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Alfreton, St. Martin's Church, 1830s - 1899


The early 1830s engraving of St. Martin's Church (above) shows what the building was like before the Victorian restoration of 1868-9. Stephen Glover, writing about Alfreton in 1833, provided a brief history to accompany the image. "The church is an ancient rude structure, with some handsome perpendicular windows, and pinnacled tower steeple at the west end embattled; the whole structure has evidently been built at several different times, with but little regularity of form. One of the lords of Alfreton was the builder of this church; for it appears that in the ninth year of the reign of Henry II. Robert, the son of Ranulph, gave it to Beauchief abbey, of which he was the founder. In the second year of the reign of Edward VI. the king granted it to Thomas Babington, who had then become the proprietor of the manor. The church is dedicated to St. Martin. ... The rectory of Alfreton, with the advowson of the vicarage, was granted by Henry VIII. to Francis Leake, esq. whose descendant, Nicholas Earl of Scarsdale, sold them; in 1673, to John Turner, of Swanwick, gent. The rectorial tithes were sold by auction, about the year 1779, chiefly to the several land owners, by the trustees of the late George Turner, esq. The advowson of the vicarage was purchased by the late George Morewood, esq. and now belongs to William Palmer Morewood, esq. The present incumbent is the Rev. John Pepper. There was a chantry in the church of Alfreton, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The lands belonging to which, of the value of £8. 4s. 8d. per annum, were granted by Edward VI. to Thomas Babington"[1].

The church had been built for a population two thirds less than that of the 1860s. The interior was filled with "cumbrous piles of carpentry"; pews were of every shape and size and there were various galleries, presumably to try to accommodate everyone[2].

The architects of the 1868-9 design were Messrs. Hine and Son of Nottingham, with the work contracted to Messrs. C. Wright and R. Johnson of Nottingham, supervised by Mr Alfred Appleton of Derby (the Clerk of Works). The church was greatly enlarged, given a new roof and some of the original windows were incorporated into the bigger building. The sacrarium floor was covered with Minton tiles and the church was "warmed by one of Boulton's furnaces for the circulation of warm air". There was also a new organ, built by Mr. C. Brindley of Sheffield. St. Martin's was re-opened by the Bishop of Lichfield on Thursday 5 August 1869, with many local clergy in attendance[2].



The heliotype photograph of the porch dates from slightly after this restoration and was taken in 1875 for J. C. Cox's first volume about Derbyshire's churches[3]. We can see the new roof, the apex of which was roughly level with the top of the clock on the south face of the tower. In the left bottom corner is a gravestone:

In Memory of William Everingham
Died February 4th
---- Aged 72 Years

William Everingham was buried on 11 Feb 1837 and his obituary notice in "The Derby Mercury" said: "Also at the same place [Alfreton], and same day [Saturday last], Mr. Everingham, cooper, after a lingering illness. He was a very honest upright man, and much respected."[4]

St. Martin's Church contains monumental brasses to the Ormond family, and tablets and inscriptions to the Moorwoods and others. Black's Guide of 1888 noted the 14th century porch, the reredos of Derbyshire alabaster and the arch from the nave into the tower as containing early English work[5]. "The only other memorial of that period is a slab, incised with the head of a sepulchral cross; it was found beneath the pavement of the chancel and in 1894 was fixed in the chancel wall and protected in front by a sheet of plate-glass"[6].



The third image was taken outside the churchyard, showing a pretty wrought iron arch over the gateway. Around the turn of the century "the churchyard was kept in very good condition during the summer months, a special fund being raised for the purpose"[6].

Amongst the memorials inside the church are several that stand out from the late nineteenth and early to mid twentieth century. "In 1894 a stained window was erected to the memory of Tom Herring Bingham, son of the late Dr. Bingham, who was drowned at Eastwood, Notts, on Friday, 12 Aug. 1892, while attempting to save the life of Cecilie Barber, aged 5 years, who had fallen off a steam launch at Lamb's close.... Another memorial window was erected in 1907, to William Wooding Nelson and his son, who were drowned at Sutton-on-Sea, Aug. 1906"[6]. There are also poignant memorials to those killed in the Boer War, World War One and World War Two.


1. "Alfreton Church", an engraving by -. Jewitt published in Glover's "Derbyshire", 1833
2. Heliotype plate of "Alfreton Porch : S.", from a photograph taken specially for Cox's book by Mr. R. Keene of Derby
3. "Alfreton Church and Gate". Valentines Series. No.30297 [Registered 1899]. Posted 13 Aug 1906 at Alfreton where the sender was staying and exploring the district.
In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews. Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] Glover, Stephen (1833) "The History and Gazetteer of the County of Derby ..." Edited by T. Noble. pub. Derby and London.

[2] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday 11 August 1869.

[3] Cox, J Charles (1875) "Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol I, Hundred of Scarsdale", Chesterfield: Palmer and Edmunds, London: Bemrose and Sons, 10 Paternoster Buildings; and Derby.

[4] "The Derby Mercury", 8 February 1837. One of the executors of his Will was S. Everingham of Oxford Street, London.

[5] "Black's Tourist Guide to Derbyshire", (1888) pub. Adam and Charles Black Edinburgh.

[6] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1912


Also see:
The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire
Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811



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