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Listed Building record MDR4440 - Church of St Michael with St Mary, Church Street, Melbourne

Type and Period (1)

  • (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1200 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

[SK 3890 2499] Church. (1) Melbourne Church is of the second quarter or middle of the 12th century with 13th, 15th and 16th century alterations. (2) In normal use. (3) The parish church of St. Michael and St. Mary, Melbourne, dating from 1130-40, consists of a nave with clerestory aisles, transepts, a chancel, a central tower, and two incomplete western towers, all of which are Norman except the Perpendicular Gothic aisle windows and east window. The central tower was heightened in 1602. The church has a rare plan of Romanesque style which may have originated before 1100. Grade A. (4-6) Church of St Michael and St Mary. Parish church. C1133 when the living was given to the Bishop of Carlisle, but the building was not completed until the early 13th century. 15th century alterations, tower probably heightened 1602, when the present bells were hung, and chancel partly rebuilt at a similar date. Major restoration by Sir G G Scott from 1859 to 1862 also with later repairs. Grade I. (7) Three samples were taken in c. 1982 from wall plates in the chancel roof in order to carry out tree-ring dating. These provided a felling date of after 1668. An engraving of 1602 shows that at that time the chancel had a more steeply pitched roof than the present one. The site of the parish church of St Michael with St Mary may also be that of the church mentioned in Domesday Book, although archaeological and architectural evidence for this is currently lacking. The present building is thought to date from around the second quarter of the 12th century, with later alterations. It has a distinctive form, including several unusual or unique features amongst Norman parish churches in England, namely a two-tower façade, a western gallery or balcony and a two-storeyed chancel, all of which suggest that it was of high status. In addition, the east end formerly had three apses. (8) Four samples were taken from the ridge piece and wall-plate purlins of the north-east chapel. These provided a felling date of c. 1590 and may represent the replacement of the original roof. (9) The 12th century church at Melbourne, once a symbol of royal power and still impressive, is neither complete nor in its original form. However, there is one virtually complete survival which has generally not been considered in discussions of the church, namely the set of carved capitals framing the entrance to the chancel. A study has now been carried out and it has been argued that the sculpture was designed for a small community of Austin canons, unrecorded in the documents, and that the canons were engaged in training entrants for a pastoral ministry. (9) Supremely impressive within but, because of unfinished and surrounded by lesser buildings, less so outside. The two-tier façade, crossing tower and six bay nave with aisles and transepts are very ambitious and exceptional in Norman parish church architecture. The building dates are not known but most of the detail looks 12th century, the interior looks younger than 1133 when the living of Melbourne went to the Bishop of Carlisle at the foundation of the tower. The entire structure is ashlar of the local Namurian sandstone, except for the late 20th century replacement blocks which are Namurian but non-local. (12)

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1955. 6".
  • <2> Article in serial: Radford, C. A. R. 1961. 1961 Arch J. p243-4.
  • <3> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 12-JUL-66.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1979. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. 2nd ed., revised. p275-8.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: DOE (HHR) S E Derby RD Derby Oct 1960 13.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Dilworth-Harrison, T. n.d.. Our Glorious Derby Churches. p 12.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: DOE Listed Bldgs. Dist of South Derbyshire. Derby 11 Mar 1987 69-72.
  • <8> Article in serial: Laxton, R R et al. 1982. 'List of sample timbers from the East Midlands', Transactions of the Thoroton Society. Volume 86, p 77.
  • <9> Article in serial: 1983. 'List of sample timbers from the East Midlands and elsewhere', Transactions of the Thoroton Society. Volume 87, p 45.
  • <10> Unpublished document: Stroud, G. 2002. Extensive Urban Survey: Melbourne. Archaeological Assessment Report. p 18.
  • <11> Article in serial: Wood, R. 2006. 'The Romanesque church at Melbourne', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 126, pp 127-168.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: Stanley, M. 1990. Carved in bright stone: sources of building stone in Derbyshire.



Grid reference Centred SK 3890 2499 (41m by 21m) Centre

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR1032
  • EDR3294

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Record last edited

Jan 27 2024 1:57AM

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