day. I know that if the church is open, you need to move everything valuable and lock it in the vestry – that takes time and effort. I know how much time it takes when someone steals or damages something. If you need someone there, you really need two people, and that is yet another demand on volunteers. Someone commented on facebook the other week how annoyed they were one of my churches was locked when they went to visit, but I don’t see them volunteering to “church-sit”.

If you visit an unlocked church, please leave a donation and a note in the Visitors’ Book saying how marvellous it is you could get in. If you find a church locked, be understanding – and next time plan ahead. Check the church website – does it advertise an opening time? Is there a service you could attend, and have a look round afterwards? Use a website like this one for Derbyshire – here – though keeping them up to date is difficult. My church of St Edmund Allestree is open most mornings, St Matthew Darley Abbey has an Open Day on Saturday 22 October from 10 am – with a Last Night of the Proms in the evening.

Do I blog locked churches? Yes I do – if only as a reminder of churches I want to visit and need to organise. I hope you enjoy the photos.


All Saints, Risley, is on the main road, SK461357. I looked at their website, and find this statement:

You are always welcome to visit our buildings and if they aren’t open when you do, there is usually a key available in the vicinity. Better still, come and visit us during a service – our buildings are interesting but they aren’t museums and people have given sacrificially over the years to ensure that they are suitable for God’s people to meet and worship him together. There is normally someone in our congregations who will be delighted to give you a tour and then bring you along to share a drink and some cake or a biscuit. Services are best described as informal Anglican; easy to follow and welcoming.

Fair enough!


There may well have been a chapel there prior to the present church which was built by Michael and Katharine Willoughby in 1593, but it was not consecrated until 1632. It is a rare example of a surviving Elizabethan church. The north aisle was added in 1841. Pevsner suggests that inside is worth visiting.

dsc04612dsc04613dsc04614The Lunacy Commission was founded in 1845 and, for the first forty years of its existence, was chaired by Lord Shaftesbury. If John Hancock Hall died in October 1845, he can’t have been a Commissioner for long – his wife was obviously very proud of him.


dsc04617Next door is Latin House, dating to 1706. In 1593 Elizabeth Willoughby founded a school here, and her descendent Elizabeth Grey built this house to accommodate pupils, master and usher. Another building was added in 1720 and this became the home of the Latin master and his pupils.




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Nottingham Midland Station

Sunday 2 October was Harvest Sunday at St Edmund’s, Allestree. The flowers were lovely, with sunflowers grown by Ella, Saturday’s bride. There were 99 at the main service, though I sacked my churchwardens for failing to find an extra 1.



It was a beautiful afternoon, so I went off chasing trains. East Midlands Parkway is in the shadow of the old power station. Due to engineering work trains are heading north via the High Level Goods Line – Toton South Junction to Meadow Lane Junction was new track for me – then through Toton Centre and Toton North to Trowell Junction. We reversed there and went south through Radford Junction and Mansfield Junction to Nottingham.



The original Nottingham Midland station dates from 1848. It was rebuilt in 1904 and the architect was a local man, Albert Edward Lambert, who was also the architect for the Great Central’s Nottingham Victoria station. The first contract for the station buildings was awarded to Edward Wood & Sons of Derby on 23 January 1903, and they were also awarded the contract for the buildings on platforms 1 and 2. The contract for the buildings on platforms 4 and 5 was awarded to Kirk, Knight & Co of Sleaford on 18 June 1903.


dsc04582dsc04583dsc04584dsc04585dsc04588dsc04580dsc04581dsc04586dsc04589The structural steelwork and cast-ironwork was done by Handyside & Co and the Phoenix Foundry, both of Derby. This is milepost 123 1/2. Look at the lovely ironwork on the down pipe.


I wonder who did the wonderful plasterwork now in the Pumpkin coffee shop. You can see why I chose to blog this station. Imagine the fireplace with a proper fire in it.

dsc04598dsc04594dsc04596dsc04595dsc04597There are other photos and more about the restoration at this website. There is also a film of the reconstruction on youtube – thanks Jay.

I caught the train home and the whole day almost went pear-shaped when the doors in coaches A and B do not open at East Midlands Parkway … they do not tell you this – fortunately I got out in time. Otherwise the evening Songs of Praise could have been missing a Vicar!

Next Saturday (15 October) I have an evening of Railway Films at St Matthew’s Darley Abbey – 7.30 pm, all welcome. Admission free, doughnuts in the interval, donations for the British Heart Foundation.



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Little Longstone Congregational Church, Derbyshire

After a morning’s work and old people’s lunch club (eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and call it work) on Tuesday 27 September, I collected our friend Jess at Duffield Station (she had been in Birmingham all morning) and we drove up the A6 to Bakewell. We parked and had a wander, then continued on to Monsal Head – website. We had a lovely walk down the side of the valley, across the River Wye, and up to the railway. Headstone Viaduct dates back to 1863, and it is great to be able to walk across and through the tunnel.




We cut back across the fields and called in at Little Longstone Congregational Chapel – website – SK1877163. It is Grade II listed so here is its entry on the web.

Chapel. c1870. Coursed Squared limestone with gritstone dressings. Welsh slate roof. Rock faced quoins and moulded kneelers, South elevation has protecting central bay acting as a porch and belfry. Deeply chamfered round arched doorway with rock faced quoins. Heavily recessed doors. Circular sounding hole above again with chamfer and rock faced quoins. Gabled ashlar bellcote. Either side is a narrow arrow slit window with circular head. West and east elevations have three round-arched windows with deep chamfer.


Rather nice – good for them for tapping the wedding market.




We drove back into Bakewell and stopped at “Because I like it”. It was well gone 5 but they were happy to sell us Bakewell Tart and tea, much appreciated. A lovely drive home via minor roads.


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Boulton, Derby – St Mary the Virgin

The new Derby City Deanery was launched on Saturday 24 September with a Festival of Light, and a service at 4 pm. I took a full car and had time to photo the church as well as attend the service. We were in the south east of Derby at St Mary’s Boulton – website – SK384331. Excellent signage.



One grave by the wall struck my eye “Killed in action in France”. Only when I lifted the holly did I find two sons were “Killed in action in France”. There are several War Graves Commission stones too – a lot of history in this churchyard. I also find myself wondering what name was originally on Catherine Elizabeth’s stone, and what else was to be carved on Charlotte Ann’s.


The original church was founded around 1150 by Robert Sacheverell of Hopley (Sawley) in Derbyshire. He had a daughter called Avelina who came to live in the Manor of Boulton when she married Arwin of Boulton (this is sounding like something out of a Cadfael novel). He had links with the church of St Peter’s in Derby, and their son was called Peter. Adelina’s brother John became head of the Sacheverell family in 1197 and also came to live in Boulton. The porch has some Norman work, but now you enter the church at the West End you don’t really notice it.


There are some medieval tiles displayed on the wall inside.


The West End was added in 1840 by John Mason of Derby, north aisle 1870 by William Smith (he also remodelled the chancel and replaced the nave roof), and the church was enlarged in 1960 by Sebastian Comper. The windows include the Crucifixion with the cross treated as the Tree of Life in the East window (Walter J. Pearce 1913) – I wonder what the mothers of those WW1 soldiers made of that a few years later. Pevsner describes this as “Unusual painterly Annunciation of c. 1901”.



dsc04503Other windows are 1929 and 1938 by Powells. I liked the one in the kitchen with local saints – and Dr Who.


Memorial tablets to two long-standing workers, and a rather nice head.


A banner from today and a photo of the Great and the Good at the end of the service. Interesting how the CofE has changed in the last few years – I looked at this photo and was surprised it was all male. A decade ago I would have taken it for granted that it would be. If our Suffragan Bishop had been here today, it would haven’t have been all male. If all the Deanery clergy had robed, this photo would have reflected the CofE as it really is.




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Spondon, Derby – St Werbugh

The parish church of Spondon, now just part of Derby, is dedicated to St Werburgh. It is just north of the A52, at SK398359 – website. There’s a good local history website too. There was a priest and church here at Doomsday, and in the reign of Henry I it was given to the Hospital of Burton Lazars in Leicester, the foremost and most wealthy leper hospital in England (you don’t think of leper hospitals being wealthy!). The Hospital was dissolved under Henry VIII, and the vicarage was valued at £30.

I wonder how impressive a church it was – the trouble is it caught fire on Maundy Thursday 1340. The whole church and most of the town was destroyed – £1000 damage of done, which was a lot in those days. The church was rebuilt – it would be fascinating to know how keen the townspeople were about rebuilding the church where the fire had started; apparently they were let of their taxes while rebuilding took place (that probably helped).


Little of the re-built church survives. It is fair to say that Spondon church is Victoria, and feels Victorian. Thomas Johnson of Lichfield restored it in 1825-7, J. Oldrid Scott had another go in 1891-2. When we arrived both north and south door were opened, and the sun was shining in. We had Deanery Chapter in the Hall, then I had a wander round with my camera.


I assume this is an ancient preaching cross in the churchyard, Pevsner says it is “pre-Conquest”.


Pevsner also describes this tomb as “characterful relief bust of a woman with an elaborate hairdo”.


They have a War Memorial chapel to the north, and a newly half-installed nave altar.


Some nice glass, but the sun was so bright I didn’t get any other good photos.


Since this church is at the “high” end of the Anglican spectrum, we have a nice little gong. I did wonder whether I could bring the whole church to a grinding halt by stealing the beater.dsc04244



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Scarcliffe, Derbyshire – St Leonard

The second church open for HODs was St Leonard’s, Scarcliffe – SK496687 – it is in the same benefice as Ault Hucknall. One 24 page guidebook and a 31 page book on The Legendary Lady Constantia of Scarcliffe. I will not write as much.


In 1150 AD Ralph de Aincourt and his wife Matilda ordered the original building (plus a daughter chapel just down the road at Palterton), gave the advowson to Darley Abbey, and had their sons Robert and Peter installed as priests. There are no church records before the Restoration, perhaps because Cromwell’s men destroyed them in 1643 while attacking nearby Bolsover Castle – they also destroyed the stained glass and damaged Lady Constantia. The tower dates to 1842, it replaced the old tower which had become unsafe. It now contains a ring of eight bells. The sundial dates from 1746 – it cost them 10s 6d.


The Priest’s doorway is Norman, though the carving was covered in plaster until mid-Victorian times.


The South Porch was probably added to protect the original Norman entrance and tympanum. Is two tympanum (tympani?) in a day a record? The variety of geometrical designs without any obvious pattern is unusual – it has been suggested it was an apprentice stone on which the apprentice learned his art and practised his designs.


Why is this the only photo I took of the interior of the church? The original Norman arch was replaced with this Gothic one, but the pillars are Norman.


The parish chest dates to the early C15, and the date 1671 has been carved on the lid. It is ten feet long, made of four massive planks of oak, and has various keys holes – did the Vicar lose the key? I liked the plaque which commemorates a re-leading of the roof.


I liked this memorial tablet, with its wonderful poem to the memory of John Briggs, Gent., died 1769, and Mary his wife.

A loving Husband and a steadfast friend,

By sudden Death was brought unto his end.

His civil Carriage to all Men may claim

A righteous, well beloved Name.

His Actions were so just that you may tell

He livd uprightly and he dyd as well.


The main treasure of the church is this tombstone of  Lady Constantia. It is mae of alabaster and is one of the best preserved memorials of the Early English period (circa 1200). She is assumed to be a member of the Baronial family of de Frecheville who held the manor in the C13. A full length effigy of a lady holding a child on her left arm. In the child’s left hand is a long scroll engraved with the following stanza in Latin:

Here stretched out under the ground a woman lies buried. Constant and kind, rightly called Constance. Laid with the mother the child rests buried, although sins be heaped upon her head, purified of her offences, happy with her child John, may she live, as foretold, in the dwelling place of saints.

I love her costume, so beautifully carved. This mason was obviously highly skilled. She used to lie against the south wall of the church, but damp was attacking her. About a decade ago she was moved to the north aisle. Local tradition has it that she and her child were lost in the nearby woods and were in danger of dying, but she heard the curfew bell and was guided by it to safety. Others suggest that the reference to “sins” suggests her and her illegitimate child had been thrown out – if this had been the case, I doubt she would have got such an incredible tomb. When she died she left a bequest of land that the curfew bell might continue to be rung, in 1682 it is recorded that these four acres of land are used to pay for bell ropes.

The day after writing this I found a twitter exchange which led to the Church Monument Society website, and suggests a much later date.


This church was also a pleasure, and it was lovely to see a good number of visitors. I hope the two churches feel that HODs are worth it.


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