"The small priory of St James was originally a cell of Cluniac monks, belonging to Bermondsey Abbey, to which monastery the church of St James in Derby was given, before the year 1140, by Waltheof, son of Swein. The Cluniac monks, being all connected with the Abbey of Clugny in France, this priory was returned as alien, in the reign of Edward I; it was then called Prioratus Sti Jacobi de Derby, de Aldenna. It continued nevertheless till the dissolution, when its revenues were estimated at £11 15s 11d per annum. Before the Reformation, the chamberlains of Derby rendered annually to the monks of this house, two pounds of wax, for the right of passage over St James's bridge. This priory was situated at the end of St James's Lane. We do not know what became of it after the Reformation, unless it were the same which was granted to the corporation, by the name of the free chapel of St. James, with all the lands, &c. thereto belonging." (1)
Workmen engaged in digging out the foundations of buildings in St James's Lane, Derby, in the 1860s discovered a large key 'near a few large hewn foundation stones, at a distance of eight feet below the present surface of the road-way, and beneath the remains of four successive foundations of stone and brick. Human remains were exhumed a few months earlier, within a few yards of the spot, which corresponds with the traditional site of the Priory upon the north side of St James's lane, near to the brook'. Wallis noted that few discoveries were being reported and that, although he was most anxious to obtain information about any other finds similar to the key, "the human remains above-named, and a few unimportant coins, are all that have as yet been acknowledged by the workmen". (2)
Excavations were carried out by Mr Woodiwiss on the site of the old priory of St James, near the old brook-course, at the top of St James's Street (formerly St James's Lane) in Derby. During the course of the work, an interesting incised slab was discovered and drawn by the architects of the new buildings being erected on the site. The slab, which is 18 inches in width at the top, was found lying over one of the many skeletons which the excavations brought to light. The cross incised on the slab is of not unusual form, and consists of a circle with segments of other circles intersecting it; the inner lines forming a cross pattee. (3)
St James's Street, until it was widened in 1878, was called St James's Lane. There are several medieval references. St James's church stood in this lane, which before 1140 was given to the Cluniac monastery of Bermondsey by Waltheof of Derby, and became a cell of that monastery. It never had more than a prior and two monks, and obviously could never have had much influence on the town. The church was probably the one mentioned in Domesday as being owned by Edric and previously by his father Coln. It had no doubt a small parish which was divided between All Saints, St Peter's and St Werburgh's. (4) Cox did not consider the church of St James to be one of the Domesday churches, arguing that, as a conventual church, it had not been founded at that time. (5)
No remains visible - unable to confirm the site. (7)
Bibliographic reference: Lysons, D & Lysons, S. 1817. Magna Britannia, Volume 5: Derbyshire. p 101.
Article in serial: Wallis, A. 1868-9. 'Ancient key of St James's Priory, Derby', The Reliquary. Volume 9, pp 63-64. p63-4.
Article in serial: Jewitt, L. 1877-78. 'Incised slab found on the site of the Priory of St. James, Derby', The Reliquary. Volume 18, p 136.
Article in serial: Williamson, F.. 1942. 'Old Derby Street-names', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 63, pp1-27. p 20.
Bibliographic reference: Cox, J C. 1879. Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol IV. p 70.
Bibliographic reference: Knowles, D & Hadcock, R. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales. p96, 267.
Personal Observation: F1 FRH 29-NOV-66.
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Centred SK 3516 3623 (39m by 32m) (Centre)
DERBY, DERBY, DERBYSHIRE
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Record last edited
Nov 16 2017 10:27AM
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