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Darley Dale, St. Helen's Church, Interior

Above is a view of the chancel and nave taken at the very beginning of the twentieth century.

A few years later J. B. Firth visited St. Helen's whilst researching material for his book on Derbyshire. He noted that the church interior showed a medley of styles, and "the monuments go back to a certain John de Darley early in the fourteenth century"[1]. Sir John de Darley had been Lord of the Manor and the carving on his tomb shows him in a suit of mail, with his legs crossed and a heart in his hands[2]. The tomb is sited between the nave and what is now known as St. Chad's Chapel but was formerly the South transept or "Columbell's Quire", so named because a slab in memory of the Columbell family used to be there[3]. Firth thought "the most interesting [monuments] are the effigy slabs of the Rollesley family of the middle of the sixteenth century, whose name survives in Rowsley"[1] (see below).

He described Edward Burne Jones' Song of Solomon window, in memory of one Raphael Gillman who died in 1860 at the age of ninety, as consisting "of twelve blazing panels, utterly unlike the ordinary pallid designs for church windows. The colours are vivid; the contrasts sharp; the scenes and the figures alike bizarre. The window is a picture puzzle, challenging attention and demanding an answer, and must be a great rival to the preacher during sermon time"[1]. This superb window is in St. Chad's Chapel.

The chancel, mid twentieth century.

Rollesley Monuments

In 1876 Cox noted that the two monumental slabs of the Rollesleys, which would have originally been the upper stones of altar tombs, were against the west wall of the north transept. The designs on them were so distinct because they had been filled in with pitch[3].

John and Elizabeth (nee Cheney) Rollesley, with eight sons and four daughters, is the larger of the two stones and dates from 1513[3].

John and Agnes (nee Hybalt) Rollesley's stone is about half the size. The couple have ten sons and two daughters at their feet. John died in 1535 and Agnes in 1550. This John was the son of John and Elizabeth[3].

Corbel of Staircase in the Tower

1. "Darley Dale Church, Interior". Stengel & Co. Ltd., 39 Redcross Street, London E. C. No.16177. Not posted, but side band and undivided back, so about 1900. Posted 21 March 1903. Message and front side bar on the card not shown. © Judy Cooper collection.
2. "St. Helen's Church, Darley Dale". A. W. Bourne, 32 Babingley Drive, Leicester This is a Real Photograph. Not posted. © Ann Andrews collection.
3, 4, 5. Three illustrations from Cox's "Churches"[3], © Ann Andrews collection.
In the collection of, provided by, researched and written by © Ann Andrews. Intended for personal use only.


[1] Firth, J. B. (1908) "Highways and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London.

[2] Mee, Arthur (ed.) (1937) "Derbyshire: The Peak Country",The King's England Series, Hodder and Stoughton Limited, London

[3] 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. The alabaster slab to the Columbells had been moved to the churchyard when the church underwent restoration, but Cox reported that it was back inside the church, against the wall at the west end of the south aisle, when he wrote his book.

More on site information about Darley and the surrounding area:
Magic Lantern Slide of St. Helens
Kelly's 1891 Directory, Darley
Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811
Pigot's 1828-9 Directory, with Matlock, Matlock Bath and Bonsall includes Darley names
Wolley Manuscripts, Matlock

Also see
Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire for more information about Derbyshire deeds, pedigrees, documents and wills

Joseph Whitworth - "Lives Which Hung by a Thread", a magazine article about the Whitworth Sharpshooter which now includes (Dec 2008) additional material about both Whitworth and the development of the rifle.

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VLA 5141,
St Helen's, Darley