St Mary and All Saints Parish Church (Crooked Spire) Church in Chesterfield,  St Peter's Church in Edensor, All Saints Parish Church, Bakewell, pictured clockwise from left.
St Mary and All Saints Parish Church (Crooked Spire) Church in Chesterfield, St Peter's Church in Edensor, All Saints Parish Church, Bakewell, pictured clockwise from left.

New book reveals surprising tales about Derbyshire churches

A retired teacher reveals fascinating stories about Derbyshire’s churches in his new book.

Sunday, 31st July 2022, 1:54 pm

David Paul explores the history and architecture of the buildings, the tombs that are contained within their walls and the customs surrounding these centuries-old community meeting places.

His extensive research for the book ‘Churches of Derbyshire’ discovered a plethora of ancient and historically significant places of worship including St Mary and All Saints Parish Church in Chesterfield and All Saints Parish Church in Bakewell.

While it’s common knowledge that Chesterfield’s famed Crooked Spire church had its interior fittings destroyed by a serious blaze in 1961, it may come as a surprise that it wasn’t the first time that the church had caught alight. In 1861 a bolt of lightning started a fire in a beam next to the wooden roof of the chancel which was discovered by the sexton on his nightly round.

Over at Pentrich, a 500-year-old font went missing from St Matthew’s Church in the 19th century and was found in the cellar of a former churchwarden where it had been used to salt beef!

Traditions down the years have including placing a rope across the door of St Peter’s Church in Hope on a wedding day just before the newly-weds were about to leave the service. A payment in the form of a toll would be demanded of the happy couple.

And at St Michael’s Church in Hathersage, a Maiden’s Garland – a symbol of virginity and innocence – would be displayed at the funeral of an unmarried woman or girl in a tradition which extended into the early 19th century.

The Black Death sparked many health-related superstitions in Crich such as if anyone let blood in the left arm on April 11, he would not lose his eyesight for that year and if he let blood on April 3 he would be spared headaches for the remainder of the year.

David’s book even contains a ghost story involving the Rev William Blurton, vicar of Kirk Hallam from 1891 to 1911. The vicar was travelling home in his pony and trap from an evening engagement when he saw ‘a headless’ lady pass by.

‘Churches of Derbyshire’ will be on sale from August 15, 2022 and available from Amberley Publishing, priced £15.99. Go to www.amberley-books.com

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