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A selection of photographs, prints and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
Ashbourne, St. Oswald's Parish Church - Interior
Looking towards the altar

St. Oswald's long chancel, the oldest part of the church, is mostly Early English in style but there is a large Perpendicular east window with seven lights above the altar that dates from 1395-9. A woodcut of it featured in a nineteenth century architectural work by Matthew Holbeche Bloxam[1].

The chancel's foundations had to be underpinned with concrete and bricks laid in cement as part of the restoration undertaken by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1876-8. Plaster was removed from the walls, revealing the rich warm red tones of the original masonry, an ornamental ceiling over the sanctuary was added and new oak choir stalls were provided. Scott was restoring the church, and would not bow to the pressure from many to reinstate the former high pitched roof[2]. This had been removed about 1520 when the side walls were raised and a flat roof took its place. Scott, who had used Messrs. Collins of Tewksbury for the work, passed away before everything was completed. Unfortunately, not all of the planned restoration was carried out because of lack of funds[3].

The chancel was formally re-opened on 5 July 1878, with the 11 o'clock service led by the new vicar, Rev. Francis Jourdain, the choir and clergy, who entered the church in procession. Canon Errington and Rev. E. M. Moore, two former vicars, also took part[3]. Various fragments of Norman mouldings had been found as well as a portion of a Saxon cross. When the rubbish at the east end of the chancel was removed, the Reliquary (for the receptacles under the High Altar) came light and was placed in the Cockayne chapel.

In 1895 a very large congregation attended the dedication of "the handsome new east window", which was the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Corbett of the Grove. It is a mixture of mediaeval (from when the window was installed) and Victorian, and was worked on at the studio of G. E. Kempe of London. Amongst the coats of Arms in the upper section are those of both the powerful John of Gaunt and his Duchy of Lancaster, of which Ashbourne was a part. There are nineteen original arms in total, including those of Sir Nicholas Montgomery and Sir Walter Blount who had witnessed the Deed of Endowment[4]. The arms of Knyveton of Mercaston and Kniveton, who was the window's original donor, can be found bottom right[5].

There have been two organs in the chancel, the first built in 1710[5] and the second in 1858[6]. The organ console is just visible on the right, above. One of two equally long serving organists was C. Daly Atkinson (1920-92); he was both organist and choir master for 48 years. His rendition of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor that he often played after Matins was stupendous and a memory of my time in Ashbourne that has lasted to this day. He filled the church with the glorious music.

Looking towards the altar
View of the chancel from the nave. There has never been a north aisle next to the nave
but the south aisle is divided from the nave by four Decorated arches on "handsome"
columns, some of which can be seen on the right. Cox suggested that the south side of the
nave, the tower and spire and a number of windows were added about 1300 to 1330[2].

There had been earlier alterations, in 1839-40, to both the fabric and interior. Unfortunately, those extensive renovations were said to be both in bad taste and poor in conception[2]. The curate, Rev. E. Tenison Mosse, was in charge of the work but it must have been difficult as the 1838 church was "cold, damp, decayed and deformed". Two of the windows were closed up with masonry, the chancel was cut off from the nave and eleven different flights of steps led to as "many cumbrous lofts" (galleries)[7]. The pews were removed and replaced with oak and "a more convenient gallery" replaced the old one. The organ was re-sited and a partition that had separated the chancel from the body of the church was removed[8]. The church was to be also warmed with hot air[9]. It had cost £4,568, raised by subscription, except for £400 granted by the Incorporated Society for Building and Repairing Churches[10].

Between 1878 and 1880 £1,555 had been spent towards the restoration and the Perpendicular window in the south transept was also restored. So much had been achieved and it was intended to proceed steadily with further restoration, as it would shortly become necessary to make a decision about to the removing the unsightly galleries and the remaining pews[11]. At a Vestry meeting held in 1881 it was decided to warm the church with hot water and to take down the galleries as they were no longer needed. The floor would be lowered and the seating re-arranged so that aisles were to go down the inside of the nave walls with another down the centre[12]. The west end of the nave was rebuilt between 1881 and 1883[13].

Further work was undertaken in the early twentieth century, but finally old pews and galleries were removed, "mutilated" windows and pillars restored and the fabric renewed in oak. A partition, which had cut off the chancel from the body of the church, was completely dismantled[14]. It is hard to imagine today that one gallery ran down the length of the north aisle, another was in the south transept and a third went along the west wall. A gallery at the west end of the church remained in position until 1882[15].

The brass lectern, in the crossing, was presented to the church in 1878 by the grandchildren of Lady Bent, in her memory[13]. The pulpit dates from 1882. Both the lectern and pulpit are decorated with Blue John[5]. A peal of 8 bells, dating from 1815, are in the tower above the crossing as well, in addition to an ancient sanctus bell. They were re-hung at a lower level in the 1931 restoration of the tower[16]. The bell ropes can't be seen, as the second image pre-dates this restoration, but the bell ringers (campanologists) were then able to assemble on the floor below the tower.

church interior
Capital in the South Arcade

On the left of the second picture, on the far side of the buttress, is the north transept and a small part of the Boothby Chapel can be seen on the far side. Many of the churches important monuments and tombs are to be found both inside and just outside the Boothby Chapel.

Monument to Sir Thomas and Dame Dorothy Cockayne with their children, North Transept

Against the outer wall of the north transept, next to the north door and beside the mediaeval oak screen enclosing the Boothby Chapel, "is a stately mural monument of marble, in the Renaissance style[2]." Sir Thomas was of great importance to the town as he was one of the founders of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School.

Sir Thomas and Lady Dorothy Cockayne
The inscription on the front panel of the reading stand between the kneeling
couple reads: "Hic jacent Sepvlta Corpora Thomæ Cokaini Militis et.
Dom. Dorothæ Uxoris Eius. Christi Mors Nobis Vita[2]."
(Here lie the buried bodies of Thomas Cokain knight and Dame Dorothy his Wife.
Christ's death is life for us.)

It was moved here from its original position against the east wall of the Chapel in 1840 and seems to have been treated with a considerable lack of respect as it was placed three feet below the floor of the church. Fortunately it was restored by a member of the family[2]. Sir Thomas had been knighted in the Scottish wars[5]. Effigies of their children appear in bas relief underneath: "Nomina Liberorum Thomæ Cokaini Mil. Et Dom Dorothæ Uxoris Eivs - Francisvs Thomas Edwadvs Florentia Dorothea Tabitha Johanna Johanna Jana Maud[2]."

The glass in the lancet window above the north door and behind the tomb is mediaeval. Of the five medallions in this window, we can see parts of three of them. The north transept (Cockayne Chapel) had been restored and the north window rebuilt in 1879-80[11].

Monuments in the Boothby Chapel, North Transept

Pevnser declared the chapel to be "as full of monuments as St. Denis Abbey"[17]. It contains a number of memorials of the Cokayne family, who had settled at Ashbourne about the middle of the twelfth century. All but one of the heads of the family (1372-1592) were buried here. The tombs include memorials to: Sir John Cockayne (d.1505) and his wife Agnes (nee Vernon); Thomas Cockayne* (d.1537) with his wife Barbara (nee FitzHerbert); Francis Cockayne (d.1537) and his wife Dorothy (nee Marrowe) with their six children.
* Cox tells us Thomas left £8 in his will for a marble tomb, although if the sum was insufficient he willed that more should be spent[2]. Lysons noted that the epitaph for him differs from that given in Dugdale's Warwickshire[18].

Two of the Cockayne monuments, Boothby Chapel

church interior Edmund Cockayne
(alabaster on freestone altar tomb)
Edmund, the son of John Cockayne, lies next to his father. He was slain at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1404 and his body was, reputedly, returned to Ashbourne for burial. He is dressed in the knightly attire of the period, with a pointed bassinet on his head[2].
church interior Sir John Cockayne and his wife
(alabaster altar tomb)
Sir John, shown here with his first wife Jane, daughter of Sir John Dabridgecourt of Strathfield Saye, died in 1447. He is wearing armour from the reigns of Henry V and VI whilst his wife's clothing dates from the first half of the fifteenth century and includes a horned or pointed head-dress covering her hair[2]. Sir John wears the Lancastrian order, the S. S. collar[5].

The long accepted names of the couple commemorated on the second of these two monuments were challenged by the late Ronald A.C. Cockayne in 1990. He believed that Sir John Cockayne, who he said had d.1438, had married Margaret Longford as his first wife and then married Isabella Shirley, who outlived him. Isabella is not shown here. He believed it was John the son of John and Margaret (d. c. 1415) who had married Jane, the daughter of Sir John Dabridgecourt[19].

Monument to Penelope Boothby, Boothby Chapel, North Transept

Penelope Boothby

When Penelope died her parents commissioned this wonderful white marble tomb from Thomas Banks, R.A. According to Pevsner, Queen Caroline is supposed to have cried when she saw the statue at the Royal Academy exhibition[17]. Charles Cox remarked that "this exquisite work of art has been often described, but by no one more successfully than by the Rev. D. P. Davies, in 1811."[2]

    "Nobody ought ever to overlook this tomb, as it is, perhaps, the most interesting and pathetic object in England. Simplicity and elegance appeal in the workmanship; tenderness and innocence in the image. On a marble pedestal and slab, like a low table, is a mattress, with a child lying on it, both being cut out of white marble. Her cheek, expressive of suffering mildness, reclines on a pillow; and her little fevered hands gently rest on each other, near to her head. The plain and only drapery is a frock, the skirt flowing easily out before, and a ribbon sash, the knot twisted forward, as it were, by the restlessness of pain, and the two ends spread out in the same direction as the frock. The delicate naked feet are carelessly folded over each other, and the whole appearance is, as if she had just turned, in the tossings of her illness, to seek a cooler or easier place of rest. The man whom this does not affect, wants one of the finest sources of genuine sensibility; his heart cannot be formed to relish the beauties, either of nature or art."[20]

The inscriptions round the monument are in English, Latin, French, and Italian. The English version reads:-

I was not in safety, neither had I rest, & the trouble came.
Only child of Sir Brooke Boothby, and Dame Susannah Boothby.
Born April 11th, 1785, died March 13th, 1791.
She was, in form and intellect, most exquisite.
The unfortunate Parents ventured their all on this frail Bark,
and the wreck was total

Penelope Susanna Boothby had been christened at Lichfield but was buried at St. Oswald's on 20 Mar 1791[21]. Her parents, Brooke and Susanna (nee Bristow), were married by licence on 15 Jul 1784 at St George, Hanover Square, Westminster[22]. Brooke Boothby was the eldest child of Sir Brooke Boothby of Ashbourne Hall by his second wife Phoebe, nee Hollins, and was born 3 June 1744[23]; he died in Boulogne[23] but was buried at Ashbourne on 13 Feb 1824, aged 81[21]. Susanna Boothby was the eldest daughter and the sole heiress of Robert Bristow[e], Esq.,[23] of Micheldever, Hampshire; Susanna's father had died before her marriage. Dame Susanna Boothby died in November 1822 at Dover[24], but was described as "of Ashbourne Hall" in Probate Records[25].

Penelope Boothby and the Bradbourne tombs Penelope Boothby and the Bradbourne tombs, 1890.
Although Thomas Bank's figure almost fills the top of the tomb, the whole monument is so much smaller than those around it, emphasising that she was just a six year old child when she died. In 1817 the Lysons recorded that this monument was "inclosed in a wooden case, and kept under lock and key, by a person appointed by Sir Brooke Boothby[18].

The Bradbourne Tombs, Boothby Chapel

The Bradbournes were originally buried in the south transept, under what is today the vestry. John and Anne Bradbourne (nee Vernon) had founded a chantry there in 1483. Two of their three family monuments were moved into the Boothby Chapel about 1840[7] but they were not well treated. This included the monument with the alabaster effigies of John and Anne Bradbourne, which is next to that of Penelope (above). Their heads are next to the screen. Anne "wears a necklace and a beautiful filet head-dress, and her little dog creeps around her skirts"[5]. John wears plate armour and sports a bowl hair cut.

Bradbourne and Bootby Tombs
Another view of the two Bradbourne tombs and the considerably smaller monument of Penelope Boothby, here furthest away from the camera, were surrounded by protective railings in this Hinge photograph. When a group from Altrincham visited Ashbourne in 1911 they discovered that the casual visitor to the church rarely saw Penelope Boothby's tomb as it was normally covered up[26].

Sir Humphrey Bradbourne with his wife Elizabeth and their children, Boothby Chapel

Bradbourne Tomb
The parents ...

This is the freestone altar tomb of Sir Humphrey Bradbourne (died 1581) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of William Turville. It is placed next to Sir Humphrey's great grandparents[2] and their heads are next to the screen. Sir Humphrey is in plate armour with his feet resting on a lion, whereas his wife is wearing in a long robe. Both have ruffs round their necks and cuffs. Their hands are together in prayer. It is probable that Elizabeth died after her husband as the spaces left for her death were never filled in.

Some of the Bradbourne's children
... and their children.

Their fifteen children are depicted around the base, nine sons on the South side and six daughters on the North. Of the children shown here, the near ones are swathed in crysomes showing they had died as infants. There were actually three infant sons who died. Next to them are two figures in long black gowns and then are two of the four eldest sons, also wearing armour[2].

The couple's third daughter, Jane, married Henry Sacheverell of Morley. She died On 14 March 1624, aged 67. Only part of her tomb remains as it was broken up in 1840. The names of her eight children can no longer be read, though her sons were given by Cox as Jacinth, Jonathan, Victorin and Oswald, whilst the daughters were Elizabeth, Abigail, Jane and Omphelia[2].

The west end of the nave.
The West door, the War Memorial and ancient font.

Although early nineteenth century engravings of the exterior show a door in the west wall, there was no west door for a time. The Vestry meeting in 1881 decided "not to erect a west door at present"[12] yet in 1882, following restoration work supervised by Rev. Jourdain, the early English west porch had been reconstructed from fragments found in the vicinity. It was 14 feet high and 7 feet wide. The centre of the altar was visible from the outside whilst from the inside the evergreens planted by Rev. Errington could be seen and the lime trees of Church/Vicar's Walk could also be admired[27].

West end of the nave
"From the modern west door, placed directly opposite the altar,
it is easy to see the deflection of the chancel[5]."

On the west wall, behind the pews, is a memorial commemorating the 115 men of Ashbourne gave their lives in the Great War. It was erected in 1921 and unveiled by Colonel G. D. Goodman. C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D.. Measuring 9 feet by 5 feet, the names are inscribed on a tablet of Hopton Wood Stone. This rests on a sub-structure of local stone, affording a shelf and step for floral offerings[28].

Font, 13th century, with trefoil arches and small fleur de lis

Font, 13th century, with trefoil arches and small fleur de lis.
It was moved from the south transept to "its proper place, under the baptistry window", in 1882[27].

Three of the postcard images on this page show gas lamps attached to the choir stalls and the pews in the nave. The church was lit by gas from about 1842, the year the Dowager Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV, sent 10 shillings towards the expense of lighting it with gas, so that a third service might be performed on a Sabbath[29]. New polished brass standards, gifted by Colin Minton Campbell of Woodseat, were supplied by Bawm of Birmingham in 1882[27]. It was not until 1936 that the installation of electric lighting was agreed, having been proposed as gift from Mr. R. Holland as a memorial to his late father who had served as a churchwarden for 35 years[30]. However, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings rather muddied the waters in 1937. Its annual report condemned the new lighting, which it referred to as "floodlighting". "We cannot accept this form of lighting"![31] Dr. Sadler, an expert on the church and its history, had to refute the groundless claims. He pointed out that the lighting adopted meant the walls were in part shadow whilst the lights were concentrated on the pews. A Consistory Court had even been held in the church on 25th April 1936 - believed to be the first in the town - to resolve the issue and a faculty that had been applied for was granted[32].

St. Oswald's Church deservedly has Grade I listing today.

Postcard images:
1. "Ashbourne Church" [chancel]. Postcard published by H. Hinge, Photo, Ashbourne. Unused. Before 1936.
2. Postcard "Ashbourne Church, Interior". No publisher. Not postally used, but also dates from before 1931 because of the lack of bell ropes under the tower.
4. "Ashbourne" [Cockayne Monument]. Publisher known to be H. Hinge, Photographer, Ashbourne, although his name is not on the back. Unused. The stamp box says - ½d inland one penny foreign. The card is thought to date from 1912.
8. Postcard "Boothby Monument, Ashbourne Church". Valentine's Series, No.13308 J.V. Unused. Image first registered 1890.
9. [Ashbourne monuments in church] H. Hinge, Photo, Ashbourne. Unused. The stamp box shows that 'a half penny stamp to be placed here' indicating the photo was taken before June 1918.
12. "Ashbourne Church " [west end of the nave] Published by H. Hinge, Photo, Ashbourne. Unused, so no date. However, it was probably taken not long after the was memorial was placed inside the church.
Images from books:
3, 5, 6, 7, 10 , 11 and 13 are sepia images from Mee's book. See [33] below. Mee acknowledges the work of his Art Editor, Sidney Tranter, but is not specific about who provided which picture, although contributors included the National Trust and Valentine and Sons.
All images in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Bloxam, Matthew Holbeche (1844, 6th edtn.) "The Principles of Gothic Ecclesiastical Architecture, Elucidated by Question and Answer". Illustrated with woodcuts by Orlando Jewitt. The woodcut of this window was in the section on "Florid or Perpendicular style".

[2] Cox, J. Charles (1877) "Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire Vol II". Regarding the chancel roof, Cox found that those petitioning for a change to the pitch had given the matter very careful attention. Curiously, Scott had raised the nave roof at Wirksworth and elsewhere.

[3] "Derbyshire Times", 20 July 1878. Re-opening of the chancel of Ashbourne Church.

[4] "Ashbourne News Telegraph", 29 November 1895. Ashbourne Parish Church. Dedication of the new East window. Sir Walter Blount was Henry VI's standard bearer at the Battle of Shrewsbury.

[5] Hollick, K. M. (1964) "The Parish Church of St. Oswald" Published by the Avian Press Ltd.

[6] "John Bull" 18 October 1858. The church was crowded with Clergy and laity and several parochial choirs. The organ had been installed by the efforts of Rev. Errington in memory of Mr. Edward Corden who was very generous to local charities. It has been repaired twice since then.

[7] Mosse, Rev. E. T. "Archaeological and Graphic Illustrations of Ashbourne Church, Derbyshire"

[8] "Derby Mercury", 10 June 1840 and "Derbyshire Courier", 13 June 1840. Re-opening of Ashbourne Church.

[9] "Derbyshire Courier" 4 May 1839.

[10] Francis White's Derbyshire Directory, 1857

[11] "Buxton Advertiser", 28 August 1880.

[12] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 17 June 1881. Vestry meeting

[13] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1912.

[14] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 11 June 1910. "The renovation and repairing of the beautiful edifice, Ashbourne Church, is now complete, having been undertaken by Mr. Evans, Ellastone, under the able superintendence of L. N. Cottingham".

[15] Cox, Rev. J. Charles (1907) "Memorials of Old Derbyshire", Bemrose and Sons, London and Derby.

[16] "Derby Daily Telegraph",28 January 1932.

[17] Pevsner, Nikolaus (1953), "The Buildings of England, Derbyshire", Penguin Books.

[18] Lysons, Rev Daniel and Samuel Lysons Esq. (1817) "Topographical and Historical Account of Derbyshire" London: Printed for T. Cadell, Strand; and G. and A. Greenland, Poultry.

[19] Cockayne, R.A.C. (1990) "Derbyshire Archaeological Journal" (1990), Volume 110 (pp. 105-133). "New thoughts on an old pedigree: a reconsideration of the Cockaynes of Ashbourne in the early fifteenth century and of their monuments in Ashbourne and Polesworth churches.".

[20] Davies, David Peter (1811) "History of Derbyshire" pub. S. Mason, Belper. See Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811 (A) (scroll down to Ashbourne).

[21] Parish register information for Penelope Susanna's christening and burial can be found on FindMyPast. At her burial the entry is for Penelope Susanna Boothby junior, suggesting that her mother may also have had two Christian names.

[22] The marriage, recorded in Boyd's Marriage Indexes and in Westminster PRs, was reported in "The Derby Mercury" of 15 July 1784. They had married on " Thursday last". The service was conducted by the Rector and they were the only couple he married around that time. The Curate married everyone else. Susanna was described as the "eldest daughter of the late Robert Bristow, Esq. of Micheldever, Hampshire" in the DM. This information rather scotches the rumours that were said to circulate in Ashbourne in the early 1900s, commented on by J. D. Firth in 1908, that Susanna had been an actress.

[23] Glover, Stephen (1833) "The History and Gazetteer of the County of Derby ..." Edited by T. Noble. pub. Derby and London. Pedigree of the Boothby family. Brooke Boothby's burial is recorded in Ashbourne PR.

[24] "London Courier and Evening Gazette", 7 February 1824. "Dame Susanna Boothby died Nov 1822, late of Dover".

[25] Will of Dame Susanna Boothby, Wife of Ashbourne Hall, Derbyshire, dated 5 June 1823 is held by The National Archives (Reference: PROB 11/1671/312). Her Will was proved after her husband's death although she died a few months before him. No probate records have been found for her husband.

[26] "Winsford and Middlewich Guardian", 20 October 1911. Altrincham and District Natural History Society.

[27] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 29 Sep 1882. The west window had been removed, but the replacement was not finished in time for the service.

[28] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 29 July 1921. Ashbourne Church Memorial. The inscription above the names reads: "Remember these men of Ashbourne, who fought in the Great War and laid down their lives for freedom and the honour of their country."

[29] "London Evening Standard", 3 May 1842.

[30] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 25 April 1936. Ashbourne Schem to go on.

[31] "Ashbourne Telegraph", 13 August 1937. Lighting in Ashbourne Church.

[32] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 25 April 1936. Ashbourne Scheme to go on.

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

Also see:
Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811 (A) See Ashbourne
The Gentleman's Magazine Library

More onsite info about Ashbourne:
Ashbourne Charters and Early Deeds. Documents from the Middle Ages relating to Ashbourne, DBY. Extracted from "Derbyshire Charters in Public and Private Libraries and Muniment Rooms." Compiled by Isaac Herbert Jeayes.

List of the Vicars of Ashbourne's parish church. From before 1200 - to recent times.

Ashbourne: Poems about a Derbyshire Town. Two rhyming epitaphs from the mid-seventeeth century and two short pieces from the early nineteenth century.

Some of those named on the war memorial at the west end of the church attended the grammar school:
Ashbourne: Former Pupils Serving in the Armed Forces in late 1915.
Ashbourne: Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Roll of Honour, 1919-1922. List of names on the school's memorial.

And elsewhere on the Internet:
Some Memorial Inscriptions - Ashbourne, Derbyshire are on Rosemary Lockie's Wishful Thinking website.

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