Derby – Chapel of St Mary on the Bridge

Tuesday 6 February. After a morning at University studying for the MA in Public History and Heritage, I went to do some in depth research – a public service in a heritage building. Box ticked! The Bridge Chapel in Derby, or The Chapel of St Mary on the Bridge, stands beside St Mary’s bridge – grid reference SK 353368. I have walked past it regularly – it is a lovely walk from home, down through Darley Park, under St Mary’s bridge, and into town. It is cared for by Derby Cathedral, and is open for regular services, heritage open days and other occasions – according to the Cathedral magazine I’ve just (11 March) read it is open from 2 to 4 pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays from the last Tuesday to April to the last Saturday in September (so now you know). It is a shame the inner ring road is quite so close – and whoever gave permission for the hideous Jury’s Inn?

There are five other bridge chapels still standing in England – Wakefield, Rotherham, St Ives (Cambridgeshire – I remember mum and dad taking me to that one), Rochester and Bradford-on-Avon. Remains of one exist at Cromford – must go and explore. A chapel has existed in Derby since the late C13, although this building is about a century later. Records show that the anchoress, Agnes Waly, withdrew to her cell here on 3 January 1370 – for details of an anchoress, see my post.

In 1488 John Dale was the priest, and by this time the chapel had become enriched by the gifts of many benefactors. It also housed the figure of “The Black Virgin of Derby”, an object of pilgrimage, second only to the shrine of St Alkmund at Duffield. The chapel was closed at the Reformation, and handed back to the burgesses of Derby in 1554. In the C17 it was used as a meeting place by local Presbyterians, then was converted into cottages.

In 1794 the current St Mary’s bridge was built – designed by the architect Thomas Harrison. Born in Lancaster, he is notable for Lancaster and Chester castles, various other bridges, and one or two churches. The new bridge was a few feet upstream, so physically separate from the chapel. It was used as a workshop, then as a Sunday School for St Alkmund’s church, then as a workshop again. By the 1920s it was in a very poor condition.

Now it is beautiful. I walked in, and realised that when they describe it as a “gem”, they are right. I climbed up to the gallery to take a photo, had an explore with the camera, then led the Requiem Eucharist. There were five of us there – myself, a Verger, two regulars and a visitor. I hope they ask me again – a very special place to celebrate. The chapel is also used by the Orthodox Community, so I signed the service register after an “Arch Priest”.

The altar was designed by Ronald Pope, and is made from Derbyshire stone quarried at Birchover. It was installed in 1973. On its base are letters IMMR standing for Jesus Mater Maria Regina, and waves symbolising the Derwent. Pope also made the frame surrounding the medieval figure of Jesus. The wooden statue of Our Lady of Walsingham is by Anton Wagner, and was installed in 1983. The hatchment displays the arms of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria. The question is “Why?”

The East Window was installed in 1973 in memory of Sean Ferguson. It was designed by Mary Dobson. Each panel alludes to some specific aspect of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The octagonal shape of the top two lights represents the enclosed garden on the soul, swallows are harbinger of the summer (Mary the harbinger of the Incarnation), 12 stars which crowned the Woman of the Apocalypse, a unicorn as a symbol of virginity (who knew that?), a gateway, an ivory tower, a cat (there is a legend that a cat gave birth to a litter of kittens in the stable at Bethlehem on the night of the Nativity (who knew that?)), rays of light symbolising the resurrection, and a lily. In the lily you can see a caterpillar and a butterfly – Sean Ferguson’s favourite metaphor of death and resurrection. (We had The Very Hungry Caterpillar read at our Theo’s funeral).  In the bottom lights we have the Mystic Rose, the Fountain, the Lily and the Star of the Sea. Beautiful. The window in the south wall dates to 1932, and the glass is the work of Richard John Stubington.

On the wall of the chapel is a memorial to the Padley Martyrs. Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlam were arrested at Padley Manor near Hathersage. They were brought to Derby, and executed along with Richard Simpson, on 24 July 1588 – they were hanged, drawn and quartered. The following day their remains were exhibited close to the Chapel. It was the time of the Spanish Armada, feelings were running high, and their fate was sealed. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Inside the chapel is a memorial to those who ensured the Chapel was repaired and restored. It is also rather nice that they have produced a booklet entitled “From Eyesore to Medieval Gem; the men who saved the Bridge Chapel”. Thank you to them, and to all who care for, donate to, and repair our beautiful churches. I hope and pray that any northernvicar in the 22nd century will be able to look back at the 21st century and find people who continue to care for, donate to, and repair our beautiful churches – and not just see a century where people decided they were surplus to requirements and a drain on our resources.

I walked home – education this morning, spiritual refreshment at lunchtime, an afternoon walk, and choir in the evening. What more can a man ask from life?



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Cambridge – American Military Cemetery

We drove out of Cambridge, past my old home in Barton,  then up to Comberton, Madingley Road and the American Cemetery.

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial is place which I have never visited, despite all my years living less than ten miles away. The website is here – and you can see it is run by the American Battle Monuments Commission. You might want to ponder why they have a “Battle Monuments Commission” and we have the “Commonwealth War Graves Commission”. It is just beside the old A45, the A1303, west of Cambridge, grid reference TL 405595.

The first thing that grabs your attention is a huge flagpole. The site wasn’t very lively on a cold January afternoon, but there was an open Visitors’ Centre with displays, films and panels – we could, and should, have spent a lot longer there. I sat and pondered afterwards – thanks Rob for the photo (and for others on this blog).

The cemetery was built after the Second World War, on land given by the University of Cambridge. 3,812 Americans are buried here – men (I assume they are all men, I can’t see any mention of women in the guide) who served in the Battle of the Atlantic, who flew from the airfields of East Anglia, and fought into Europe. In the seven areas of the cemetery there are 24 unknown people, 80 Jews who have the Star of David, and 3,732 with a Latin Cross. The backs of the headstones are marked with the service number of those who have died.

On the south side of the cemetery the Great Mall stretches from the flagpole to the Memorial Building. Along the south side is the Wall of the Missing. It names 5,127 lost, missing, or buried at sea. Bronze rosettes identify those whose remains have subsequently been recovered and identified. Four statues – a soldier, airman, sailor, and Coast Guardsman – stand guard. One of the names, Alton G., is Glen Miller, Major, US Army Forces, who vanished on 15 December 1944.

The Memorial Building is built from Portland Stone. On the south side is a map of the United Kingdom depicting each location where an American unit of battalion size or larger was stationed during WW2. The map is 30 feet long and 18 feet wide. You can see how many bases there were in Suffolk. There is a lovely book by John Appleby called Suffolk Summer – details here. He was an American serviceman who explored Suffolk, and its churches, in the last summer of WW2. I haven’t read it for a few years – have a look here for more information. The main doors are made of teakwood, with bronze representations of military equipment and naval vessels.

The mosaic inside is what gave me the wow-factor as I entered the Hall. It is by the American Francis Scott Bradford and depicts the Archangel trumpeting the arrival of the Resurrection, with the Last Judgement on the wall behind the altar. On the ceiling itself we have “ghostly aircraft accompanied by mourning angels making their final flight” to quote the guide. “The deep blue of the ceiling denotes the depth of infinity, while lighter colors reflect the light of Heaven breaking through the earthly layers of the sky. A lighter nimbus surrounding each of the single-engine, twin-engine and four-engine aircraft separates the from earthly forces whole they carry the souls of the men who perished in the skies.”

The map on the south wall is entitled “The Mastery of the Atlantic – the Great Air Assault”. It was designed by the American artist Herbert Gute from data prepared by the American Battle Monuments Commission. It shows the principal sea routes across the Atlantic, and depicts aircraft which operated in the anti-submarine campaign and the Strategic Bombing Campaign by the USAF and RAF. Air lanes indicate routes from the UK and Italy to various targets. Having pondered on A Matter of Life and Death as I looked at the ceiling and the depictions of ghostly planes, I pondered Casablanca as I looked at this map.

On the north wall are emblems from all the different states – Kentucky and California caught my eye. (Especially the warmth of California on a January day, and on a snowy day in February when I’m writing this up).

By the entrance a notice said that at 4.30 the flag would be lowered. I wondered if there would be a cohort of Marines (I’ve been watching too much West Wing), but a chap came out of his office and said “hello”. Where were we from? What did I do? Did I want to help him take down the flag? I felt honoured (correct spelling, I’m English, not American) – even if, at one point, I seemed to be raising the flag rather than lowering it! I then helped to fold it, and it is a large flag. In the current age, where it is difficult to feel much connection to the USA and little sympathy for their President (and I hope any Americans who read this blog will not take offence), it was a very special moment. Here is Julie – northernreader – wheeling away.

Next time I watch a war time film (even if it’s one of those where the Americans won the War – the sort that really annoyed my father-in-law), or the lovely Dad’s Army where the Americans turn up (“you were late for the last war, and you’re late for this one”), or a funeral ends with Glen Miller’s music, I will remember my visit to this place.

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Chesterton, Cambridge – St Andrew

This wall played an important part in the Second World War (or at least a wall like it). I believe that my grandad, Albert Barham, was churchwarden of St Andrew’s church in Chesterton. He was a manager at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, so remained at home. Family tradition says that one of the jobs he did was as Fire Warden, based at the church. My uncle Derrick was a teenager, my dad Jeffrey a bit younger. They would offer to test the stirrup pumps. The churchyard wall was a favourite spot for American troops to say “good night” to their girlfriends. Many an American serviceman had his ardour dampened by my uncle, my dad, and their stirrup pump.

Friend Rob and I visited on Tuesday 23 January while our wives were spending money in town. We arrived as a midweek Communion service was taking place, so sat at the back and read the information folder, before we said Hello. I was hoping someone might have remembered grandad, but as he died in 1965 that was probably unlikely. We then got working with our cameras – the best photos are those taken by Rob. The church has an excellent website. Its OS grid reference is TL 463596.

Chesterton  Cestretone, is the settlement by the Roman town. There is no mention of a church in Doomsday, but “a priest has one virgate of land”. The list of Rectors goes back to 1200, the manor belonged to the King, most of the inhabitants probably serfs who worked for the Governor of the Castle. In 1216 England seemed to be on the verge of civil war. The pope sent his legate, Cardinal Guala, to England to try and pacify the Kingdom. He was successful, and on 8 November 1216 was presented with the church and living. He then presented it to Vercelli Abbey near Milan, so the Abbey became the Rector and held the benefice for 200 years. His portrait hangs in the church.

The church was rebuilt in the Early English style in about 1250, and there was another rebuilding about 80 years later when the spire was added. The Chancel was rebuilt in the C15, the North aisle extended, and the north porch added. Here is the porch with automatic door, northern vicar, and a van from Smith’s Clocks of Derby.

When you stand in the nave and look up, the Doom painting catches your eye. It was painted around the giant rood (or cross) that was the focal point of every parish church before the Reformation. There is a lovely Doom at Penn in Buckinghamshire, see this blog. In the top panel, now limewashed, was Christ in Majesty (visible still in the early C19), beneath him are the saved and the damned. A faded St Peter welcomes the just into the celestial city  on our left, whilst on our right a red flat-footed devil tugs one unfortunate soul towards his destiny, whilst below a yellow devil transports his victim piggy-back. Kings, popes and monks are among the condemned. It must have been painted over at the Reformation, and the guide doesn’t say when it was unveiled again. It is rather special – enjoy the photos (they are mainly Rob’s). The history page of the website is excellent. I like the history of the church in a hundred objects.

There is some lovely woodwork. You can work out which of the pew ends are original and which are Victorian copies. A nice fisherman as well – presumably Andrew, not Peter.

The East Window is rather lovely, but I can’t find any more details on the website. Rob got some good close-ups (I still need him to give me a lesson on photoing stained glass).

The Mansel window is at the east end of the south aisle. It was commissioned by William Lord Mansel, who was Vicar here 1788-1808. He was also Master of Trinity from 1798 to 1820 and Bishop of Bristol 1808-20. I love the idea of being Master of a Cambridge College and Bishop of Bristol, especially in the days before the Great Western. “He was a renowned wit, mimic and satirist – but, in revolutionary days, was also conservative, orthodox and a safe pair of hands, trusted by William Pitt and his government.” The window was installed in memory of his wife Isabella, who died in 1803 at the age of 36, the mother of 12 children. In the bottom panel you can see the day of Pentecost. The guide notes that Mary is present, perhaps an affirmation of Isabella’s role.

The Smedley window was commissioned by Edward Arthur Smedley, vicar 1836 and 1873. We have Adam, Abraham and Jacob. It was designed by Gilbert Scott, father of the C20 architect who designed the red telephone box and Cambridge University Library. The window dates to 1873.

This window (below left), at the south-east end of the south aisle, was installed by Samuel Perry (Vicar 1874-90) in memory of his first wife and child, who both died following the child’s birth. Mary died on 3 May 1875 aged 3 days, Frances died the following day aged 35, Samuel died in 1897 aged 55. The glass is by Ward and Hughes, a London firm that pioneered the use of pot-metal coloured glass, an appearance that harked back to the glory days of the medieval period. I like the Epiphany window (below right), though there is no mention of whom made it. The Wragg window (below centre), in memory of Francis Wragg, who died in 1884.

Under the tower we have some lovely peal boards – I hoped “Albert Barham, Churchwarden” might have appeared – and a rather fun carving.

The South aisle chapel is dedicated to all those who died in WW1. Alec Johnson was from the family of John Johnson who for many generations ran a tailors’ shop in central Cambridge. His cousin was the actress Celia Johnson, who played Laura Jesson in Brief Encounter. The war memorial is outside, and we’ll end our visit to the interior of the church with an angel.

On the north wall of the church (just outside and to the east of the porch) is a plaque remembering “Anna Maria Vassa, daughter of Gustavus Vassa, the African. She died July 21 1797 aged 4 years.” Her father, who also bore the name Olaudah Equiano, was living in Nigeria when he was captured from his village at the age of 11 and sold into slavery. He was taken to Virginia, then sold to a ship’s captain. After 16 years he managed to save enough money and buy his freedom. He eventually came to England and wrote a book abut his experiences which became a best-seller and turned many people against slavery.

There are some lovely gravestones in the churchyard, but I wasn’t going to have a long walk round – and we have had quite a lot of photos!

It was a pleasure exploring this church. I don’t remember grandad as I was two when he died, although I do remember Nana (Frances Mary Barham) – she died 1979 or thereabouts. Nana Tin we called her, as she had a biscuit tin with the Panorama of London on. (The other granny was Nana Brum, as she had a car). May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

My sister-in-law, with her role as family archivist, has found me this photo of Albert and Frances.

Samuel Pepys visited Chesterton on 25 May 1668. He wrote “walked to Chesterton to see our old walk; and there into the Church, the bells ringing, and saw the place I used to sit, and so to the ferry, and ferried over to the other side and walked with great pleasure, the river being mighty high by Barnwell Abbey; and so by Jesus College to the town …”. We walked back into town via Jesus College, and let’s finish with a curiosity – on the south bank of the Cam, not far from the church and the Cambridge Museum of Technology is this post box. It has no Royal cipher. Can anyone tell me why not?


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Greystoke, Cumbria – St Andrew

We drove back along Ullswater to Pooley Bridge, then cut north across the A66 and to the village of Greystoke and St Andrew’s church – NY 443307. Quite a sizeable village and, to quote Pevsner, “a major church, broad but markedly deficient in height.” An early church here, perhaps linked to the Castle which was apparently built by the Viking leader Lyulph, was re-founded as a collegiate church (one of only two in the region) in 1382, perhaps a response to the Black Death, which carried off half the English clergy. Then it had a master, seven chaplains, and six chantry priests. Now it is in a benefice with three other churches – website.

The church looks C16 or even C17 – there was a Chancel repair in 1645, and restorations of 1818 and 1848. The tower was certain re-clad, if not re-built, in 1848. We parked by the rather nice gate post, and entered.

You enter by the north door, and your eye is drawn to the tent in the south aisle. I quite understand why a heated tent with seats for the congregation, all together in one place, is so much better than a dozen people scattered across a huge, freezing church – but I’m not sure I would want to worship here. I suppose it would be much more expensive to get permission to close off the Chancel to make a warm room, or do something with one of the chapels – perhaps the tent is the best idea. Or is it time to hand the whole pile to the Churches Conservation Trust, and join with the local non-conformist chapel? I wish I knew the answer.

At last we have a decent guidebook, and a welcome leaflet. “We hope you will enjoy you visit to our church. [I’m not a fan of “our church”, but at least the text continues …] This building is open to everyone of any faith or none, to explore and enjoy.” It contains an invitation to the 9.15 service which takes place every Sunday (same time each week is so much easier) , and it also suggests that St Kentingern’s church at Mungrisdale, St Andrew’s church at Dacre and Matterdale church are all worth visiting. Joined up thinking! Alleluia!!!!! The guidebook suggests that each aisle would originally have been taken up with Chantry Chapels – so there’s the precedent they need fot the DAC when they try and replace the tent with a chapel. Imagine how busy a place like this would have been before the Reformation – constant masses being said in each of the chapels – and wonder what we lost. You can see the size of the Nave from these photos.

The rood beam, which bridges the Chancel arch, is probably the oldest thing in the church, and carries floral emblems representing the five wounds of Christ, and a selection of angels. There is some old woodwork in the Chancel itself, and I missed the misericords. The East window is a collection of medieval glass. Legend has it that it was removed in haste and buried as Cromwell approached, then restored in 1848. “The restorers had difficulty in reassembling the pieces of glass in the original order and, where pieces were missing, they substituted pieces from the other windows which had been shattered by Cromwell’s men.” Note the red devil between the feet of a bishop.

We have an old sedilia in the south wall of the Chancel, and the Baron William and his grandson John lie in effigy in a recess in the Chancel which once housed the tomb of John Dacre, the last Provost of the medieval college. William is dressed like the Black Prince at Canterbury. Apparently the effigies were in the churchyard for 250 years, hence the water marks and the broken alabaster – the leaflet says that alabaster was used by local farmers for rubbing on sheep scab and for sharpening scythes.

I think that all the other glass I photoed is Victorian. I like the various images in this one of  Jesus teaching, with a child who is not concentrating on his words.


The Resurrection window in the north wall by the organ is by Charles Kempe., and we have the fountain of life, peacock-feathered angels, Jerusalem in the background, Mary, and is that the casket of myrrh the three wise men gave thirty years earlier? I often wonder if the women were carrying it on the Sunday morning, and what happened to it when the tomb was empty.

There are some fascinating hatchments and memorials – you guessed it, the one I will look up is the South Mahratta Railway in India. It was formed on 1 June 1882, and its first line was a metre gauge line 40 miles long from Bellary to Hospet. It opened in 1884. Twso years later the Mysore State Railway came into the company. In 1888 the line was extended towards Portuguese Goa, and a line ran from coast to coast. Then it merged with the Madras Railway. I went to an York University Institute of Railway Studies talk a few years ago on the links between British and Indian Railway Companies – fascinating.


The Madonna and Child was carved by two German PoWs, and painted by a third. They were stationed at the Castle at the end of WW2, but their names are not given in the guide. They simply worked with a penknife on a lump of holly root given by the Rector. The crucified Christ is the work of Josephine de Vascanellos. It represents the words of Jesus to the good theif who hung beside him “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” It looks out of the window into the future, from time to eternity. The font is rather nice, but not mentioned.

A quick explore the churchyard, but rather too cold for much more.

Back to Penrith for coffee and to warm up. Clare dropped me at the station for the 1621 Virgin Train to Crewe and London. Signal failure meant we left at 1731. I had a book. We arrived in Crewe at 1908, and they had let the 1907 East Midlands Train to Derby go. Several of us got very cross, but there was no station supervisor and no one gave a damn. Bring back British Rail – it wasn’t perfect, but at least it was one network. The next train to Derby was at 2045. That spoiled a nice day


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Martindale, Cumbria – St Martin

We continued up Martindale and came to the Old Church, St Martin’s, NY 434184 – website. This has a regular Evensong in the summer. There were hundreds of names in the visitors books of both these Martindale churches. I know it is January, but why are there no leaflets suggesting other churches worth visiting, offering people pointers for prayer, or even explaining the Christian faith – surely missed opportunities. I have commented before that there is a “Tourism” page on the Carlisle Diocesan website, but you need to know (1) you are in Carlisle diocese, and (2) that you click on “Our churches”. Search for “Cumbria church tours” in google, and nothing jumps out. Search for “churches to visit in Cumbria” and one of the results is this site – so that’s something. (Good thing we don’t leave church publicity to the churches!).

Even on a cold January morning, this was a special spot. There is an ancient yew in the churchyard, which suggests it is an old spot – and there is a written record of this church apparently dates to 1220. Despite restoration, this is a C17 building – and look at the date by the door.

Inside is lovely, and look at the date on the altar table.

The Pulpit is 1634, and the font could be a hollowed out Roman altar.

We went out to the churchyard – it was cold!


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Martindale, Cumbria – St Peter

Bampton to Martindale is not very far as the crow flies – a bit further when Clare is driving. Pooley Bridge, up beside Ullswater – we have promised ourselves a trip on the steamer later in the summer – and I was glad she was driving the zig zag to St Peter’s church, NY 436192 – website. I think it has a fortnightly service.

The architect was J.A. Cory, 1880-2 – he’s another local church builder. Pevsner says “a prim Victorian church sits uneasily here” – it didn’t feel prim (nothing prim would have survived all these Cumbrian winters). It was built of the local Hallin Fell stone, has some nice wood, including a massive parish chest. I wonder if the chest was in an earlier church, and how many horses it took to get it up the road.

Just one set of memorials. What gives this church the edge are the windows. Apart from the east window, they are all by Jane Gray. Charles Barrand, a previous Vicar, led the project. We came across Jane’s work at Shrewsbury Abbey (though in that blog I spelt her with an e), and there is a report about her – website. She has written a book called “Playing with Rainbows” (Ellingham Press, 2011).

The west window celebrates the Benedicite – O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him for ever.


I was going to take you through each window, but someone else – website – has done that. Just enjoy these lovely images.

Outside we had a wander round – wondering how they bury in so much rock, and singing “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?” Why can I remember the hymns of my childhood, but not remember what happened yesterday?



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Bampton, Cumbria – St Patrick

Let’s start 2018’s blogs with a day (Tuesday 16 January) to escape to Cumbria to see Clare. There was a light sprinkling of snow on the ground, and we drove out to Bampton – St Patrick’s church is at Bampton Grange, NY 521180. There is a village website – here – and a Parish Newsletter. I smile that Thursday’s event in the diary is “10 am Bus to Penrith” and Sunday’s is “10 am Holy Communion” – but it is sad that next Sunday’s service which, I assume, is in another church in a nearby village, isn’t listed.

The church was rebuilt 1726-8, and remodelled in 1884-5. Originally there may have been collegiate seating, and the woodwork is rather nice. The Victorian restoration was by C.J. Ferguson – Pevsner describes him as “a resourceful as well as a sensitive architect.” Wikipedia tells me he is Charles John, 1840-1904 – his work includes lots of churches, we mentioned him at Lanercost, and work on Bamburgh Castle. Shall we tell the good people of Bampton that Advent has ended?

At the west end is a portrait of Edmund Gibson. Born in Bampton, he was Bishop of Lincoln 1716-23, Bishop of London 1723-48, a friend of Robert Walpole, one of the trustees of the Foundling Hospital, and is buried in All Saints church, Fulham. His parents’ memorial is in church too.

A very detailed churchyard plan, and a rather nice painting – no idea of the artist.

A lot of names on the War Memorial, and some interesting memorials. I wonder if I’d have been happy spending 46 years ministering to one village?

There are two lovely angels carved in stone, and some lovely carved woodwork. The reredos was carved by Mr Grisenthwaite of Penrith, 1885.

There is a font, described by Pevsner as “a square tub, with circular cutaways at the base, dated 1662”, and two pieces of modern stained glass – St Patrick and St Christopher, by Ann Southeran of York. Her website is at here. Rather nice!

I like the Victorian glass – the Wedding at Cana, Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter. Harry has been making home brew for his sister’s wedding in July – I commented in my sermon on Cana that we could use Jesus’ help with the catering. (I can also imagine the discussion about the guest list – “well, how many disciples has he got? Who do we sit him next to?”)

The East Window is by Ward and Hughes, 1888.

There has been a large project to put six bells in the tower – and they recently travelled to the Taylor foundry in Loughborough to watch them being cast. A large project, a lot of work, a lot of money – how wonderful that there is still the willingness to make such an investment in a small village church. You can read about the project here. We had had a nice explore – and went to the village café. Time for coffee.




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Northernvicarwalks – October, November and December 2017

I could quietly forget the fact I was going to try and walk 1,000 miles in 2017, and hope my beloved readers don’t notice – or I can be honest and admit my failures. I can use it as an opportunity to give you a few photos that don’t really fit anywhere else. Hope you enjoy.

On Saturday 14 October Anne was with us – so we went to Heage Windmill (well worth a visit – website), and walked from High Peak Junction to Cromford Mills and back. Just three miles – and I want a ride on “Birdswood”, the trip boat – website.

On Monday 16 October I tried some of the footpaths north of The Hanging Gate – a nice afternoon, but disappointing how many footpaths do not exist.

On Tuesday 24 October when I went to the Skeleton Exhibition in Leeds, I managed a three mile walk in Leeds and another three mile walk in Sheffield – most of the Five Wiers Walk from Meadowhall into the City Centre – website.

The following day I walked four miles along the old railway line by Etwall – why isn’t every week as profitable as this? 51 miles walked in October.

12 miles walked in November. No further comment is necessary.

December was slightly better – 32 miles in total. Most of it around Allestree. The only one worth mentioning was 5 miles by the Weaver Navigation in Northwich, Cheshire, with the Hunns on Boxing Day.

My total is 577. Not quite the 1,000 miles I had planned for the year. School report … “Could do better”. Not that my PE reports were ever good when I was at school. If I hadn’t walked, I would not have watched this heron beside the Weaver.






Posted in 1,000 mile walking, Derbyshire | 1 Comment

Elton, Derbyshire – All Saints’

Having been to Mapleton (Thursday 28 December 2017) we then drove north to visit All Saints’ church at Elton – SK 222610. There is a nice leaflet of walks round the village, but it was a bit cold for that today. It tells me that people were living in this area 5000 years ago. The village was founded in the 8th or 9th century, and the village was laid out in the 11th. Domesday has 18 families living here. Lead mining was a major contributor to the local economy, particularly between the 16th and 19th century. By 1670 there were 55 houses. There is a village website here, and I’ve found the bus timetable – an hourly service from Matlock (some continuing to Bakewell), which sounds fun.

The medieval church of St Margaret was originally a chapel of the mother church of Youlgreave. It was replaced between 1806 and 1812 after the spire collapsed in a storm. One C19 writer apparently commented that the new church “with its round-headed windows was possessed of all the worst characteristics of the time in which it was built.”

I thought it was nice and simple inside, and rather liked it. They had recently come to the DAC with a loo proposal for the area under the tower – but the door is too narrow. I think the only way will be to use the space which is currently the curtained storage area. These churches are never easy!

The first of these windows is the War Memorial. 11 men from a village this size. There was a little leaflet about them, and in the churchyard we have the grave of Harry Allison. He died in hospital in October 1916 of wounds received while on active service. He was only 18. He had attended the Village School, which is next to the church – and the school closed for the afternoon so the children could attend  his funeral.

They have produced a fascinating booklet called “Rectors Remembered” which is a guide to the Garrett and Johnson memorials in the church, and the history of the Victorian clergy. John Fisher Garrett was curate and later rector from the time of his ordination in 1836 until his death in 1878. He was the grandson of the Garretts of Leiston in Suffolk. (Many years ago we had holidays in Dunwich, and visited the Long Shop Museum in Leiston – website). He got a new Parsonage House in 1838 – the previous one having been described as “a small house fit for a decent labourer but not fit for a clergyman.” He had two wives, Elizabeth then Mary, and eight children. The East Window is in memory of Mary. One of his sons, Fydell Edmund (1865-1907) was educated at Trinity, Cambridge, and became a journalist. Two years later he was diagnosed with TB and sent to the warmer climate of South Africa for twelve months to report on its industries, people and problems. He returned there in 1895, when he became editor of the Cape Times aged 30. He had to resign 4 years later, and spent several years in a sanatorium near Nayland in Suffolk. He died in 1907.

The Reverend Timothy Johnson became Rector in 1881, and served here for 44 years. His wife was Ellen, son John and daughter Henrietta. His son died aged 11, and Ellen a decade or so later. Their portraits are incorporated into a memorial window.

When the church was rebuilt, the Norman font, dating from 1150 or thereabouts, was moved to the churchyard. It then made its way to Youlgreave, and was installed in that church, In the 1870s Elton asked for it back – request denied. This is a replica made in 1879. It is an unusual stoup at the side, and the carving is thought to be a salamander. It is capable of extinguishing fire, and is a symbol of purification and enduring faith – apparently it appears on the Bayeux Tapestry, on the shields of Norman soldiers. An exotic king waiting to join the Nativity.

Nice scenery on the way out of the village, and home via Matlock Sainsbury’s. Can I end the final church blog of 2017 with “Matlock Sainsbury’s”? 2017 started with the excellent cake of the Vicar of Littleover …. is there a theme here?




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Mappleton (Mapleton), Derbyshire – St Mary

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.

The Crib was out as we celebrate Christmas.




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