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Cromford: St. Mary's Church and the Bridge
St. Mary's Church and the Bridge


St. Mary's Chapel in Cromford is on the opposite bank of the River Derwent from Willersley Castle. The river acts as the parish boundary. The church was commissioned by Sir Richard Arkwright and the building work completed by his son. It is the burial place of several members of Arkwright family, including Frederic George Alleyne Arkwright who died during World War One. Sir Richard Arkwright was buried first at Matlock but was later re-interred here.

Writing in 1877, Charles Cox describes Cromford Church as follows:-

"The endowment deed of the new chapel at Cromford, by Richard Arkwright, under date 20th September, 1797, sets forth that owing to the extensive manufactures, the village of Cromford had become very populous, that it was distant two miles from the parish church of Wirksworth, that Sir Richard Arkwright (father of this Richard Arkwright) shortly before his death erected a chapel on a parcel of land called the Smelting Mill, containing in length, within the walls, from east to west, seventy-two feet, and in breadth forty-one feet two inches within the walls; that he had intended to have it endowed and consecrated, but that he died before its completion, leaving instructions for its endowment, etc., etc. The charges paid by Richard Arkwright for consecrating the chapel amounted to £65 3s. 6d.†

The new chapel is dedicated to St. Mary, and it is said that it herein followed the dedication of its predecessor, but of that we have no satisfactory proof.

The chapel, or church as it may now be termed, when originally erected by Mr. Arkwright, partook of the plain characteristics of that time, and was destitute of a chancel, It was lighted by a double tier of five windows, circular-headed, and having cast-iron frames. In 1858-9, it was greatly improved and "gothicised," by cutting down the two rows of windows into one, and dividing them with stone mullions and tracery. At the same time a new chancel was added, the west portico built, and the galleries and flat ceiling of the interior removed. The extent of these alterations, although the ground plan and walls of the 1797 chapel still remain, may be gathered from the fact that they cost the late Peter Arkwright, Esq", the sum of £3,000.

The small tower over the west portico contains a single bell, which is inscribed :-

" Edward Arnold fecit. Leicester, 1796. "

† Add. MSS., 6,666, ff, 355, 357.[1]"

The message, written across the back of the card, reads: "This is typical of the village church found in the villages of England. Cromford is about 22 miles North of Ticknall and is a most lovely old fashioned place. Hosiery and Silk are manufactured here".


"Cromford Church and Bridge". No publisher. No. 1872. Printed in England. Not posted.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] Cox, J Charles (1877) "Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire Vol II" Chesterfield: Palmer and Edmunds, London: Bemrose and Sons, 10 Paternoster Buildings; and Derby, p.574


In the Matlock section of the website:
There is a pedigree for the Arkwright family
Details of the Arkwright Coat of Arms
Descendants are named in various Matlock directories and census returns elsewhere onsite
Extract from "The Beauties of England and Wales" (1802), written shortly after his death, which describes of cotton manufacturing and has more on the mills, Willersley Castle (plus an engraving), Sir Richard Arkwright and the area surrounding Willersley.
Willersley Castle, 1802 engraving
Willersley Castle
Matlock & Matlock Bath's War Memorials, which includes Scarthin's memorial



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Arkwright & His Cotton Mill in Matlock Bath




Cromford Church, Bridge, and Rocks