Dronfield, Derbyshire – St John the Baptist

The parish church of St John the Baptist, Dronfield is at SK 353783. It just above the railway line, not far from the station. The village was mentioned in Domesday, but the first Rector, Oscot, is mentioned in the Pipe Roll of Henry I, and building may have begun under him in about 1135. At that time the living was held by the Brailsford family, then it was sold to Beauchief Abbey, not far away in Sheffield (we are in the very north of Derbyshire and the Diocese). The tower was added in 1360, and it was completed in 1405. It was rebuilt after a lightning strike in 1818 – there are eight bells, the oldest is 1558. I wonder what Oscot would make of the website.

They have a small vestry on the north side, which they built by themselves several decades ago. Sadly it is up steps, and they are now of an age where the steps are difficult. They had a big HLF bid in for a new community room, but that has been turned down. I visited on Wednesday 25 July 2018 as they are now looking how to put a loo and kitchen at ground level, but also want a meeting room in the base of the tower. I did point out that replacing a vestry up steps with a meeting room up steps is hardly progress – but I wasn’t being listened to. I failed to photo the general view of the interior of the  church. I did think the flower pew has a resemblance to the Roman loo at Housesteads (google “Housesteads toilet reconstruction” if you doubt me).

So, let us start with the Chancel, which was built between 1260 and 1405. The East Window would have been glorious when filled with its original glass, but it all fell into disrepair at the Dissolution – apparently it fell out in 1563. (It makes you wonder if we’ll get to the point when they fall into disrepair again). I assume the current glass is Victorian – and I don’t think we’d get Eve’s attire through a C21 DAC.

There is a mix of old glass on the south side of the Chancel – much of this dates to 1360. Enjoy the pictures, and imagine what we must have lost. There is some more modern glass, but it’s not mentioned in the guidebook.

Apparently there re 120 brasses – I just seemed to have photoed two. The bottom picture is the Fanshawe brass, John died 1578, Margaret 1573.

The oldest wood is C15 – and the figures are rather lovely. Note the snail.

The sedilia is lovely, and the Vicars’ list is unique – as brief as possible, except for the chap who is called “Sir”.

The pulpit is 1603, of black oak, covered in Tudor designs. The alabaster tomb is of Sir Robert Barley, 1470.

There is plenty to see in Dronfield.



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2 Responses to Dronfield, Derbyshire – St John the Baptist

  1. Val Brumby says:

    How very rich in all sorts of medieval treasure this fine place is. I so enjoyed all the photographs but particularly the wonderful intact medieval stained glass. I mist make a point of trying to visit here if I am very Derbyshire way again. Thank you for sharing so much info and photos of this lovely church.

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