Northernvicar moves South

Sunday 17 April, and at this morning’s services I have just announced that Julie and I are leaving Ponteland. This is what I said:

After eight years in Ponteland Julie and I have decided it is time to move on, and we will be moving, in the next couple of months, to the parishes of St Matthew’s Darley Abbey and St Edmund King and Martyr in Allestree. These are two parishes on the north side of the city of Derby. They are two busy parishes, both with good congregations, both with choirs, both with schools and children’s work. I’ll put some photos of the churches on my blog this afternoon. Derby city centre is just a few minutes down the road, and there will be opportunities to be involved in the life of the City. The Vicarage is large, so plenty of space for her books and I can have a model railway round the garden (a man can dream!). It will be hard to leave Northumberland – a county we have come to love over the last eight years – but it will be good to be much closer to Harry and Sarah in Sheffield and Hannah and Bertie in London. As I said, we are hoping to move before the summer – though as we’ve got to get Safeguarding checks and all the paperwork done, this might slip.

I have visited the churches on a couple of occasions, for the pre-interview visit and for the interview itself. Here are a few quick photos I took. Both churches have websites – St Matthew’s is here, and St Edmund’s here.

Darley Abbey was a C12 Augustinian Abbey, which was pretty comprehensively destroyed in 1538 at the Dissolution – there are some lumps of stone and buildings still standing, but it was not the case (as in Bury) that a church building survived. One of the earliest cotton mills of the Industrial Revolution was established here on the River Derwent, and an C18 industrial village grew. The church of St Matthew was designed by Moses Wood of Nottingham and built, at the expense of the Evans family, in 1819. A 1960s Church Hall is connected to the church, and everything looks to be in good repair.

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St Edmund’s is an older building – although largely rebuilt in 1865, it retains its C13 tower and Norman doorway. These faces are wonderful. They have a Church Hall a couple of minutes walk away, and the Vicarage is next door.

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We don’t know this part of the world very well, though we have had a couple of holidays in the south Peak district. I will enjoying exploring the countryside. Harry has found me the Derwent Valley Mills Trail – website – so I’ll do that when I finish Hadrian’s Wall. This is Darley Abbey Mill.

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The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway – website – is just up the road, and runs alongside the Bishop’s Garden. Here is The Titfield Thunderbolt, George Relph as the Reverend Samuel Weech, Vicar of Titfield, and Godfrey Tearle as The Right Reverend Olly Matthews, Bishop of Welchester.

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Derby is still a railway centre – I had a Cambridge University Railway Club visit to the Bombardier works last month, and got to sit in the driver’s seat of a new Underground train.



My brother asked if “northernvicar” is going to become “midlandvicar”? The answer is “no” – I come from Cambridgeshire, Derby is still “north”. More churches to blog and I hope my readers will enjoy exploring them with me.



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