St Michael & All Angels Church, Earl Sterndale (1999)

Recent Photograph of St Michael & All Angels Church (1999) (Earl Sterndale)

Earl Sterndale is anciently a chapelry of Hartington, and a place of worship on this spot has been dated by some to Saxon times, though the Saxon settlement in the area, Salham, mentioned in Domesday, was laid waste by William the Conquerer.

Earl Sterndale as a village may date from soon after, when William the Conquerer gave land to his right hand man, Henry de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, and he established a settlement here. A short guide to the village suggests that a chapel may have been built at this time, possibly of wood, and it may have burned down. Certainly the present church contains evidence from this time in its font, which dates from the 12th century.

The next reference to a chapel is in an inventory of Church goods from the mid sixteenth century, which lists “Sternedall Chapell” as having “one bell and one broken bell”.

The nave of the old chapel was said by J.C. Cox in Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol 2 (1877) to measure 47 feet by 23 feet 3 inches with a chancel of 17 feet 2 inches by 15 feet 2 inches, and there was a bell-cote on the west gable. Remains of the old church are few, though, besides the 12th century font, but Cox mentions a cupboard library on the south side of the altar with the inscription “Master James Hill, His Gift, 1712”.

The present building, however dates from 1828. Cox refers to a Brief being granted in 1819 for the rebuilding of the church as the existing building was in a dilapidated state. The cost of rebuilding was then estimated at £1700, but the congregation may have been less than enthusiastic as by 1823 less than £140 had been collected for the purpose. Eventually however the rebuilding took place, in 1828, to a design by G.E Hamilton, though the new church had to wait until 1877 to get its chancel, which was designed by R.R. Duke.

A further rebuilding was necessary in 1950, after bomb damage during World War II, when the church lost its roof, and its interior furnishing were destroyed. The intended target was thought to be the D.P. Battery Works in Bakewell, where submarine batteries were made.

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

Salter, Mike - The Old Parish Churches of Derbyshire (1998)

Image contributed by Andrew McCann on 12th April 1999.
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