Images Index> Matlock Dale> This page
Matlock Dale: St. John the Baptist Church, Interior
Matlock Dale: Twentieth Century Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
St. John's Church, Cliff Road
Matlock Dale
Next Image
Previous Image
More Matlock Bath Pictures
18th & 19thC
"Just" Images
Matlock Dale
General Info
About Matlock
Find a Name

Churches & Chapels

St. John's (1)

St. John's (2)

St. John's (3)

Dawber's Cottages,
Matlock Dale, 1899

Well known craftsmen of the day were employed at St. John's to undertake the plastering and make the stained glass windows for Mrs. Harris and her architect Guy Dawber.

The ceiling is barrel-vaulted and the decorative frieze and arches are shown in the photograph, with a detail below. The exquisite plasterwork was done by George P. Bankart, an extremely skilled plasterer; his design includes birds flying across the ceiling. The bands were coloured by Mr. Louis Davies in the autumn of 1898[1]. Davis, who also created the stained glass window at the east end of the church, was an active member of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

On the walls, which are covered in thin red brick[1], are fourteen large "Stations of the Cross" displayed on the internal brickwork, some of which are shown in the photograph. There is an enlargement of the three on the right below. The panelling below the brick, and other fittings, are all made of oak and the flooring in the nave under the seats/pews is wood block[1]. The pulpit, too, is/was exquisite.

Arthur Mee described the interior as "cosy and neat", with the ceiling's "bands of plasterwork with painted designs of trailing flowers and leaves". He added that the east window - presumably he means the altar window which is actually north easterly - "glows with blue and gold, green and orange"[2].

Bankart's Plasterwork, detail
There are wide bands of modelled plaster, later painted.
  Pulpit, close up. Figures by Cecil Fabian
Pulpit, detail.[3]

During the winter of 1989/90 four juveniles broke into St. John's; they scrawled graffiti on the walls, tore "down statues, hurled hymn books on the floor, daubed Satanist slogans on the walls and attempted to light a fire". The figures on the pulpit were destroyed. The churchwardens were aghast when the damage was discovered; what made things worse was that the insurance policy was old and did not cover this type of damage. Three of the youths were cautioned, but the fourth had to pay both costs and compensation as well as spending time at an attendance centre[4].

Stations of the Cross
Three of the Stations of the Cross.
One the left is 12. Jesus dies on the Cross, then 13. Jesus taken down from the cross and on the right 14. Jesus is placed in the sepulchre. Only five remain today; the rest were stolen.

"St. John's Church Interior, Matlock". Ivanhoe Series, Published by J. Crowther Cox, 12, The Crofts, Rotherham. No. 38987. Unposted.
Postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Image scanned and presented as a whole and also in detail, for this website and information written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "The Builder", 29 Oct 1898. Private Chapel, Matlock, Derbyshire.

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

[3] Cecil Fabian, who carved the pulpit, is mentioned by Julie Bunting on Take a look at Pulpits and Louis Davies of the Arts and Crafts Movement is on Take a look at Wall Paints.

[4] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 20 June 1990. Another blow for vandal hit church.