|Hathersage, St. Michael's Church
Hathersage Church & Camp
Sir Gardner Wilkinson, F.R.S., delt.
Jewitt, F.S.A., Derby sc.
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
to accompany a paper written by Sir Gardner Wilkinson, who
said that by then little remained of the camp.
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".
Hathersage S.E., by Richard Keene of Derby,
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.
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".
"Most of its features connect the present church with
the first half of the fourteenth century, when the Decorated
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.
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.
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,
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.
Cox also discussed the story of Little John's cap, kept hanging
by a chain in the church.
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".
It is significant that the Ancient Order of Foresters visited
his grave in the 1920s and
around 1930 started to care for it.
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.
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,
2. Heliotype plate of "Hathersage S.E.", from
a photograph taken specially for Cox's book by Mr. R. Keene of
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
4. Illustration by Nellie Erichsen from Firth .
In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
 "The Reliquary" Vol.1,
ed. Llewellynn Jewitt (1860-61) John Russell Smith, 36 Soho Square,
London and Bemrose & Sons, Irongate, Derby.
 "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.
 Rhodes, Ebenezer (1824) "Peak
Scenery" pub. London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown,
and Green, Paternoster Row. Also see: Funeral
Garlands in Matlock Church.
 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;
 "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.
 Cox, John Charles, (1915, 2nd edition,
revised), "Derbyshire" - Illustrated by J. Charles
Wall, Methuen & Co., London.
Daily Telegraph," 4 October
1912. Cox, in his "Churches" recounted the same
 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".
 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.
 Pevsner, Nikolaus (1953), "The
Buildings of England, Derbyshire", Penguin Books
The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire
Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811
Directory of Derbyshire, 1891, Hathersage