Risley, Derbyshire – All Saints’

I started Friday 7 October with an early morning trip to Sheffield to give an armful of platelets. Having had sons and wife who have received blood, I have been a blood donor for many years. Now I go about once a month to give platelets – they are the very small cells which work with the clotting factors in plasma to form a mesh “plug” to stop or prevent bleeding. For more details have a look at this website and, if you can donate blood or platelets, please go and do so.

We had had all the children from Walter Evans School in St Matthew’s Darley Abbey on Thursday for their Harvest Festival. A lovely service with smashing youngsters. At the end of it I unclipped the radio mic, and dropped the clip down the heating grill. It descended into the bowels of the church, never to be seen again. Our AV people are here, so I had a drive to Risley to buy two new clips – always wise to have a spare! We then drove home and stopped to look at three churches. All three were locked.

I would love all churches to be open, but I live in the real world. I know how difficult it is to get someone to unlock and lock every day. I know that if the church is open, you need to move everything valuable and lock it in the vestry – that takes time and effort. I know how much time it takes when someone steals or damages something. If you need someone there, you really need two people, and that is yet another demand on volunteers. Someone commented on facebook the other week how annoyed they were one of my churches was locked when they went to visit, but I don’t see them volunteering to “church-sit”.

If you visit an unlocked church, please leave a donation and a note in the Visitors’ Book saying how marvellous it is you could get in. If you find a church locked, be understanding – and next time plan ahead. Check the church website – does it advertise an opening time? Is there a service you could attend, and have a look round afterwards? Use a website like this one for Derbyshire – here – though keeping them up to date is difficult. My church of St Edmund Allestree is open most mornings, St Matthew Darley Abbey has an Open Day on Saturday 22 October from 10 am – with a Last Night of the Proms in the evening.

Do I blog locked churches? Yes I do – if only as a reminder of churches I want to visit and need to organise. I hope you enjoy the photos.


All Saints, Risley, is on the main road, SK461357. I looked at their website, and find this statement:

You are always welcome to visit our buildings and if they aren’t open when you do, there is usually a key available in the vicinity. Better still, come and visit us during a service – our buildings are interesting but they aren’t museums and people have given sacrificially over the years to ensure that they are suitable for God’s people to meet and worship him together. There is normally someone in our congregations who will be delighted to give you a tour and then bring you along to share a drink and some cake or a biscuit. Services are best described as informal Anglican; easy to follow and welcoming.

Fair enough!


There may well have been a chapel there prior to the present church which was built by Michael and Katharine Willoughby in 1593, but it was not consecrated until 1632. It is a rare example of a surviving Elizabethan church. The north aisle was added in 1841. Pevsner suggests that inside is worth visiting.

dsc04612dsc04613dsc04614The Lunacy Commission was founded in 1845 and, for the first forty years of its existence, was chaired by Lord Shaftesbury. If John Hancock Hall died in October 1845, he can’t have been a Commissioner for long – his wife was obviously very proud of him.


dsc04617Next door is Latin House, dating to 1706. In 1593 Elizabeth Willoughby founded a school here, and her descendent Elizabeth Grey built this house to accommodate pupils, master and usher. Another building was added in 1720 and this became the home of the Latin master and his pupils.




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One Response to Risley, Derbyshire – All Saints’

  1. kaydeerouge says:

    I completely agree with all you say about visiting locked churches! We love to visit churches and it is indeed disappointing when you find them locked – but understandable. Quite a few years ago now, my husband and I used to look after a small chapel of ease in Crediton in Devon – and it was kept locked. Sad by realistic. I think what All Saints, Risley says on its website about welcoming visitors to look round plus refreshments after a service is a great credit to them – in my experience not all churches want to be bothered with church tourists, even after services. Lastly, I want to say how tempting it is to read about all these churches you visit – too far for an easy trip from north Northumberland, alas, – perhaps one day!

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