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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Derbyshire
A selection of photographs, prints and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
Hathersage, St. Michael's Church
Hathersage Church 1
Hathersage Church & Camp
Sir Gardner Wilkinson, F.R.S., delt.
Llewellynn Jewitt, F.S.A., Derby sc.[1]

This charming view of Hathersage Church and the small Danish earthwork nearby called Camp Green, "once surrounded by a ditch", dates from about 1860. It was published in "The Reliquary" to accompany a paper written by Sir Gardner Wilkinson, who said that by then little remained of the camp[2].

Over 40 years earlier Ebenezer Rhodes, the author of "Peak Scenery" had visited Hathersage and he noted in 1818 that there were still traces of ancient funeral garlands inside the church: "there were several of these memorials of early dissolution, but only one of recent date; the others were covered with dust, and the hand of time has destroyed their freshness". By the time the first volume of "The Reliquary" was published (1860-61) these had disappeared and Llewellynn Jewitt believed there wasn't "one remnant left in the church which, so few years ago, was graced with them"[3].

Hathersage Church 2
Hathersage S.E., by Richard Keene of Derby, about 1877

Charles Cox, in 1877, was very impressed by St. Michael's, writing that it "is not only one of the most picturesquely situated churches in Derbyshire, but is also one of the best examples of ecclesiastical architecture that the county possesses". High praise, indeed! It had been restored by Butterworth in 1851-2, when much of the external masonry was renewed, but Cox believed that, unlike other restorations from the same era, much of the original character of the building was retained[4]. It was re-opened on Thursday 15 April, 1852 and a notice in "The Derby Mercury" announced that two sermons would be preached in aid of the Restoration Fund. "An omnibus for Hathersage will be waiting at Rowsley station"[5].

"Most of its features connect the present church with the first half of the fourteenth century, when the Decorated style prevailed"[4]. On the north side of the chancel is an altar-tomb under an elaborate canopy, with effigies in brass, to Robert Eyre of Hope (1459), his wife Joan and their fourteen children. There are other brasses of the Eyre family, dating from the 15th, 16th and 7th centuries[6].

Hathersage is said to have been the birthplace of Little John, the very tall companion and loyal friend of Robin Hood. He is believed to have died in a cottage in the village and been buried in the churchyard, to the south west of the church[4]. In 1780 Captain James Shuttleworth caused the famous grave of Little John in to be opened and a thigh bone 32 inches long was discovered. Little John's bow, some arrows and chain armour were hanging in Hathersage Hall in the reign of Charles I[7], although Cox's research seemed to show that it was kept in the church (he was quoting from Pilkington's "Derbyshire" of 1789). Other sources indicated the bow had been later taken to Cannon Hall, near Barnsley[8]. Cox also discussed the story of Little John's cap, kept hanging by a chain in the church.

Hathersage Church 3
Little John's Grave

He concluded that "on the whole the evidence warrants us in assuming that a portion of weapons and accoutrements peculiar to a forester were hung up in this church, that the said forester (both from the bow and the grave) was of exceptional stature, that both weapons and grave were popularly assigned to Little John more than two centuries ago [note: now three and a half centuries ago], and that the said weapons, etc. must have belonged to a man of extraordinary fame, or they would not have found such a resting place"[4]. It is significant that the Ancient Order of Foresters visited his grave in the 1920s[9] and around 1930 started to care for it.

Hathersage Church 4
Nellie Erichsen's illustration, about 1908

St. Michael's east window was only added in 1949, rescued from Derwent church not long before before that building disappeared under the waters of Derwent Dam[10].

1. Engraving of "Hathersage Church and Camp", Sir Gardner Wilkinson, F.R.S., delt. and by Llewellynn Jewitt, F.S.A,, Derby, sc. published in "The Reliquary" Vol.1, ed. Llewellynn Jewitt (1860-61) John Russell Smith, 36 Soho Square, London and Bemrose & Sons, Irongate, Derby.
2. Heliotype plate of "Hathersage S.E.", from a photograph taken specially for Cox's book by Mr. R. Keene of Derby.
3. Postcard "Little John's Grave, Hathersage Churchyard". Published by R. Sneath, 3, Paradise St., Sheffield, Grano Series. All British Production. Unused (1/2d postage, 1d overseas). Before 1918.
4. Illustration by Nellie Erichsen from Firth [1].
In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews. Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "The Reliquary" Vol.1, ed. Llewellynn Jewitt (1860-61) John Russell Smith, 36 Soho Square, London and Bemrose & Sons, Irongate, Derby.
[2] "Paper published in the first volume of "The Reliquary" (1860-61) "On some vestiges of the Britons near Hathersage" by Sir Gardner Wilkinson, D.C.L., F.R.S., etc, etc.
[3] Rhodes, Ebenezer (1824) "Peak Scenery" pub. London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster Row. Also see: Funeral Garlands in Matlock Church.
[4] Cox, J Charles (1877) "Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol 2, Hundred of the High Peak and Hundred of Wirksworth", Chesterfield: Palmer and Edmunds, London: Bemrose and Sons, 10 Paternoster Buildings; and Derby
[5] "The Derby Mercury", 7 April 1852. The first service was to be taken by the Bishop of Lichfield. There were to be two more services, also in aid of funds, the following Sunday.
[6] Cox, John Charles, (1915, 2nd edition, revised), "Derbyshire" - Illustrated by J. Charles Wall, Methuen & Co., London.
[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph," 4 October 1912. Cox, in his "Churches" recounted the same story..
[8] Cox found information in various sources : (1) Local Notes and Queries, "Derbyshire Times", 28 Apr 1872; (2) Hunter's "Hallamshire" (5 Oct 1865); (3) Dr. Spencer Hall "The Peak and the Plain".
[9] There were several reports of their visits. One printed in the "Western Daily Press" on 24 June 1929 said that over 20,000 members of the Ancient Order of Foresters had made a pilgrimage to Little John's grave Hathersage on the previous day.
[10] Pevsner, Nikolaus (1953), "The Buildings of England, Derbyshire", Penguin Books

Also see:
The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire
Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811
Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, 1891, Hathersage

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Old Derbyshire Maps:
Eyam & Hathersage, 1908