Pentrich, Derbyshire – St Matthew

A few miles down the road is the village of Pentrich, site of England’s last revolution. My wife is an expert on this revolution as she went to a day conference about it. I know nothing (I come from Barcelona). There is a website here. It tells me that “The men of the Derbyshire village of Pentrich formed themselves into an armed force in 1817 and marched towards Nottingham expecting to be part of a national uprising to overthrow the government. The main reason for their action was anger and despair at the lack of work, lack of food and the apparent indifference of the government and local authorities to their ever more desperate plight.”

Interestingly, the revolution is not mentioned in the church leaflet – which perhaps says something about the divide between the Established Church and the working class. The church is St Matthew’s, at SK390635, has a website – and the church is also here. They do have a little leaflet, a children’s trail, a meditation as you walk round church, and a prayer diary – much of the material would be worth “borrowing”.

The church is not mentioned in Domesday, but a charter of c1155 confirms the gift of the church to the canons of Darley Abbey. I feel that I should, as Vicar, claim I am the descendent of these canons. The base of the tower dates from then, although it was heightened in the late part of the C14.

The guide refers to a scratch dial, or mass clock. It is supposed to be immediately east of the priest’s door, so I assume it is the hole – which would have held a peg – and the scratch marks. Apparently when the shadow crosses the radical scratch below the style-hole t would be 12 noon, when crossing the second radial scratch, 30 degrees west of the noon line, would register 10 am. If dad was still alive he would no doubt be happy to explain it.  I like the modern statue of St Matthew over the door.

The inside pillars are late Norman, and a new C14 chancel reused some of the original work. The aisles are C14.

The font is a couple of bits knocked together. The stump is dated 1662. The top could be Norman, it looks Norman, but Norman fonts are usually cylindrical. Mr Cox, writing in 1879, says that it was removed from church for several centuries, during which time it was used as a receptacle for salted beef. When it came back to church it was re-dressed and re-shaped. Pevsner is not so sure it is Norman.

Above it is a painting of Jesus calling Matthew. It was painted by the Vicar, William Jelliorse Ledward, who was here from 1874-1912. It needs conserving.

One or two impressive monuments, and one tapestry work which mentions the Revolution – “Don’t mention the Revolution. I mentioned it once and think I got away with it.”

There is some interesting Victorian glass, though none of it is mentioned in the leaflets. The East window is an Ascension window.

Mary and Martha are two attractive young ladies, while Dorcas seems to have been made in Brussels – I will not start researching foreign glass makers.

This window is by C.W. Whall, and was given in 1916 by Mr and Mrs F.N. Smith of Wingfield Park in memory of their son Captain Bernard Ridley Winthrop Smith, 1st Scots Guards, who fell in action at Ypres in November 1914, at the age of 31. St Michael is in the centre, using no weapon but pointing to the banner of the Cross. The sun behind is a symbol of the Kingdom and the Will of God, in whose hands are the issues of peace and war, of life and death; and is a type of the re-ordering of the world according to God’s will after the present distress. In the side lights are St George and St Louis, the warrior saints of England and France. They stand against dark backgrounds, typifying the time of mourning through which both countries are passing. St Louis was Louis IX of France, who was apparently the reconstructor of Europe and the Saviour of its civilization after the failure of the Crusades. The text “He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me” (Psalm 4.18) refers to those who have attained the reward of the Happy Warrior in the great cause, and the hope we have for the cause itself which, in 1916, was still hanging in the balance.

Fascinating what you find in a village church. A revolution which is practically ignored, a medieval mass dial, and a window installed in the middle of a dreadful War.

What I missed (I find out later) – there is an article by Martyn Taylor-Cockayne entitled “Josias Jessop, civil engineer to railway engineer” in the Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, 40 (2), July 2020, p 117. Jessop, of the Butterley Works, is memorialised in this church.

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3 Responses to Pentrich, Derbyshire – St Matthew

  1. Donna Walters Kenna says:

    I am planning a trip to England in two years. I am planning on visiting Pentrich. I have traced my Walters ancestors to your village. I would like to locate any records and/or gravestones, if permitted.

    Most cordially,
    Donna Walters Kenna

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