|Ashbourne, St. Oswald's Parish Church - Exterior
Rated as "the finest parish church in the kingdom" by
the nineteenth century novelist George Elliot,
St. Oswald's Church is almost on the edge of the town at the lower
end of Church Street. The church is a cruciform structure of the
Early English period and is dedicated to St. Oswald, King and Martyr.
In 1999 Simon Jenkins awarded Ashbourne's church four stars in
his top 100 of the many English churches he had visited, along
with Melbourne. This was the highest ranking he gave to the county's
The spire, for many years known as the "Pride of the Peak",
sits on top of an octagonal tower which houses the bells. It is
said to be 212 feet high and was described by Kelly's (1891) as
a work of great beauty and remarkable lightness, "ribbed
with ball flower ornaments and pierced with 24 dormer lights in
five tiers of four each".
In 1891 a committee connected with the restoration of the church
tower and spire appointed a builder "of Tideswell and Litton",
Mr. Alfred Hill, to work on restoring the tower and spire. Mr.
W. White, of London, was the architect.
The work was completed in 1894, so not long before these two images
were taken, and cost nearly £5,000.
In 1896 money was still being raised for the church spire fund.
The chancel had been restored in 1877-8 by Sir Gilbert Scott
R.A. at a cost of £2,500. The
east window, which can be seen behind the left hand lamppost
in the top picture, is rich in old heraldic glass.
Pevsner dated the wrought iron gates to around 1700.
1. "Ashbourne Church". S. Hidensheimer & Co. Ltd.,
Manchester. Printed in Berlin. Not posted (the rate on the card:
1/2d postage stamp Foreign 1d).
2. "Ashbourne Church", photographed by W. Winter of Derby,
from Ward Lock & Co's "Matlock, Dovedale, Bakewell
and South Derbyshire.", Illustrated Guide Books of England
and Wales (Guide Series 1911-12).
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
 Jenkins, Simon (1999) " England's
Thousand Best Churches", Allen Lane, The Penguin
Press, Penguin Books Ltd., 27 Wright's Lane, London, W8 5TZ,
England, ISBN 0-713-99281-6.
 "Kelly's Directory of the
Counties of Derby, Notts, Leicester and Rutland",
(May, 1891) published London.
 "Derby Daily Telegraph",
11 February 1891. Restoration of Ashbourne Church Tower and
 "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire",
Mercury", 1 January 1896. Surplus proceeds were to
be given to the fund from a performance by the Dove Valley
Thespians. This was not the only instance.
 Tudor, Thomas Linthwaite (1926) "The
High Peak to Sherwood, The hills and dales of old Mercia" ,
published London by Robert Scott
 Pevsner, Nikolaus (1953), "The
Buildings of England, Derbyshire", Penguin Books