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Church Post Code  DE6 1PA

Open to Visitors

Visited February 2020

It was a dull day in Derbyshire in late February 2020. It had been an early start, leaving Peterborough in the dark, arriving a little ahead of our first church of the day opening  at 9am. There was a full day’s churchcrawl planned, visiting churches to the north of Ashbourne; exploring villages in the Derbyshire Dales and the Peak District.

This page will look at Bradbourne and Tissington, which were each open on that February morning and Brassington, which was closed on the day, with interior photographs from a summer 2023 revisit.

Starting off with All Saints at Bradbourne; this is a village which recorded a population of 110 at the time of the 2021 census. The village here is a doubly thankful village, meaning that they lost no soldiers during the First or Second World Wars, this being one of only 14 double thankful villages and the only one in Derbyshire.

Matlock can be found around ten miles away to the north east; Chesterfield is roughly double that distance away in the same direction with Buxton 18 miles or so off to the north west.

bradbourne door.jpg

 The church of All Saints is set back from the main road, in a peaceful setting. The present church dates back to the 12th century but there was an earlier structure on this site which dates back to Saxon times. There was a church and priest mentioned here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. In pre reformation days, the church here was a Priory, with chapel of eases at Ballidon, Tissington, Brassington and Atlow. The church here was remodelled during the 14th century and was completely restored in 1846.

The church that we see today consists of west tower, nave with south aisle and clerestory, south porch, north vestry and chancel. An indicator of the great history here can be seen to the south of the church ground; a fabulous and historic cross shaft standing alongside the path which leads to the south porch; this dating from the 9th century and having a carving of the crucifixion at the base of its south side.

The substantial west tower dates back to around 1140 and has a repositioned 12th century doorway, which contains carvings of beasts and birds on the roll moulding, as well as one carving of a human being devoured by a beast. Ancient twin bell openings at the belfry stage have semi circular arches with zig zag patterns. Very ancient and weathered stone heads looks out from the corbel string which surrounds the tower.

The chancel is long and has a flat roof but an old drawing dating from mid Victorian times shows the church here with a steeply pitched tile roof, with the alteration, I assume, coming during the Victorian restoration.


The church was open to visitors, which was the tone for the day in this most friendly and welcoming part of Derbyshire.

Moving inside, a wall painted fresco greets the visitor; dating from the 16th century which reads ‘Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they not that they do evil’. This is from Ecclesiastes Chapter 5 verse 1 in the King James Version. The same verse in the Message, a more modern version, reads ‘Watch your step when you enter God’s house. Enter to learn. That’s far better than mindlessly offering a sacrifice, doing more harm than good’.

The nave dates from the mid 13th century with the south arcade and aisle dating from the mid 14th century, with the arcade consisting of three bays with quatrefoil piers.  A framed painting of the nativity dominates the north wall of the nave. The tower arch, with elegant semi circular arch, dates from the 12th century.


The east window in the mid 14th century chancel is of three lights with mid Victorian stained glass; with Jesus as the Good Shepherd central, flanked by St Peter with the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and St John.

The south chancel window is very ‘busy’ and is the work of D Marion Grant. It is a long running joke with me that any window that I don’t understand is likely to be from Revelation! This window I had to Google, using the script on the banner which reads ‘And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes’, which sure enough comes from Revelation Chapter 21 Verse 4.

At the top we have the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, surrounded by the symbols of the four evangelists. Underneath are the symbols for the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Below we have 24 crowned figures, some of whom are playing harps, along with an assortment of other characters.

The south aisle end in a Lady Chapel, with altar set up. An oak reredos extends around three sides, with a large statue of the Virgin and child set in to a recess on the east wall.


It was good to be able to look around this beautiful and historic church. I spent a few moments taking a look at the wonderful views out over the hills to the north west; making my way back to the car, taking in the war memorial which says 'doubly thankful'. It was time to hit the road again, heading three miles or so west to neighbouring Tissington.


Church Post Code  DE6 1RA

Open to visitors

By the time that we arrived at Tissington the light quality had deteriorated a little further. It was dry and there was a real bite to the cold! We were a fairly long way from home, 89 miles according to Google maps, so we made the best of things. According to Google maps I should have been able to have cycled this in nine hours. That is optimistic, but will remain untested!

Even on a dull winter morning, it is obvious that Tissington is an exquisite village. It has Tissington Hall at the heart, with the village being managed by the Tissington Hall estate. The hall itself was built in 1609, replacing an earlier moated manor house.

There were few people around but we imagined that it would be heaving with people in the warmer months. Shops include a tea room close to the church and a village sweet shop; which excited Gary considerable more than the church did. Plans were made for a summer revisit, which have failed to materialise yet at the time of typing this four years or so later.


There was no mention of a church or priest at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, but the origins of the church that we see today date back to shortly after then. The church of St Mary sits central in the village, set back a little from the main road which runs through the village, on high ground which it is thought once held an Iron Age fort. During the English Civil War a siege work was constructed to the north of the church.

The church consists of west tower, nave with north aisle, south porch and chancel. There is only a clerestory here to the north side and I was struggling with the lighting inside as a result; having to shoot with the church lights on, which I wouldn’t normally do.

The substantial four stage 12th century west tower is heavily buttressed to the top of the second stage, with four 19th century pinnacles at each corner; a solitary and much battered gargoyle looking out from the south. Also to the south is a narrow 12th century lancet window on the second stage. The windows along the nave are a delightful mix of dates and styles. A bench set to the west of the porch would have been a more appetising proposition on a warmer day!  Both nave and chancel are battlemented; the chancel has a single Neo Norman 19th century single light window with semi circular arch. The church here was restored in 1854, at which point the north aisle was added.


The church was open to visitors; we found the church lights and were good to go! The attention of the visitor is immediately caught by a memorial which is ‘interestingly’ positioned at the north of the chancel arch. More of that shortly!

The north arcade is of four bays with substantial circular piers, scalloped capitals and semi circular arches. The chancel arch is Norman, with zig zag carving on the arch. The east window is 19th century and has a stained glass depiction of Jesus with the bread and wine, with one hand raised in blessing. Jesus looks up towards Heaven; head tilted slightly away from those approaching the altar and tilted slightly upwards, perhaps looking up to Heaven.


As mentioned earlier, there is a monument against the north side of the chancel arch for members of the Firzherbert family. There are two tiers of Fitzherberts, with at the bottom Francis Fitzherbert facing his two wives across a prayer desk, each with hands raised in prayer. Francis married June Armsrtong and Elizabeth Bullock; outliving them both; passing away in 1619 at the age of 80. His will stated his wish to be buried alongside his two wives inside Tissington church.

 On the upper tier is a memorial to Sir John Fitzherbert, the son of Francis and Elizabeth who died in 1642, aged 43 years. He also faces his wife, also named Elizabeth, across a prayer desk, with hands raised in prayer.

A large number of monuments line the walls, including one to Elizabeth, the only daughter of John and Elizabeth, who sadly died aged ten years in 1649, seven years after the death of her father. Times were hard, and lives were often short; death being no respecter of wealth or status.


Looking to the west of the church, the tower arch is obscured by the church organ; the font is ancient, dating back to the 12th century.

A sign inside the church made me smile. A notice was up advising potential thieves that they would be caught, with a hand written note underneath saying ‘and prayed for’.

A lovely and historic church in a beautiful village; well worth taking a look at if you are anywhere in the area; with a visit arranged around the well dressing perhaps being an idea


Church Post Code DE4 4HJ

Closed to visitors but open on revisit in July 2023

After leaving Tissington, we headed off to the north west, crossing the border in to Staffordshire, then back in to Derbyshire and by late morning, and following a fairly circuitous route, we had reached Brassington, just under two miles to the north east of Bradbourne, where we had started the day!

I have chosen the three churches on this page as being highlights of this particular crawl; however the church of St James at Brassington was closed on the day. It was open though on a subsequent visit in the summer of 2023, with interior shots on this page coming from that revisit.

The village itself, which recorded a population of 548 at the time of the 2021 census, was dependent on lead mining for centuries and the countryside around is scattered with the remains of hundreds of lead mines.


I really wanted to include this church due to the setting. The village itself is set on a hillside, with the church itself set on the highest ground, the village set out below with some fabulous views out across the hills. There are a decent number of Listed Buildings in the parish, which includes a Second World War observation post and a cold war underground monitoring station. There was no church or priest recorded here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086.

The church of St James dates back to the 12th century and consists of west tower, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch and chancel, which has a south aisle. The south porch and the chancel aisle each date from the 13th century, with a north aisle being added between 1879 and 1881.

The ‘Church Open’ sign was out on the summer 2023 revisit. It is sharply uphill from the main road; as the visitor approaches the church by a path leading to the south porch.


The substantial west tower here dates back to the 12th century, although the battlements are later. Grotesque heads can be seen at the four corners and the church clock faces out to the south. Interestingly, there is a round headed door at the west side of the tower which has been bricked in, with a sexfoil window added at the head of the door.

Looking at the exterior from the south the arrangement of windows in nave and chancel are unusual. There are just two, fairly small two light windows in the nave and a single three light window of similar design in the chancel aisle. The clerestory has just two, two light square headed windows, which seems low!

The chancel is very tall, just about the same height as the clerestory, and has different building material at the east end; perhaps extended at some point back in history.

The 13th century porch has a semi circular arch and very faded sundial over the doorway. A section of reset ancient stonework with chevron carving can be seen on one of the walls. The porch is a delightful mix of stones of different sizes and colours. A horse shoe for good luck is placed at the foot of the arch to the east.


Inside, there are three bay arcades to north and south with the chancel south arcade consisting of a further two bays. The south arcade dates from the 13th century and has rounded arches and piers with scalloped capitals. The north aisle is Victorian, with intricately carved capitals but otherwise built in the same style as the medieval opposite!

Moving in to the chancel, the altar is plain and simple, with two candle sticks and red altar cloth. There is no reredos here, but a recess in the east wall contains a cross, which is spot lit, with script below reading ‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’

The east window is in the form of a roundel, with six trefoil stained glass panels, with depictions of St Peter, who is holding the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and St Paul, with sword alongside the symbols of the four Gospel writers. These lead to a small central roundel which contains the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. The north wall is dominated by a large Royal Coat of Arms of George III.


Back outside, I made my way up to the North West of the church grounds; looking out past the tower out in to the countryside. A single flag of St George was fully extended in the village; the open ground to the south east undulating and criss-crossed with dry stone walls and a small flock of sheep. It was pretty cold and blustery; the dead of winter in the Derbyshire Dales; the light quality was fairly poor, but it was lovely to be here. Never mind the weather, this was turning in to a very decent churchcrawl!

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