Last August we parked at the Okeover Arms in Mappleton – website. The pub website has a downloadable pdf of walks – what a great idea. Julie had a drink while I had a lovely walk beside the River Dove, then we had an excellent supper. The church was, quite understandably, locked by that time of the evening. On Thursday 28 December we parked at the pub. They were packed, but managed a quick lunch for us – thank you – and I went and had a look at St Mary’s church. Grid reference SK166451 – note that the Ordnance Survey spells Mapleton with one T. The church is part of the Ashbourne group – website.
It is a lovely church. The original building dates back soon after the Conquest. There is stone work in the bottom of the tower which may be from the original church, a church described as “fitt to be disused” by Parliamentary Commissioners in 1650. It is certainly a lovely little tower, or is it a spire? It originally had a cupola on top, which blew off and is now preserved. A nice welcoming notice, and a lovely church.
The leaflet says that the architect is James Gibbs, a friend of Christopher Wren. He also designed Derby Cathedral, St Martin in the Fields, and the Senate House in Cambridge. Derby Cathedral’s rebuilding was 1723, so we assume St Mary’s is roughly the same time. How on earth did this small village afford him? The leaflet asks the question, but doesn’t give any answer. (Interesting that British Listed Buildings (this is grade 2*) – website – does not mention the name “Gibbs”. This sounds like a piece of research that needs to be done.
The stained glass in the East Window is 1926 by A.J. Davies of the Bromsgrove Guild. There is a book about him and his work – website. I like the Roman soldiers, and the hair of Mary Magdalene.
The organ was built circa 1972 by Wood of Huddersfield for the famous organist Susi Jeans, wife of Sir James Jeans, the Astronomer Royal, specifically for a series of concerts of Baroque music which she gave for the BBC. Apparently it came to the church in 1975 – which makes me wonder why Lady Jeans disposed of it so quickly. It has two manuals, pedals, and two hundred pipes, with “a fine delicate tone [which] can produce an astonishing volume of sound”. Her obituary is here – apparently she had lessons from Widor.
There are some interesting memorials inside and out.