The Open Door

Note about the transcription of The Open Door

I was privileged to receive from the family of local historian, the late Dr Geoff Dawes, his collection of research papers, photographs and notes. Amongst this collection was a typed transcript of Bill Hodgkinson’s articles entitled “The Open Door” which were serialised in St Mary’s Church magazine in the 1980s. I have re-transcribed the feint copy with only the lightest of editorial changes, leaving the capitalisation, frequent dashes and terminology as per the Geoff Dawes’ copy. Very occasionally I have added an extra note when I thought the reader might appreciate clarification of a “technical term”.
It was one of the most enjoyable and informative transcriptions I have undertaken for this Crich Parish history site. A detailed and well researched history of St Mary’s Church as well as the impact of major historical events on our local community.
Peter Patilla Dec 2017



It must also, for obvious reasons, be made clear, that because many delicate matters of history connected with religious observance, and indeed, differing religious beliefs, will have to be referred to, any conclusions drawn or observations made are those of the writer, and not necessarily those of our Church or its Theologians. In some sort of self-defence it also must be said that the writer is not an Historian., merely an ordinary layman, convinced that without Christ and faith historical study is worthless and has no meaning other than curiosity. It is only when historical fact is looked at with the eye of faith and the Spirit, that we can see the single thread of our God’s purpose running through it all, “unresting, unhasting, and silent as night”, often unseen at the time, and more often than not obscured and concealed by the loud and frantic excesses of truculent and selfish man which appear to make up the greater part of History as recorded.
Finally, tribute must be paid to all who have been consulted and whose researches and writings form the basis of the greater part of the stories. A full bibliography will be made at the end, but justice would not be done if some of the great ones were not mentioned now. The giant, without whose dedication and meticulous research throughout a long life all Derbyshire would be the poorer, is of course the late Rev. Doctor Charles Cox. The Rev.R.Farmer, Rev.Charles Kerry, Henry Kirke M.A. and last but by no means least, our own historian of the eighteenth century, Mr.John Reynolds of Plaistowe, have all to be recognised as great historians, and thanked for their assistance and aid to us in our search for whatever our ancestors left behind in precept or principle which will help us, in our predicament, to find “THE OPEN DOOR”.
“What is your name? N or M.” Our Catechism asks.
”Who gave you this name? My Godfathers and Godmothers in my Baptism”.
Why Crich? Why Wingfield, Whatstandwell, Thurlow Booth? who named these places? and why? At our standpoint at 1100AD perhaps one or two looks backwards will establish our position and enable us to chart a proper course, so this look is at names. The first written use of CRICH known to the writer is in an old Charter of 1009 AD known as the Salt Charter, but from the great numbers of Roman coins found in the district and noted in cur previous stories, there must have been some sort of Soman settlement much earlier. The following list is taken mainly from the English Place Names Society Derbyshire volumes by Professor Kenneth Cameron, with some divergences suggested by B.Walker Esq. B.A., and F.Williamson Esq., late curator of Derby Museum. No two Philologists seem to agree on the exact derivation of our place names, understandably so since changes in language and dialects, poor recording and copying, and the chances of local usage, all combine to confuse the researcher* You will no doubt be able to spot the doubtful ones.
ALDERWASLEY from Old English- Allor: Alder,Wasc; swamp or marsh, theclearing. The clearing near the Marsh of Alder trees.
CRICH from Old British CRUC or Celtic CRUG: Hill.
Williamson thinks from Old British CROUKA: rock, Walker from Old English CRYCC: crutch, crooked. It has been spelt Crick, Cruce, Cruche, Crouche down the years. Some of the local names are of great age i.e. Crich Carr in the Darley Charters of 1309, Crich Cliffe in 1346. The Dimple in 1248, Edge Farm, the ”Egge” in 1245 Stoney Lane, 'Le stones' in 126l, Chadwick Nick after William Chadwick in 1734 Bull Bridge in 1697,and Benthill in 1655.
CODDINGTON. In 1219 spelt Coddintone. Codda’s tun: i.e “”the farm belonging to the man Codda.
FRITCHLEY. Neither Professor Cameron nor Walker can suggest a full derivation. Williamson thinks it is “the Ley in the Frith’ the Frith being the forest, the Duffield to Crich ‘King’s Chase’ , (as Chapel en le Frith.- the Chapel in the forest.)
WHATSTANDWELL There exists an old document of Darley Abbey dated ‘14 Richd. 11 Mich’ . (as these medieval deeds were dated–11 after Michelmas 1390) – an agreement drawn up between the Abbot of Darley and John de Stepul, stating that John intends to erect, at his own cost, a bridge over the River Derwent “next to the house which Walter Stonewell had held of the Convent”, where no bridge had ever before been constructed, the bridge to take the place of the ford commonly called Wattestanwel Ford, so Wat Stonewell was probably the ford keeper on behalf of the Abbey, and John a man giving his substance to the Church for such good works. We shall see later that this bridge is not the one which now exists, and which is of a much later date.
WINGFIELD Cameron suggests that North and South Wingfield should be taken together– Old English Winn; pasture, and fields: open ground, the villages standing at either end. Alternatively he suggests it could mean “disputed ground or open land” , i.e. disputed ownership. Both Walker and Williamson think Old English, Wine pasture of field. Wine an O.E, personal name.
WHEATCROFT Old English; Hweate Crofte, the wheat field.
WESSINGTON Old English; Wiston’s or Wigston’s tun or farm.
TANSLEY Old Norse: Tanni’s Lea or Pasture.
OAKERTHORPE Old Norse-corrupted from Ulkertorpe, the Vill of Ulkel.
PENTRICH Doubtful. Cameron thinks from Old Welsh: Penn- Hill, and Tirch, the plural of twrch: Boar, Boars Hill. Williamson and Walker think it connected with PENDA, the old King of Mercia.
SHUCKSTONE Old English– Scuccanthorns: Goblin or Devil’s thorn.
DETHICK ’Death Oak’ – the tree on which criminals were hanged.
LEA Old English – Laeh, a clearing.
HOLLOWAY Old English – Hol Weg; the hollow road (cut into the hill)
THURLOW BOOTH Old Danish – Thurlak’s doth - the farm of Thurlak. The Booths, as we shall see later, were the leas in the Royal Chases where the pastured animals were rounded up and sorted out yearly.
At least this gives us a rough idea of how the names we use daily came about, but very little about the men by whom they were first named, or whom they were named after. Thank God, we know exactly, and in detail, about Him after whom we are called Christians, and of those men who were first so called in Antioch, nearly two thousand years ago.
it seems hardly likely that any men of Crich were fighting the Norman Invaders on that Autumn morning of 1066. They may well have formed part of Harold’s army which had force marched to York and fought two hard battles with the other Invaders – the Vikings, before urgently turning South to meet and fight William from Normandy. Amongst his men there was Hubert de Rhys and his son Ralph, their immediate Leader being Earl Ferrers. For his help and valour Hubert was given by a grateful Conqueror via Henry Ferrers his Chief Lord a total of 19 Derbyshire Manors. Why he chose Crich as his main residence rather than Scarcliffe, Palterton, Eckington, Whitwell or Barlborough, amongst others is not known. With hindsight one could argue that strategically it dominated part of the Derwent Valley, was close to the main cross road linking the prehistoric Portway with the Roman Rykneild Street at Oakerthorpe, and was easy of access to the Ferrer’s Castle at Duffield which guarded the entrance to the Derwent Valley. Crich’s high ground was a strategic asset to a clever Conqueror. Where his Manor was built is not known. Here it should be remembered that these early Manors were not the great things they later became.
More like a largish Cottage with its stabling and barns, long since disappeared. But since the Normans liked their living quarters to be near their Church, and more often than not, on its North side, so that sun-seeking South Windows kept a constant vigil on the Church, this would suggest a site somewhere on the elevated land at Town-end, a reasonably strategic siting. And since the Normans liked their fish and were far from the sea they loved, and at Crich had no river at hand, they normally made fishponds for carp and bream. The continued existence of “Fish Ponds” farm lower down the slope may well be another clue to the answer.
The Country William hoped to subdue was by no means Pagan. Edward Confessor had created and upheld a workable if complicated system of local Government by Hundreds and Wapentakes from which our Counties and Districts sprang later. And with a trained Clerical Establishment at his elbow, with French Archbishops and Bishops, he soon established an expanding religious and secular Administration. However, in the Danelaw, of which Derby and Crich formed a part. The Saxon Church Organisation which was strong, was largely destroyed until William’s Overlords built their Castles, as Ferrers did at Duffield and Tutbury.
Then, their barons, as De Rhys of Crich, sitting in their little Manors, set about Church building – as at Crich, appointing their own Priests. In these insecure times the Churches often tended to become the Sanctuary where the Peasants with their stock took refuge during alarms and excursions. In later stories we shall see how Priests and Archbishops and bishops worked hard to raise the standard of an admittedly nasty brutish-life when everything had to be home made and raised, and many went without even the basic necessities. Many Historians as our own Cox occasionally, find it easy to produce evidence of poor quality Priests. The writer believes it to be necessary to show the undoubted virtues of these often un-lettered and always poor, men who served, prayed, and worked for their flocks in the most difficult warlike and dangerous times, and in living circumstances beyond our imagining. There were many who must nave well traced the path to The Open Door – all honour to them.
The first Churches of those early days were, of course, in the ownership of the man who built them. Originally the serving Priest must have been a poor man, keeping his own swine and chickens and cultivating his own plot for herbs and vegetables. Gradually, and reaching a crescendo later when the Monasteries took over from the Barons, the Priests came to rely on Tithes from the flock. These came to consist of:-
The great tithe – Crops and stock.
The lesser tithe – Hens, Honey, fruit etc and offerings to the Altar, plus any fees arising from, the Churches services in Weddings, Funerals and the like.
It is possible to see this early Medieval Religion, for people we find it difficult to identify with, so different are our environments and standards of living, (a people whose outlook was limited to within a few yards of their Homes, and with no sense of a vast universe, or the complexity of the Heavens, anchored as they were to their own microcosmic part of earth,) as a way of dealing with Spiritual things so as to give the great mass of poor and hungry a Vision of God’s Eternity of Love, Peace, and no wanting. A kind of simplicity of relations between God and His creatures, which was doomed, in the end to become a bargain – it being thought that the Priest’s continual Masses shortened the Purgatory which it was supposed lay between them and God’s Kingdom of Bliss.
For this way of thinking numerous Side Chapels were added to Churches, many masses made, millions of candles lit, and daily intercessions made. Not for 4 or 5 hundred years – until a Reformation, did some folk come to see that this was not Worship, nor Adoration, but only a sort of Market Place with God behind a counter. The more you pay and pray the better your chance of success. But, for the reasons given, our criticism should be tempered by our understanding of 1100s man’s predicament. We intellectually superior beings of 1984 who have reached the Moon and fly in Space but cannot reduce violence of which 1100s man would have been ashamed, and wring our hands about our empty churches, have no reason whatever to judge the minds of our ancestors of 900 years ago.
Such then, was part of the picture as far as we can judge, when Henry 1 took the throne in 1100, with Ralph Fitz Hubert in his Manor of Crich, his Church about to begin building, in a County of about 15,000 folk including the large Borough of Derby. Ralph died c1175 when his son Hubert succeeded to the Barony with Henry II on the Throne. Stephen’s violent reign, with Maud’s rebellion and the treacheries of a Baronial uprising was over. Richard 1 in 1189 and John in 1199 were to succeed in this centuries’ comparatively short reigns.
Hubert confirmed our Church in 1175 (when Vatican pressure was getting rid of the Lay owners and financing the Abbeys and Monasteries.) to the Abbott and Canons of the Abbey of Darley (NOT Darley Dale) founded by his Overlord Earl Ferrers in 1154. Hubert gave them, with our Church, land at Wessington, Lea, Dethick and Tansley plus the Advowsons of Pentrich and South Wingfield (amongst others).
In reference to this transaction, Cox records a dispute between Hubert and the Abbott, who made claim to control the pannage and agistment of swine thr’out. the whole woods of Crich.
But Hubert, who obviously was safeguarding the livelihoods of his tenants, won by the judgment of Roger Bishop of Worcester and Robert Prior of Kenilworth. Friendly tho’ it may have been, a dispute when the Abbott had hardly entered into possession of what Hubert had given him and had also become fortuitously possessed of the income and full control of our Church of St. Mary can lead to a lot of surmise, since it foreshadowed to some extent what became a nuisance later on which had to be stopped. Was the Monastic Administration already becoming materialistic with extortionate tendencies, which years later were some of the issues of a reformation?
Hubert later gave the Abbey the Advowson of his Church at Scarcliffe (of which he was Lord). Among the many Charters (one of which confirmed his gift of our Church) was this – as a sample of these old legal documents!
“To all the faithful in. Christe, To whom the present writing may come Hubert Fitz Ralph saluting. Know ye that I have given and conceded and by my present charter confirmed, in pure and perpetual Alms to God and Saint Mary of Darley and to the Canons serving God there, one acre of land under Colle of Criche, and six acres of meadow under the way which leads to Wistaneston (?Wessington) between Farmannescroft and the ditch against Morwode, for their will and for their use inclosed and held freely quietly and peacefully without any exaction or secular service. For the welfare of my Soule and of Edilene my Spouse, and of our predecessors and successors these being my witnesses:
John Chaplain of Cruche,
Robert D. Eincourt.
Geoffrey de Monasteriis
Swano de Cruche
Robert son of Fulcher
Hugh Walens
Simon de Berrisford
Yssac (and others) Sealed Huberti fillii Radulf (Undated)
Another interesting Charter for us bound up with the many others: is–
Be it known to all who shall see or hear this writing that I Swayn Speght of Crich have granted, released,, and for me and my heirs for ever quit-claimed, and by this my present Charter confirmed to God and Saint Mary her Church of Darley and the Canons serving God there in free pure and perpetual alms seventeen acres of land with the appurtenances in the territory of Crich in the field which is called Le Egge (The Edge) and they lye between the land formerly Syward Nigers and the way of Wistanton (?Wessington) and the whole right and claim of ingres or demand which I or my heirs possess in the aforesaid lands for ever, In testimony of which I have affixed my seal etc, etc.
Many witnesses including Geoffrey de Hollowaye
Peter de Ulkerthorpe
Thos Cooke.
So, Christine & Fred, there speaks a voice from the past, Swayne Speght, a 900 year old neighbour of yours in Edge Farm. Either he or Syward Niger may well have cultivated part of Edge Farm that you work now.
Altho’ we shall hear more about the Abbey of Darley later, perhaps this is the place to record Robt de. Ferrers, Earl of Derby’s founding Charter in circa 1140
To Walter, Bishop of Coventry and all the sons of Holy Church I have founded a house of religion in Derby out of the Royal revenues by the agreement of and confirmation of King Stephen and the consent of King Henry and have placed in it an Abbott and Canons. I have presented the Abbott to either King and have given to them of my lands and rents. In the first; place the Churches of Uttoxeter and Crich with all their appurtenances etc. (follows a list of lands and properties in Oddebroc, Osmundestun, Hardwieke, Aldwerke etc.) and as much wood as may be drawn by one cart from the woods of Duffield or Chaddesdene (note — Ferrer's castle at Duffield). And I concede to them all liberties which I have in the aforesaid tenements viz. Toll. Sac and Soc, and Ingfangthief. etc. His first Abbott was one Albinus.
We shall hear more of these old legal documents which concern our early Church later.
So, all that we know about our Church’s begetting is that it was sometime before 1140 its founder Ralph Fitz Hubert Baron of Criche, Earl Ferrer’s man. It must have contained, as far as can be conjectured, a Nave much as now but probably smaller in length and maybe in width (see later), probably only one Aisle - the North one which retains the original First Norman Columns (altho’ the original caps, retained on the east and west engaged piers, have been masoned in a rather unhappy way to remove the typical Norman ’pencil sharpeners’ on the intermediate free columns. There must have been a chancel of sorts, probably apsidal, large enough to receive the Altar (the Normans were fond of Apses).
What else is not known and probably never will be. A north Porch at least if the Manor was on that side , possibly a South. Porch for the congregation, somewhere a Priest’s’ room with storage, the evidence for a South Aisle is confusing so we don’t know, a low roof which may have been a stone barrel because the Normans were frightened of Fire and ‘thick walls and columns to deal with the heavy thrusts of a stone barrel roof were a characteristic of most: Norman Churches. The writer, and also the other commentators on our Church, can find no evidence of any prior Saxon Church. The odd piece of hand worked stone in the North Aisle east end pier has been quoted as a Saxon stone fragment with no evidence that the writer can see for that assumption. It is much more likely to be a part of some ornament which was part of the original Apse where some carved work to decorate the Altar surround in the form of an architrave or band would have made sense in an otherwise very plain Church. If a stone Saxon Church had existed (c.f. Wirksworth ) many more fragments would have been left after desecration or demolition, and the Mason’s temptation to include his mate’s work in rebuilding is evident in most Churches with Saxon predecessors – as at Wirksworth.
Sometime after the initial plan a South Aisle was added – whether during building or after we don’t know. The piers on the South side are of a transitional style, have differing caps, and are not in line with the Norman north - side piers. Have a fairly datable hood mould, undercut, unlike the north hoods, and are nearly Early English in style, beginning to show the sympathetic English mason’s love of light and shade in his moulds, to get rid of Norman heaviness and bulk, culminating in the glories of the Perpendicular when English masons had produced, peculiarly to England, those fantastic structures which had become more glass than stone — miracles of contained forces, ripe for destruction. Have a look at Gloucester Cathedral East end (see later) to see how these English masons sailed near to the wind. But we digress – Parish Church architecture is always difficult to read and Crich particularly so, so all assumptions must be forgiven. The latest fashions in Church architecture took many years to filter down from the fashion generators in Cathedral and Abbey, so dating becomes frought with doubt, so that the only real fact, is that the South Aisle is later than’ the North but by how much is guesswork.
Hubert died circa 1225. So let us, now trace briefly the fate of the Manor as we know it, before beginning the next century’s doings. Hubert left two daughters, the eldest married to Anker de Frecheville but as he died before he could succeed, the Manor passed to his Son, Ralph de Frecheville. His son Anker, married to the Heiress of Musard, became Baron of Crich, Lord of Scarcliffe, Palterton, and Staveley, dying in 1268, His son Ralph alienated the Manor to Roger Beler and his heirs, who died seized of it in 1325, leaving it to his son Roger aged seven. He died in 1380 and his fourth wife held the Manor as part of her dowry until her death in 1391 The Manor then passed to Sir Robert de Swillington who had married Rogers’ daughter Margaret – Roger’s daughter by his second wife. Then by inheritance through his wife’s family The Manor passed to Ralph Lord Cromwell, who later sold the reversion to John Talbot, second Earl of Shrewsbury.
On the death of Gilbert. Earl of Shrewsbury later, this unfortunate Manor was split and divided between his three daughters, the Countesses of Pembroke, Kent and Arundel. So the ultimate end of the Manor of Crich was to become a commercial knockabout, sold in the Market Place for gain to entrepreneurs with no interest whatever in the land, folk, or the historical history of what was a typical part of England. So that today it is quite impossible to identify the actual land involved and the numerous holders. Lack of male succession has always been the bug bear of Aristocracy.
Before we leave this interesting Century which, had so much to offer in God’s Wisdom for our village, perhaps one or two general stories will he interesting and perhaps relevant.
For example, it is not widely known that, on September 1st. 1159 died the only Englishman ever to be crowned Pope of Rome. Nicholas Breakspeare who lived on Harefield Moor on the banks of the River Colne in Middlesex. Breakspeare Manor still exists. As Pope Adrian IV he was crowned in 1154 becoming the Spiritual Head of the then Western Christendom. At the same time Thomas Beckett became High Chancellor of England. It was his Papal Bull in 1158 which handed over Ireland to the Crown of England – on condition of the payment of Peter’s Pence to the Vatican, His reign was marred by disagreement with Emperor Frederick I, Barbarossa, whom he had crowned in Rome, and his death in 1159 led to a Papal Schism when two Popes were supported by the differing parties until Alexander III was acknowledged the rightful successor – he who punished Henry II for his part in the murder of Beckett and who canonised the martyred Archbishop Chancellor. Sic transit gloria Mundi. Thus was the path to the Open Door beginning to become misty and ill defined.
It would not be right to dismiss this 12th. Century without some mention of the Crusades. Henry Ferrers son, William, died on Crusade with Robert Duke of Normandy and since the De Rhys, Barons of Crich were Ferrers Barons, there was a legal duty on them to provide from their various Manors (including Crich) enough men to provide a worthwhile contingent. So we can be reasonably sure that some men of Crich were on Crusade to the Holy Land.
The fanaticism of the Turkish Muslims had become by 1090 a real menace to an expanding Christian Church and its pilgrims were subject to atrocity. Pope Urban II set in train a movement in the Church to combat this, and organised the first Crusade which set off for Palestine in 1096. The Crusaders were offered various rewards! total absolution, cancellation of debts, pardon for most criminals, and eternal blessedness for those who lost their lives. Indulgences with a vengeance – leading to the scandals of later years.
The first Crusade set out with about 300,000 men reaching Jerusalem in 1099, after unmentionable hardships, only about one tenth completed the journey. The first action on entering the Holy City was to massacre the Saracen garrison. There were in total eight Crusades, with little real effect since Jerusalem was recaptured by Saladin in 1187 and in 1270 the Crusades were abandoned.
Presumably there were Social and. Political effects, but little or no religious consequences except, one hopes, in individual hearts whose motives were pure and dictated by a real Spirituality.
Our own King Richard I had to be ransomed in 1192 to the tune of 150,000 marks paid to Henry VI of Germany, and he only spent seven months of his reign in this his own Country – all the rest in Crusades, (we, who are older, will remember the legend of Blondel playing outside numerous Castles to get his master’s answer in song!) Our Lord said that the pathway to His Open Door was narrow and few found it. One would think it doubtful that the Crusades made the finding easier for the participants, and we can wonder how the Crich men fared.
The Church delights in its ‘Psalms and songs and Hymns of Praise* some of which are very old. Here are a few of great ages:–
Jesu kind above all other ... Adam of St Victor who died in 1100
O Strength and stay ... St Ambrose ... 397
Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem ... Fulbert of Chartré ... 1028
Earth has many a Noble City ... Prudentius ... 413
Lord Jesus think on me ... Bishop Synesius ... 414
All Glory Laud and Honour ... Theodolph of Orleans ... 821
All well known lovely Hymns written primarily in Latin of course, and translated for our benefit by dedicated translators.
We let 1100 go with an odd note. In 1178 Gervase of Canterbury and his fellow Monks observed a Meteorite crashing into the moon, and Gervase who chronicled, the reigns of Stephen and HenryII wrote down what he saw. “A flaming torch rising from the crescent Moon spewing out fire, hot coals and sparks”. “The moon writhed as if it were in agony throbbing like a wounded snake”. Modern Scientists have identified it by the date as the maker of the Giordano Bruno crater, the walls and debris of which were photographed by the American Astronauts in 197i«
The confirmation of Our God’s wonders may take 800 years but their Confirmation is always exceeding sure.
“BEHOLD I SET BEFORE THEE AN OPEN DOOR, AND NO MAN CAN SHUT IT.”
1200 to 1300 A.D.
From the records it would seem, that the 1300s was a quiet Century for Crich St. Mary’s Church. Two muse – worthy incidents have stories later, but there was considerable development around and impinging on Crich. It was a century of a great increase in learning. Cambridge University was founded in 1208, and Oxford in 1167.The intellectuals who were later termed the “Schoolmen” began to appear. Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas (whose Hymns we still sing) and many others. It was again a warlike Century with King John losing Normandy, in 1204, Edward I invading Scotland in 1296, losing the Battle of Stirling in 1297.
From the records it, would seem that the 13th Century was a quiet Century for Crich St. Mary’s Church. Two newsworthy incidents have stories later, but there was considerable development around, and impinging on Crich. It was a century of a great increase in learning Cambridge University was founded in 1208, and Oxford in 1167* The intellectuals who. were later termed the “Schoolmen” began to appear, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas (whose hymns we still sing) and many others. It was again a warlike century with King John losing Normandy, in 1204, Edward I invading Scotland in 1296, losing the battle of Stirling in 1297 winning the battle of Falkirk in 1298 but then giving up his wars for foreign dominion, concentrating at home, codifying the law, setting up the Courts of King’es Bench, Common Pleas and Chancery. Schools of Law were initiated. In 1215 the Barons forced John to sign MAGNA CARTA, limiting the power of the Throne, previously absolute, thus beginning a movement towards liberty of the ordinary subject, which, in spite of setbacks, never lost its impetus and only today alas, is suffering from the actions of selfish men who don’t know or care about the precepts of The Open Door. In 1285 Simon de Montfort called the very first embryo Parliament at Leicester.
In 1290 began what was to be a, black mark against England when an edict expelling Jews was put into force. In 1256 Derby Borough, to its shame, anticipated this when the Bailiffs and Burgesses were given the right to expel both Jews and Jewesses. Although the Jewish money lenders had occasionally given cause for alarm, they served a useful purpose in the economy, and the centuries’ violence against the whole race, smack a little of later Nazi thinking.
As far as the Catholic Church was concerned the century saw a struggle beginning between the powers of Church and. State, when Papal power had rapidly increased, culminating in Pope Boniface’s amazing Bull ”UNAM SANCTUM” which declared —”We declare, state, define, and pronounce, that for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pope is altogether necessary for salvation”, – a claim both arrogant and unscriptural. Pope Gregory VI degradation of Henry VI at Canossa (he kept Henry waiting 3 days barefoot and in rags in the snow!) and Pope Innocent III’ s excommunication of our own King John in 1209 and his placing of England under ’interdict’ for five years was perhaps the peak of Papal power, which then declined as its own foolish actions made secular rule more confident. Although King John submitted in 1213 the damage to the Papal image had been done.
This century cannot be dismissed without reference to an odd scientific fact, relevant, peculiarly enough, to our present time. Scientists have traced a slow reversal of climatic conditions in England and in the Northern Hemispere. A large increase in the Polar icecap shifted the Gulf Stream south, bringing cold winds from the north down the globe. The result was a much colder climate and a shorter growing season, the movement lasting for about two hundred years, according, to the meteorologists*
Some, are now saying, as the press has indicated, that a similar state of affairs began in 1974 accentuated by mans’ pollution of the atmosphere with acids, and emission from internal combustion engines and industry’s burning of fossil fuels.
These odd facts of history are a great lesson for we 1900s folk for many of us appear to live under the assumption that man has everything under control, when in reality he is at the mercy of terrible forces he often is not: aware of. Christ tells us all who seek His Open Door that in the world there is always tribulation and suffering, and our inner peace that matters comes only through Faith in Him and His Father. So these happenings ought to teach us to find that Peace which He offers.
The writer makes no apology for drawing your attention to the way he sees these happenings of God’s power, for that is the sole reason for these writings.
Hubert Fitz Ralph (Hubert, de Rhys) died in 1225 It puzzles the writer that there is nothing in stone anywhere in their many Manors to commemorate these Norman Barons who did so much for this County. Because of the Conquerors divisive spreading of the Manors and lands he handed to his helpers, many Churches were governed by Religious Houses far away, so far as to be locally unknown. For example, Litchfield held many Peak Churches such as Bakewell, Hope and Tideswell; Lincoln held a Deanery at Derby All Saints. Many of these, as recorded in our first articles were the first Mission Churches of Diuma and Betti and Cedd from Lindisfarne in Saxon times.
{NOTE Cedd, together with the priests, Adda, Betti and Diuma, accompanied Peada (King Penda’s son) back to Middle Anglia, where they won numerous converts of all classes. Diuma was the first Bishop of Mercia. PCP}
In 1223 the abuses which this system allowed were finally recognised. Absentee controllers, plurality incumbents who took tithes and dues for a minimum of service, churches poorly maintained, many in bad repair, served in many cases by poorly paid deacons and lay clerks. Many of the controlling, Abbeys and Monasteries using the peoples offerings for the glory of their buildings.
A Council at Oxford laid down that definitely ordained Vicarages should henceforth be the rule; so that, sometime between 1224 and 1238 Bishop Alexander de Stavenby formally ordained a Vicarage for Crich, the Vicar to have all offerings and Tithes and the Abbey of Darley to make up to six marks in any one year if income did not reach this amount. Cox records that in the County 56 Rectories were appropriated to Religious Houses outside the County. It was during this period that Crich parishioners, owning land under the manor, set aside over five acres of Tansley Common in order to provide a perpetually burning lamp before the Image of the Virgin in their Church. Many other individual endowments for similar purposes are recorded. There is a certain fascination in, with hindsight, watching the interplay of Christian behaviour and that of the world. We of today never easily inherited what knowledge we have of Christ’s Open Door.
The Oxford ruling on Vicarages did not immediately end all the abuses the small Churches like ours suffered. The Establishment was not fully willing to abandon privileges which assisted their budgets. In 1278 on the death of Bricius, William de Braycote was instituted as Crich Vicar. The Abbey patrons agreed that should he be incapacitated for any reason he would thereafter enjoy a pension of the tithes from the lands and tenements of Peter Wakebridge together with other rents, BUT he had to formally agree to and signs that he was content, thought it fair, that he would never complain or make accusation against the Patrons. Cox then goes on to describe in delightful and fluent detail how within three months of St. Luke’s day 1278 a new Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in our areas
John Peckham – in. Cox’ s phrase “A stem disciplinarian”. He was obviously aware of the discontent of these small Parishes with the behaviour of the worst of the Religious Communities ,(not necessarily The Abbey of Darley although Crich had complained to him). Less than two years after his consecration he was making an arduous series of journeys and inquisitions one of which was at the Abbey of Darley. Amongst his other duties he set himself to revise the relations between our Church and the Abbey, because of our parishes complaints to their Bishop. He began his visitation on Quinquagesima Sunday 1280, (the writer wonders whether any other Archbishop has sat in our Church) and appointed two Commissioners to hear the complaints (Simon de Ballidon and Rohan de Suham both of them Canons of Litchfield and Simon, because of the name, probably from the Parwich area). Cox notes that the Archbishop was at Darley from 16 – 19 March and his personal visit to our Church was obviously to see for himself the truth of the Parish complaints. To his credit, William, the Vicar, made no personal complaint so keeping, as a Christian, to his signed word. In the end the Abbey had to agree to – and sign an agreements :–
Find and pay a Bell Ringer
Find and pay a Holy Water and fire carrier.
Provide bell ropes.
Relieve the necessitous and indigent of the Parish.
Provide for the service of the Chantry of St. Thomas in the Churchyard (there are other mentions of this Chantry – presumably for the benefit of travellers – but nothing is known about its location or its purpose or who instigated it,)
Pay for the maintenance and care of the Nave including mending the leaking roof (our roof was always a problem apparently.)
Cox mentions another agreement ensuring that the Abbey would, in future provide all other Books and ornaments and necessities for the Chancel except the Missal and Chalice which the Parish had to find. Also they were to find the Patronal Image of St. Mary the Virgin for the Chancel, and Pay the due cost of the Blessed Bread.
In fact the Parishioners claim that the Darley Monks ought also to do whatever was necessary for the upkeep and care of the Nave because of the great extent of their lands and property in the Parish, was subject to a rider – a clever legal nicety. The Abbey were only to be responsible for that portion of the Nave which corresponded with the land’s mansions, and their other possessions in the Parish of Crich. This quite unworkable solution must have angered the Church worthies, and must have caused many disagreements in the future. A grave mistake on the part of the Church Establishment causing a resentment which had bad consequences for the future.
Cox reports that the net annual value of our Church at this time was £6 13s 4d and the Darley men held about 60 acres of Crich land valued at 20 shillings per annum with other annual rentals of 12 shillings P/A. The Vicars were still appointed by the Abbey up to Henry’s Dissolution that the Manor had got into (earlier story) led to lawsuits and legal tangles between the Dixies and the Wilmotts claiming through the family of John. Claye – later story ). The Dixies won, but sold their rights to appointment etc. to Trustees. What a mess man creates by his self interest and lack of love. The vision of The Open Door constantly fades when we put ourselves first.
In spite of what was good in the foregoing, the main interest in our Church, and care for its upkeep, and according to the available evidence, care, thank God, for its mission seems not to have been with the Monks of Darley Abbey, but with another and adjacent Manor using our Church. Just before 1216 Peter Wakebridge of Wakebridge had wedded Ralph Fitz Hubert’s sister, Emma. The Wakebridge family were obviously very earnest Christians, deeply involved in Country, County and Church, They were Crusaders, Knights of the Shire (i.e at the King’s beck and call, doing his bidding the length of the country as arbitrators, counsellors, messengers and general interpreters of the King’s will). They served in de Montfort’s first Parliament in 1265. How this family, surviving dreadful times, rebuilt and extended our Church, always with a thought for others, will be told in the stories of the next Century.
Since the Ferrers are concerned in our early Church history perhaps a note and story on them and their Duffield Castle is necessary based on the m/s of our own Historian, John Reynolds of Plaistowe (his brass in our Sanctury on the Gospel Ambones,).
The family originated from St. Hilaire In Normandy where they apparently owned ironworks. Henry, the son of Wakelyn de Ferrers was the builder of the Castles at Tutbury and Duffield. He had been presented with 114 Manors in England, one of which was Crich where the de Rhys – Ralphs and Huberts – were his underlords owing him obedience as barons under his Lordship.
Two of his sons died young, one at the Crusades. Robert who succeeded Henry in 1089 was created Earl of Derby for his part in the battle of the Standard against the Scots at North Allerton, and one wonders how many Crich men were impressed for that battle. Succeeded by Robert who founded the Abbey of Darley (see previously} he in turn succeeded by William who almost, immediately joined with the King’s Sons, Richard and Henry in rebellion against their mild and Christian father Henry II. They attacked Nottingham, firing part of the town, but hearing that Tutbury Castle was under siege and the King’s army advancing they submitted to him at Northampton,
Thus far is from John Reynolds. What follows is the story of the collapse of this once great family, altho’ its successors still exist, as most of our Mothers’ Union know, having welcomed one as President.. Orders were issued to demolish Tutbury and Duffield which for some reason were not obeyed. William must have again got into favour for he accompanied Richard to the Crusades dying in 1190 whilst on crusade.
William the eldest son was loyal, and King John restored to him his title of Earl of Derby his father had forfeited. He was also given the whole of the Wapentake with the Manors of Wirksworth and Ashbourne. In 1215 he was one of four bound to the Pope to ensure that the King kept all the Pope’s edict when cancelling John’s excommunication. He was also a signatory as witness to that “terrible document” as Cox calls it, sealed with a golden seal, whereby the Kingdoms of England and Ireland were resigned to the Papal See, and held in fee to the Pope for an annual 1,000 marks-a dreadful sell-out, indicating the extreme worldly power of the Roman Popes. William died in l247. Robert a boy of 15 followed.
At the age of nine he had been betrothed to Mary of Angouleme the niece of Henry II. In 1263 having reached manhood, he joined the restless Barons, plundered and besieged Worcester and generally played havoc with the Religious houses and the Royal Park, He then took on de Montfort in the Battles of Lewes and Evesham. The Crich men of his rebellion certainly were well travelled. One wonders who they were. Formally charged with rebellion after capture in 1265 he was fined and pardoned and warned as to his future conduct, taking a solemn oath that he would adhere. Yet again he broke his word and assembled his men, with other Barons for more mischief, but being outflanked at Duffield by the Prince’s army he force marched via Wirksworth to Chesterfield arriving on May 15th 1266. He and the other rebels were then defeated at the Battle of Chesterfield, the rebel Ferrers taking refuge in a local Church. Concealing himself in some wool-sacks within the Church, he was subsequently betrayed and taken prisoner to Windsor. Tried and found guilty of High Treason his life was not taken but all his lands and property were confiscated, eventually being given to Prince Edmund Earl of Lancaster. Freed in 126 9 he was fined £50,000 for the return of his confiscated property, but unable to raise this amount, remained landless and died in 1278, His Duffield Castle was demolished later. The hill where it stood is still named Castle Hill and the field Castle field, almost opposite Hingley’ sawmills. Our historian found it in 1769. A pitiful end to a great and industrious family whose work and dedication greatly enriched our County and our immediate neighbourhood. They certainly played a part in opening up the path to the Open Door altho’ they may not have been aware of it. We never know how God can use our actions for his purpose, a thought which should give us cause to ponder.
Another interesting, tho’ sad story of these times, their hardships and the attempts to find that Open Door, concerns our neighbours at Wessington, at one time closely knit with our Church. Round about 1200 Ralph the son of Simon, Lord of Wessington built a Chapel in the Court of his Manor so that his household, and guests, could hear the Divine Office from any Canon of theirs, or from the Chaplain of Crich, but no others. The Charter for the Chapel specified that every kind of indemnity should be preserved for the Church of Crich so that it should not suffer detriment nor diminution of its rights in any way. The Charter’s witnesses are interesting. Hubert son of Ralph (Crich Manor) John Chaplain of Crich, Alexander de la Lowes (Alderwasley) and Nicholas of Pentrich,
Our researcher of this history reports that this caused strong contention between the Rector of Morton, The Abbey, and the Vicar of Crich regarding the endowment of tithes,contending that some were his the Rectors property. He appealed thro’ the hierarchy to Pope Innocent who (as is ever man’s custom) appointed a Committee who as Committees nearly always do, came up with a Judgement of Solomon. Our Vicar with the Abbey, were instructed to pay him half a mark yearly during his life. According to our researcher the papers put the Chapel clearly in the Crich Parish so not surprisingly there were obviously boundary problems. The Manor at Wessington was at Roadnook where Crich and Morton boundaries met, and did so until recent times.
In about 1230 this Ralph son of Simon of Wessington gave and conceded to the Abbey his ‘Native’, Thurston Bibboth with all his family. Later he gave them another of his ‘Natives’. Maurice the son of Robert the carpenter with all his family and chattels and a little land. Gradually he presented the Abbey with most of Wessington; his fields, pastures, and woods, and his ‘Natives’, At the same time making the Abbey responsible for their housing, feeding, and provisioning, for him, his wife, sons and servants (Natives were serfs of those times, sole property of their Lord, with no rights nor standing outside their Lord’s boundaries.) Our researcher notes that Ralph was, in the modern term – Bankrupt, In the hands of Jew Moneylenders and so was obliged to sell and mortgage all he had to pay his debts.
{Note: Thurston’s son Ralph appears to have married an heiress, their status is unlikely to have been humble.
I wonder if ‘native’ here means Welsh. Wales isn’t far away and the existing inhabitants were certainly known to the Romans and probably the Normans as ‘natives’.
A fuller transcription
20) Tje it known to all who shall see or hear this writing, that I, Ralph the son of Simon, have given and conceded to the Abbot and convent of Derley, Ralph, the son of Thurstan Bibboth, my native, with all his following ; and I have quit claimed for me and my heirs for ever. In testimony of this thing, to the present writing I have affixed my seal. These witnessing ; Robert, vicar of Crich, Robert de Alvele, Robert de Hoggedeston, William le Ly, of Pentrich, Alexand. de Lowes, Walter de Levedal, and others.”
Seal : A bird running with wings raised, with a crescent beneath its bill.
(21) Jrlnow ye, &c., that I, Ralph, the son of Thurstan Bibboth, have granted, &c., to God and the Church of the B.
Mary of Derley, and the canons, &c., for the health of my soul, wii/i my body, all the land which Ralph Bercarius held in Wystanton, with all the appurts. wliich lay between the land of the said canons, and the land of John de Planstowe, holding, &c., in free, pure &c., alms, with all appurts., liberties, and easements, within the village and without. In confirmation and testimony, «S;c. These witnessing : William de Glapwell, John de Plaustowe, William de
DARLEY ABBEY CHARTERS PRESERVED AT BELVOIR. 3 1
N’ormanton, John de Lowes, Henry de Wytel, Thomas Cook,
Nicholas de Granges, and others.”
Seal: A circular green seal, with a star of eight narrow leaves. “+ S. R7YDVFI BIBBOTl].”
Ralph Bibboth probably at this time entered
Derley Abbey as a novice, c. 1230. Sally-Anne Thomas}
Poor Ralph, and poorer still Thurston and Maurice and their families in Serfdom,
There exist many documents which indicate that the Abbey held an enormous amount of land in Wessington, Wingfield, Pentrich, Crich and Wheatcroft, Tannesley, Fritchley, Plaistowe, Lea, Wigwall, Alderwasley etc. This of course, as said earlier , eventually led to covetousness, venery, and popular dissatisfaction. Altho’ beginning with high hopes for strong religious meanings, in the end it became self-centred and high handed, not purposes which could in any way indicate the Open Door for the great mass of peasants whose poverty line must have been dreadful in those early days of our Country’s development.
Another story which, always intrigues the writer is concerned with Alderwasley. In 1287 the Abbey established a Grange (Farm) at Wigwell where it formed grain stores and fish ponds, later leased to Thomas Babyington. In 1563 the imprisonment and execution of Anthony of Dethick rendered all his lands forfeit to Elizabeth so that all was sold off to speculators, one of whom bought those lands known as Holmesford, which the writer sees from his windows. The speculator was in fact Sir Walter Raleigh, who then sold off to John Claye (later story). This Claye of the museworthy board in our Chancel, and tomb in the Sanctury, also acquired Wakebridge, and was one of the rapidly growing class of landed ‘up and coming’ merchants rapidly dispossessing the old Aristocracy.
It is not generally known that the Manor of Wingfield was originally on the opposite side of the valley, somewhere near where the Peacock Hotel now stands. This Manor, our near neighbour, was originally given by the Norman Conqueror to his son William Peveril, and held by the Norman family of De Heriz, in whose name it was held until 1441 when it passed to Roger Belers at that time Lord of our Manor (earlier story) and then after long lawsuits was acquired by Ralph Lord Cromwell, who erected the buildings now in ruin. He was Lord Treasurer. There is mention in a deed of those times of “a lime kiln at the top of the Hill” Most of you will remember that when the narrow defile at the junction of Park Lane with the Wingfield Road was recently widened the remains of this old Kiln were uncovered.
The remains of the old. Chapel termed, in the old Charters “the Chapel at Linberry”, where the old Manor stood, were visible until round about 1761 but have long since disappeared, together with the de Heriz Manor, From their giving as recorded in old documents it would seem that they found the Door which no man can ever shut that we are bearing in mind, – only God knows whether their Faith was as strong as their works seem to have been.
One other aspect of life in these early times is worth recording. The Church can be blamed for many things since it is concerned with fallible human beings who, as Our Lord said, often do not ‘see’ or ’hear’ in a Spiritual way. Cox notes that the town of Derby was a place of permanent SANCTUARY, The right of Sanctuary in a consecrated Church was established about 887 in Arthurian times. Round about 1070 this right was quantified as an entitlement by an offender to temporary protection only when in a consecrated Churchyard, a Priest’s house or Parsonage when built on Church or Glebe Land. A large fine was imposed on any violation of Sanctuary, The system was that anyone accused of felony – or in danger of accusation – could run for cover in any Church or consecrated ground for 40 days, when the person had to confess or prove his innocence before a Coroner, who then either absolved or administered an Oath of abegnation if a confession was made. The offender had then to cross the sea to another Country, within a given time, and was then banished for the rest of his life. Presumably the idea of Sanctuary was necessary to prevent summary justice and give time for hot heads to cool and the evidence to be examined. The idea was good – one wonders whether the results were always to the offenders liking! When proved guilty by the Coroner the offender had to but on sackcloth and carry a white cross. He was given a set route to the nearest Port and could not pass more than one night in any place, passing from Constable to Constable who were legally bound to feed him. If no ship could be found within the 40 days he had to find Sanctuary in another Church until a ship was arranged.
These rights were a device of a humane Church to prevent in some measure a dreadful taking of life when things were rough and extremely ferocious and all men armed – the sort of condition of life to which the IRA. have descended 1000 years later, When pity and Love of one’s fellows were at a premium – as, God help us, they are now in many parts of our world.
In 1540 the rights of Sanctuary were amended and curtailed, when rapists, and highway robbers were excluded from its benefits. However, eight towns, of which Derby was one, were declared to be places of permanent refuge, and offenders, clothed in special clothing under a Governor,were daily made to parade, and had to be in their special quarters from sunrise to sunset. The whole system was abolished in 1623, when living was more controlled and the law had muscle to see that justice was done. Nevertheless the Church had tried to achieve justice and show the Path to the Open Door as best it could in bad times. At the present time its voice is muted and incoherent to most people. But God works in mysterious ways, as these stories show, and will work again thro’ his folk – “I Will work and who shall let it?”
1300s
The 14th Century was an important and History making bundle of years for Crich and its Manor, its Church and the Country as a whole.
The Manor continued its decline by the death of Anker Frechville and his son’s relinquishment of it to Roger Belers and his son, when, thro’ the female line, it passed to Sir Robert de Swillington.
For our Church, it proved to be one of the most remarkable series of years as regards the building, and we hope to show in later stories how the Christian efforts of this century helped to define the path to the Door of our title.
As for Crich and our Country it was again a century of great development, again martial and warlike, in some ways it must have been frightening to the thinking population, watching the beginning of the 100 years war with France, in 1327, with the great battles of Crecy, Poitiers, and Calais, which resulted in the loss of all the French possessions except Calais, lost later.
After the psychological session with a spider, Robert Bruce became King of the Scots and promptly defeated Edward II at Bannockburn in 1314 Edward captured Calais in 1347 after succeeding his father in 1327, only to be murdered in a revolting manner at Berkeley Castle (later story).
But overshadowing these events was the arrival in 1349 of that pestilential Horseman of the Apocalypse, the Bubonic Plague, colloquially and desperately called, The Black Death. This major, and subsequent smaller outbreaks, swept away one third of our Country’s population. Apart from the frightening spread of the disease and its devastating death roll, the social effects were dynamic, radically altering the standards of living and employment. The sudden rise of what came to be called the “Free labourers” as opposed to the Serfs, (men and their families tied to the Manor,) labouring men, artisans, and all skilled workers, had a scarcity value not before known this radical sudden change in the way of life resulting in 1381 in what the Historians call “The Peasants Revolt”, alt ho “Peasants Stand” might be a much more accurate title. The result was a great expanding of the Towns, when business, including building, got over the plague years. There still exist (some in Derbyshire) the grass covered remains of entire Villages abandoned at this time.
The process of inflation and expansion was aided in 1337 by forbidding the export of wool and the allowing of foreign cloth – workers to settle here, with their skills then earning for England.
In 1362 the introduction of spoken English into Parliament and Courts completed a process begun in 1200.
Educational development speeded up in remarkable ways. In 1382 William of Wykeham founded Winchester School – giving it his motto still over the entrance, “Manners makyth Man. The school was designed as a potential feeder for the New College,Oxford he had just financed and erected.
Some village and town schools had already been organised by the Danes of 700 – 1000 AD in most of the Danish held towns including Derby (Derby School), Bradford, Warwick and others. In many villages like our own, little schools grew up around the Chantry Chapels of the Churches, the teachers being the Chantry Priests (later story).
But the one event which could be classified as world-shaking since its effects are still not fully worked out, was the birth in 1330 of John Wycliffe, later Oxford scholar and Divine, who, insisting, unlike his Church, that a vernacular Bible was necessary for a population now learning to read, translated with the aid of friends, the Roman Vulgate version of the Bible, thus unconsciously beginning at one end the same time, a standardisation of our language, bringing the Bible into a larger sphere of readers, and beginning a movement of the Reformation of a Christian Religion, which to say the least was fast becoming stylised, bigoted, and in many ways distanced from the folk it ought to have been evangelising. Wycliffe was the first known English Dissenter, preaching religious freedom, protesting against Papal Dogma, and proclaiming the Bible as the only true spiritual guide to the Open Door of Jesus Christ of the Gospels.
The first use of gun-powder in 1327, by Edward III against the Scots, began something which Science has magnified into a raging monster only now being recognised for what it is, a path to the extinction of mankind, when in a saner and God-fearing world it could be a major development for man. Perhaps it all depends on which Door we are seeking, the Open one of Our Lord, or the closed one in which man in his generations seems to prefer in his self interest and ignoring of God’s Word,
That there is nothing new under the sun is an often quoted aphorism which, perhaps, particularly applies to Church matters. The Archbishop of Canterbury in 1362 was Simon Islip, who from 1347 to 1350 was also a Prebendary of Sandiacre, and so, we can hope, in those days of maximum plurality, was no stranger to the County, The Crich Chartulary, contains a letter – a pastoral letter – obviously designed for transmission to all his See, in which Simon complains that –
“not only was it the custom to transact ordinary business on Holy Days, but that it was also the custom to indulge in abominable and blasphemous practices, so that the festivals were kept, rather by the revellers crowding to the taverns, than of communicants to Church, and that in fine the whole purport of God’s hallowing of the Sabbath, and of the Church in setting apart other days for pious observance had, by the multitude, been completely perverted”.
‘What, the ‘’Abominable practices1’ were is not certain, but they surely would have included Bear baiting, cock fighting, jousting and single stick fighting, all of which, with other less desirable “sports” were the amusements of an over-worked peasantry tithed and taxed beyond capacity for things they little understood, living a life of deprivation and hardship beyond our capacity to imagine, living in conditions to which we of today would not subject animals, and would face RSPCA prosecution if we did. Even when saddened by death, subject to the whim of a Church and Lord of the Manor, for Mortuaries and the Heriot by which their Lord extracted from a sorrowing family their best beast or animal or clothing, none of which could ever really be spared; a peasantry only recently decimated by the Black Death, and only too conscious of the brutality and coarseness of life, and who at any time, unforeseen by them, could lawfully be whisked away by their Lord to the ends of Britain or France to fight some battle the origins and purposes of which they could only dimly have understood.
{Note: Heriot and Mortuary: at the death of a vassal the lord got the pick of the best animal and the church got to have the second best of what they had. PCP}
Simon’s letter went on to enjoin that throughout the whole province of Canterbury every Sunday should be observed beginning at the Vesper hour of the previous Saturday – also the Feasts of the various Saints (which he listed) and Circumcision, Epiphany, Purification, Easter, Ascension etc. And that on all these days the Parishioners should be admonished and induced not only to attend Mass, but also the full complement of Services, and that any worker or labourer who suffered the usual work to be carried out on these days should be visited with the censure of the Church.
An admirable Pastoral letter which could be written in its entirety today, substituting Football matches, Tennis matches, Tramway Museums and Snooker, (amongst other less or more desirable pursuits) and possibly with as much risk of the implied threat having any effect,, A letter which on the face of it, seems to show, as far as we can see now, a minimal understanding of the situation and mind of the peasantry at large, written by a man of the better-off classes not able to drop to the level of thinking of those he was admonishing, and so, as followers of Christ should always strive, as their Lord always did, to see clearly the other’s point of view, so tempering criticism with Christian humility, an important fact often forgotten when Bishops, for instance, enter the political arena.
God’s door was still open, but Simon, perhaps unwittingly, seems to be obscuring it a little. Whether the good intentions behind his letter had any effect we don’t know. God works in very mysterious ways.
The pestilential Horseman of the Apocalypse – the Blank Death – reached this Country in May 1349. ‘This was a mutation of the deadly Bubonic Plague – highly infectious – originating in the Eastern Mediterranean carried across Europe by black rats and across the seas by Crusaders. It reached Scotland by 1350. The main epidemic of 1349 abated by the following year, but the plague boiled, up again in 1361, ‘62 and ‘69 aided most probably by adverse weather, and its obvious connection with insanitary conditions, dirt and squalor. For these reasons its effects were most felt by the poorest people and in: the closely packed insanitary towns.
It. has been estimated that at least one third of England’s population perished in the first 1349 epidemic. ‘The effect on the Country was catastrophic as can be imagined. Society was weakened both economically and socially not least by the subsequent shortage of workers. All building stopped. Great Cathedrals and Abbeys ceased building work. Food became scarce and when available, lack of transport affected distribution. No figures or details seem available for Crich, except for the Wakebridge family.
The Wakebridge family was one of the County’s most wealthy and important families at this time. Sir William as a younger son, had had service with his King in the French wars, doubtless taking Crich men with him. Within a few months of the outbreak in our area, William found himself head of his family – his wife, father, 3 brothers, 2 sisters and a sister in-law having died in quick succession. Cox records that 77 beneficed Priests of the County died, and 22 others resigned. The only known result as far as Sir William was concerned was his almost immediate usage of his wealth to the service of his God, in the way that he knew, which was the service and betterment of his Church The reason, Dr. Cox thinks, was that he was conscience stricken at his great loss, immediately abandoning the Pursuit of arms. It seems more likely to the writer, that he was a God fearing man, who took the responsibilities of headship of his family seriously, and used his wealth in the way that, all God fearing men do, and have done down the ages – for the Glory of their God, and the betterment of others not no well endowed as themselves.
Whatever the reasons, the immediate result was the creation and endowment of a Chantry in our Church in 1350, another in 1368, this allied with the almost complete rebuilding and extension of the Church.
Chantry founding was a prevalent way, in the Roman Church of that time, of endowing so that some-one would pray for you after death, continuously and, regularly, as the repetition, whether vain or otherwise, was some kind of insurance, and that dead saints had a kind of intermediary office on your behalf, as tho’ Luke
16/ 26 , John 14/6, and Tim 2/6 had never been written. But this we know today, so should .not condemn past ages who had not the benefit of our greater knowledge, nor the written word so easily got as our help today, if only in God’s Grace we see it as such.
But there is a difference in the Wakebridge Chantries, easily noted by percipient historians, from whose writings the facts of these notes are compiled. Cox says, in what must be inspired writing, that the Crich Chantrys were not in any way selfish as others were. He notes that the whole tone of the founding Charters speaks of a real interest in the souls of the neighbourhood, and of an earnest desire that the Holy Scriptures and the service of Mass – together with the general services should be attended “by the people at large”.
Sir William paid a fine of 10 marks to the King for the alienation, of land at Crich, Wheatcroft, Holloway, Tansley, Dethick, Lea and Fritchley with other neighbouring villages. More-over because he had an interest in Nottinghamshire,most of the endowment of the small Priory of Felley in that county, came from lands at Crich, Morton, Ashover, and Tibshelf , and the neighbouring Church at Annersley Nottinghamshire , possessed a Chantry endowed by Sir William and Robert de Annersley in 1363.
The founding date of the first Chantry was 1350. It was formed at the East end of the North aisle, where previously had stood an altar dedicated to St. Nicholas. The North aisle being apparently completely rebuilt, at the same time. Dedicated to the Saints Nicholas, Katherine, Margaret and Mary Magdalene, the Charter specifies the endowments as “fowre messuages, three cottages, five tofte s, three plow lands and twenty shillings of tents, with the appurtenances ...” It would, as normal have been screened off from the Nave and aisle with timber screens, open and traceries, closed with panels below cill height probably as our old Chancel Screen (which may incidentally have originally formed part of the Chantry screens later story). Chantry screens still exist in some old Churches, Ashbourne, Chesterfield, Darley Dale for example.
The Episcopal licence was dated 1357 and presumably work was started at once if not already under way (bureaucracy is ever slow in approving! vide our repairs) since the whole Church was about to be opened up for major works. Richard Davey of Stoney Stanton was initiated as first Chantry Priest, whose duties were, by signed deed, to say Mass daily for the souls of Sir William and his two wives, Joan and Elizabeth, his grandfather Nicholas, his grandmother Juliana, and his sons and daughters. Also for his father and mother, the Frechevilles, Belers, the de la Poles, the Crich Vicar, Wm. de Ballidon, and Sir John Codyngton of Codyngton Hall. Funds were always to be made available for distribution to the poor of the Parish.
The Deed of composition states that amongst other things the purpose of the Chantry was for “the mayntayning of God’s service, the succour of poor folk, and assistance to the Vicar at Masse, Matyns and Evensonge, every Sunday and double feast”, objects which would not be amiss today. The dedication of Catherine explains the Catherine wheel at the ear of the recumbent effigy of the founder still in the North Aisle tho’ badly defaced. There are also obscure records of a Chantry House for the serving Priest which would have been provided at the same time, but this cannot be identified.
The licence for the second Chantry was issued in 1368, and instituted Richard Whitman as ‘Chaplain. It was endowed with £6 P.A. of rents from the Priory of Thurgarton Notts, together with other lands and tenements as the other Chantry. The duties of the Chaplain were inter alia, to say Masse daily for those already enumerated, to assist the Vicar at Masse, Matins and Vespers on Sundays and double Feasts, to daily say the Office for the Dead in conjunction with the Chaplain of the other Chantry seven Penitential Psalms, and Litany, to continuously reside at the Chantry House as if he were a Vicar, to daily after Matins and the Hours, say the Psalm ‘De Profundis*, with the usual versicles, that a bell should be rung for warning of the service, that he should not undertake any other benefice or permanent duty and that no woman was to live in the Chantry House. There were other restrictions and observances. If one reads between the lines it is possible to see the safeguards against the abuses which many Chantrys came to incur. Whatever, the first idealistic and spiritual foundation, as these Crich foundations most evidently were, there grew up wrong headed practices and abuses which we hope Crich avoided.
Perhaps it is time now to re-state the aim of these monthly notes. A learned, and very valuable, friend of the writer’s has suggested that the note on the Black Death of the 1300’s was inaccurate, because in fact it was the flea that carried the Bubonic virus. The writer is ignorant on the biological argument, but in fairness the fleas could not of themselves have hopped from the Eastern Mediterranean to Calais and then cleared the channel with one bound. Hence the writer’s mention of the Black rats and Crusaders without which and whom as carriers the fleas were helpless.
This series of historical facts, are not, and never were, intended to deal with the minutia of History, which can be obtained from the expert Historians’ mass of writings.
The sole purpose of these notes is to relate the history of our village, as known to the writer, and our County and Country, to the Way in which God in His Wisdom has worked in Time. Through sinful and unthinking Men, to show Himself His Power, and the Glory of His Kingdom, bit by bit, ‘’line upon line, precept upon precept” as man in his generations is able to grasp it.
If this is forgotten, and the notes read as pure History, then everything will be reduced to pedantry, the very opposite of the spiritual seeking for that ’’OPEN DOOR” of Our lord’s these writings are trying to identify.
At any rate during Edward VI a general dissolution of all Chantrys was ordered as a start to Reformation. Of the many reasons for this two were that they had become superstitious, and that, their considerable Revenues were being misappropriated.
A record of the suppression inventory at Criche is-
October 6 Richard Banks, Clerk.
4 Bells in the steeple. 2 cruets of Pewter.
4 vestments whereof 1 of new silk the other of blue
chamblett and redde worstyd. 2 table cloths.
2 hangings before the Table.
1 Cope of olde silk, 1 Corporas with 2 cases.
2 crosses of tinne and one of brasse, 1 handbell,
2 candlesticks, of pewter. 1 Bible with the paraphrases.
1 coffer with 3 locks and 3 keys. There was 2 Chalices there, which Jo Beaumont hadde.
(One wonders who Jo. was and why he had the silver? He may well have been the King’s Sequestrator - Sir John Beaumont - taking the silver for his feel!)
Nothing there that a modem High Church would not possess and use. And there is another lovely aspect of these Crich Chantrys.
The original parchments are annotated (by the hand of some long dead Chantry Priest, with medical (?) notes on the cure of various ailments such as – colic, the stone and strangury, with general directions on diet and blood-letting, with what our Dr, refers to as superstitious regard to days and seasons, ie,”if blood is let on April 11th in the left arm the eyesight will not be lost for that ensuing year”, and “if anyone strike man or beast on March 26th, July 25th or December 8th he will assuredly die the third day after”, and “for ye stone strangury and colike take malues, violet, mercury, mayke of each one handfulle, then of lyqeryce, 1 quartron. Seethe alle this in 3 quartes of ale till ye halfe be consumet, then streyn it thro a clothe, and give him six spoonfulls of ye liquor to drinke in ye morrow colde, and at night; luw warm, with half a spoonful of ye powder that follows; take caraway, fennelsede, spykenard, anniss, cynamon, galyngale, of eche one ounc, with, groundsel seede
1 ounce, liquorys 1 ounce,.. rest, undecipherable.
A recipe which would not come amiss today perhaps, not a lot different from the medicines sold by the pound and gallon in the chemists and health shops. Nothing to harm and much to do good.
Perhaps the truth is that these unknown Priests were creatures of their time – when knowledge of these diseases and maladies was negligible. Moreover the Priests of those days were all things to all men. Teachers, Doctors, Nurses, physicians , chemists, lawyers and general advisers in addition to the duties enumerated above as Guiders to God, somehow fitting in these other jobs with their daily and multifarious duties as parish priests – expected to be in Church every day.
They must have been on call 24-hours a day – no wife or meal to return to – in the main at least. Their superstitious regard for days and seasons has its counterpart today six hundred years after. Man is a superstitious animal and has to protect himself – which is what superstition is all about – ingrained in the human genes from experiences long ago – one of the Churches’ jobs is to eradicate and replace with that faith in something more permanent and spiritual.
So there was chaos and confusion: at the dismantling and desecrating of these little Chapels and the ruthless confiscation of the endowments given for their upkeep. Indeed, arrangements were made to provide the disposed Clergy with pensions out of the sequestrated funds and action taken to see that they were not homeless nor destitute. It can he argued that the main ideals of the Chantrys founding were not, in purpose nor method, in accord with God’s Word, and Christian Doctrine as we today know it from God’s Word, “I WILL OVERTURN, OVERTURN, OVERTURN IT SAITH THE LORD, until he come whose right it is, then will I give it Him” is a quotation well worth remembering.
Finally, on the Chantrys, no connection with Crich, the writer wonders if any reader knows Winchester Cathedral? There in the Retro – Choir stand the Chantry – chapel tombs of Cardinal Beaufort and Bishop Waynfleet, both, but especially the latter, priceless works of art. Carved, fretted, traceried scalloped and canopied, in lovely cream stone, moulded and shaped, and soaring upward with spires, pinnacles and crockets, in miniature, and splendid profusion. It is arguable that these could not be built today for the tremendous skills which worked solid stone as if it were icing sugar have nearly vanished. One of these Chantrys must have occupied a group of masons for years, and all for – in the main – prayers for men long dead, albeit Cardinal and Bishop, Almost exactly opposite on the Choir wall is a small and insignificant tablet lettered in nicely proportioned lettering. It is the memorial to the late General Wavell, an old Wykehamist. The wording, as if in silent protest to the opulence around says “ AND GLORY WAS THE LEAST OF THINGS THAT FOLLOWED THIS MAN HOME”, Of such stuff are Reformation made.
At the west end of the North wall externally and almost against the recent kitchen extension, there is an unusual Sepulchral recess. In 1710, Bassano, a coach painter and artist, engaged in visiting and reporting on churches and their monuments and glass, reported the stone coffin in this recess as having an incised Chalice on the lid of the coffin. From the burial in such a position, and this carving on the stone lid, the experts are agreed that the tomb is that of Richard Davey of Stoney Stanton, the first serving Priest of Sir William Wakebridge’s St. Catherine Chantry. In the late 1700s in what some may think an act of irreverence, or at the least, thoughtlessness, the lid was evidently reversed and inscribed to Thomas England, the Vicar who died in 1780, Whether or not a second interment was made, is, of course not known.
Our historian, Dr. Cox, has an interesting thing to say about the prevalence of Chantry Chapels around the time 1327–1377. There are references to a Chapel at Lea which during Edward III was served by two Priests. Sir William Wakebridge is known as having presented it with a set of vestments at this time. Shortly after the Reformation suppression of Chantrys, the last Priest, Thomas Rowbotham, was given an annual pension of 52s.8p. Medieval Chapels are elsewhere recorded at South Wingfield, Linberry (see previous note) Cromford Bridge, Wessington Grange, and a vague mention of a Chapel in our Churchyard dedicated to St.. Thomas the Martyr, which like all the others, has vanished without trace and little record. Some remains of the Cromford Bridge Chapel were still visible to the writer’s knowledge ten or fifteen years ago .and may still be.
When Sir William’s major rebuilding was complete, the Church in plan at any rate, if not in bulk, would have looked very much as it does today. One big difference was that the roof was low eaved and high pitched, (it’s height and slope can be clearly seen by the old flashing grooves on the East and West ends), And either there was no South Porch or if one existed it was inadequate or structurally unsound. Natural lighting in the Church must have been poor – the new Chancel would have been better naturally lit altho’ cumbered by various tombs, the positions since amended to give a clear floor space, and of course separated from the Nave by a Rood Screen; the end sockets of the Rood Beam can still be seen where the sockets have been filled in. The two Chantry Chapels at the North end of either Aisle would also have been enclosed by what are termed Parclose screens, altho’ the writer cannot find any evidence of post or beam holes in the walls or columns. Floors of dressed stone covered with straw or rushes must have meant cold feet. Candles in profusion may well have provided the only artificial light – constantly burning before Altar, tombs, and the religious pictures and images of those days, especially in hard winters only we who have had experience of not very reliable heating systems can guess!
The clerical celebrants of the continuous daily serves (for one of the best things about the Church at this time was that it really did use it’s buildings which were rarely if ever empty of some worshippers from dawn to dusk,) were forced to use ‘’chafing boxes’– small metal boxes, usually of a silver amalgam, which contained burning, or rather smouldering charcoal. In an attempt to keep frozen hands warm enough to provide the necessary movements the liturgy demanded.
In the next century some of these defects were rectified, when a new South Porch was added, much as it exists today and the whole Nave re-roofed at its present level and slope. The extra height so obtained (easily visible by the difference between the old rubble wall and the dressed stone of the amendment, above the columns), was used to provide clerestory windows so adding considerably to better natural lighting.
The style of the early Sir William’s work as already noted is what, is termed Early English, notable in that it ousted the semi-circular Byzantine arches of the Normans, substituting the pointed Gothic arch, and strove – successfully in the bigger Abbeys and Cathedrals – by stone working to very fine limits, to lighten by cunning moulds and light and shade to lighten the heavy and cumbersome Norman work. This style starting in the 1100s came to an abrupt end in its “‘Decorated*’ form at the Black Death when most building abruptly ceased. Our Church exhibits in its windows mainly, both what is called Early English and Decorated follow - up. But care is needed since there are windows which have been ‘renovated* down the years.
Our friend Dr. Cox argues that the difference in style between North and South arcades means that the Church originally had only a Nave and North Aisle. This conjecture arising from the obvious differences in style – one side – the North – truly Norman, the other what was termed “transitional” - approaching Early English* If the North and South farthest east; columns are examined it is evident that, the North east end column was originally attached to an end wall now demolished, and the amendment and alteration – a little ‘bodged’ to get the out of proportion pointed arch in, can clearly be seen. Not so on the South side where the small arch and the adjacent semi circular one sit happily on the same column, obviously built to contain them. So that either there was no South Aisle when Sir William did his enlargement or, if there was one, the Norman pillars were demolished, Why? Was the Nave widened?
The fact that these arcades mimic – with rather more delicate amendment – the Norman arches opposite, perhaps means nothing more than that the designer was a mason of taste, who realised that pointed arches on the same span would clash, and that he would have needed much more height than was available to retain the existing column spacings. More over his use of the undercut hood mould instead of the heavy and bulbous Norman hood on the North side dated to sometime in 13th century when this type of hood was first used.
Styles in Architecture can perhaps better be read and dated in the great Cathedrals and the odd un-renovated small church where they were generated. It took a long time – sometimes a century or more – for a newfangled style to drift down to the little villages masons where labour was rural, and had no worries about the precise detailing demanded by the Master Masons who designed the new ways of doing things.
If we must be pedantic, then the new windows of the heightened walls of Sir William’s larger and very different church, are the flat headed style which came to be known as Perpendicular – albeit a very plain perpendicular.
The origin, or rather the reputed origin of this particularly English style, not found elsewhere except as a copy later, is so interesting and, from the standpoint of these stories so indicative of how the Church in the 14th. Century was thinking and acted, that we digress to tell it hoping mean while that your boredom will decline with the reading I
Edward II, murdered (previous note) in such revolting circumstances that most Historians pass over the act unmentioned, was not only a bad King, but a depraved one, with shocking morals, even for those barbaric times. His interment at Bristol Cathedral was therefore refused on those grounds to Bristol’s lasting credit. But the Abbot of Gloucester was a very different man, with ideas beyond his immediate horizon, so taking the Royal corpse into his Cathedral, he built, over it a magnificent canopied tomb. Whether he knew what was to happen we don’t know, or whether he himself played a dubious part in what happened, which may well be so, for he condoned it. Immediately, the Pilgrims flocked from far and near, to see and pray at this shrine of an evil King. Miracles were reported, the fame of the tomb spread to all England and abroad, and of course the funds poured into the Abbey’s monastic strong room. To enhance this popular and successful Shrine, and to let more light into what was a Norman dark comer, The Abbot used his new found wealth to rebuild the Choir of his Cathedral with a maximum of glass in a new-fangled design of window, “more glass than wall” as is said about a Derbyshire building – Hardwick Hall. The excuse if excuse it was, was to commemorate Crecy – the dead man’s son having just won that battle. Before completion the Black Death struck.
But the evil King brought the Devil’s luck – Gloucester escaped the plague and the work was not interrupted’ In 1351 Abbot Thokey’s successor, Hotton, continuing the work and being an inventive Architect to boot, invented a new system of stone vaulting termed Pan vaulting, so both Thokey and Hotton were revolutionaries – perhaps not only in Architecture.
The result of their labours was a new-style of building which came to be classified by architects as “Perpendicular”, and that was the style that Crich masons adopted for the last major alterations in the 14th century, by which time the style had extended to the rest of the country, and the dreadful ravages of the Black Death had nearly been made good, and when naturally, the new generation of Masons turned to the only place which had kept on building whilst other quarries (including Crich?) were at a standstill due to lack of work and a scarcity of skilled and unskilled men.
Can good come out of evil? Yes – if God wills it and directs it. The details of this period in our Island’s history show clearly the Dangers of relic worship and the duplicity which has surrounded it in history. No Abbey or Cathedral was without its Saint’s and other unmentionable relics, it’s tomb steps and saint’s effigies worn by countless kisses.
There is in existence, an Inventory of Litchfield Cathedral of about this time, translated and recorded by Dr. Cox, in which is a large catalogue of Holy relics, bones, hair, belongings, etc. not uncommon for other Churches as it still is abroad. The explanation is a simple one. When the Celtic Missionaries came to this Island (story in first issues of 1972), to a folk unlearned, illiterate, pagan, and almost savage, their Christian bearing and kind manner, the lovely way they lived in extreme poverty. (as Christ told his first evangelising disciples to live) their assurance of the splendid message they brought, amplified and made alive by their living of it out in their lives, must have put them, in a category of Angels to simple minds. No wonder they were revered, remembered, their relics honoured, and when the Dark Age struck, were carried around when folk had to flee the marauding Danes, No wonder that reverence turned to worship down the years, that memory dredged up miracles, and, sadly, that venery in high places took advantage of this situation, the love of money being the root of all evil. Superstition is never far away from such a combination of circumstances, and can be encouraged without much effort. The Path to our Door has to be jealously guarded and constantly prayed about to avoid wrong signposts
At the risk of boring you patient readers, the writer I cannot avoid a final little story about this period. Most of you, at least (who are older will remember singing the kiddies nursery rhyme we all sang whilst we walked in a circle as wee ones – “Ring-a-ring of roses, a pocket full of posies, atishoo, atishoo, all fall down”. We thought it funny and a nice simple game. It dates from the 1300s and the Black Death (altho’ the Opies1 and others have different ideas, the writer prefers the old established explanation) the roses and posies were a means of combating the stench of dying from the plague, the atishoos referring to the sneezing the disease caused, and ’’all fall down” is exactly what they did – in the streets and everywhere. A sobering thought to remember the origin of many of our nursery rhymes – some in later stories.
{1Note: the Opies were Peter and Iona Opie who were knowledgeable experts in the history of nursery rhymes and authors of The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (1951) PCP}
We cannot leave this century without some mention of a famous Derbyshire Man, not in any way connected with Crich, but a man who played such a founders role in the later history of our beliefs, that we of Derbyshire can be proud of him. Henry Yevele, born at Yeaveley near Ashbourne, round about 1370, His father Roger was a stone mason as was his brother Robert, and he too served an apprenticeship to that trade. Henry became something of a genius as mason, carver and designer, and in an area of great stone quarries such as Hollington and also an area of great building, Croxden Abbey, Rochester Priory, and Burton Abbey, and where the great Cathedral of Litchfield was still building, would surely have found plenty of scope for his talents. His ambition took him to London, where in 1345 he worked on Windsor Castle, where he became friendly with a Clerk of Works named Geoffrey Chaucer. The plague which brought building to a halt, later meant a tremendous revival, to complete buildings left unfinished, so in 1358 he was completing Kennington Palace for the King’s son, becoming two years later the King’s master mason engaged in the design and completion of Windsor Castle.
Later he was made Director of Works at Westminster, and a Warden of London Bridge which he re-designed and rebuilt. In 1377, he designed and supervised as Master mason, the building of Nave and Transepts of Canterbury Cathedral, left uncompleted by a French architect, and where a stone bust of Henry now is. Later he was to complete Arundel Castle where he got Geoffrey Chaucer as Clerk of Works again. I often wonder whether Henry was one of the first hearers of the Canterbury Tales as they journeyed from London to Arundel and Canterbury and back! In 1395 he was responsible for the rebuilding of Westminster Hall and the completion of Westminster Abbey. Dying in 1400 a wealthy man, his tomb in St. Magnus Chapel was destroyed in the later Great Fire of London (London’s burning, London’s burning – another example of horror turned into a child’s song). As a man we know little about him, but as often happens, his works live on to delight and give service to those who know how to use them, some of them, no doubt, helping man in his search for the right path to God’s Open Door
In 1338 a Chantry was founded in the Church of St.Peter Derby, at the altar of the Blessed Virgin, one of the founders being John de Crich, Priest. He was indeed the principal founder, the main purpose of the Chantry being to say daily Masse for the soule of Geoffrey of Criche, described as ’’the chief promoter of works of Charity in Derby”, and John’s father. The Chantry was endowed with lands and rents Derby, Normanton and Litchurch, but was not established until 1342 when John from Crich became first Chaplain. In 1382 the Chaplain was Richard de Crich and very shortly afterwards exchanging benefices end titles with William de Brunaldeston, then Vicar of Crich, although our friend the Dr. is silent in his record of Crich Vicars on this exchange and does not mention William at all. There may well be a mix-up between Vicars and Chantry Chaplains which will affect us again, in later stories.
The writer lived in what was Norman ton, when young, and likes to think that a large area of what used to be called in his younger days St. Peter’s Glebe, then let as allotments, one of which was worked by the writer’s father-in-law, and which he believes still exists. It is nice to think that there is an earlier connection with Crich and the liberal Geoffrey and John, all of whom must have known and shown the path we seek, in the way of that time.
There is another record of a Henry de Criche who was a Canon and Vicar of Kirk Hallam 1335–1349. Perhaps someone with more experience will one day ferret out and tell us of these men of Crich who worked for their God in the dark times of the fourteenth century.
The Church was much more severe with its flock at this time, as the following notes will show. They refer to a Declaration to be made by one Richard Hall and his wife Frances, both of Wirksworth. The records are not complete since some are indecipherable – we have to thank the Woolley M/S. for reporting them;
“The said Richard and his wife shall repair to ye Churche at Wirksworth upon the first Sunday in Lente next, at ye beginning or ending of morning prayers, and then and there before ye Minister and Chruchwardens, and some of their honest neighbours, shall saye after ye Minister as follows? “Whereas we good people forgetting and neglecting our dewties to Almighty God, have committed the filthy and detestable sinne of fornication, together, before wee were married, to ye danger of oure own soules, and the evil example of (fathers, wee are hartily sorry for the same doe repent us from the bottom of oure harts, praying Almighty God to forgive us both this and all other offences and sinnes, and to ayd us with His Holy Spirite, that we never commit the like offence again and for this end... (the rest is indecipherable)
It would “be impossible to review this century without some mention of a man who, whilst not directly affecting Crich, began something which in time completely changed the way in which the Church here displayed and organised its religion , A man about whom the theologians, disagree. Some term him ‘‘The morning star” – the first true non-conformist in a Church which dealt hardly with anyone not conforming. He was undoubtedly the harbinger of that non-conformism which ushered in and followed the Reformations some consider him a man who engineered a change without knowing it, and termed him ‘’Subtle, opinionated and tirelessly argumentative”. But since he saw and spoke out against the errors of a Church he never left, it cannot be right to ignore his achievement in opening up the Scriptures to all who could read, by organising and aiding the translation of the Latin Vulgate into common English.
In his time the Church was ruled and governed by an ‘‘Aristocracy of intellectual graduates”, as one theologian puts it. The richer benefices and paying Prebends were sometimes the prizes for a select band whose time was almost wholly concerned with Church government and whose Pastoral and Evangelical work and duties, were often delegated to an ill paid company of humble and dedicated men” – a little as the recent “Barchester Chronicle” portrayed on T.V. These often laboured away for no material reward and with no hope of a better, but thankfully more in keeping with their Lord’s commands. It was only when John Wycliffe’s teaching threatened to subvert all Oxford University that Church and Crown took decisive action.
Wycliffe, bom circa 1330 himself took advantage of the current state of affairs, obtaining a paying Prebend in the Collegiate Church of Westbury near Bristol, and a plurality at, Fillingham. These saw him financially through University of Oxford, whilst inferiors were paid to do his work at the churches concerned.
It was a time when Papal taxation “seemed intolerable”, as was the Pope’s claim to have the power to fill vacant benefices with his own nominees. But Government and Church eventually reacted with what was called a Statute of Provisors, ordering all presentation to Benefices to be free, and declaring provision to be illegal.
Until 1378 no Church machinery existed to sentence to death those who disagreed with it, but when Wycliffe began to denounce his Churches most central doctrines – (Sacrifice of Mass, Prayers for the dead, worship of images, Saint adoration etc.) they soon found in company of a willing Parliament, ways of dealing with these heretics, altho’ in his life Wycliffe escaped this punishment.
‘The main centres of Lollardy (Wycliffe’s followers came to be known as Lollards) were Oxford and Leicester, but the area of his and their influence spread south to Canterbury, east to Norwich, west to Wales, and north as far as Nottingham, Ashbourne and Derby,
When .after trial and persecution he resigned his positions, returning to the Lutterworth he loved, he died on the last day of December 1384, and for a century and a half his ideas laid low, only to resurface with greater intensity and emphasis in the 1500s, when the effect on England and our Church in particular will require examination later, His followers were viciously hunted, persecuted and often burnt at the stake or hung.
The vital clue for us to the arguments he used and published was hen he was criticised for reliance on Scriptural authority, when his Church preferred the accumulated wisdom of having fallible minds. Perhaps we do well today to bear this in mind when men question the Authority of God’s Word, remembering that any form of scepticism annoyed Wycliffe who wrote a treatise on “The truth of Holy Scripture”. He ever accepted. Scriptures as God’s Law and founded all his conclusions on it.
Always on the run, by 1414 Lollardy had gone for ever, but the Church continued its persecution in a curious way, by digging up his bones at Lutterworth, burning them, and throwing the ashes into a nearby stream, A last vindictive and useless act by a misguided Church hegemony,
Altho’ Derby was the extreme north of Lollardy’s influence, it appears that one Henry Booth of Littleover, an unknown weaver of Chaddesden, and William Eddrick of Aston-on-Trent died as offenders against the Church’s doctrines,
The recorder of this time has made a startling statement – suggesting “because there was a mistrust of educated laymen and possession of a Bible in current English was evidence of depravity, men who were of a lower class but were, eloquent and forceful were particularly singled out for persecution,”
Of such things was the Reformation made – Wycliffe’s collapsed – but what it led up to in the following Centuries eventually opened up a more factual and significant Path to the Open Door we are considering. Perhaps the facts in this story, of History’s meanderings will help us to a sound Christian thinking on the confused situation of today, when “Christian” is often defined in terms in no way Biblical, or in keeping with those hard words our Lord used, “Except you become as a little child you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” - “YOU must love the Lord your God with all your heart all your mind all your soul and with all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself.
God first, others second, yourself last – as Our Lord did and commanded, a difficulty we sometimes find it hard to accept. And, most important for us in these multi-racial times – “No man comes to the Father but by Me.”
1400s
After the excitements, upsets arid tragedies of the 1300s the 15th. Century, from the records existent seem to have been 100 years of reasonable quietness for St, Mary’s.
The only building in this Century would seem to have been the completion off Sir William’s extensions, perhaps completion of the Tower and South Porch, but lack of factual evidence means that our new-look church could have been completed much earlier. The generation using our Church at that time must have welcomed the completion, since our Church must have been unusable for many years, indeed roofless for a long time.
But the happenings around them in County and Country must, have caused great concerns violence and War as usual in ever more menacing form. The 100 years war with France ended in 1453 some 30 years after Henry VI was proclaimed King of France, and 27 years after the battle of Agincourt. The French had been victorious at the battle of Anjou in 1421 whilst Joan of Arc relieved Orleans in 1429 and was burned at the stake in 1431.
The dreadful quarrels and Civil Wars we know as the Wars of the Roses, Lancaster v York, ended in I486 with the battle of Bosworth Field, when Henry VII defeated Richard III, who, you remember offered in vain his Kingdom for a horse! One wonders how many Crich men were impressed for these blood- lettings which ended with no benefits in .any way comparable with the efforts.
Meanwhile, there were great developments both in the world and our Country, which were to change radically the nature of our Society.
In 1453 the Turkish Muslems captured Constantinople thus successfully blocking the Western World’s only known trade routes, and so beginning a series of discoveries by brave men to find what lay beyond the seemingly endless Oceans. In 1486 Diaz found the Cape of Good Hope and in 1497 Vasco di Gama found his way to India. In 1498 Columbus found, unknowingly, the American Continent. The use of the Mariners’ Compass (a Chinese discovery) aided this explosion of exploration, and we must not miss John Cabot, who reached Newfoundland from Bristol in 1497.
In 1438 Koster of Hearlem invented the art of printing, and when Caxton in 1477 started the first Printing Press at Westminster, there began a process of change in Society by no means yet fully worked out (vide our present striking printers!)
The direction of Religion in England began to change when the printed word in Pamphlet and poster began to publish the open thought freedoms of John Wycliffe and his Lollard evangelists of Leicestershire, Oxfordshire, and Derbyshire, and the whole Midlands. Aided by men of Europe such as John Huss of Bohemia and Martin Luther of Germany, there began the evidence of a change in the Medieval practice of Christianity leading to a Reformation away from superstition and Idolatry, and the exorcises of the human mind’s traditions, which had come to overlay and distort the true Gospel of the Open Door of Christ.
This followed on the heels of the great uplifting in Art and Science, beginning in Italy and spreading to all Europe – what History terms the Renaissance. ‘The great increase in building after the Black Death was funded in the main by the up and coming Merchant classes, and later by the sequestration of much of the Church’s wealth, which accrued in the end to the Nobility and the speculators. Another off shoot was the decline of timber as the main building material, because of the fire hazard and the increasing population.
In 1407 the company of Merchant Adventurers was organised the beginning of England’s business seeking exploration and settlement, which was to continue unabated until decline in our recent time.
Men such as Erasmus and John Colet, the Christian Humanists as they were called, wrote and preached a very different Gospel from that their Church was upholding, altho’ that is not to condemn those many people of the Roman Church who were spiritually trying to identify the Open Door,
All this ferment indicated an initial break - away from Medievalism, marking the end of what the Historians call the Gothic Period, but not affecting our little back-water of Crich. for another Century or more.
The Established Church was indeed in a state of ferment. Schism after Schism resulted in 1378 in what came to be known as the great Schism, when Pope Urban VI was elected Pope on the death of Gregory, but the French, as ever in a minority of one, elected Clement VII and placed him in Avignon – at odds with Rome! The Power of Rome, previously strong enough to sway Kingdoms, was very gradually weakening splitting Christendom and underpinning a Reformation.
Whether. our little Church suffered any harm from these disturbances seems unlikely – that was left for the next Century; the writer, in humility, can only quote his favourite History text – “I WILL OVERTURN, OVERTURN, OVERTURN IT SAITH THE LORD, UNTIL HE COMES WHOSE RIGHT IT IS THEN WILL I GIVE IT HIM”.
Our present turmoil bears a resemblance to that quoted above – the writer wonders whether any of that day remembered Our Lord’s words said to His Disciples – Watch and Pray lest you find yourselves tempted when these things happen, advice we should perhaps heed in these days of turmoil, when the dubious art of Politics beckons as it did for Our Lord who dismissed it out of hand, and what seems to be contempt – ‘’Give Caesar what is his, and to God what belongs to God” There lies the true way to His Open Door*
Wycliffe’s attempt at reforming failed - for a time. Suppressed by an uncertain Church hegemony; but there is a time for everything and the time was not right for an England steeped in Medievalism. What was required was an opening of closed minds which the Renaissance (rebirth) supplied. Two events lit the spark – the invention of Printing and the Moslem’s capture of Constantinople in 1453. This sent the scholars and their precious books – guarded over many Centuries – scurrying to Italy and the West. The new learning that followed produced men educated in the colleges and Universities now springing up all over Europe, eager for Truth in Art, Literature and Religion, Some, known as Humanists, (not the modem Atheistic variety) came to argue with the Roman Church’s system and views, publishing their arguments by the new art of Printing for the expanding minority of those who could read.
John Colet, born 1466, Canon of St. Paul’s, published a series of outstanding essays on the Epistles, making St. Paul’s words of evangelism come alive. He taught the vital importance of the Biblical Word, denied Transubstantiation, and preached startling sermons on his Church’s lack of true Christ like Spirituality – a Church he never left, preferring as a true Christian to battle from within, Erasmus, born 1467, another Christian Humanist Philosopher, published a Greek edition of the New Testament, and like Colet fought his Church’s errors from within. When men such as these led men back to the Bible and broke the dead shackles of the superstition and tradition of Medievalism, it became possible to return to the gospels of the Early Church of the Apostles for the important truths of religion and to rediscover the basic Gospel of Our Lord, no longer obscured by an incorrect reading of Holy Writ.
The time chosen by God for this turmoil, was as always in His wisdom, just right, for an increasingly educated public were inspired by a wish for knowledge, with a growing dislike of the power and privilege of a Church unwilling to recognise the changed climate of opinion, and unaware of their vulnerability when faced by the major changes in Society the Renaissance was causing.
The cry for knowledge at this time was so great ‘that at this time were established (among others) the Universities of St. Andrews and Glasgow, with Aberdeen and the Colleges of Eton, Lincoln and Magdalen and All Souls at Oxford. This increase in learning tended to expose the dog-in-a manger attitude of a Church sadly losing sight of its mission in a period of intellectual “Nit - picking’* by the “Schoolmen” – as the University Professors were known – the Philosophers – (it is recorded that some of them were engaged in argument as to how many Angels could be accommodated on a pin-headj!)
It was a time alas! of the established Roman Church’s nadir – the times of the corrupt Borgias, the Medicis, a dissolute Vatican warring and fighting to retain its Papal States with its economic adventures so that a Renaissance and a Reformation were vitally necessary if the. Vision of the Open Door was not to be totally obscured. It was a pity for England and Crich that its need and purposes were later obscured by a silly King using the events which involved all Europe for his own misguided purposes.
Although John, Wycliffe’s attempt: at Reformation came to a halt because the time was not right, his ideas had taken root for which the Roman Hierarchy’s answer became a tyrant’s response, persecution and murder, not the Christian response of Love and gentleness.
But all this ferment concerned the Higher circles and we can be reasonably sure the Crich folk – in those days of slow communication, would have been blissfully unaware of the battle for truth going on around them. In fact – as these notes constantly suggest – the black picture of a Church’s decline from the Gospel teachings, when many of the lovely, spiritual collects we still use were composed by deeply spiritual men, only emphasises Our Lord’s advice, ‘’Except you become as a little child, you cannot enter my Kingdom”. Whilst the Establishment desperately tried to defend the status quo, we must never lose sight of the fact that many millions of ordinary, simple Christians (like you and me?), as little children in Faith and Love and with the simplest notions of Theology, no bible to read or study, no printed helps, were earnestly treading the Path – God guided unaware of the outside ferment. The Path leading to the Door we seek needs humility, Faith, Hope and Love to lead us in the right direction for our lives. A Christian truth we ought to ever remember especially in our own dark times, when the Christian virtues of inner cleanliness and self - discipline are ignored and trodden down by many who should know better.
There exists, in Government custody, a document which sets out the names of all men who fought at the Battle of Agincourt in the French wars of 1415. Apparently under the jurisdiction, if not command, of Richard Lord Grey of Codnor, some would have been his retainers and tenants, but other local men were enlisted, some undoubtedly from Crich Parish although the names cannot be separated. But since many local names are included such as William Glossop, William Daykyn, Henry Bower along with other sound local names it would seem certain that Crich men were involved as archers. We are indebted to the Rev. G. Kerry for this information, and also for his account of the legend that the young King Henry, on receiving a parcel of tennis balls insultingly sent by the French King, instead of the tribute due, exclaimed?
“Recruit me Cheshire and Lancashire,
and the Derby hills that are so free,
for no married man nor widow’s son,
and no widow’s curse shall go with me”
though why the King did it in verse is not recorded’.
Although their appearance, with Crich and South Wingfield, on the stage of History, was not to be until the next century perhaps now it is time to discover the Babingtons of Dethick our near neighbours. They came originally from East Bridgeford Notts; when Thomas after fighting at Agincourt, married Isabella, daughter and heiress of Robert Dethick of Dethick. John their son was Sheriff of Derby and Notts, in 1480 and married Isabel daughter of Henry Bradbourne of Hulland. Killed at the battle of Bosworth Field, his heir married Editha a daughter of Ralph FitzHerbert of Norbury. Of their nine sons and six daughters, the eldest, Thomas, married Catherine a Sacheveral of Morley, their eldest son marrying Frances daughter of Sir John Markham. It was their eldest son, Anthony, who lost his head later. He was a great worker for the State religion, a great romantic, which is hardly surprising considering his above quoted ancestry – some of the upper grade Romanists we shall meet again later.
Becoming involved in a plot originated by three Romanist Priests, two Giffords and a Hodgson, and after much to-ing and fro-ing they decided to assist one named Savage, who held a commission. in the Spanish forces, to assassinate our Queen. Anthony agreed with the assistance of his friends, Windsor, Tilney, Salisbury Tichbourne, Travers, Gauge and Chaswick. But the romantic and by this time probably unsettled mind of Anthony caused a picture to be painted of these conspirators with himself at central! Foolishly it also bore a title which explained what they were about to do!
Anthony’s task was. to get Mary of Scots away from Wingfield out of Shrewsbury’s keeping. But they forgot, or more probably didn’t know of Walsingham, the head of Queen Elizabeth’s MI5, whose ear was receptive and informers numerous. One of the Giffords ’blabbed’ to a Walsingham spy named inappropriately Polly, and the gang were arrested except Salisbury who managed to get to Spain. Sent to the Tower and separately examined – and presumably tortured in the way of those days, they all confessed and were beheaded, Walsingham never failed his Queen against a wicked Church who issued Papal Bulls against her and allowed its adherents in high office to urge assassination even suggesting a, high place in Heaven for those who did! The estates were then forfeit to the Crown, and bought and sold by Sir Walter Raleigh (previous story), finally coming into the possession of John Claye, the rising local merchant of our muse – worthy board and tomb (later story), No historian that the writer knows mentions the close proximity of Wingfield and Dethick. One, well known, even suggest Dethick is in Staffordshire, It would be inconceivable that Anthony could not get into Wingfield Manor easily enough, although the legends of a tunnel connecting should be taken with more than a pinch of salt!
The original De Heriz Wingfield Manor stood on the opposite Hill, somewhere where the Inn now stands. The present ruin was built by Ralph Lord Cromwell the King’s Treasurer which accounts for the purse carved on the stone. In 1445 he sold to John Talbot second Earl of Shrewsbury, who was in residence as his second home after Sheffield Castle, in 1459. He was killed at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1460 such being the coincidences of life. Of the five next occupants the important one from our point of view was George – fourth Earl – he who wedded Bess of Hardwick (or rather SHE married him!)
A friend of Queen Elizabeth who entrusted him with the care and guardianship of the wayward Queen of Scots. Moved around from Sheffield to Wingfield finally to Tutbury, she was a constant worry for him. She was at Wingfield in February 1569 and again for some months in April, Elizabeth being well informed by Walsingham, her MI5 head, – instructed the worried Earl to harry his charge with constant movement. Finally in 1584 she came to Wingfield for the last time, but now under the custody of Sir Ralph Sadler, the old Earl having persuaded his Queen that the job was too much for an old man whose wife was a confirmed nagger.
There is in existence a list of the company engaged in guarding and attending the Scots Queen. The impact of this army must have been great on Wingfield and Crich, Mary rode about regularly and must have been a familiar sight to our village, on her horse and accompanied by her posse of armed and possibly mailed gentlemen, It is recorded that she was even allowed to visit Buxton to use the Thermal Hot Baths. However she never ceased to complain about the food, cold and boredom.
The list of people engaged at Wingfield Manor during Mary of-Scot*s incarceration reads like a fairy story: 120 of tile Earl’s yeoman, gentlemen, and servants; 50 of Sadler’s guards; 40 Soldiers fully armed; plus Mary’s own staff:
5 Gentlewomen, 5 Gentlemen, 14 Servants, 4 young boys, 3 Cooks, 3 Gentlemen’s manservants – 3 of their wives; 10 wenches with their children. (presumably the ‘‘skivvies”!) A great company which must have strained Wingfield village and possibly Crich too. It was this visit that must have allowed the Babingtons to plot from Dethick only 4 miles away. The clever Walsingham would no doubt give Anthony enough rope to hang himself, perhaps trying to induce an attempt at rescue, which is the way MI5 operates apparently. There is a legend that Anthony gained access disguised and stained with walnut juice. A most unlikely story unless the Government spies allowed it.
Finally removed to Tutbury on January 13th 1585, by way of the Babington’s house in Derby (Babington Lane) so on to her final degradation at Fotheringay. The pathetic Mary, erstwhile Queen of Scots, must have had sad thoughts about. Wingfield Manor, and indeed about the foolish way she had organised her life, with two foolish marriages, and in perpetual conflict, aided by a foolish Church, with a powerful Queen .and Government leading a people sick to death of her politics and the Church who advised her, bent on ridding an unwilling country of what their hierarchy considered to be an Heretical religion.
Although Derbyshire, Cheshire and Lancashire were strongly Lancastrian during the Wars of the Roses, the writer knows of no record of Crich involvement. There is, however, a story of a Lancastrian raid in the district, typical of the mayhem of that time of Civil War when heads seem to get hotter. It might indicate that some Crich men have been enlisted, against their wills, by an intemperate aristocracy. It began with an indictment against several Derbyshire and Staffordshire Knights and Squires for treason. Because Henry VI was suffering from one of his periods of mind derangement, it was left to the temporary ruler, Richard of York, to set up a commission to sit at Derby to consider – not to judge – for no defendants were present to .explain their conduct, But of course they were in great danger of being found guilty “in absentia”, which would of necessity involved loss of all their lands and properties, and indeed execution, for treason against ruler and state was a heinous crime.
The Commission heard evidence which seemed to prove that many leading Knights .and Squires with followers to a number over 1.000, gathered at Longford, marched to Elvaston, and sacked and burned the residence of Walter Blount, a Yorkist and at that time Lord High Treasurer, later created Lord Mountjoy so he must have had some connection with the Irish troubles. It appears that after Bosworth Field and the Civil War settled in favour of York, that no action was taken against the delinquents – a happy ending if any Crich men were involved altho’ we can hope that they had more sense! The point for us to remember when inflamed passions activate Society as they do today, is that the mayhem, deaths end violence caused when social ideas get out of hand, rarely, if ever, achieve anything worth while. Only the Lord’s way of Humility, Love and Peace ever win in the end, or gain the Open Door we are seeking*
In this Century the ownership of the ancient Manor of Alderwasley changed with the death of Thomas Fawne, in whose family it had been since the Ferrers bestowed it at 1066, until their decline and repossession under Charter from the Lancasters who obtained it when the Ferrers lost it. Then, due to lack of male succession (there must be a moral somewhere in this recurring symptom of Aristocratic lines!) the estate went to Thomas Lowe, who had married Joanne, Fawne’s daughter. Their son, Anthony, combined Alderwasley and Shining Cliffe into one estate when Henry VIII agreed to its transfer from the Lancaster Duchy. Anthony was a Courtman. Gentleman of the Bedchamber to three Monarchs, what stories he could have told of his service to Henry! How he survived those perilous times we don’t know, but he must have been well favoured, since after a head wound fighting for his King, he was given the privilege of remaining head covered in the King’s presence.
The letters patent for the estate in 1516 are interesting for us: they were the King’s licence to “Pale or impark all his lands and woods at Alderwasley together with a close known as SHINING CLIFFE and to make a free warren thereof, nothwithstanding that any part might be within the bounds of the Forest of Duffield Frith”.* We often forget that Crich was merely a clearing, as was Alderwasley, in the great forest at one time smoothering the whole Country. The King’s Chase included Crich, where were several Booths and Oxhays for rounding up the animal occupants (Thurlough Booth and Oxhay Wood still with us). The Fawnes would have had their own Chapel within their Hall, but in 1531 Joanne’s will mentions her own Chapel, which stood empty for many years until its recent new usage. It certainly must contain a ‘’cloud of witnesses*’ to our Open Door and its Path which perhaps its users now are hopefully conscious of.
During the later Civil Wars the Lowes were King Charles’ men and so not on the winning side. Eventually the estates were sequestrated by the Puritan Government from Lowe’s widow, and the surviving son Charles, was forced to compound for them back in what for that time was an enormous sum – £221– (inflation since then has been horrendous). John the last surviving male served as Derbyshire’s High Sherriff in 1653 and his. heiress and surviving, sister married Nicholas Hurt of Casterne in l671. (Casterne is near Ilam). This family remained in possession until recent times, when the Hall became successively, a Roman Catholic School, then a school for deprived children. The writer remembers a connection with this Historical house when many many years ago his aunt was in service there with the Hurts for many years. He also spent many happy Autumn days in the woods with a young family and a mother then living at Whatstandwell gathering sweet chestnuts from trees no doubt planted by the Lowes.
As an appendix to the 1400s perhaps we can remember something missed up to date, mainly because there appears to be no record for Crich Manor. This concerns the right of the Lord of the Manor to maintain a certain amount of the King’s Peace in his Manorial territory. The business was transacted in the Manor’s Hall, served by an elected Jury of the Manor’s inhabitants, and tenants, where was transacted all the Manorial
day-to-day business, where the service of his vassals was decided and their rents paid. Called the “Court Leet” it was initiated by the Crown, one of the ancient democratic procedures of our Country. Every person in the Manor from 14 to 60 years of age was obliged to attend, and suffered certification by the Steward of the Manor to weed out any interlopers. Visitors staying for longer than a year had also to be certified and to attend. Held in the main at Michelmas and Easter its main punishment for misdoing was the pillory. Other ways of punishing were legal. An often occurring offence in the records existent was letting into disrepair of the poor hovels they were forced to live in. We today “have it very good” to quote an ex Prime Minister. Sadly many of the records which are extant are concerned with the rights of the Lord and Manor only. The NATIVES, (born as slaves) BONDSMEN ( bound by covenant to the Lord for service) and the VILLEINS, (partly free working the soil for themselves and the Manor) must have led a hard life of work and worry harried and harassed in ways we have no way of knowing.
1500s
We come now to two Centuries of unparalleled movement and crisis, for County, Country and Church and every inhabitant. When the existing order was turned upside down, and the slow Medieval pace was accelerated to a degree not unlike the frantic pace of our present time, when tolerance, humility and love are at a premium as they were then.
The 16th. Century spanned 5 Monarchs – Henrys VII and VIII, Edward VI and Mary Tudor, and the advent of Elizabeth I. The record for Crich is sparse, but our own Church of St. Mary was to be torn apart and made to face a complete change of Doctrine and beliefs, which must have been hard for most of its adherents since both Churches, old and reformed, were guilty of bad excesses, nothing in these stories and facts, for facts they mostly are, must be seen as the writer’s condemnation, which all Christians should be careful to show as our Master was. Judgment implies a total knowledge which man in no wise possesses and is best left to God. Only, of course, a Country and its Rulers must have some defence against violence and riot, so its laws, under God, must contain some social punishment – “You will not come out of Prison until you have paid the uttermost farthing”.
As for our Country, we need to imagine it clothed in the deciduous forest once covering the whole island, with small pockets of cultivation and dwellings, some large and some small, like Crich – “From so-and-so to so-and-so a squirrel may jump from tree to tree” as a poet puts it. Crich was at the north end of the King’s great Chase, of which our remaining woods form part, with “Beau-Repaire” (Belper) the main hunting lodge of the area.
The up-and-coming Merchant class was beginning that source of friction called “Enclosure of common land”, and sheep farming assumed alarming proportions. The sheep population at this time has been estimated at 8 millions, 3 sheep to each inhabitant. The peasantry existed, it is said, on a marginal diet, living in insanitary hovels, and with a very short life expectancy.
Whilst the wool trade was still England’s major export, the demand for rural labour decreased with enclosure and sheep farming, and many “Robin Hood” gangs were forced into roaming the woods for the food they could neither grow nor earn – and stealing from the King’s Chase meant either losing one or both hands or a hideous death.
Nevertheless Henry VIII took over from Henry VII in 1509 with an overflowing Exchequer which he was to squander during his 38 years’ reign. His burning desire for a male heir led him into his five marriages., nearly all of which ended in disaster for both parties, and in the end provided only a viable female heir – disputed at that, with the only male weakly and short lived.
For many years his General Manager and Chancellor was Wolsey, Cardinal, Bishop of Bath and Wells, Durham, Winchester and Lincoln, and Archbishop of York. His power in Church and State has never been equalled, and he said his motives were to prevent “rich men obtaining their own commodities,” a kind of later Marxist thinking. He was also Abbot of St, Albans, the richest Monastery in England, His total income in the end has a been estimated at £50,000 per annum, an enormous sum (multiply by about 50 ? to reach a modem inflated sum!) which built Hampton Court and three other Palaces. He also became Papal Legate, but his failure to provide his King with a divorce from Catherine brought the end. Losing the favour of a King who seemed to discard his trusted servants as others did their old clothes, Henry indicted him, tried him, robbed him of his Chancellorship and other offices. When again arrested he only escaped the block by dying at Leicester in November 1530. On his death bed he remarked that he had served his King better than his God, but in reality, if the facts are true, it was mostly himself he served,
Henry followed Wolsey with Cromwell, a protestant layman with a fear of Priests, A self-taught Lawyer from Putney, cautious and intelligent, he managed Henry’s Reformation Parliament superbly, steering the difficult Act of Succession through, with many other protestant pieces of legislation, all contentious to some people, not all commoners. Created Earl of Essex and Lord Chamberlain in 1540, within a year he was attainted, and executed by a ‘grateful’ monster of a King, who by now was abandoning his protestant convictions. Then Henry’s hurricane really blew! He was now master of the frightened country he had created with the assistance of the men he had executed and was now the. father of a son from the pitiful Jane Seymour, His Reformation collapsed when by his Act of six Articles he tried to reverse the “Heresies” he had instituted, so showing that his Protestantism was not spiritually minded, but served only as a cloak for his ambitions for power and certainty of Succession for his heir, which had been blocked by a succession of Popes and an indignant Roman hierarchy.
Whether the ends justify the means is historically arguable, but never Spiritually. Certainly not to the many sincere followers of their Lord, whose view of His Door was lost in a maze of fog caused by the as usual, unthinking and cantankerous human with authority.
In 1553 on the death of the Infant Edward, the country was once again led into a somersault by the crowning of Mary Tudor, Catherine of Aragon’s daughter, a staunch and resolute Catholic with French and Spanish leanings and advisors.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row!
A lovely little nursery rhyme; the bells being the Roman Liturgy’s constant, bell ringing for the service of Mass, the cockle shells the symbols of the now re - instated Roman Bishops, and frighteningly, the pretty maids all in a row, was a sarcastic term for the Priests with their pretty lace trimmed surplices, when watching the burnings at the stake in Smithfield Market.
It. must suffice to draw a discreet veil over Mary’s short 5 year reign, her marriage to the French Prince, and her inability to conceive a male (or female) heir. With its retrograde social and ecclesiastical pressures, its restored Mass and saint and relic worships, and dreadful burnings alive of folk whose only crime was to disagree with her religion, it brought to their death some 300 men and women – both aristocracy and peasant, who refused to deny their new found Faith, which Mary spent the whole of her reign fighting. We cannot go through the horrifying records of the martyrs burnt to death – except later, perhaps, one typical story of our neighbourhood.
An Historian of note has said – ‘‘Politically bankrupt, spiritually impoverished, economically an – archaic, intellectually deflated, England awaited with bated breath, a day of deliverance”. It began on the 17th. of November 1558 when Elizabeth was crowned.
If by chance you are still interested (for this period when Church and State were one and the same thing is perhaps a lesson for us today,) you will have noted that the effects of wrong thinking and self - interest were cataclysmic. But Elizabeth’s reign – a long reign in God’s wisdom, was a lesson in how authority can be maintained and Peace preserved, by the intellect and spiritual strength of one individual, and that a member of the so called weaker species. Elizabeth was a young and beautiful woman surrounded by devious men.
Baptised into the Roman Faith but brought up as an Edwardian Protestant, she spoke five languages fluently. She dismissed the specious theological arguments of her time which she said were ’’ropes of sand leading to the Moon”. The fashionable arguments on Doctrine she exposed by ’’There is one Faith and one Lord Jesus Christ – the rest is only argument about trifles”. When hard pressed by the Divines she countered with “Amid my many volumes of studie I hope that God’s Book hath not been my seldomest studie”. Her life thro’ the Edwardian and Marian years just described, meant that every day for her was a religious, political, and often an International crisis, when every word she spoke was examined, scrutinised, and some times exposed, by men anxious for her downfall.
On May 25th, 1570, the Romanists nailed the Papal Bull “Regnans in Excelsis” to the door of the Bishop of London’s Palace. This was a double-talk Bull, implying that the Papacy had never recognised her title to the Throne, when, in fact, Paul V and Pius IV had, eventually, given her unqualified recognition. This silly act and its double meanings only encouraged the hard-line Protestants, and as a matter of History, but always ignored by the Roman Church, made traitors of all who obeyed its words encouraging men and women to become traitors to their Government- and Queen*
Her right hand man - Francis Walsingham, was the founder and head probably the finest MI5 ever to be formed. He said on appointment ”I wish God’s Glory, and next the Queen’s safety”, so he got the order right, and kept his word. Walsingham was most probably the only man she ever trusted. She constantly revised the severity of Parliament’s Puritan Acts of Parliament, suggested in vindictiveness, so that the penalties and fines imposed were either removed or lessened it is worth recording her reasons for amending part of the important Act of Uniformity of 1559 which she obviously realised would have tremendous repercussions.
“No changes should be made in Churches with endowed Choirs”, she told them, ’’either at Evening or Morning there should be sung a hymn or such like Praise to Almighty God, in the best sort of melody that can be devised”. And there we have the Anglican Anthem with Talis, Marbecke, Tye, Purcell and all the host off musician’s who have made praise to Almighty God – not for show or splendour, but to give the best to God.
The almost daily threats to this Queen’s life were very real, and sadly, mostly religious in origin. When religious men forget their true principles, the hatred and rancour released are beyond belief as this Century, and the next, show clearly without equivocation.
‘’There is no doubt” a Romanist Dignity wrote for Roman Catholics, ‘’that whom so ever sends this guilty woman out of this world does not sinne, but gaines merit; we trust that those who do will escape danger’’* Anthony Babington and those who believed and taught that, the Jesuits and others came to know that God is never mocked, and that unchristian motives can only merit a response they may not like. Elizabeth and her Parliament had no alternative but to treat as traitors those who so thought and acted, but with hindsight, we can see what a troubled and indeed dangerous life this Queen had to endure. Along with her nagging desire to find the right man to wed and achieve the children she so desperately longed for. Even when forced against her better judgement, and after long months of thought and doubtless, prayer, for she was a praying person, a Commission, was appointed to decide the fate of the hated Mary of Scots, this remarkable woman appointed, against the advice of her Counsellors, two notorious Catholic sympathisers, but the verdict, was still unanimous.
By 1569 there was a strong Protestant majority, and the Romanist counter-reformation was met by stopping the secret undercover Jesuit incursion, bent on her death, by the use of the long established Treason Laws, which although with harsh penalties by our standards (think of the many traitors we have recently forgiven!) were her only possible answer to the ridiculously irreligious Papal Bulls which, in fact, had turned religious disagreement into the traitorous act of the required murder of an English Queen.
One could go on for pages about this wonderful woman, who had to organise a Christian way of dealing with the inherent vindictiveness of the opposed Catholic and Protestant. Elizabeth obeyed in letter and deed, the words of the remarkable Preface to the Crammer Book of Common Prayer ”to seek the mean between the two extremes”, you should read it at the front of your old Prayer Book, before these are consigned to the dustbin of History. Absolutely incorruptible with a discipline of mind never equalled by succeeding rulers fortified by a sharp intellect with a moral sense in advance of her time, all of which she said were teased on her own reading of the Bible, together with her own pondering on God and Christianity.
She died at Richmond on 24th March 1603, speechless, and “mildly, like a ripe apple fallen from the tree”, as one of her Courtiers phrased it.
The writer thinks that every one who loves their Faith and beliefs should read one of the many books on her life, for she began the real making of England and it is in the main due to her that we are worshipping in the Protestant way to the Door. One unbigotted book you will find in the County Library is ‘’ELIZABETH “1st A STUDY IN POWER AND INTELLECT” by Paul Johnson, to which these notes owe a great deal.
Enough, and more, has been said about Church and State during these momentous years, but what about the ordinary folk of the village of Crich, or the 15,000 other Parishes of this Realm? How did they fare during this bedlam of a Century? We don’t know for there are no records of feelings or reactions from these remote parts. The tragedy of the Chantry Chapels vandalistic dissolution has been told previously, as was the Babington and Mary of Scots debacle at Dethick and Wingfield, One other cry from the heart about our St. Catherine Chantry dissolution remains for a later telling. Perhaps the least painful way is now to catalogue the shocks and disturbances to which Crich St. Mary’s Church ha d to submit in as simple a way as possible with a minimum of comment.
Almost continuous war from 1551 to 1588 would certainly have affected Crich’s war with France with the capture of Cherbourg and Boulogne in the conflict from 1522 to 1544, and the loss of Calais in 1588, war with Spain on the revolt of the Spanish Netherlands with the pillaging of Antwerp and the battle of Zutphen,
1567–1586, culminating in 1588 with the Crich warning bonfire on the stand, and the subsequent wild bell ringing of our Church, when the great. Spanish Armada was defeated and Spain routed, were the main troubles or victories, which ever way you put these tragedies.
But before that, they faced two separate Acts of Supremacy, effectively dismissing the titular head of their Church – the Pope – from any power in England. They then had to endure 32 separate Statutes all concerned with painfully breaking their ancient links with Rome. The Act. of Henry’s Succession – to which every person had to affirm or suffer the harsh consequences, made refusal a treason, with the then previously described dire penalties for treason – hanging, drawing, and quartering. Many refused and paid the penalty as did Sir John More, Chancellor, and Bishop Fisher of Rochester. They faced Injunctions and New Articles of a different Faith, ending the Catholic practices they were accustomed to, and ordering the removal of all Images and pictures – the favourite Medieval picture was the wall – painting in garish colours and frightening detail, for the assistance of the peasant, mind.
The dismissal of Latin, and the making of English a must for all services were imposed. A Sermon was demanded in place of nothing or the Homilies then current, a Bible in English to be in every Church, and what was not taught in Holy Scripture to be avoided such as; prayers over beads, pilgrimages, offerings to tombs and images etc.etc. They had to endure the withdrawal of the whole of the Roman Liturgy with its Primers, Missals, Pies, Breviaries, Rituals, and Processionals et al. They saw the issue of three new Prayer Books, including the 1559 book of Cranmers titled for the first time “Book of Common Prayer” with a service of Holy Communion instead of the Roman Mass. They saw and used the creed as we know, for the first time, and would have pondered (and criticised?) the Articles of Faith, largely as our own, now abandoned in print! These were amended but only slightly, later.
The Protectorate, much more protestant, removed the dubious parts of Henry’s legislation on treasonable offences, and all his restrictions on the printing of religious books. They were forced into another Act for the destruction of Images since the first, was largely disobeyed, which led to great vandalism in our smaller churches and Cathedrals and Abbeys. Our Church would not have escaped for at this time it is almost certain that the Rood Beam and no doubt the Chancel Screen below it would have been removed (the place of the ends of the Rood Beam can still be seen where the sockets have been filled in) and the Screen now existing is in fact a Parclose Screen by its design, installed later no doubt when tempers had cooled in place of the one destroyed.
They saw the destruction and removal of all stone Altars, and their replacement by the “Holy Table”. A second Act of Uniformity in 1552 penalised the holding of any service other than that authorised, and also sanctioned ‘Ecclesiastical’ punishment including excommunication for layfolk who failed to attend Common Prayer on Sundays and Holy days (no mention of forbidding business on those days!) Then when Mary Tudor was crowned they had to endure a total reversal of these ways the Protestant Bishops and Hierarchy were clapped in the Tower, and replaced by’ Romanish Clergy many of whom from France where they had taken refuge. The Chancellor was replaced by the authoritarian Gardiner. Parliament then had to agree to reunion with Rome, the revival of the Heresy laws but the other way round and then saw the stage set for a holocaust of burnings at the stake.
Then once again on Elizabeth’s Accession all was again totally reversed. With new Succession and Supremacy Acts which revived all the Protestant Laws and Liturgy. As if that was not enough, late in the 1500s they faced the often bitter arguments and riots when Calvinism and extreme Puritanism raised argument and shouted for another way of believing.
Poor bewildered folk of Crich! We of today think we are hard done to sometimes, with Series 1, 2, and 3 and Alternative Service books, modem ‘Pop’ hymns, revisions to the service of Holy Communion, and what seems innumerable versions of God’s Word, the almost universal dismissal of the ten Commandments, and the abandoning of the old but for my generation deeply loved Catechism, and abandonment of the 59 Articles of Religion. But compared with the 1500s we live a comparatively quiet life, only disturbed occasionally by the intellectual arrogance of some High Churchman forgetting the criticisms which Paul thought up for those ‘learned’ who obscured the true Gospel with their own wrong thinking, not Gospel based.
It would be easy to say that The Path and the Open Door were totally obscured, but God’s Ways are never totally obscure to His Flock who just ‘believe’ in Humility and Faith. And out of this and the following Century’s chaos arose a desire for Truth among those humble ones, which we in this Country have never lost.
Are we losing it now? That depends entirely on you and me, who profess and call ourselves Christians and are happy to know God and His Son, and who in Prayer and the deepest Faith we can muster, recognise and seek as first Priority that Open Door which NO MAN CAN SHUT*
Despite all this chaos, happier things were happening. Education expanded by the founding of Brazenose, Corpus Christi, Christ College and St. John’s and Trinity colleges at Oxford. Rugby School was founded in 1567, Harrow in 1571. Grammar School building began after the destruction of the Chantry schools; some 400 were built in Elizabeth’s reign – e.g. ‘Queen Elizabeth’s school at. Ashbourne, still in action.
In 1526 Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament was published at Worms during his exile and before his capture by the Romanists and subsequent killing. It was smuggled to England printed and distributed and in 1536 the full Bible in English by Tyndale and Coverdala was printed and made available to all.
Two notables of Crich Church at this timewere William Spateman and his son John. John became a Justice of the Peace and Public Registrar. Both were born at Tansley, then in our Parish, and both were buried at Crich in 1584 and 1634 respectively. Both were lead merchants. John became Mayor of Derby and two of his family Magistrates. The record of St. Werburgh’s Derby contain memories of this man a Churchwarden. William later lived at Roadnook where, the record says, he met John Claye and George Taylor to pay his Tax demanded for the Armed Forces. They were found in the ale-house not at home! Both had lead mines at Winster, Wensley, Wirksworth, Elton and Matlock – good examples of the now rising Merchant class. The Master Rolls for 1587, took Robert Buntinge, Geo. Enott, and Geo. Radford from their Crich families for active service.
The Roll for 1595 extracted “One light horse” including of course a rider, from John Claye, of Criche, Gent, and that of 1599 extracted twenty shillings from the same John Claye and another twenty shillings from Anthony Lowe of Alderwasley. All these were for service in the Irish troubles.
There also exists a lengthy letter from the Queen to all County Sheriffs for the Armada Musters, asking “all our subjects in the Lieutenancie to be in readiness and defence against any attempt that might be made against us and our Realme so that all the attempts of anie enemies whatsoever shall be made void and frustrate, to their confusion, and God’s High Glory. Given under seal at Greenwich 18 June 1588.”
Elizabeth never forgot to give God His due.
We should now remember a man mentioned several times in these stories. John Claye – a Yeoman – from a Chapel-en-le-Frith family of unknown ancestry – and the first recorded member of it. He married well – German Pole of Wakebridge’s widow Margaret, Earl Ferrer’s daughter, whose daughter by German Pole married a Willoughby of Notts. and their daughter married a Beaumont – Dixie – hence the muddle of Crich Manor (previous story). And the legal tangles when claims were made to the Tithes and the Advowson of Crich Vicarage. The John Claye we now remember died in 1632.
His Table Tomb, which previous to the 19th century Restoration (?) stood in the Chancel near the Chancel Screen commemorates John and his two wives, and was moved to its present position on the west side or the north sanctuary wall when some time later Choir stalls were introduced. Both it, and the Berrisford Table Tomb on the south side were somewhat, defaced when one, Joseph Mather held a school in the Chancel early in the 1800s. The defacement of the recumbent effigy of Sir William Wakebridge in the north aisle occurred at the same time. Teachers unable to cope with difficult pupils are no new phenomena! John Claye’s right to a burial in a prominent position stems from his purchase of the estate and Great Tithes after the execution of Anthony Babington of Dethick and the purchasing and selling of his sequestrated estate by Sir Walter Raleigh.
The defaced inscription on his Tomb, recorded by our own historian John Reynolds of Plaistowe in the 18th. Century, is an interesting relic of this period: reading as not composed by a skilled poet, but rather a McGonagle amateur effort, anxious to miss nothing that would inform or refer to higher connections;
“Here lyeth John Claye, Gentleman, and Mary whom he first did wive. With her he lived near eight years space, in which God gave them children five.
Daughter of William Caulton Esq. who was unto that King of Fame, Henry 8th, chief Cock Matcher and servant of his Hawkes by name,
And as she had a former match, Charnell of Swarkestone in Leicestershire, so she deceast, this Claye did take the widow of German Pole Esq.
daughter of Edward who was son to Sir J. Ferrers of Tamwortn, Kt. She lies entombed in this Church with her by whom he first was plight,
so now this Claye is closed in Claye, the fairest flesh doth fade like grass; he had one sister who unto Stuffyn of Shirebrook married was.
For death doth give an end to all, and now this Claye shall rest therein, All claye to claye shall come at last, by death the due reward of sinne,
Thou death, his death, Thy death is he whose soul doth rest with Christ for aye. The sting of death can no one flee the greatest monarchs are but claye”.
Anotner muse – worthy doggerel relic of this old yeoman of this Century, obviously aspiring to higher things, and a lore-runner or the class rapidly overhauling the landed Gentry and Lords of the Manors, is the indecipherable board in the north Chancel. Although this is included in our short Historys, and has recently been translated and beautifully printed in a hand printed note below the board, we must include it here; the board must have originally been hung on the screen existing at that time over the Claye Tomb, and was most probably moved at the so-called restoration which threw out the Parclose Screen across the Chancel*
“Soules they are made of heavenly Spirit;
from whence they come ye heavens inherit
did know that bodies made of claye,
death will devour by night or day;
yet he is as he was I saye,
he living and dead remaineth Claye.
His very name that nature gave,
is now as shall be in his grave.
Times doth teach, experience tryes,
that Claye to dust the wind up dries,
then this a wonder coumpt we must,
that want of wind should make Claye dust”
At an heraldic Visitation to our Church in1611 by Bassano, an artist coach painter employed by the Court of Heralds, he describes armorial bearings that John had somehow acquired:
“John Claye of Criche – argent a chevron engrailed between three trefoils slipped sable. Crest; on a wreath of the colours two wings extended argent semee of trefoils as the arms”. Incidentally Bassano reported only a Chantry screen existing at that time.
Claye occupied a high position in the County – he owned a very considerable acreage of land including the Wakebridge Estate of the executed Babington. In 1591 a series of loans was imposed by Government, collected by John Manners of Nether Haddon who was probably the County Sheriff or Lieutenant. The list contains;
John Claye of Wakebridge Gent XXV£
Geo. Radford of. Crich. XX£
with a repeated demand a few years later for similar amounts. These were or course enormous sums for those days, and indicate Claye’s standing in the County. An interesting member of Crich St. Mary’s Church in this Century, who must have contributed well to keep our Church a going concern. Whether he had found the Door alas we don’t know.
Reluctantly, since it was promised to deal with the Marian Martyrs1, and without any intent to harp on old and long since wounds and misunderstandings, here is a true story of a Derbyshire blind and insignificant girl no ancestry of note, no place in Society except the vary lowest, but a simple uncomplicated believer in God and His truth, in humility, love, and faith.
{1 The Marian Martyrs were those who were burnt at the stake during the reign of Queen Mary I 1553–1558: PCP}
Joan Waste of Derby, 22 years of age, blind and poor a Reformed Church attender who with the help of friends obtained a copy of the first newly printed New Testament. With her friends’ help she learned a lot by heart. Shortly after the Marian persecution began, Joan was informed on as a heretic, arrested and impeached after cross examination, then put on trial by Ralph Baine the Diocesan Bishop and Dr. Draicott his chancellor. Joan pleaded that “her beliefs were based on the Scriptures’ and wondered ’’whether they would do the same as she for their beliefs” and concluded with ’’for God’s sake not to trouble her being blind, poor and unlearned”. Bishop Baine agreed that at the final judgement he would take responsibility for her, if she recanted!
Bur Draicott then cried “My Lord, you cannot answer for an heretic”. Then sentenced to death by burning, she was kept in custody for 3 weeks waiting for the bishop’s Certificate of Sentence. Then taken to All Saints Church on August 1st, 1556, she was made to hear a sermon saying that the material fire which would consume her body, was nothing to the Eternal fire which would burn her soul in Hell. It was then pronounced unlawful for people to pray for her.
Led to the Windmill Pit (it was in between the Burton Road and Mill Hill Lane, near the new Roman Catholic Church – a queer coincidence) she was bound to the stake, clasped her brother’s hand in farewell, then was burnt to death. Dr. Draicott is said to have returned to his lodging to sleep during Joan’s firey ordeal.
The writer wonders who at the Judgement will fear Hell fire the most, Joan or Baine and Draicott?
Queen Elizabeth, later, who ”refused to make windows into men’s souls”, and only ever requested outward Comformity, saw John Draicott along with Sacheverall of Morley, and Fitz-Herbert of Norbury imprisoned for recusancy. They were merely fined for offences ‘‘against the Queen’s majesty” i.e. traitorship. Much more dangerous than poor blind Joan’s insistence on the accuracy of God’s Word.
Later Recusants, made traitors to their Queen and Country by their Pope’s foolish Bulls with their incitement to kill, and reject, their Queen, were dealt with as traitors, as were Garlick and Ludlam from Badley, and Ralph Sherwin from Rodsley. With no wish or intent to pursue old causes nor “battles long ago” the writer has always felt that in equity, Joan should be remembered in the Memorial Services made annually by the Roman Church for remembrance of their ‘Martyrs’, if only on the grounds of true ecumenism and Christian Love and understanding, especially as the C of E now plays some part in these Services at the Bridge Chapel in Derby.
Perhaps after that horror we can finish on a lighter note, which concerns the way the old Pre-Reformation Church tried to instruct its Worshippers who were probably completely illiterate:
“To renovating Heaven, adjusting the Stars,
washing the High Priest’s servant and
carminising his lips, brightening up the
flames of Hell, a new tail for the Devil,
and re-doing the Ten Commandments”.
This was a Bill for the improving of a wall-painting at the Church of Telscombe in Sussex. Wall paintings were a popular device in pre-Reformation times, and were painted as murals in Medieval Churches, to catch the eye with bright colours to drive home the story they were telling.
In 1562 the Office of Justice of the Peace was ordered by Parliament, although a similar Office called Conservator of the Peace had been in existence since the 1300s. The first known list contained the name of Anthony Gell Esq. of Wirksworth. These men were responsible for all Justice other than Major offences, and had under their jurisdiction the two High Constables and the various Petty Constables, one for each Parish in the Hundred. The first list of petty (Parish) Constables has Wm. Gresley for Criche. Not till the l800s did the big change come to Chief Constable and all the array of a total Police Force.
In 1588 the “MUSTERS” – the name for the emergency forces in times of the riotor danger (e.g. The Armada) There is a list which contains a note of the strength for Criche under the leadership of German Pole (his funeral plaque on the wall of our Church) the then Lord of our Manor*
The listed strength consisted of:
1 Corsalette.
1 Coat of Plate.
1 Shefe of arrows
1 Haggebut.
1 Pyke .
1 Longbow*
1 Stele cap.
1 Maryon.
20 able men wherof 6 Archers and 2 harnesses
AS before mentioned, the1500s began a move to combat the terrible pauperism then prevalent when the Earl of Shrewsbury died at South Wingfield, his will left a “Penny dole” for all Paupers attending his funeral 6000 were supposed to have received his “Penny”. In 1572 a General Assessment was ordered in every Town for Poor Relief. Another Statute ordered that the local Church Warden with the Overseer of the Poor, under the jurisdiction of two or more local J.P.s were entitled to raise funds by Taxation from Parsons, owners of houses or lands, owners of Tithes and Coal Mine owners. The relief was for any reason, also for reimbursement of employers for any Apprentices they had (These were usually the orphaned little ones). So began a Social Service which altho’ a bare minimum anticipated Beveridge and threw more light on the Path and the Open Door we are seeking to identify.
In the mid 1500s all Preachers had to be licensed to ensure a Protestant Service. The number of sermons was regulated to minimise Political Sermons (perhaps we could do with today!). At wirksworth in 1586 all the Congregation except three got up and walked out, at the entrance of the Preacher to the Pulpit, as a protest against their own Vicar Michael Harrison B.D. not being allowed to preach because unlicensed. Our Vicar Geoffrey Jackson was licensed as were Matlock and South Wingfield Vicars. Pentrich, Alfreton, Heage and Ilkeston were not licensed and so unable to preach in their Church or indeed elsewhere.
It was this Restoration Period when, to quote a commentator, “Wit, cynicism, and Science” began their ceaseless march to denigrate the Scriptures and deny Religion,
In 1685 on the death of Charles, James II was brought back from France to reign unhappily until 1689. His attempts to return to Romanism failing, his Declaration of Indulgence being blocked by somewhat bigoted bishops whom he promptly released by an angered populace, he fled to France when hearing that William of Orange and his wife Mary had landed at Torbay after much under-cover manoeuvring by the Politicians. Before leaving he took the precaution of throwing the Great Seal into the Thames – an empty gesture. He thus became “The King over the water” and to the convinced Jacobite the true King of a sadly divided Country. The Jacobites not admitting defeat until a Century later, oddly enough at Derby, when the Bonnie Prince’s kilts fled back to Scotland for further beatings. Although there are still Jacobite factions today, the writer knowing one some years ago who was a Derby solicitor.
War, war, war, a century of dreadful violence, with continuous battles with France and Spain, with the Dutch, with the Scots who at one period occupied all north-eastern England down to Newcastle until bought off with gold. Shocking battles in Ireland with Cromwell’s massacres a standing disgrace to our Country. Invasions by the Scots, by the Dutch who bearded us at the Firth of Forth and sailing up the Medway bombarded Sheerness, The bloody battles of the Civil Wars, that at Sedgemoor followed by Justice Jeffreys and his ‘bloody assizes” conflicts continuously in Ireland as the Battle of the Boyne (still remembered in Ireland with annual festivities.), when the French and Jame sII were defeated by ‘King Billy’ . Invasion by the French up the Mersey and at Fishguard from which they were sent packing by the women of the Town!
The 1600s began with a wobbly “Divine right of Kings”, but ended with the Politicians firmly in power when the terms WHIG and TORY came into use (as a term of abuse at first). A Century perhaps best forgotten except there were some outstanding innovations. After the drama of the Fire of London in 1666 (London’s burning, London’s burning, another example of horror turned Nursery Rhyme) which swept away the filth and squalor of the inner City, devastated by the Great Plague of 1665 a decent and well designed re-building was put in hand with Wren beginning a new St, Pauls in 1657 with a new (for England) style of Architecture succeeding the Gothic.
In 1662 the Royal Society was chartered and Hooke, Barrow and Boyle were early scientists of note, Jonathen Goddard became the first maker of English Telescopes (shades of poor Galileo the Italian censured by his Church for making one, and so turning space theory upside down!).
1600s
This violent and dogmatic Century would need a Library to explain. For these articles a resume will have to suffice, it began with the death of that remarkable Queen who, as her Prayer book said “kept the mean between two extremes” , a peace soon to be upset when James VI of Scotland became James I, of England. His episcopacy, his idea of “no Bishops-no King” and his determined attitude of “The Divine Right of Kings” were anathema to the Reformist Puritans, The small number of voluntary Presbyterian Churches built up in the late years of Elizabeth’s reign had been peremptorily shut down when the scurrilous “Marprelate” tracts1 against the Bishops appeared in 1589.
{1 The Marprelate tracts were a war of pamphlets waged in England and Wales in 1588 and 1589, between a puritan writer who employed the pseudonym Martin Marprelate, and defenders of the Established Church. They were characterised by violent and personal invective against the Anglican dignitaries .While he maintained the puritan doctrines as a whole, the special point of his attack was the Episcopacy. The pamphlets were printed at a secret press established by John Penry, a Welsh puritan, with the help of the printer Robert Waldegrave, about midsummer 1588, for the issue of puritan literature forbidden by the authorities. PCP - Wikepedia}
The strong Puritan arguments against the Theatre, Plays in general, any form of entertainment, dancing, and most sports, served to completely split the Nation, so ordinary folk were forced to take sides,
James, after war with France and Spain, died in I625 succeeded by his son Charles I, a convinced Romanist, After intriguing with the Scots who eventually turned Traitor and sold him out to England, and after calling and dismissing numerous Parliaments always at odds with him, and after the Romanist Guy FAWKES attempt to blow one up, tried again but his Parliaments constantly refused his commands and by this time hated him and his obdurate episcopacy, finally, losing all patience they served him with a ‘Grand Remonstrance’ but Charles’ refusal to Relent sealed his fate with these, by now out of Patience and reason, Puritans, and he was tried and executed in 1649. His High Anglican Archbishop, William Laud who returned as near as he dared to Romanism with his bringing back the “ALTAR”? railing off the Sanctuary, and returning to the old motions of High Church Liturgy, was in turn tried and executed by an enraged Puritanism in 1645.
Then began one of the most fearful and darkest episodes in our History – the Civil Wars, when the English fought and murdered one another for Politics and what they thought was Religion. 1640 to 1649 as near as can be said. A foolish carnage involving all England and sometimes Scotland, including our small village (later story). It produced nothing of worth, much that was rotten and unchristian, only misery and confusion – as most wars do Oliver Cromwell came and went, leaving Ireland forever enemy of Britain with his massacres of innocent people at Wexford and Drogheda, and starting another long standing trouble for Britain when his fleet and army sailed the Atlantic, attacked and captured Jamaica from Spain in 1654.
Charles II was produced from France and crowned in 1660, dying in 1685 after a reign called the ‘Restoration’ when license and permissivement ran riot,
So, the Century ended with the episcopal Church trying to keep its head against science – non conformism – and Romanism to which must be added the much more dangerous cynical half truths of the new brand of Philosopher.
But all was not Loss. In the late 1600s were formed the Society for the propagation of the Gospel (S.P.G.) and the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (S.P.C.K.) were founded. John Wesley’s father was born to later provide come who made history in the following Century. Also Declarations of Indulgence and Toleration Acts by Parliament suspending all penal laws against non-conformism undid some of the anti-christian damage done previously by unthinking Puritans and Presbyterians. James I had given us a lovely Bible – the authorised version – and a stable Book of Common Prayer, barely altered from ElizabethI’s time, offering much for the future – both continuing to this day, but both now subject to ‘modern’ influences and in the production of versions some of dubious value.
To even vaguely understand this violent and turbulent Century it is vital to gain some insight into the folk called “PURITANS” first remembering that all social, religious and political groups, have determined and often bigoted Left and Right ‘wings ( to use modern idiom) and a soft centre. This last, wavering, often dubious, some not caring anyway, and a lot waiting to be convinced.
The puritans were no exception, from documents of the time it is clear that Derbyshire was strongly Puritan, one of the Country’s most closely organised Puritan areas, with Crich and our district no exception. Crich had a strong and well documented “CLASSIS” (ruling Committee) based at Wirksworth (for the District).. Unfortunately the reforms demanded by the Reformation had become a confused medley of values and aims, seeking to eatablish the authority of the Bible as they saw it, and in the process splitting and fragmenting into sects and schisms, shouting and arguing and lamentably turning to violence and the civil war of this century. Error piled on error by humans whose dedicated but mistaken logic came often to deny the Christians’ true bases) LOVE?, FAITH? and HOPE,? in a God who expects folk to trust and wait for Him to act, without fear or doubt. “Wait thou His time, the darkest night, shall end in brightest day” is vital Christ-urged thinking for all Christians, lamentably lacking in the 1600s.
As a good example of the danger of taking sides who wrongly reading other’s motives, you should visit Stauton Harold near Melbourne on some fine day. Not least because it was the home of the Ferrers at one time, but now a Cheshire Home with a lovely Park and Lake. You should visit the little Church in the grounds, built during Cromwell’s time – the puritans success period. Over the main west door you will find a small stone tablet:
In the years 1563 when all things sacred were throughout ye Nation either demolished or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley Baronet, founded this church, whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in ye worst times and hoped them in the most calamitous. The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance
The writer is unsure whether the Crich Puritans would have agreed. Do you?
This century saw the curtain drop on the ancient Manor of Crich, born in 1100 by Ferrers and Ralph De Rhys. Readers will remember that when Gilbert , Earl of Shrewsbury died the manor was split passing to his three daughters, the Countesses of Pembroke, Kent and Arundel. The Pembrokes lived for a short time at Wingfield Manor. In 1660 Henry Howard of Arundel sold his third share of our Manor to Anthony Bennett of Brackenfield, and Ralph Smith of Hognaston for £3270. lands, farms and premises in Crich, Lea,Tannesley, Crich Chase, Coland Park, Fritchley, Wheatcroft, Upper and Nether Holloway and Coddington amongst others. So many of us readers will live on that land now. The same Howard sold Wingfield to three similar speculators , one of whom, Emanuel Halton, who lived in and partially demolished the Manor.
So this huge ancient Manor was acquired by the financial speculators of that day. The De Rhys, Herizs, the Belers, the Fitz Ralphs and Fitz Herberts flown, forgotten as a dream SIC TRANSIT GLORIA, only to remain as a name in some dusty papers or ancient legal document to remind the historian that they lived, loved and died on the land we now see, live on and cultivate, and for the most part worshipped amongst the stones we now look on in our church. We can only hope they found the Door of our titles.
In 1644 the Church Government known as Presbyterian was formulated in elaborate fashion and detail. The main departure was from Kingly Right and Papal Bull to the formulation of the Parish Presbytery , the structure of the District Puritan “CLASSIS” with power if ordination, thus abandoning Apostolic Succession, and the formation of the General and Provincial Synods. The General Synod was never called the Provincial only occasionally in London and Lancashire. So almost everything depended on the local Classis. Our vicar then – the Revd Thomas Shelmerdine, was frequently the Moderator of the Wirksworth Classis. The exists a small brass on the north wall of our Chancel, against the Clergy Vestry, depicting and infant in Grave Clothes:
Some must have died before ejection. There were thus 12 ’’Vicars of Bray”in the County – Church then puritan, then Church again. We can only wonder whether these 12 were perhaps the only ones who really knew, for in spite of the great fervour and indeed, Spirituality, of many of the “High” and “Low”, there is an inescapable appearance of “What I think is the Truth” and “I will fight you to the death to defend it”, which, although we must be firm about our beliefs, doesn’t square with the Humility and Love our Lord demands; “Thus saith the Holy One who inhabitest Eternity, I dwell in the High and Holy place, together with him who is of an humble and contrite heart”. The writer is convinced that the way of doing things is really irrelevant – WHY we do them is of much greater importance.
During 1677 the Diocese ordered a return of all the Religious Sects in the Archdeanery. Our district’s record was :
CRICH: 404 Conformists, 2 Papists, 3 Non-Conformists.
Pentrich: 389 Conformists, 11 Non-Conformists.
S.Wingfield: 332 Conformists, 3 Non-Conformists.
It must have taken .considerable courage to admit to being a Romanist in those bigoted times. One can only wonder who the two Papists were who ploughed a lonely difficult furrow.
In 1673 there is a record of a Puritan Conventicle held at Wirksworth in a farmer’s barn with an attendance of 210 folk. The spread of Puritanism and its power can be assessed by the attendance of German Pole of Crich, and Sir Edward Every, Bart, of Egginton, both high County personalities. Everyone was fined for the infringement of the harsh laws banning such services and meetings.
During Charles II’s reign, Monyash became the H.Q. of the Quakers. John Gratton, the famous Midlands Quaker lived at Monyash for many years,, very much disturbing the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches by his wrong and violent Interventions in their worship.
The start ef the Civil Wars and its consequent deep divisions of our Society regardless of status, were very marked in Derbyshire and our District in particular. In 1642 the first signs of trouble were felt at Wirksworth when a group of Kings Men (Cavaliers) met to consider the recruiting and persuasion campaigns of Sir John Gell of Hopton Hall – a strong Parliamentarian, who, according to a Commentator of the time, “held Derbyshire in thrall”.
A later meeting involving such personalities as Harpur of Calke Abbey, Fitz Herbert of Norbury, Vernon of Sudbury and Every of Egginton, protests were made to Sir John at Hopton but by 1644 he was in possession of Wilne Ferry on Trent, and had beaten Colonel Eyre at Boyleston. There is no record of what Crich thought of all this carnage in our District, but in 1643 during the Pembroke’s possession of Wingfield Manor, with a garrison of some 100 men, Wm. Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle attacked and captured the Manor which was then garrisoned by Sir John Fitz Herbert of Tissington – a Kings Garrison in a strongly Puritan district, which to say the least was asking for trouble. They got it when Sir John Gell came to Crich in 1644 with men and armaments. So the awfulness of this War came to a head here with Wirksworth, Hopton and Crich men fighting their kinsmen and neighbours. Fitz Herbert surrendered on July 20th, 1644, after a battering by four pieces of artillery mounted on Pentrich Common. Cannon balls have been found at other places, some of which seem to show a launching from the high ground on Crich Common at Townend.
In 1646 the Manor was partially demolished on orders from the Commonwealth Parliament, when Emmanuel Halton, who had acquired it, demolished some more, leaving it the sorry ruin of today. The Puritan Parliaments of the Commonwealth were no better than Henry VIII had been, for they formed Committees for Compounding from whose deliberations the Royalist opponents were reduced to beggary, old scores were paid off, land, property and fortunes seized and sold to the highest bidding speculator, some little redress being made later at the Restoration of the Monarchy. It was this sort of action of which the Commonwealth was made ( and indeed as we well know ALL revolutions are made). The lessons, as oft repeated in these articles, is, that when undue force is used, especially in furtherance of lies or genuine doubt, it never succeeds in the long term – only Humility and Love conquer in the end, as we who profess and call ourselves Christians should know from Our Lord*s words; so the Commonwealth doomed itself from the beginning, A thought to ponder in these times of force and violence.
Derbyshire’s own Revolution, later, was a comparatively quiet and under-cover affair. Dissatisfaction was widespread when James II dissolved a strongly Protestant Parliament and his leanings towards Romanism and anti-protestant actions caused widespread dissatisfaction. The Aristocracy – including Derbyshire’s elite – took action. Furthering the underground opposition to James II and his policies, there were many collusive meetings to air disagreement and formulate action. Derbyshire was no exception. A meeting took place in October 1688 at the Cock and Pynot Inn on Whittington Moor near Chesterfield, an Inn remote and off the beaten track. Several men unknown but including the Earl of Derby and the Duke of Devonshire. Their conclusions are unknown but certainly boded no good for James, for the result of all this unrest throughout the Country was the bringing of William, Prince of Orange, and his wife, Mary, as previously recounted, to land at Torbay and regain the Throne for the Protestants from the Roman Jacobites.
It would not be in order to dismiss this Century without some mention of Crich lead mining. Our faithful readers will remember that our first articles recorded the mining of lead in Roman times and the “Socii Lutudarenses” company set up by the Romans to mine our lead. There is a record of 1653 of a Lionel Tylney, who lived at Holmesfield, Chesterfield, leaving his Estate to be administered “for the poor of Carsington, Crumford, Wirksworth and Holmesfield, from his mines at Crumford Moor”, and leaving a small sum to Lawrence Tyas of Critch “for a remembrance of his love”.
A very different story of that of Thomas Browne, Vicar of Wirksworth 1662-1689, who drew a second salary for a Pluralist Ministry at Ashbourne. He is reported as having taken £1,000 per annum from the lead miners of Wirksworth for tithes. He was eventually deprived of his livings for refusing the Oath of Allegiance to William III (presumably he was a Jacobite). He quarrelled with his Bishop, John Hackett of our then Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, over a petty argument about singing of the Psalms at that time being introduced into Worship. Hackett summed up the Rev. Browne in the last paragraph of his reply to Browne’s outburst - “and if I, a large Veteranus, do not know how to govern a Church better than one or two malcontents who are dissatisfied and quarrel at everything, God help me!” And finished with his blessing from “a loving brother and assured friend”.
And very different, too, to the splendid and Christian way our own Church of St, Mary behaved. For at an inquisition at our Church in 1657 it was established from local evidence that from the many mines “at Cryche Cliffe, Vicar’s Close and Plaistow Field,” although 100s of tons were extracted for which heavy dues were paid to the Earls of Arundel and Shrewsbury, not a single penny had been demanded by the various Vicars! Well done, Crich St. Mary!
In 1634 at the Petty Sessions, the Constable of Crich, Wm. Bowler, arraigned the following for absence from Church for three successive Sabbaths : Wm. Meacoke, Francis Burton, Robert Ibberson, Margery Smith, George Smith. There were called Recusants under the Law which made Church attendance compulsory. They were, in fact, just non-conformists.
In 1607 two ’witches’ were burnt to death at Bakewell and Anne Wagg of Ilkeston suffered a like fate. In 1693 a young girl in farm service at Swanwick was burnt at the stake for the murder of her master, which appears to be the last case of this inhumane punishment in the County.
One can only wonder what her ’Master’ had done for a young girl to retaliate in this manner. Legislation against ‘witches’ was repealed and hanging substituted for burning round about 1790.
The Crich incumbent during 1650 (almost certainly an interim Vicar during illness of the then Vicar, Smerwick Clark) was arraigned for Treason on the evidence of Crich residents Patrick Morris, Millicente Brown, Geo. Brown, John Wylde, Richard Varon and Charity Littlewood. They accused him of refusing to read the Proclamations in Church, having the King’s picture in a book, being a common liar, a frequenter of lewd company, refusing to pray for Parliament, breaking the Lych Gate lock, and refusing to hold the Parliament Days of Thanksgiving. The record gives no record of the Trial’s verdict, but presumably Smerwick got off, since the accusation shows a convinced Royalist but no treason nor sedition.
In 1696 John Palmer of Wirksworth, a butcher, was indicted for stealing a sheep value 5 shillings. Found guilty, he was branded.on his left hand, another penalty soon to be abolished.
1650 was the start of extreme Puritanism which came to be known as QUAKERISM. Geo. Fox, a cobbler, of Leicestershire and James Naylor of Wakefield began the sect by regularly bursting into Chapels and Churches creating disturbance of Worship. Fox was fined at Derby for this behaviour and so shook with anger when he admonished his hearers to Quake in fear of Divine Punishment – hence the joking name ’’Quakers”. These dangerous ideas – hardly Christian – made for difficult times in this Century – we must watch that the extremists don’t divert us of today from our Faith of God’s Love and Humility.
1700s
Pot Lane, Pit Lane, Dark Lane – this reads like part of the Nether Regions ! In fact, these names appeared at Wheatcroft round about 1700 A.D.
For about 1690, approximately, a Nottinghamshire man by the name of Thomas Morley – Nottingham Potter from a family of Potters, acquired a piece of land on a narrow lane, which came to be known as Pot Lane. He acquired the land from Lady Dixie, who was almost certainly the grand-daughter of Sir Beaumont-Dixie who – it is hoped you will remember from previous stories – married the grand-daughter of our friend John Claye’s first wife, Margaret, by her first husband, German Pole, who had inherited Wakebridge Manor, which estate, in whole or part, had obviously descended to this Lady Dixie–- part of the confusion of the Crich Manor inheritance and lack of male heirs.
Thomas Morley*s family had been potters from the Middle Ages making domestic pottery from the then known red stoneware pottery. Round about 1690 someone – the experts argue about the right individual – introduced Salt Glazed ware obtained by introducing common salt into the firing process, thus producing a vitreous glaze, hard and obviously more sanitary, eyeable and cleaner than the unglazed stuff.
This is what Thomas produced at his Pot House at Wheatcroft, which became known as “Crouch Ware”. But whether “Crouch Clay and Ware” were so named because first produced at Crich (Wheatcroft) is by no means certain, so the experts use “Crouch” as a generic term for this salt glazed ware, and use “Crich Ware” for all those items provably made at the Wheatcroft Pot House.
Thomas either died or relinquished the works sometime during the early 1700s when a gentleman by the name of Dodd took over, going bankrupt in 1763, when a George Bacon carried on until the demise of this Pottery circa 1812. By that time, competition was fierce with not only the Staffordshire Potteries competing with one another, but other and well-known Potteries working at Alfreton, Eastwood, Belper, Chesterfield and Derby – (the one to also become famous on the Cockpit Hill) – and last but by no means least the Bournes’ Pottery at Denby, still flourishing.
Crich clay – obtained from the Wheatcroft area on Morwood Moor was a unique clay, formed millennia ago by the action of Glaciers grinding down the Derbyshire grit stone and shales, consisting of a clay with very sharp sand and mica bodies. Much whiter than the normal clays.
One modern expert has this to say…
’’Crich’s simple and dignified pottery shapes and almost metallic glazes, together with the remarkable thinness of the finished pots, completely distinguishes them from other makes of brown pottery ware.”
It is known that the Crich (Wheatcroft) clay was transported to Nottingham and Burslem and the Staffordshire Potteries. Until the clever Staffordshire potters learned how to make an artificial stuff by mixing their own clays with mica and fine sand with other ingredients.
It is also known that the Bank of England then just inaugurated, used Crucibles made at the Wheatcroft Pot House for its refining and melting of precious metals, in the 1700s.
There are many samples of the beautiful Crich Pottery in the British and other Museums, including Derby, and some still privately owned in this district. The writer has been privileged to see a most beautiful 1700s Posset Pot in the possession of Mrs. Janet Bower whose late husband was a keen collector, from whose papers and notes kindly loaned by Mrs.Bower, this note has been compiled.
The several refuse pits of the Wheatcroft Pot House have been excavated over the years, lately by the Late Alban Bower, and many beautiful though broken remains of this lovely ware were found.
Thank you, Mrs. Bower, for your assistance in our gaining an insight into another Crich development, emphasising again the part our little Community played in the ceaseless search by man, to unravel God’s wonderful world for his betterment, and his proper use of them assisting to define the Open Door of total fulfilment we are seeking.
The 1700s for Crich, as for the rest of Britain,was a revolution of gigantic proportions, turning upside down the ways of living. The process began for Crich with the coming of the Wheatcroft pottery of our last story. Improvement in travel by the Turnpike Acts and the advent of the Stage Coach, the active working of the Crich Quarries, whose stone, lime and spar were needed in huge quantities for the new inventions of iron-smelting using coal and then coke. All this, in turn, produced men of ideas and imagination like Outram and the Jessop, father and son who were among the first to use steam power and the steam engine. The need for lime enabled the Jessops to make our canal a real feat – since their careful survey eliminated all locks, thus enabling our stone and lime together with the S.E. Derbyshire Coal to be transported easily from the newly constructed Wharf at Bull Bridge to Cromford, then by a clever narrow gauge railway to Middleton Top, then over the Peak to Bugsworth (later Buxworth) and so by road and canal to Manchester and the northern factories springing up over all Lancashire. The two main Crich Quarries – Hilts and Townend – were serviced by Stephenson and Outram with narrow gauge railways to the Bull Bridge Wharf on the new canal, where they built the Kilns for lime burning. One of the railway lines possessed the Walking Engine – an idea, tho’ clever, was impracticable when Outram thought up the flanged rail, thus eliminating the bolting of plates to the rails to keep engines and trucks on the lines. Those of us who remember seeing the narrow gauge line in use at Townend – under the main road and so down to the Hagg and the kilns, realise the utter vandalism of its destruction in recent times, when line and lovely stone bridges were wantonly destroyed. Fortunately George Smith has photographs of these in his possession.
So the end of the Century found Crich well into the Industrial Revolution. But Technical progress brought the same snags from which we are suffering today. The new factories drew folk into the rapidly expanding Towns – used infants, men and women as cheap expendable labour, so poverty increased leading to riot and violence and the vicious penalties imposed by a Society which had lost its view of the Open Door and, which the Church and Dissenters took 100 years or more to correct, and which still puzzle us today.
This century saw the invention of the water-closet and a piped water supply, which began to lessen disease, although the subsequent pollution hazards still remain to be corrected. In fact, the writer remembers that, as a boy in the early 1900s, the night-soil wagon still trundled around Derby on its errand of servicing buckets and middens. Indeed, when the 1944 Education Act brought most Church Schools into Local Authority control the larger part of these had bucket closets and no drainage.
As usual, man was making war all the 100 years, beginning with Marlborough’s campaigns in Europe. The Church of St. Giles, Normanton-by-Derby was my Church for many years and was the Garrison Church of the Sherwood Foresters whose Battle Flags hung in the Nave, Blenheim, Ramilles, Oudenarde, Malplaquet – and on, the walls the copper plates recording the dead – including the conquest of India. It was the Century of the Seven Years War when, with Prussia, we fought against France, Austria and Russia – also the time of Clive’s Indian campaign in India, and of the fighting with France in Canada and Wolfe’s capture of Quebec and Montreal, and the final conceding of Canada to Britain. It was the Century of the American unrest – the Boston Tea-party and the final declaration of Independence by America in 1783. It was the Century of the annexing of Australia, and our fearful transportation system to Botany Bay, recently portrayed in all its degradation and misery on our T.V. It was the Century of the French Revolution and Nelson’s successes over the French Fleet, followed by the Peninsular Wars and the rise of Wellington, whose successes were the greatest factor in the undermining of Napoleon. It was the Century of Bonnie Prince Charlie with his march to Derby and subsequent defeat. It was the Century of Arkwright and others, whose inventions of the cotton gin and spinning jenny were incorporated in the Arkwright factories at Cromford built in 1783. We have only lately celebrated the Tercentenary of the GLORIOUS REVOLUTION although most of us would be hard put to to know what was glorious about it ! It was, in fact, the dismissal of the Roman Catholic King James II who had angered the Protestants by his arbitrary dismissal of Protestant Army and University leaders and their replacement by R.C. nominees in his attempt to reverse the Reformation. The subsequent Revolution by the Whig Aristocracy and the following Bill of Rights robbed the Throne of these rights and returned power to Parliament.
Part of the underground movement took place at the Cock and Pynot Inn in the hills outside Chesterfield, where a meeting of Protestant Aristocrats and Gentry finalised the plans for replacing James with Mary and William. Most Commentators agree with the present Speaker of the Commons “The Glorious Revolution and the subsequent Bill of Rights were the foundation from which evolved peacefully, a system of Parliamentary Democracy under a Constitutional Monarch”. Something which Communists and all left wingers reject since they interpret Democracy like James II as something which must bow to their philosophy, whilst you and I really believe in THEOCRACY – a very different thing !
The Church in the 1700s tended to lose its view of the OPEN DOOR; one famous Historian saying “There is a worldliness, almost a veniality, about the Prelates of this Century when the Pastoral duties of visitation, Baptism and Confirmation were made subject to the ‘over-riding’ of political duties. Many were hunting, shooting and fishing types with a fine taste for the Table”. Non-residence was tolerated and plurality of Parishes encouraged, Perhaps some of the rural parishes escaped these evils, as Crich seems to have done. The Gospel was waiting for God to act, and He did, as always, with the Clapham sect of Evangelists and the Wesleys.
These lovely folk changed the whole aspect of Christianity for us, with the accent on our Gospel commands regarding evil, sin and guilt, and Christ’s redemptive work. The change is most marked in the Hymns we sing today by the Wesleys, John Newton and others. The villages and the Industrial suburbs, largely ignored by the Church until the Wesleys, Wilberforce, with Newton and the Clapham Sect won them for Methodism and Evangelism. They worked amongst the downtrodden factory workers, the children and women forced into repetitive work with long hours, the chimney sweeps – mostly little children – the crossing sweepers, all exploited in barbarous fashion. They reaped a rich harvest of souls neglected by the Established Church. But the rural poor were most worse off for their lives were lived below subsistence level, and each and every tragedy – such as the death of a breadwinner – meant complete destitution and the State’s answer was the Workhouse. Poor Crich – especially when prices rose after the Peninsular and Napoleonic Wars. At the opposite extreme, it was a century of Fine Art for those with money, all elegant and sophisticated its paintings, furniture and buildings finely designed and elegant.
For the rich prelates with large incomes and duplicated livings whose incomes were counted in £1000s whilst a village parson – say Crich – was lucky to get £40, and most had to rum farms in order to exist. We have so much today that it is well to remember a distinguished Historian’s comment on the 1700s – ”The most noticeable thing about the towns and most villages was the prevailing stench. No drains, cesspools for the lucky, the nooks and crannies of the streets and lanes for the poor. The poor lived in single or two-roomed hovels – warrens of filth, squalor and disease. The street and lane was the only dustbin for all.” The first street lighting was introduced to London in 1734. In 1740, children were hanged for stealing a handkerchief, and in areas like Crich, continual enclosures of common land by the landowners led to extreme poverty. A nightmare for the local administrations who, eventually, had to combine to build Workhouses (hence the term Union). These were hired out to the manufacturers for cheap labour. It was the Century of the French Revolution and the dreadful Irish Rebellion of 1798. The first real factory in England was built in 1716 in Derby by John Lombe for silk spinning. To sum up in the words of Walpole in 1773 – “England is a Gaming, Robbing, Wrangling Nation without principle, genius, character or allies, a shadow of what it was.”
Crich Screen. The story of the present Chancel Screen is well known. Thrown out at the Restoration of 1861 ( no written record of its actual position then — an important omission), it finished up in a builder’s yard in Derby, but the Vicar of St. Peter’s rescued it and re-erected it in his Church where Cox – recognising it as the Crich Screen, got it sent back to Crich where it was re-erected by a local family as a memorial to their sons killed in the 1914-18 War. It has been supposed that this was the original Rood Screen across the Chancel, but there were also other screens defining the two Wakebridge Chantry Chapels at the Aisle’s East ends. The technical term for these is “PARCLOSE” screens, i.e, partly closing. Bassano, the indefatigable chronicler, recorded after a visit to Crich in 1710 the existence of a North Aisle screen but no other. Our own local historian, John Reynolds, also noted the existence of a North Aisle screen but no other. So Heraldic painter and local historian are agreed that the only screen existing was that in the North Aisle - apparently undamaged after the Chantry destruction in Edward VI reign.
A Parclose Screen was invariably perforated below the cill; it would be rare to find a Rood Screen so dealt with, since these were invariably buttressed on the Sanctuary side, with a platform over supporting the Rood Cross and figures. Complicated Rood Screens (Wingerworth, Chesterfield and others) had staircases for access at times when it was necessary to cover up the Rood during Lent. Otherwise a ladder was used. The Sanctus Bell .was rung from the Screen. (The Bell turret still exists at our Church over the Chancel Arch externally.)
So this evidence argues that our present Screen was not the original Rood Screen, but a screen which defined the St. Catherine Chapel of Sir William Wakebridge, the original Screen was almost certainly destroyed in the Puritan frenzy of vandalism at the Reformation. On examination, it is obvious that the original timber is very aged, its workmanship rather crude and relatively untutored, just the kind of work to be expected for a remote village and in keeping with the plain undecorated characteristics of all the St. Mary’s building, made by local craftsmen not versed in the intricate Gothic complications. If this evidence is to be believed, the Screen is much older than previously thought, i.e. almost certainly the 1340s.
In 1736 Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, on a visit to our Country and area, was shown a hillside ablaze with Gorse. He sank to his knees and audibly thanked God for such beauty.
In 1794 was formed the County Yeomanry or, as sometimes called, the Volunteer Cavalry, at Chesterfield, Ashbourne and Wirksworth, because of the threat posed by Napoleon and France.
In 1780, what History calls the Gordon riots occurred in London and elsewhere because of legislation giving Roman Catholics some relief from the current persecution. We can only hope that such behaviour was not apparent in Crich!
A real lesson for you and me, who should be doing all in our power to show out the Glory and Majesty of our God, his Love and Concern, so persuading by word and action by the way we live, all in our contact that the only way to cure all the current ills of our Society is the way of the Cross – Love, Humility and Peace, not demonstrating and loud argument with its attendant hate and violence.
So good-bye – perhaps you will forgive me if I say my farewell with my little poem which began this series, called the OPEN DOOR :
THE DOOR
Who were they, who went through the stone-arched door, over the rough hewn stone Porch floor, on and on for eight hundred years and more, before and before
Can you see them there? Their different faces, moulded and shaped by the differing races;
Briton and Roman,
Angle and Dane,
Saxon and Norman,
Freeman and thane’, Lord and Yeoman,
all of them came through the stone-arched door
before and before.
All have gone as the wave from the shore;
as the foam on the wave from the shore.
What were they who passed through the stone-arched door
and saw, without seeing, the stone seats and floor
of the Porch, for eight hundred years and more,
before and before ?
Can you see them there ? Their eyes all bright
with mischief, or sorrow, or love’s delight:
Babe for the christening,
Maid for the marrying,
Age for the burying.
Quickly or tarrying, rich or poor,
together they came through the stone-arched door
before and before,
and are gone, as the wave from the shore;
as the foam on the wave from the shore.
Where are they, who went through the stone-arched door, s
miling or fearful, to Praise or Implore
in their way, for eight hundred years or more,
before and before ?
They have gone, gone away, to the Land far off, ‘
to the Land they had heard was very far off.
Some found the Door
no man can shut:
Adore and Adore
The King in his beauty, They will see the King,
Their King in His Beauty.
Forgotten the Porch and the stone-arched door
before and before.
They have gone, as the wave and its foam,
to their King, in His lovelier Home.