Tissington, Derbyshire – St Mary

When I left Ponteland, the lovely staff of Richard Coates School gave me a balloon flight as a leaving present – jokes about Vicars and Hot Air. I flew from Tissington on Monday 15 August with Virgin balloons – website. I had to be there at 6 am, so parked by the Hall and Church, and walked up to the launch field.

DSC03390Being one of the first there, Graham the pilot, Chris his sidekick, and me got the hot air blowing into the balloon, and I hung on to various ropes and did what I was told. 16 of us in the basket plus the pilot – a little cosy.


We flew north from the village, with views over the Hall and the church, then roughly up the line of the old railway. We decided the trees look like those on a model railway layout.


Dovedale down below us, a mile or two to the west, and then we flew over Alsop en le Dale. That will be another church to blog. It was fascinating looking down and working out the various features we could see, wondering why the fields were that shape, and just enjoying the silence when the burner was turned off. You do feel as if you are simply floating.


After about an hour we were looking for a place to land, and a recently harvested field did the job.

DSC03516We were warned to sit down in the basket, to brace ourselves against the backrest, hold the rope, and not to stand up until we were told to. In fact it was a gentle bump, a short drag, and we came to rest.

DSC03522We climbed out, got the air out of our balloon and packed it away. We had a trailer ride to the nearest road, then a minibus back to Tissington. We all said farewell, though we could have done with a cooked breakfast. The café in Tissington was not open yet – it was still before 10 am – so I had a walk to explore the church.


St Mary’s church Tissington stands in the middle of a beautiful village – SK176522. To quote Pevsner “From the triangular green one enjoys a picture of exquisite beauty”. Across the road is Tissington Hall, built in 1609 and still lived in by the FitzHerbert family – website.  Nice to see the church has a page and a link to the parish website. Rather unbelievably for a church in a tourist hotspot, there was no guidebook on sale. I eventually found a Tissington book at the Tourist Office in Ashbourne which has a couple of pages about the church.

There are some lovely yew trees in the churchyard, and the sun was bright. It is obviously a Norman church, look at the solidity of the tower – though much of the “Norman” work on the Nave is Victorian. Inside the porch is a wonderful tympanum, early Norman. Pevsner puts it beautifully: “The doorway is Norman too; one order of colonnettes with one scallop and one primitive volute capital, billet frieze in the label, and a tympanum with two little standing figures to the left and right, a double diaper frieze between them, and the main field with a plain chequerboard pattern and a cross distinguished by diapers in its five chequerboard fields.” If you wonder what “diaper” is – this is a useful website. I wonder if anyone gave permission for that cable attached just below it.


Inside is a church with some amazing things. Let’s start with a Norman font. See what images you can make from these photos. Quite a magnificent organ for a village church.


DSC03543The Chancel Arch is lovely – but the C18 pulpit on the right and huge monument on the left rather take away from it. The monument is to Francis and Sir John FitzHerbert – father and son – and their wives. Francis died in 1619 and Sir John in 1642. Francis was married to Elizabeth Bullock, Sir John to an Elizabeth FitzHerbert (I wonder what the connection was). The monument is beautifully executed and the costumes are wonderful – amazing robes and ruffs.


DSC03554DSC03552DSC03555DSC03553Another lovely memorial is Mary FitzHerbert, died 1677 – lovely putti at the top. This one is good too, and there are others around the church.


The Communion rail dates to 1570-80, apparently made by Roileys of Burton. Their work is also in Gayton, Northamptonshire, and Somerton, Oxfordshire. Be interesting to know more about them.

DSC03556DSC03563Finally, enjoy Noah’s Ark in this undated window.


A dominant war memorial in the churchyard, plus some interesting tombs.


The Hall looks worth a visit, and wells to dress – a Derbyshire custom I will learn more about.


I stopped in Ashbourne for a late breakfast – scrambled eggs and Derbyshire oat cakes. An excellent way to start the week.


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