|North Wingfield Parish Church, St. Lawrence
As you drive along the A6175 from Clay Cross into North Wingfield
the church is immediately ahead of you on top of Church Hill.
The 100 feet high west tower is 15th century, and Perpendicular
in style. Pevsner, writing about British architecture in
the aftermath of the Second World War, rated the tower as the
best piece of the church; he pointed out "the
angle buttresses, two light bell-openings on each side, a frieze
of shields above and then battlements".
The sculpture of the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, a "defaced
relief" according to Pevsner,
was discovered in 1860 when the south aisle was rebuilt.
The clerestory windows and the north aisle were repaired in
The parish registers from the 17th and early 18th centuries
record several interesting details about the church fabric.
"1633. Upon the first day of August, or thereabouts,
their [sic] was a great clock plum (weight) stolen
out of the steeple, which was eight or nine stone in weight
: some stronge body did steal yt, or else it could not have
been carried away, for I could not lift it with one hand.
... The church was made common, and doors left open alnight
"1633. The parish church steiple at North Wingfield
white lymed in September".
"1643. Ye chancell lead was bloane off at ye same time
. . . . winde fortie yardes".
"1718. This is to certifie whom it may concern, yt
in ye year of our Lord 1718, the loft or gallery, in North
Wingfield church was erected by the churchwardens of this
parish, viz.:-John Lillyman, Thomas Clay, Ralph Wass, and
Samuel Harrison, who, with ye unanimous consent of ye parish,
for the defraying of ye charge of so good a work, sold such
seats in ye aforesaid loft, as shall be hereafter mentioned
to these several parties, to them and their heirs for ever".
The hands of St. Lawrence's church clock show that the building
was photographed at 10 to 4 in the afternoon, probably in 1875.
What helps date the picture is a headstone in
the foreground; two of them are easily readable when
the image is enlarged, something which underlines the exceptional
quality of early photographs. The ground in front of the
white headstone for William Whitworth is covered with grass
so one can also assume that he had not just been buried, although
a slight mound is still visible.
1. White headstone:
OF CLAY CROSS
WHO DIED OCT 15TH 1871
AGED 54 YEARS
(Text below not transcribed)
2. Gritstone headstone to the left:
WHO DIED MAY 26 1864
AGED 48 YEARS
Rev. Cox first described North Wingfield's old font
"We find, beneath a spout of the north aisle, the old
massive font. On the occasion of our visits it was full of
water, and was being used as a wash hand bason by the lads
of the church school in their dinner hour. From the systematic
way in which they went to work - soap even not being absent
- it was obvious that this was the purpose to which it is
generally applied. It is passing strange how the inhabitants
of North Winfield have for so long suffered this ancient
font to be defiled. In that rude bowl their forefathers have
been christened eight hundred years". ... The font is
of rude early construction, the base being channelled in
flutings, and the whole of one block of coarse gritstone.
... The present font is an ugly octagon construction, quite
out of keeping with the church, and bearing the date 1662".
Cox later recorded that the children "barbarously
treated" several early effigies of the Deincourts when,
in addition to they times they were washing their hands,
they were being educated at the day school held in the north
Several generations of the web mistress's direct Clay ancestors
would have been baptised in both the older and the newer
Cox on the blocked up North window:
"At the east end of the north aisle is a Norman window,
now blocked up which, if it was opened, would communicate
with the chapel beyond, on the north side of the chancel.
This is of the late Norman period, approaching the transition
to the next style, and the arch is not perfectly semi-circular.
It is enriched with some clear cut mouldings of the tooth
or four leaf pattern, and the capitals of the side pillars
are well worthy of attention, as they are a most unusual
design, and might, if taken by themselves, be attributed
even to the Saxon period. Its date, however, appears to be
about the middle of the twelfth century, early in the reign
of Henry II".
In a later work, the same author described the design of
this window as exceptional.
In 1953 Pevsner thought this was the most interesting piece
in the church.
1. Heliotype plate of "North Wingfield S", from
a photograph taken specially for Cox's book by Mr. R. Keene of
Derby and the plate by B. J. Edwards & Co..
2. The drawings of the font and the window were from drawings
by Mr. Bailey and others (not named) and from plates produced
by Bemrose of Derby.
In the collection of, provided by and © Ann
Written, reasearched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
 Pevsner, Nikolaus (1953), "The
Buildings of England, Derbyshire", Penguin Books.
 Cox, John Charles, (1915, 2nd
edition, revised), "Derbyshire" - Illustrated
by J. Charles Wall, Methuen & Co., London.
 Cox, J Charles (1875) "Notes
on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol I, Hundred of Scarsdale",
Chesterfield: Palmer and Edmunds, London: Bemrose and Sons,
10 Paternoster Buildings; and Derby. Cox provides more examples
about the church fabric from the parish register than are
quoted here; the 1833 quote is incomplete here and I have
not included those from 1634 and 1650. Thomas Clay, mentioned
in 1718, is not a direct ancestor, but is / was related. See
Shirland for a little more about the Clay family.
Also see, elsewhere on this web site:
Wingfield, Kelly's 1891 Directory. There is more about
Parishes, 1811 includes a short piece about North Wingfield.