Churches of Derbyshire

The Chapelry of Hartington

by J. Charles Cox (1877)

This transcription by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2010

THE old parish of Hartington is one of very considerable extent. It has been for several centuries divided into four quarters, known as: Town Quarter, Middle Quarter (including East Sterndale Chapelry), Nether Quarter, and Upper Quarter. From the south-east extremity to the north-west it extends sixteen miles in length, and is in some parts five miles in width. The Domesday Survey (1086) makes no mention of a church in this wide-spreading district, but the manor of Hartington was then held by the noble family of Ferrers, and we have no doubt that one was erected here in the next century, if not at the end of the eleventh. Hartington was a town of sufficient importance, in the reign of King John, to obtain a license for a market, and for a three days' fair. These rights were obtained by William Ferrers, Earl of Derby, in 1204, and the fair was regulated by the festival of St. Giles, who was the patron saint of the church.[1]

During part of the subsequent reign the manor was held under Ferrers by William Marmium, who also held Matlock, Brassington, &c.[2] It appears that the Ferrers, during the time they held Hartington, kept the advowson of the church in their own hands. But they somewhat lessened the area from which the rector would otherwise have drawn his tithes, by bestowing certain lands in the parish upon the monks of Garendon in Leicestershire.

This Cistercian monastery was founded by Robert, Earl Leicester, in the fifteenth year of Henry II., and the Ferrers family endowed it, so far as this parish was concerned, in the first instance with the hamlet of Heathcote, and subsequently with. a messuage of twenty acres of land, and half their appurtenances, in New Biggin, Wolfstoncote, and Hartington, together with a meadow in the town of Hartington called “Gotheboldesick”. [3]

But on the attainder of Robert de Ferrers, Hartington was granted to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, brother of Edward I., who had a capital mansion or castle at Hartington. The manor remained annexed to the Duchy of Lancaster till the commencement of the seventeenth century.

Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, married Blanche, Queen of Navarre. She built and endowed on the Tower Hill, London, a nunnery of the order of St. Clare (a branch of the Franciscans), generally termed the Minories without Aldgate. Stow, in his Survey of London, says:-

“From the west part of Tower Hill towards Aldgate, being a long continual street, amongst other smaller buildings in that row, there was sometime an Abbey of Nuns of the order of St. Clare, called the Minories, founded by Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, Leicester, and Derby, brother to the King Edward I., in the year 1293”; &c., &c.[4] But there is some mistake in this date, for although it is true that the king's charter licensing the founding and endowing of this nunnery is of the year 1293, as stated both by Dugdale and Stevens,[5] we can prove by reference to the Church of Hartington that the nunnery was originally founded two years previously.

The church of Hartington, with all its profits, was bestowed upon the Minoresses, by Edmund, as their earliest endowment; and in the Taxation Roll of Pope Nicholas IV., compiled in 1291, we find the rectory (ecclesia) of “Hertingdon” valued at the then very large sum of £26 13s. 4d.; a note stating that it is appropriated to the “Minorissi extra Aldgate”. This shows that the Minories was already founded, and the church of Hartington given to the Nuns. The church was probably not termed a vicarage, but entered on the Roll in the way we have described; as neither the foundation of the Nunnery, nor the appropriation of the rectory had yet received royal assent. According to this same Roll the church of Hartington then received, in addition to its local income, one pound from the church of Radbourn, in the Deanery of Castelar. The manor and church of Radbourn were then held by the Staffords, but under Edmund, Earl of Lancaster. It had also previously formed part of the Ferrers estate, but the origin of this pension from one church to the other cannot now be traced.

Edmund died seized of the manor of Hartington, but the Inquisition taken at his death mentions the church of Hartington as held in fee under him by Thomas Touchet (of Markeaton).[6] As the church had been already formally appropriated to the Minoresses four years previously, we can only conclude that Touchet had obtained a lease of the lands and tithes of this church, paying so much a year definite income for the enjoyment of the same, and that this lease had not expired at the time of the appropriation.

The appointment of Vicar of Hartington was shortly afterwards in the hands of the Minoresses, as an institution of the year 1335, at their representation, is recorded in the Lichfield Registers.[7]

From an Inquisition of the year 1375, we gather the name of one of the Chaplains of Hartington in the reign of Edward III. - Ricus del Hilla. He increased the emoluments of the Minoresses in this parish, by bestowing, in conjunction with Symon Handyman, upon the Abbess and her successors, two messuages and twenty acres of arable land, with their appurtenances in Hartington.[8]

In 1509, William Bray was instituted to this Vicarage on the death of William Cockys; and in 1528, Richard Comberford was instituted on the death of Bray, under a papal dispensation, on account of his youth.[9]

When the Valor Ecclesiasticus was taken, in the 27th year of Henry VIII., Hartington still remained appropriated to the Minoresses. Robert Morton was then the Vicar, and the endowment of the vicarage consisted of three houses (mansions); the Easter dues; the oblations made at marriages, funerals, and the purification of women; and the tithes of pigs, ducks, geese, and hemp; the whole bringing in an average income of £10. The Nunnery of the Poor Clares was dissolved three years later, when its property was valued at £418 8s. 5d., by Elizabeth Savage, the last Abbess.

The following entry occurs in Bishop Lee's register, under date February 4th, 1541-2: - “Gervase Alen admitted to Vicarage of Hartington, vacant by death of Robert Moreton, presented by Francis Earl of Shrewsbury in virtue of an assignment made to his Father, by the Abbeys of the now dissolved House of Minorites extra Aldgate, and confirmed by the Kings Court of Augmentations”.

The Commissioners appointed by Edward VI., to take an inventory of all the Church Goods, in the first year of his reign, visited Hartington on the 30th of September. They found there-

“ij chalics - iij belles - j sanctus bell - j cope - j sute accordyng of flowred silks - iiij vestyments, j of ym is of blewe velvet and ye other iij of silks - ij albes - j broken crosse, toper and gylte - ij candylstycks of brasse - ye sencers were put by the churchewardens towardse the makyng of a bell stoppe - ij hande belles - a payre of organs[10] - ij towells - j grene vestyment in ye hands of Grace Hide, widowe”.

The Parliamentary Survey of Livings, undertaken in 1650 by order of the Commonwealth, says of Hartington:- “It is a parish and vicarage of large extent, usually divided into four quarters. The two neather quarters are thought fitt to be continued to ye parish churche. The whole vicarage is worth £19 10s., whereof £10 aryseth out of the gleabe and the two neather quarters. Earl Sterndall is a chapel of Ease in the parish of Hartington, a member of the middle quarter, which is thought fitt to be made a parish church, and these hamletts of middle quarter, Harlee, Glutton, Doewall, Crowdicoate, Wheeldontrees, Needham, Graunge, Hurdlow, Cronkston, and Sterndale, £2. The upper quarter (excepting Earles Booth which is fitt to be united to the middle quarter) £2 10s.; though fitt by reason of its great distance from its parish church to be united to Buxton.”

“Mr. Thomas Honeys is vicar of Hartington, reputed scandalous”.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Giles, is of a cruciform shape, consisting of nave and side aisles, north and south transepts, chancel, and tower at the west end.

With the exception of certain fragments of inscised slabs, etc., built into the walls, and which may possibly point to an earlier sepulture on this site, there are no traces in the present building of a church of prior date to the first half of the thirteenth century, temp. Henry III. There are sufficient remains of the Early English period in the chancel, and the north transept, to justify us in the surmise that there was a complete cruciform church here, of much the same dimensions as the present one, at the commencement of the reign of Henry III., circa 1220-1230. On the north side of the chancel are two lancet windows of this date, and one of the same character in the west wall of the north transept.

There are also indications of the Early English style in the detached shafts against the chancel wall at the east end of the nave. The two east windows of this transept (of two lights each) and the one of three lights in the north wall, are of the period of transition from Early English to Decorated, which prevailed in the last quarter of the thirteenth century. These alterations would accordingly be effected just about the time when thus church came into the hands of Edmund of Lancaster, when we might naturally expect that the building should be put into a state of repair, previous to its being presented to the Minoresses of London.

But the main characteristics of the building are of a rather later date - viz., of the Decorated style that was in vogue during the first half of the fourteenth century. The nave is separated from the north and south aisles by three archways on each side, supported by pillars, formed of four clustered columns with a fillet moulding running down the face of each, and these are of Decorated design.

The various features, too, of the south transept, though of slightly differing date, are all of this period. This transept is divided into two unequal parts by two archways running south and north, supported by an octagon pillar in the centre and two similar pilasters against the walls. The smaller or more western part of this transept is lighted on the south by a small pointed window of two lights, and the other part by a five-light window of good design on the same side. In the east wall of this transept there is also another good window of this date, the centre light of which contains a fragment of the old glass, consisting of a roundlet of yellow and white glass, bearing a design of two triangles and a rose. The roof of this transept, which has some well-carved bosses on the tie-beams, is nearly flat, and partially conceals the apex of the large south window, being a later addition of the Perpendicular period. The large east window of the chancel, of five lights, with simple intersecting tracery, is of that style of Decorated which is usually attributed to about the year 1320. There are also windows of the Decorated period in the south wall of the chancel, and at the west end of both north and south aisles. The exterior, too, of the chancel, with its diagonal buttresses at the east end, and high but narrow priest's door on the south, with a widely-projecting drip-stone, proves that this portion of the church, in common with the remainder, was rebuilt in the fourteenth century.

The same century also, we conceive, saw the tower erected. The weather lines on the western face of the tower show that there was a higher and more acute pitch to the roof of the nave at that time, proving that the present clerestory windows were of a later date. An alteration that apparently affected the whole of the roof of the different parts of the church, necessitating the erection of the present handsome battlements, was probably brought about early in the Perpendicular period. A considerable alteration was also made at the west end of the south aisle, subsequent to the general rebuilding of the church in the Decorated period, by the addition of porch of considerable dimensions. But this seems to have been built - to judge by the doorway and other distinctive features - before the advent of the Perpendicular style. There is a staircase in the west wall of this porch leading to a chamber above it; but this is now built up, and so also is the lower of two windows in the porch, on the same side. The south front of the porch has over the entrance a well-carved niche for the patron saint, now tenantless. On each side of this niche are two small shields cut in the stone. That on the dexter side, bears a frett, and that on the sinister, a fess between two chevrons. These coats of arms are noted, in the very brief account given by Bassano of this church, about the year 1710.

We cannot associate these arms with any borne by the principal landowners of Hartington, but have come to the conclusion that they were carved here in honour of two custodians of the Peak Castle, who, by virtue of their office, exercised certain important rights over the whole of the Peak district. Richard, son of William de Vernon (arg., a frett, sab.) had the custody of the Peak Castle, 47 Henry III.;[11] and Bryan de l'Isle (or, a fesse between two chevrons, sab.) held a similar position for a long period during the earlier part of the same reign.[12]

This will be the best place to mention three other coats of arms, that were in the church of Hartington in the sixteenth century, but which have long since disappeared. We quote from William Wyrley's Copy of Flower's Visitation of 1569, with additions taken by himself in 1592. “Hartington in the high peake in Darbieshier, sometime to the famelie of Hartington belonging, by whose daughter and heyr it came to the Poles, being an auncient race of gentlemen in thes countries. Having devided tbemselfes into manie branches of which this of Bradbourn that married Hartington's heyre is the eldest. In the church thes thre escochiones. It is placed near the ryver of Dove”.

(1). Gu., a fess between six cross-crosslets, or.
(2). Gu., three lions of England passant gardant in pale, or, a label of three points, az., each charged with two fleur-de-lis, of the second.
(3). Arg., Six cross-crosslets fitchee, sa., on a chief, or., two mullets pierced of the first.

The first of these coats is that of Beauchamp, the second that of the Earls of Lancaster of royal blood, and the third belongs to Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon. Both the Beauchamps and Clintons were allied to the Earl of Lancaster, who bestowed this church, as we have already seen, on the Minoresses of London.

A square-headed window of three lights in the north aisle, and another of similar design in the south side of the chancel, were inserted during the Perpendicular period. A late illustration of that style, of the reign of Henry VII. may also be noticed in the wide blocked up doorway of the north aisle, with its obtusely pointed arch.

The interior of the church presents several details of interest. The transepts afford proof of there having been at least four subsidiary altars in this church, in addition to the high altar in the chancel. In the south transept there is a plain piscina in a niche, and a square almery or cupboard in the wall, the holes for the hinges of the door being still discernible. In addition to these, there is on each side of the window in the east wall a stone bracket, upon which the images of saints have formerly stood. The one to the left is supported by an elegant tapering corbel, and was restored at the time of the restoration of this church. On entering the north transept, there is a piscina in the east wall, immediately to one's right, in a niche with a trefoil arch, and near it is a bracket with Early English dog-tooth moulding. Between the two windows in this wall, is another piscina of the same description as the last, but having another line of moulding round the niche. There is also a corbel head, projecting below the further window.

Three steps lead up into the chancel from the nave. The piscina in the south wall was repaired at the time of the restoration. The communion table is a good specimen of the woodwork of the seventeenth century, though it is now supported on straight legs which have undoubtedly replaced the original rounded ones. The name of “Ralph Stearndale” is carved in large raised letters on the front margin of the table, and the other sides bear the names of Henry Lomas, Robert Bagshawe, and Bennit Highton, the four churchwardens at the time of the table being placed in the chancel.

When this church was restored in 1858, various fragments of incised memorial slabs were found in the walls. Two of the most perfect of these are now in the porch. One of them, which had been cut to form the splay of a window, consists of the circular head, and part of the stem, of an incised cross. The effective disposition of the lines differs from the patterns we have noticed at Bakewell, and Chelmorton, and elsewhere in the county, nor is there a similar one figured in Cutts' Manual, of Incised Slabs.[13] . It is of the 13th century. The other fragment is the lower part of an incised slab, having flowing lines carved on each side of the stem. In the exterior masonry of the north aisle that blocks up the Tudor doorway, are two more heads of incised crosses; one of these is a good geometrical design within a circle, and the other of an unusual pattern, closely resembling that in the porch, the segments of the circles being turned inwards (Plate XXIII). In the side of the east window of the bell chamber of the tower, may also be noticed the stems of two incised crosses. But the stone that has the greatest claim to antiquity is one in the wall of the north transept, about twelve inches by nine. It is carved into an interlaced knot-work pattern, and is certainly as old as the eleventh century. This fragment may very possibly carry us back to the time when there was a church here in the Anglo-Saxon days, but which appears to have been destroyed before the taking of the Domesday Survey (1086). Such a church would probably be of wood, but the graves of the more prominent persons might be marked with stone memorials carved after this fashion.

In the churchyard, against the south side of the chancel, is a large stone coffin with a lid. It is six feet eight inches in length, and two feet seven inches in breadth at the head. The angles are bevelled off, and it does not otherwise present the appearance of any great antiquity. We could not learn how long it has stood in its present position. It is thus described by Mr. Bateman, in 1848:- “Near to the chancel door of the church is a very large stone coffin, with a thick and heavy cover, upon which has been sculptured a cross fleury, now almost obliterated by the effects of the weather. The size and form of the coffin indicate that it has not been intended to be placed beneath the ground(?), and the many furrows which it exhibits, arising from atmospheric causes, show that centuries must have elapsed since the occupancy of its present position. It is probable that many may in turn have occupied this narrow house, as several initials of a modern style of letter are engraved upon the lid; and from information afforded by the sexton, it appears that some years since, the cover being removed, the stone coffin was found to inclose an inner one of wood, upon which there were initials, done in brass nails, but no date. This would certainly be of much later date than the outer coffin, as the custom of using brass nails appears to have been most prevalent during the seventeenth century”.[14]

There is a singular absence of tombs of any antiquity within the church, especially when we consider its size and importance. Under the large south window of the south transept, is a canopied recess of Decorated design, which appears to have been intended for the repose of the founder of this part of the church in the fourteenth century. We were told by the custodian of the church, that on making a vault for the burial of the Rev. B. Hope, vicar of Hartington, who died in 1814, nineteen skulls were found beneath this recess. The recess is now occupied by a monument or sepulchral slab of the semi-effigial character. The opening at the upper end of the slab shows the sculptured head and shoulders of a female, holding a heart between the clasped hands; and a small opening at the lower end exposes the feet. It bears a striking resemblance to the similar monument of Matilda le Caus at Brampton church, who died in 1224, and is undoubtedly of the same century, though of rather later date. This slab was found, during the restoration in 1858, about a foot below the pavement at the east end of the nave. The surface is much worn, as though at one time it had been level with the floor. The stone is a little over six feet in length, by about two feet in breadth, at the head, but tapering considerably to the feet. It may fairly be concluded that this monument marked the sepulture of a person of considerable consequence. May it not belong to one of the Ferrers family? On the attainder of Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, as already mentioned, the manor of Hartington was granted to Edward, Earl of Lancaster; but it appears from the Hundred Roll (1273) that Margaret, Countess of Derby, held it for her life, probably by right of dower. We would therefore offer it as a conjecture that this maybe the tomb of Margaret de Ferrers.

Bassano says (1710):- “To ye north west of ye cross building of ye church is an old tomb of stone, covered by alibaster, on which has been ye portraiture of a man and woman; arms and inscription illegible”. Of this tomb there is now no trace.

At the west end of the church is an octagon font, one face of which is against the wall, on two others arc uncharged shields, and on the remaining five is pointed tracery of different designs.

Various remnants of old fresco painting came to light on the walls during the restoration, but they were not capable of being preserved. Previous to that time, framed illustrations representing the twelve tribes had hung against the clerestory walls. They were then removed to the north transept, but at the time of our visit when the roof of that transept was being repaired, they were placed in a pile with their faces to the wall, at the end of the north aisle. They do not appear to possess any artistic merit, and are, we believe, the work of last century.

On the south wall of the porch may be noticed a mural sundial, bearing the semi-heathenish inscription, “So marches the God of day”.

The tower contains only three bells. The first bears the legend, “God save this Church, 1667”, and the bell mark of George Oldfield; the second “I.H.S. Nazarenus Rex. Judeorum fili Dei miserere, H.G., V. W., Wardens, 1696”, and the third, “Dei sonitum plenum Jesus et modulamen amanum, 1686”, and a bell mark of a shield divided into quarters, having the initials P.H. in chief, and sprigs of foliage in the base.

There are very unusual ornaments cut in the external jambs of the west window of the tower, of the style that is sometimes seen on incised slabs - viz., an open book on the one side, and a chalice with the wafer rising from it on the other.

In the very extensive museum, formed by the late Mr. Thomas Bateman, at Lomberdale House, are two interesting objects connected with the Church of Hartington.[15] One of these, which unfortunately was removed from the church, is an oaken box, twenty-four inches long, strongly bound with iron straps, and is described in the catalogue as having been intended for the security of the papal dues termed Peter's Pence. The other is an ivory seal of a Dean of Hartington, bearing round the edge the inscription - “Sigil. Thom. Harvey. Deconi. de. Hartington. cum. membris”. The handle of the seal forms a salt-cellar, and the face, which is of pointed oval shape, is engraved with the following singular devices:- At the top is the sun, a little lower on the dexter side is a crescent to indicate the moon; on the sinister side is a hand, issuing from the clouds, holding a pair of balances; beneath the clouds are seven stars. Under the balances is a label extending across the seal, inscribed “Vincit qui patitur;” and lowest of all is a shield, bearing in chief six crescents, and in base an arm in armour holding a dagger. It appears from the Hartington registers, that Thomas Harvey was vicar of the parish from 1635 to 1648.

The present seal of the Dean has an oval face of brass (two inches by one-and-a-half), engraved with the figure of a dean in his canonicals, holding a pair of balances in his left hand. Round the seal is the simple legend - The Dean of Hartington. The handle is of turned ivory. From the style of the costume, and general character of this seal, we are not inclined to ascribe to it a greater antiquity than 1750-1800.

With respect to the Dean of Hartington - (an office of post-Reformation origin), Lysons tells us (1817) that Sir Hugh Bateman, who had purchased the rectorial estate of William Lygon on the inclosure of the Commons in 1798, was patron of the deanery of Hartington; and that the Dean held the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the parish, the probate of wills, etc., it being exempt from the authority of either Bishop or Archdeacon.[16] But the parish is now under both episcopal and archidiaconal supervision. The office of Dean, however, still exists, and is held by the Rev. John Bateman, rector of West Leake, near Loughborough. He was appointed to the office in 1852, by the trustees of his late uncle, Sir Hugh Bateman. The present Dean, in a letter that he wrote to us in September, 1876, says:- “My duties as Dean were to grant Marriage Licences, Probates of Wills, and Letters of Administration”. Only the first of these privileges now remains to the Dean, and that not exclusively, as the late vicar of Hartington was a surrogate.

The Hartington registers now commence with 27th of April, 1610. They are in very bad condition up to 1700, and many leaves missing. In 1791 an earlier register, beginning at least as early as 1554, was extant. It appears to have been used by Mr. Bigland, the Herald, while compiling the pedigree of Sir Hugh Bateman in that year.[17]

[1] Calend. Rot., Chart, 5 John; memb. 5 - 195,196.
[2] Inq. post. mort. 38 Hen. III., No.
[3] Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. i., p. 772.
[4] Stow's Survey of London, p. 118. Stowe, in the continuation to the Monasticon, objects to the use of the terms Abbey, and the subsequent term Abbess, “because those of this order never use those names; but, be this as it may both expressions are used in the foundation charter of the minories by Edward I, which is surely a sufficient authority”. The “Minories” otherwise “Minoresses” was a title showing their connection with the Franciscans, whose distinctive appellation was Grey Friars, or Friars-Minors. St. Clare, their foundress, was a native of Assissi in Italy, and a zealous disciple of St. Francis.
[5] Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. i., x, p. 772.
[6] Inq. post Mort., 25 Edw. I., No. 51.
[7] Lichfield Episcopal Registers, vol. ii., f. 73.
[8] Inq: ad quod Damnum, 49 Edw. III., No. 2; Archæologia, vol. xv., p. 202.
[9] Lichfield Episcopal Registers, vols. xiii, and xiv.
[10] “The larger organs are often called ‘a pair’”. Walcott's Sacred Archæology, p, 415. But we believe that in this, as in other instances, “a payre of organs” signified a small organ on each side of the quire, which were used alternately in the antiphonal chanting of the psalms, etc.
[11] Pegge omits his name from the list of Castellans given in his History of the Castles of Bolsover and the Peak. We give it on the authority of the Vernon Collectanea, in Lord Vernon's possession.
[12] The following particulars relative to Bryan de l'Isle are chiefly taken from Dugdale's Baronage, vol. i., p.737. Bryan de l'Isle was a person of great note in his time. In 3 John, Bryan paid 120 marks and a palfrey for the wardeship and marriage of the heir of W. Briton (Rot. Pip. 3 John.), and, in 6 John, married Maude daughter and heiress of Thomas, son of W. de Seleby. (Claus. 6 John,, m. 10). In 9 John he was Governor of Bolsover (Pat. 9 John m. 2); 17 John, he held the honours of Peverel and Bolsover (Rot. Pip. 17 John); 18 John, commanded to fortify Bolsover against barons, and if he could not hold it to demolish it. (Pat. 18 John m. 8.). In 7 Henry 3, he had his trust in castles of Peak and Bolsover renewed (Pat. 7 Hen. III. m. 5); 9 Hen. 3, he was joined in Commission with Hugh de Nevill to inquire by oath of bounds of Forests, &c.; 13 Henry 3, and 16 Henry 3, he was confined in Peak Castle; 18 Hen. 3 (Pat. m. 15), he was once more made Gov. of Bolsover. But in that year he died. Hugh de l'Isle was probably his son.
[13] There is a small woodcut of this stone in the Reliquary, vol. i., p. 128; also in the 1858 volume of the Antistatic Drawing Society, plate xxiii.
[14] Bateman's Antiquities of Derbyshire, p. 209.
[15] Bateman's Catalogue of Antiquities, pp. 175, 271.
[16] Lysons' Derbyshire, p. 176.
[17] Bateman's MSS. Writing in 1829, Mr. Bateman seems to think it was still extant, but adds, “It is not known at present where it is deposited”. Possibly this notice may even now bring it to light. More than one instance occurs to us, in which a parish register has been recovered, after lying unnoticed for a long period of years among private papers.

Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in October 2010.

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