At the time of writing (August 2014) it seems a very long time since I wrote about a Derbyshire church, which has felt remiss of me because I don’t live so very far away from that interesting county.
If Romanesque architecture floats your boat, as it does mine, you will probably be as excited as I was when you first see this little gem. It looks too good to be true and perhaps it is, for it was restored from a state of dereliction by the renowned J.L.Pearson in 1880. Simon Jenkins says “Nobody today would dare reconstruct a mediaeval building so drastically”. As a former Deputy Chairman of English Heritage and current Chairman of the National Trust, he speaks with some authority!
You should not, however, let reconstruction bother you too much: if you do then you will find church visiting a quite frustrating experience. The splendid apsidal chance with its original windowsl is still here as are the superbly carved internal capitals. Jenkins talks of the weathered corbel table as being “porous like cheese” but much of it is still discernible and I have seen much worse. All in all, this still looks and feels like the Norman church and to all intents and purposes that is still what it is. J.C.Cox, a celebrated commentator and author on church architecture in the first half of the twentieth century reckoned it “the most perfect and elaborate specimen of Norman architecture to be found anywhere in Europe”. I don’t think too many people