Strelley, Nottingham – All Saints’

On Sunday 10 September, after a morning’s work, we headed across to Nottingham to visit the church of All Saints, Strelley – SK 506422. It’s on the west side of the city, on a minor road through the village, down to the Hall – there also seem to be lots of nice walks nearby (once you cross the M1). Church website here.

The church was completely rebuilt by Sir Sampson de Strelley in the C14, but the lower part of the tower is C12. The Clerestory was added in the C16 to replace the original steep-pitched roof. I didn’t have much of a look round outside. I did notice that Richard Savin’s vital spark was extinguished.

Inside I got a lovely welcome. Refreshments were provided, and they had a lovely display of wedding dresses and congregational photos.

This is a church with a lot of interest. I’ll try and sort my photos out to make some sort of sense. Let’s start with woodwork. The Chancel screen is a very fine example of C15 workmanship and stands on its original stone plinth. However experts believe it came from somewhere else, perhaps Bilborough church or Dale Abbey, as there are signs it has had to be cut down. It survived the Civil War and Puritan period as the Rector, Abraham Forbes, boarded it up. The rood (the figures of Christ, Mary and John) are Victorian reproductions. The screen is a beautiful piece of work.

The pulpit contains several carved oak panels, four of which are probably C15, while the canopy and back are Jacobean (C17). The choir stalls are C15, but I failed to photo the misericords. Here is the guidebook drawing.

In the Chancel we have some lovely Strelley monuments. In the centre is the monument to Sir Sampson de Strelley (died 1390), who rebuilt the church, and his wife Elizabeth (died 1405). The tomb dates from 1405-10, hence the knights clothes are from a period slightly later than his own (says the guidebook. I can’t say I’d noticed). The couple are holding hands which is rather nice. Apparently the head of the knight rests of the family crest, the head of a strangled Saracen. (I’m just imagining trying to get that past the DAC). His feet are on a lion, her’s on pet dogs. Look at her jewellery – it’s wonderful. The angels hold shields, probably once emblazoned. Like many other tombs I seemed to have photoed recently, it is of alabaster. The best alabaster came from nearby quarries at Chellaston, south of Derby, and from about 1290 Nottingham had a considerable reputation for the carving of alabaster, as did York.

Their grandson Sir Robert (died 1438) is probably buried under the incised slab by the altar. He was one of the lancers at Agincourt. There’s also John, his brother – and I’ve lost track which stone is which.

I think this is another Sir John de Strelley (died 1501) and his wife Sanchia (died 1500). Sir John’s feet rest on a lion, and each foot is supported by a carved figure, called a weeper, sitting on the lion’s back holding a rosary in the left hand.

This is another Sir Robert (died 1487) and his wife Isabel (died 1458) – her brother was John Kemp, Archbishop of Canterbury. There is also a reconstruction drawing of what it would have looked like. The plates were made in Flanders and engraved by workmen in London.

So, lots of lovely memorials – and there’s some rather stunning glass too. We have glass from the C14 and C15, as well as Victorian and early C20. You can work out what comes from which period – and just enjoy them.

The font is C14, though the steps are more recent.

I hope this has given you a taste of this lovely church – there was a lot more I could have photoed. They have a very complete guidebook – so a bit of history to finish with. It was originally a Saxon settlement, established by Domesday. Little is known about the Lords of the Manor until the reign of Henry I (1100-1135). The de Strelley family then owned it until the reign of Charles II, then it was sold to the Edge family – and the last Miss Edge died in 1978. Just two families through so many centuries of English history. Sampson Strelley was one of the knights at Runnymede, persuading John to sign. Another Sampson rebuilt the church in 1350 as an act of gratitude for surviving the Black Death. The population of the village fell from 250 to less than 100. This Sir Sampson’s grandson, Robert, was a lancer at Agincourt (I mentioned him above) and he was knighted on the battlefield. Over the centuries the estate was divided between different family members, and survived on the profits of coal mining. There is a tablet in St Mary’s Nottingham recording Elizabeth Strelley, died 1786, as “the last survivor of that ancient family.”

This was an agricultural community, but coal mining started in the 1500s. In 1604 the furst railway in England, a wooden track with horse-drawn wagons, was constructed to carry coal from Strelley pits to Wollaton. Apparently you can see mounds which are the remains of C16 bell pit workings behind Broad Oak Farm. There are details here  and here. Time to read Michael Lewis’ Early Wooden Railways – he lectured at the WEA when I was at Lincoln Theological College. I know whose lectures I got most out of!

Very nice lunch at the Mulberry Tree Café in the Hall behind the church – website.


Posted in Nottinghamshire, Railway interest | Leave a comment

Gedling, Nottinghamshire – All Hallows

We drove across Nottingham to Gedling. I think I came to Gedling colliery on a railtour in the early 1990s, a day exploring colliery lines which started at Newark Castle. All Hallows church is on the main road at SK617426. There is a website here. The church has a collection box by the entrance (I wonder if they’ve ever had anything), and a lot of steps. I left Julie in the car, “I’ll be quick”, I said.

I climbed the steps, admired the font outside, and looked up at the 89 foot tower and 91 foot high spire (Newark is the only one in the county that is higher). The spire was started around 1320. Apparently it has entasis, or bulge – I have to say I didn’t look that closely. The South porch is C15.

The church was buzzing with people. I was offered refreshments, there was a TV with local pictures, there were people researching family history, and I was caught by a very nice chap who knows all about the church and its history. I got the full guided tour.

They have done a good job of re-ordering, but it needs finishing. Note the coffee table on top of a tomb. Not much respect for the dead. The leaflet suggests it might be the tomb of a priest. On its top surface is carved a foliate cross in which is the face of a man and at the foot a pair of feet. It is good to know the clergy are valued. I get the impression they don’t need kneelers any more! They want to reorder this corner, which is the tower entrance, and add some decent loos. As the screen dates to 1540 (although not in this place) they are struggling to get permission. There are several hatchments too – I just photoed one of them.

The West Window has diagonal lines reminiscent of the shape of the hatchments. At the bottom there are medallions depicting scenes  in Gedling at the Millennium – the colliery, the fountain and Gedling House. A stream of life-giving water flows from the fountain. The oak tree represents the passage of time, with leaves shown in the colours of all of the seasons and bare branches for winter. The branches anticipate the Cross. We have the faces of the saints, which echo two medieval stone carved heads nearby. There is a burst of energy at the Resurrection at the centre with the moon and sun on either side. The central figure shows Christ in Glory. The circle in the tracery has glass lenses around it to represent the souls of the saints of the church who have gone before us. In the centre is the Ladder of Perfection, a medieval concept originated by Walter Hilton, a monk of Thurgarton Priory in about 1380. Around the top of the window is a rainbow, and at the very top is the symbolic grey and white wing of a dove. The window was made by Andrew Johnson of Exeter in 2001.

The Chandelier has 24 candles – there used to be a second in church, but the leaflet says it was converted into a lectern – how? The War memorial and Book of Remembrance has a lot of names – more details here. The pulpit is made up of four Elizabethan wooden panels which were the ends of some of the pews replaced in 1871.

The rather impressive organ doesn’t get a mention in the guide, but there are details here. It was originally installed in the north aisle in 1874, then moved to the north side of the chancel, then built into an extension on the north side of the chancel in  1924 – bit of planning might have made life easier. A superb website – I must find out more.

The East Window is a war memorial window – note St Michael, the nurses and the army chaplain. It was installed in 1920, but my superb website doesn’t tell me who designed it.

A little piece of medieval glass was pointed out to me, and the carved grave slab is C13 – was he a priest?

I like the woodwork on the aumbries, and the miner’s light is a lovely sanctuary lamp, though the wiring could be neater.

“Come and see our amazing graffiti” said my guide – and we went up into the tower. Here someone, and I can’t remember what date he said it was, had painted the names of bishops and priests. A very thorough piece of work – but why?

I finished my tour with the C19 font  and lovely angel on the lectern. No idea who carved it. I went back to the car to find a rather annoyed wife – it had been almost an hour. We drove back to Derby in silence, but she cheered up after she’d been fed. Church enthusiasm can be hard work!

Posted in Nottinghamshire, World War 1 | Leave a comment

Beeston, Nottinghamshire – St John the Baptist

Friday 8 September and it is Heritage Open Days weekend. I had a funeral visit first thing. Then we drove across to Nottingham and tried to find Beeston Parish Church. We found a parking space, and a main shopping street, and the trams, and then realised that I’d been past the church on the tram the previous day. We crossed the tracks and entered the church of St John the Baptist – SK 527366. They advertised themselves on the HODs website “Come and see your re-furbished Parish Church! A warm welcome awaits you. Refreshment available.” They were right – two lovely ladies put the kettle on for us in their nice kitchen. The church has a good website, but if I purchased a guidebook, I can’t find it now.

The present church is at least the fourth on the site – previous ones being built in the C13, C14 and C15 centuries. The font is lead lined and dates to the C13, probably the oldest thing in the church. How sensible to have it at floor level, and not with a stupid step that everybody falls over. How nice to see beautiful lettering – this is a refurbishment job which has been done not just properly, but superbly.

Before the Dissolution the church was served by priests appointed by Lenton Priory. The nave, tower, south porch and former vicar’s vestry date from 1843-44 and were designed by George Gilbert Scott. The tower is 74 feet high and contains ten bells – it must be quite a noise when they are all being rung. The nave is the late Perpendicular style, and the windows are of Victorian stained glass, including by Kemp. The west window is entitled “The Doom” and was installed in memory of John Watson, the owner of Beeston’s silk mill. Eve is showing quite a lot of flesh!

The new seats – and I was very surprised when I read on the church website that this is refurbishment is almost a decade old – are good quality, and they have kept some older chairs. The statue of Virgin and Child on the Lady Chapel altar is lovely. I lovely the attention to detail – many churches would simply have drilled their power points into the pillar.

The nave altar and platform are excellent. What a sensible idea to change the colour of the carpet where people kneel, much easier than separate kneelers. They have also ramped up to the Chancel – no apologies to the disabled are needed here – and the Chancel looks used, loved and part of it all. The nave altar is by Nicholas Hobbs of Wirksworth, and they had a display of some of their vestments and embroidery. The Chancel dates to the reign of Henry VIII, and was the only part to survive the 1840 restoration. More Victorian glass – the East window shows John the Baptist in the centre, with OT figures on one row, and the Evangelists above.

The main war memorial is in the Chancel, and many of the other memorials have been researched – with the material well presented.

Captain Harold Walton was killed on 13 October 1915, during the 1st/7th Sherwood Foresters “Robin Hoods” battalion involvement in the Battle of Loos. After many near misses, he died as a result of a German bomb in “Little Willie” trench at the Hohenzollen Redoubt. It was only a fortnight previous that he had been awarded the Military Cross in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty.

Gervase Spendlove was born in Nottingham in 1895 and educated at Oundle School. He joined the motor section of the Legion of Frontiersmen a few months before the outbreak of War. After helping with recruiting work, he started with three others on motor bikes for General HQ in France. They were attached to the Royal Engineers as dispatch riders, with the rank of Corporal. When an appeal came for men with OTC training, he took a Commission and was attached to the 2md South Lancashires, as a 2nd Lieutenant. Three days later, on 17 November 1914, he was killed by a shell near Ypres.

Thomas Bigsby was Vicar 1799-1821, but mainly lived at Arnold. He had “a dignified appearance, with a good complexion and no whiskers, and dressed in a black coat, knee breeches, silk stockings and silver buckles”. He was “good-natured and kind hearted, especially to his poorer neighbours”.

Richard Strey died in 1797. He was the last of the Strey family to live in Beeston Manor House. The octogenarian squire was described as “an easy-going personage, of middle height, ordinarily dressed in a brown coat, and fond of going out coursing on his grey pony.” Madam Strey was spoken of as “somewhat sharp-tempered and penurious to a degree.” On Good Friday they gave buns to all poor boys that came to the house.

The memorials outside have been moved to the side, or used as pavements. I’m never sure that is a good idea, but we mustn’t end with a moan. It is a wonderful church, we had been welcomed, and had had a good explore. The church website says “We aim to be a generous-hearted and inclusive Christian family in the centre of Beeston with a ministry that reaches out from our beautiful Parish Church into the wider community.” Thank you. We also found an Oxfam book shop, so Julie was a happy bunny.



Posted in Nottinghamshire, World War 1 | Leave a comment

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire – All Saints’

All Saints’ is in the middle of Cambridge, just across the road from Jesus College – TL 452587 – but, despite living in Cambridge for the first 20 odd years of my life, I can’t recall having visited (though I’m sure mum and dad must have taken me in). It is a Churches’ Conservation Trust church, and was opened and staffed – though they had run out of guidebooks – good website.

The church was built in the 1860s to the plans of the famous nineteenth-century architect G.F. Bodley, and, as the website says  “is a triumph of Victorian art and design. The simple wooden door opens into a dramatic blast of colour and pattern. Light gleams through stained-glass windows, designed by leading Arts and Crafts artists, including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Ford Madox Brown.” There wasn’t a lot of light gleaming anywhere today.

The first window is one commemorating Women – and there is a commentary which tells you about it. They could do with some more up to date (smaller) technology, but it works. Edith Cavell was a WW1 nurse who was shot by the Germans, there is a good website. She was born in Swardeston in Norfolk, and died by firing squad in Belgium on 12 October 1915. She is buried at Norwich Cathedral.

Josephine Butler was also commemorated – I have told her story when I visited Kirknewton in Northumberland. I don’t know why I didn’t photo her, and the other women.

There is another window that commemorates Cambridge clergy – George Herbert and his church at Bemerton included (I must visit there sometime).

The others are rather nice too – and probably nicer on a better day.

To quote the website “What’s more, almost every surface has painted, stencilled or gilded decoration. Pomegranates burst with seeds; flowers run riot over the walls. There is a glorious painting of Christ, Mary and St John, with throngs of angels.”

Fittings designed by Bodley include the alabaster font, the pulpit and the oak aisle screen.” says the wesbite. I did a bit more research and found this article from Country Life – website – and this page on the Victorian web. Apparently Bodley was involved in the Cathedral at Nagpur. If it is the same Nagpur that the Diocese of Derby is linked with in the Church of North India, I need to find out more before Sunday’s Harvest Festival.

There are some good interpretation panels and display material as well.

Outside a proper Victorian post box.


Posted in Cambridgeshire | Leave a comment

northernvicarwalks July and August

My hope was to walk 1,000 miles this year. By the end of June I had walked 355 miles. I planned to make it up while on holiday, and failed. By the end of July I had walked 396 miles. By the end of August I had walked 434 – here are a few August photos which aren’t necessarily walking! My 55th birthday party on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, with fish and chips afterwards.

Later in the month I had a Sunday afternoon walk to Duffield, photographing on the line.

David Redfern, one of our organists at St Edmund’s, is a man of great versatility. On Sunday 20 August, 26 of us went up to his home in Belper to enjoy a concert on his Compton organ. This organ was installed at the Plaza Cinema in Crosby, just north of Liverpool, on 2 September 1939. The following day War broke out, so the cinema was opened and closed in just one day! Fortunately it reopened soon after, and the organ remained there until 1974. It then went to Chester, and came to David’s house in Belper in 1988. David told us that Derby Cathedral organ is also a Compton, and would have been in the workshop at the same time. Their organ does not have bells, whistles, cymbals and other percussion instruments. We had an hour’s concert, with a great range of music. “The Whistler and his dog” by Arthur Pryor, told the sad story of the demise of a favourite pet – with all the bells and whistles we needed, and “Coronation Scot” by Vivian Ellis kept me happy. We also had a wonderful medley of songs from “Top Hat” by Irving Berlin.

I did manage a walk on Wednesday 23 August. 4 miles from the Okeover Arms in Mapleton (north of Ashbourne) up the River Dove to Coldwall Bridge and back. Must go back and visit the church (it was locked by this time of the evening). Very nice pub supper afterwards.



Posted in 1,000 mile walking, Derbyshire, Personal, Railway interest | Leave a comment

Harewood, Yorkshire – All Saints’

Tuesday 29 August was a day for a drive. Harewood House near Leeds has some of the costumes from Victoria, the TV series which will bring beauty to my Sunday evenings now Demelza Poldark has finished. Julie was keen to go, and researched disabled access and ticket prices – it isn’t NT – website. The house itself has a disabled lift to get in, and then the whole place was on the flat. There was a sequence of rooms to follow, and lovely rooms they are too. Amazing ceilings, furniture, and so much to look at. Owls and chess pieces, Chinese wallpaper, portraits and a wonderful State Bed.

After several hours exploring, we found the second hand bookshop. After what seemed like several hours of my wife finding books, I left her to it and walked to All Saints’ church Harewood, which is in the grounds of the estate – SE313451. It is a Churches Conservation Trust church, open in the summer months, and access can be arranged in the winter – see this website for details. There is a also church page on the website of the main house  – here. It is a C15 church, and not particular stunning outside. It was restored in 1862-3 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, of St Pancras fame, and is a lovely high church inside.

When the roof was replaced in the 18th century this inscription was found cut into a beam: “We adore and praise thee thou holy Jesus, because thou hast redeemed us by thy Holy Cross, 1116”, so we have a precise date for its foundation. The founder was William de Curcy, son-in-law of Robert de Romelli, the Norman Baron to whom the manor of Harewood was given by William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings.

In a moment we will start with the ruling classes, but first let us remember those who have died in two World Wars. A large number. There is a complete list of names here.

Time for wonderful alabaster tombs. This is Edward Redman (died 1510) of Levens, Westmorland and of Harewood, and his wife Elizabeth Huddlestone (died 1529) of Millom, Cumberland. He succeeded to the estates in 1482/3 when his elder brother William died childless. He had been a staunch Yorkist supporter. On Henry VII’s accession, he was included in the general pardon, and kept a low profile under the Tudors. Elizabeth was a widower whose father, Sir John was a prominent Yorkist and fought for the king at Bosworth Field. Ready for lots of photos?

Sir Richard Redman (died 1426) of Levens, Westmorland, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Elizabeth Aldburgh (died 1434) of Harewood Castle, his wife. He was Sheriff of Cumberland several times between 1390 and 1413, then Sheriff of Yorkshire, and an MP. He was elected Speaker in 1415, after helping to mobilise the English army before it sailed with Henry V to France and victory at Agincourt. Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of William de Aldburgh, Lord of the Manor of Harewood. In 1392 she and her sister Sybil jointly inherited the Castle and estate, and were responsible for building this church in 1410.

Sybil (died 1440) is here, with her husband Sir William Ryther (died c1426) of Ryther Castle, Yorkshire, between Selby and Tadcaster. Sybil’s family and Elizabeth’s families shared the house alternately or together more than 200 years – this kept the manorial possessions intact. I love the dog’s expression.

Sir William Gascoigne (1350?-1419) of Gawthorpe, sited where there is now a lake below Harewood House. According to the noticeboard he studied at Cambridge (other sources say Oxford – which reminds me of John Snagge and the Boat Race “it’s either Oxford or Cambridge in front”). He joined the Inner Temple, progressed in the law, and was made Lord Chief Justice by Henry IV in 1400. Even Shakespeare tells of his courage (Henry IV part 2). Elizabeth Mowbray was his first wife.

This is the tomb of Sir William Gascoigne (died c1465) of Gawthorpe, grandson of Judge Gascoigne. He had become a knight by 1436, was with the Lancastrians in the War of the Roses, but was pardoned by Edward IV in 1461. He married Margaret Clarell, after she had been twice widowed, in 1425/6. Margaret survived Sir William, and entered her third widowhood.

The final one is Sir William Gascoigne (died 1487) and Margaret Percy, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Northumberland, his wife. They had probably married by 1467, only a year or two after the deaths of both his father and grandfather. Margaret’s father had been killed at the Battle of Towton in 1461, possibly with his daughter’s future father-in-law fighting alongside him. After 1470 William received a number of appointments as a Commissioner in Yorkshire, and in 1478 was appointed a Knight of the Bath. In 1482 he campaigned in Scotland with the Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, but after Richard’s death on Bosworth Field, he seems to have been reconciled with the House of Tudor.

The Harewood website says “The pale, glowing alabaster figures you see today are substantially different from how they would have first appeared. The originals would have been brightly coloured (you can still see traces of paint in the carved folds of their garments) and some would have been covered by canopies (removed in the 18th century). They were restored in the 1970’s with support from the Redundant Churches Fund and moved to their present positions. Looked at carefully they are full of character, portraits of real people, not just formal depictions of lords and ladies of rank and status.” I would love to know where these alabaster figures were made, how they transported them, and how carefully they had to bring them so as not to break the angels. Where do I find this information?

There are other memorials. This one is to Sir Thomas Denison, who died in 1765, aged 67. He was a Yorkshireman by birth, and became a Justice of the King’s Bench. A contemporary commented that “he rais’d himself chiefly by his own industry; his exaltation to the Bench was by the Interest of the Chief Justice, William, Lord Mansfield, always desirous of having some person of great skill on the Bench with him. It was said that he used to take Sir Thomas in his coach to Westminster, to take instruction by the way; or, to use a vulgar phrase, to suck his brains.” This monument was erected by his widow. It was by Nathaniel Hedges. His work is also found at Stourhead and Westminster Abbey.

Both the pulpit and the font are very marble!

There’s some nice Victorian glass too.

I had a wander outside, though it was a dull day. A good visit.

Julie had spent lots of money in the second hand bookshop – we enjoyed Harewood. Well worth a visit.


Posted in World War 1, Yorkshire | Leave a comment

Huddersfield, Yorkshire – St Peter

It was a pleasant surprise to find St Peter’s church open. Grid reference SE146167, website. They have obviously spent the last decade and a bit sorting out the building; postcards state very clearly that they are “Open, Warm and Welcoming”, and ask “Did you know we are your Church for Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals? We are open every day.” Looking at the list of services, I see that Simon the vicar was in the year above me at Lincoln Theological College – it is good to see someone else keeping the Lincoln tradition of serving all.

There was discrete CCTV, and I assume that the café in the basement means a physical presence. There was some sign of difficult visitors (look closely at the icon), but the number of candles lit suggests that this church is doing its job.

Interestingly though, according to the magazine, they are “not sure as to our place/position within the overall Diocesan plans” – I am not the only one who finds all the push for mission and growth, all the money being thrown at the “successful” churches, means that those of us who are not in that category feel insecure. I know I couldn’t minister in the middle of a town like Huddersfield. I have great respect for those who are there day by day, coping with whoever walks through the doors (and ensuring those doors remain open).

The first church on the site was built by Walter de Laci, the second son of Ilbert de Laci, a wealthy nobleman and Lord of the Manor. These banners tell the story of Walter de Laci. Apparently, as he was riding from Huddersfield to Halifax, he was thrown from his horse into a swampy marsh. Fearing for his life, he vowed that if he was spared, he would found a church. They were made by Catherine Ogle, a previous Vicar … you can tell.

The church isn’t mentioned in Domesday (1085) but can’t be much later. The first recorded Vicar was Michael de Wakefield (1216). One I’d heard of was Henry Venn – and his memorial is in the Nave. It turns out that this Henry Venn is the father – he was Vicar here until his death in 1771. His son John (1759-1813) and grandson Henry (1796-1873) were founders and pillars of the Church Missionary Society. (The church leaflet has it wrong).

The church was rebuilt between 1503 and 1506, but by 1830 its fabric was in a poor state, and it was far too small. Mr Pritchett, the York architect who designed the station, gave an estimate of £2,000 for a simple rebuilding. The project became more ambitious, and for £10,000 they got a raised floor and crypt, a nave extended 30 feet to the west, and a taller tower. The new church was consecrated on 27 October 1836. According to the leaflet, “Unfortunately, many of the stones were laid ‘the wrong way round’ and, as a result, have weathered very badly in years since.” There is more information about James Pigot Pritchett (1789-1868), architect at York, here.

In the nave are the Constable staves. Each parish was responsible for providing constables for the town, before the founding of a modern police force. (Nowadays each business is responsible for providing security guards as police numbers continue to be cut).

The organ dates to 1908, and was restored by Philip Wood in 1984. The church continues its choral tradition, but Evensong happens at 3 pm – the magazine comments that “Evening events are not popular, poor transport and safety concerns.”

The east window and baldachino were designed by Sir Ninian Comper in memory of the fallen of the First World War. Three of the figures in the east window, Mark, Paul and Aidan, all represent daughter churches – now closed.

The font dates to 1570, with the royal cipher ER and the arms of England and France quartered. Its cover is supposed to be that given by Joshua Brooke of New House in 1640. Some information boards as well.

The church had a nice feel, and we were glad we called in. When they update the Transport Walk leaflet, could they mention the fact that the church architect is the same as the station’s?




Posted in Yorkshire | 2 Comments

Huddersfield, Yorkshire – a transport explore

On Monday 21 August Alex and I had a day chasing trains. For various reasons, we started at Burton on Trent. I had had a search yesterday and found that a return to Huddersfield was valid via Birmingham and Manchester, and via Sheffield (indeed even Sheffield and Leeds) – so we caught the first train after 0930 and went south. They may have spent a fortune on the top of Birmingham New Street, but the platforms are just as grotty as ever. We headed north to Manchester, then caught a Trans Pennine up through Stalybridge. That’s another fascinating line that would be worth an explore.

Huddersfield station has a proper buffet and we enjoyed a proper bacon roll. This meant that we missed the 1313 to Sheffield. We picked up a walk round leaflet exploring the transport history of the town, and went for a three mile walk. Here is the trail – website.

The station was designed by the architect James Pigott Pritchett and built by the firm of Joseph Kaye, 1846-50. John Betjeman said it was the most splendid in England – he is correct. The other end was the booking office for the Huddersfield and Manchester.

We walked up, over the bridge at the south of the station, and then had a look at the Goods’ Yard, Warehouses and Water Towers. Much of this was added in the 1880s by the LNWR, and there is a fascinating hydraulic wagon lift. They have started renovating some of the block, but the offices are empty and too many windows are broken. We wondered if they would be better opening them as flats – there is a 15 minute service north to Leeds and south to Manchester, both of which are thriving cities. The wealth is not working its way up the valley – Huddersfield needs a lot of money and a lot of effort – in the current political climate there is no chance of that. I would buy a flat at the top of the lift, overlooking the line!

We crossed the line at the north side of the station, and realised what a huge viaduct this is. After the 1883-5 widening, it carried five tracks.

We walked through the retail park which was the bus depot – Huddersfield has a hideous Tesco – and came down to the canal by the gas works. Not much sign of the former gas works railway, and siding from the main line (it ran from 1922 to 1966). We joined the Huddersfield Broad Canal, which was opened in to link the town with the Calder and Hebble navigation to the north. I assume these abutments are the Gas Works railway.

More dereliction – so many buildings that could be reused to cope with this country’s housing shortage.

then the Locomotive Bridge, Turnbridge, of 1865. It was restored in 1975 when electricity replaced the windlass operation, and is a listed structure.

Then comes Sainsbury’s, who could improve their part of the canal bank with some cleaning, some paint and some flowers. Some money has been spent at Aspley Basin, which is where the Broad Canal joins the later Narrow Canal – making a through route through the town.

We walked back along the main road towards the centre, and the leaflet pointed out these lampposts. Apparently they used to support the wires for the trolleybuses, and slope outwards to take the tension of the wires.

We walked into the centre – once a fine town. In 1837 almost forty daily coach services departed the central inns to all points of the Kingdom.

We explored St Peter’s church – that will be the next blog. When they update the Transport Walk leaflet, could they mention the fact that the church architect is the same as the station’s?

We walked back past the covered market and across the main square to the station. The George Hotel, the flagship hotel for the town, on the main square, right outside the station, is now abandoned and derelict. Abandoned so quickly they didn’t even lower the flags.

We had time for tea before the Sheffield train. It is a lovely ride south to Sheffield, then to Derby and Burton on a East Midlands train.







Posted in Railway interest, Yorkshire | Leave a comment

Shirley, Derbyshire – St Michael

On the afternoon of Friday 11 August we went for a drive, and ended up at the village and church of Shirley – St Michael’s, SK 218416. It is part of the Brailsford benefice, with this website – click on it just to see the name!

A pile of church and village guides produced in 1991 – not a lot has happened since then (or has it?, read on). Sewallis, a Saxon Thane, held land at the Norman Conquest. At Domesday Henry de Ferrers was Sewallis’ overlord, and Sewallis’ son Fulcer had a mill and four oxgangs. Fulcher’s son, Sewallis, and his wife Matilda, probably took the name “de Shirley”. Members of the family fought at the Crusades, at Shrewsbury and at Agincourt. Sir George became a Baronet in 1611, and his great-grandson became Lord Ferrers and Viscount Tamworth in 1711. Tradition has it that Bonnie Prince Charles spent the night here during his invasion of England in 1745, an invasion that petered out at Derby. Walter Shirley was Vicar and Archdeacon of Derby, he restored this church in the 1840s, then went on to be Bishop of Sodor and Man. John Cowper Powys (1872-1963) – author, critic, novelist, poet – was born here.

The church is mentioned in Domesday. In 1230 it was given by Fletcher de Ireton to Darley Abbey – I want it back! There is a cross in the churchyard. The leaflet says the “Churchyard cross is a reconstruction of part of the only memorial there would have been to all the people buried in the graveyard between 1086 and late mediaeval times, when private gravestones began to be used.” Really? I have never heard this theory. I think it’s wrong. There is a rather nice yew tree as well – is it older than the one in Allestree?

Entering the church, I like the fees and memorial plaque – thank you Vergers.

The chancel arch is probably the oldest part of the church, although when they re-ordered the south aisle recently they found the remains of the old altar.

By now I had been joined by two congregation members who showed me round. Box pews, organ and a C15 font.

The War Memorial has some lovely wording. There are other memorials too.

The south aisle window – 3 pm on Good Friday.

A kitchen under the gallery, ground source heat pumps and solar panels. We need to know more – sounds like a project.

A lot has happened in this church since 1991.

Posted in Derbyshire, World War 1 | Leave a comment

Lichfield, Staffordshire – Cathedral church of St Chad, the East end

Here we are in grey Lichfield (grey because of the weather). Having done the Nave and the Transepts (see the last blog), it is time to move east. The bust by the entrance to the Chapter House is of Bishop Woods, bishop during WW2, by Jacob Epstein. They often have a copy of the St Chad Gospels, an Anglo-Saxon treasure, on display – but the electronic version is probably safer to look at. There is a pdf about it here. I also need to “do” the Staffordshire Horde – website.

The Chapter House was built in the 1240s. It is often used for exhibitions, but was empty at the moment (apart from some display stands). The Chapter House carvings are lovely, and the medieval wall painting shows the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We have lots of gorgeous glass. My photos of glass are never very good, and really we need a guided tour of the glass. I think these are in the North Quire Aisle. I like the musicians.

The shrine of St Chad was dismantled at the Reformation, and the saint’s relics were smuggled out. In 1972 the floor tile was placed here, along with an icon by Aidan Hart and the prayer candles.

The Lady Chapel is the area to the east of the main altar and quire. By the C18 the medieval glass had disappeared, and in 1802 a local landowner, Sir Brooke Boothby, found C16 coloured glass from the Roman Catholic abbey at Herkenrode, which had been removed during the upheavals of the French revolutionary wars. It was now in Rotterdam. He wrote to the Dean, “My love for a place which I consider with the affection of a second home induces me to trouble you, my dear Sir, with this letter … I have contracted to the purchase of 17 windows of what appears to the be the finest painted glass which I have almost ever seen”. I hope the Dean was pleased! Apparently the glass was packed with straw in crates, transported to Hull, then up the Trent, and onto the canal to Gallows Wharf, about a mile from the Cathedral. They have an excellent screen with lots and lots to read – I wish they would make material like this available (and easily findable) on the www. We have lots of digital exhibitions and information – how do we make it available, and keep it up to date and accessible?

The altar is Victorian, and the reredos shows scenes from the Nativity. Apparently the figures were made in Oberammagau, Germany.

The screen which separates the Lady Chapel from the Quire has this memorial tablet to Mrs Selwyn, and her husband is buried nearby (I wonder why they weren’t buried together).

Bishop George Augustus Selwyn was the first Bishop of New Zealand, and then Bishop of Lichfield. He gives his name to Selwyn College, Cambridge – website. There is a New Zealand account of his life here. This is the man himself – from the College website. He is buried in his own little chamber, with NZ and Pacific images – and here is the Vicarage cat that shares his name.

There is a piece of medieval wall painting It apparently shows the Holy Trinity, the knees of God the Father supporting the crucified Christ.

This lovely statue is, according to the guidebook, The Sleeping Children, by Sir Francis Chantrey. It is in memory of two daughters of a Cathedral prebendary – am I being nosy in wanting to know his name, and their names? Whoever they were, may they rest in peace. You might like to have a look at this painting of his studio – here.

There are some interesting lumps of stone, and I tried to photo various corbels – and failed.

This window, made by the Kempe studio in 1901, shows damage inflicted in the Civil War.

I climbed up the steps to St Chad’s Head Chapel. It was built in the 1220s and was where the head of St Chad was kept – but you, dear Reader, probably worked that out. I photoed the view across into the Quire, and Bishop Hacket’s tomb. He was bishop of Lichfield and Coventry from 1662-69, and he was the one behind the rebuilding of the cathedral after the Civil War.

The Quire is very Victorian, with a lot of the work done by Sir George Gilbert Scott. He used alabaster from Fauld near Tutbury, grey and red marble and Blue John from Derbyshire and Staffordshire, and tiles from Stoke-on-Trent.

We will finish with the angels on the Quire screen.

There is so much more to see, and I must come back. I must come back and explore, I must come back and worship, I must come back and photo the outside. We will be back!



Posted in Personal, Staffordshire | Leave a comment