The Church of the Good Shepherd - Wardlow

This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper on 4th June 1990, reproduced by kind permission of its author, Julie Bunting.


In the eyes of the church the village of Wardlow used to be a ‘lost place’; one side of its main street lay inside Longstone parish and the opposite side in that of Hope. It was said that Wardlow women scarcely could trudge the long Derbyshire miles to either church and the men seldom did! Eventually a Sunday School was built in 1835 on the Longstone side of Wardlow, but the extensive parish of Hope left their portion to take care of itself.

Then in 1871 the Reverend Samuel Andrew, vicar of nearby Tideswell, took an interest in the spiritual welfare of Wardlow's 180 inhabitants, described in the Lichfield Diocesan Churchman as ‘a remarkably civil set, unsophisticated it is true, and with a suspicion of roughness about them, perhaps; but sterling and good as gold’. The same publication called Wardlow a ‘no man's child...... a fatherless village’, noting the Reverend Andrew's recognition of the need for practical schools and small churches in hamlets remote from their parish church.

Due to his efforts, just such a small wayside church was built onto the newly enlarged C. of E. National School at Wardlow opened amid the happy celebrations of the village wakes on Friday, 20 September 1872. The villagers contributed bread, butter and cream to lay on two hundred teas, served in relays in the two small rooms. Building work was proceeding as funds allowed and the day's collections of over £50 paid for the rest of the church to be roofed before winter set in.

The school, itself only 32ftx14ft, extended to a side chapel of 18ftx12ft, for use as a chancel until the completed church was dedicated to The Good Shepherd in June 1873. A doorway in the side chapel now opened into the nave, while folding doors in another wall could shut off the schoolroom if necessary. The Good Shepherd Theme Built in Perpendicular Gothic style to the design of architect H. Cockbain of Middleton, near Manchester, the single aisle church has 100 sittings. Stone arches stand out against the white north wall which it shares with the school; the smallest central arch still opens in to the side chapel but the larger ones have been filled in. Built onto the south wall is the interesting stone pulpit, copied From an old existing example and reached by a stone turret staircase, lit by a quaint diamond and ‘bulls eye’ window. The pulpit is carved with foliage and the words 'My Sheep hear My Voice', in keeping with the church's dedication. Gilt lettering on the gritstone reredos continues the theme with ‘The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the Sheep’ and ‘He Shall feed His flock like a Shepherd’. Originally intended for the font was ‘He Shall gather the lambs in his arms and carry them in his bosom’, but painted round the rim is ‘One Lord, One Baptism, One Hope’. A further apt text ‘He shall go in and out and find pasture’ completed the pierced oak screen across the west end of the nave.

Behind the screen is the main door and the font; here too are kept the two bells dated 1872, removed from the bell turret. Also in safekeeping is a large glass dome containing an arrangement of white artificial flowers ‘In affectionate remembrance of our little friend Hilda Allsopp. From parents, teachers and scholars’. For many years it stood on the child's grave in summertime, faithfully brought in every winter against frost damage.

Eight pews on either side of the nave still retain folding foot-rests, while darker oak furniture includes the lectern, chancel rail, and a richly carved book-rest beside the altar. A pair of oak collection plates commemorate Thomas Furniss who died in 1984.

Wide windows, especially in the east and west walls, admit ample light, the only coloured glass being a panel above the reredos representing ‘Suffer Little Children to come unto Me’. Of the few wall monuments, an enamelled brass ornamented with the symbols of the evangelists commemorates the Reverend Samuel Andrew. A cross carved into the wall nearby is almost hidden by the ornate old harmonium - todays music is provided by a neat electric organ.

A monument of white marble stands to three young men who fell in the two World Wars, their names each marked with a cross on the two Rolls of Honour.

Another who was lost at sea in 1941 has a memorial stone beneath the trees in the churchyard, surrounded by the graves of those who were left to grow old in Wardlow, the village which was brought back into the fold.

© Julie Bunting
From "The Peak Advertiser", 4th June 1990.

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