Skip to main content

Listed Building record MDR5222 - St John The Baptist's Church, Church Street, Dronfield

Type and Period (1)

  • (Medieval to Late 20th Century - 1250 AD to 1984 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

St. John the Baptist's Church, Dronfield is almost entirely of the Decorated period and was probably built by Sir Henry de Brailsford who died circa 25, Edward I (1297). (1) In normal use (1965). (2) St. John the Baptist Church is a dark grey church with a perpendicular west tower with spire, and a tall chancel that is more ambitious than the rest of the church. It is suggested by Pevsner that the building is early 14th century. (3) The nave dates from AD 1135 and has an unusually large chancel. The great east windows collapsed around 1563 and were replaced in 1570. The western tower has a clock and stone spire. (6) This parish church was built in the late 13th and 14th centuries, with mid 16th century alterations, extensive repairs c.1819, further alterations in 1855 and 1916, and extensions in 1984. It is built of ashlar and coursed rubble coal measures sandstone, with coped gables, moulded finials, and graduated slate and lead roof coverings. It comprises a west tower, with slender octagonal spire, a nave, north and south aisles, a south aisle doorway, a chancel, a vestry and a 20th century service extension. The four-stage tower rises from a deeply moulded, three-tier plinth, with shallow gabled diagonal buttresses, terminated at crocketed corner pinnacles. Moulded stringcourses delineate tower stages. There are pointed-arched Perpendicular two-light windows to the bell stage, all incorporating clock faces. The spire has two tiers of lucarnes. The tower west doorway has a deeply moulded pointed arch, beneath a hoodmould with label stops. There is one single order of 13th century columns, with a two-light Y-tracery window above. The south porch has a shallow gable, and a moulded pointed arch to the porch doorway, with the inner arch springing from moulded imposts. The inner doorway has a steeply pointed triple stepped doorway. Inside the porch, the roof has two shallow-arched roof trusses, with moulded principal rafters rising from moulded wall posts. The church has a five-bay south aisle, with stepped angle buttresses to the ends, and shallow buttresses beneath windows to the east of the porch bay. There is a shallow ashlar parapet above the stringcourse, pierced by clusters of three trefoil lights, inserted in 1866, to light the galleries. The two bays to the east of the porch have late 13th century three-light pointed windows, with intersecting tracery beneath hoodmoulds. A tall seven-light east window, with deeply-moulded Decorated surround, originally had Decorated tracery, but now has moulded major and minor mullions with transoms, which were inserted after the collapse of the original tracery in 1563. There is a two-storeyed vestry and sacristy to the chancel north wall, with gabled and pinnacled angle buttresses. An octagonal stair tower with a squat spire is situated in the angle of the west wall and the chancel, with lancets and lucarnes, and a four-centred arched doorway to the west wall. The north aisle has 13th century pointed two-light windows, with quatrefoils to the heads of the mullions. Inside, is a four-bay nave arcade with stepped and chamfered arches, all of which are almost semi-circular, but just pointed. There are circular arcade piers, with simply moulded capitals, and with roll and hollow mouldings to the base of each column. There is a stepped and chamfered pointed chancel arch, with the line of a deeply-pitched earlier nave roof clearly visible from the nave. King post trusses with cambered tie beams support a single purlin roof. Raking side struts support the purlins, and the ridge is carried on longitudinal braces from the king posts. There is a simple piscina to the south aisle chapel south wall. The font is situated against the tower arch, with a plain octagonal medieval bowl, set on an octagonal stem and stepped base of 1916. There is also a fluted 18th century font near the nave north door. Furnishings include an elaborately carved 17th century oak pulpit with hexagonal drum, the facets of which have arcade decoration and which are separated by carved colonnettes, linking carved panelled bands above and below. The pulpit was lowered in 1917, and the staircase replaced by the present 19th century cast iron spiral stair. The altar and reredos date to 1907, and were by Advent Henstone of Tideswell. Some parts of the 15th century choir stalls remain, and are incorporated within 19th century benches. Fragments of medieval glass are found in two chancel south wall windows, and one to the chancel north wall. Monuments include a brass monument to Thomas Godfrey, d1399, Rector, and his brother Richard, in the chancel floor; and another brass monument comprising seven plates to John Fanshawe, d1580, together with his wife Margaret, and their children, on chancel north wall. There is also an alabaster effigy to a chest tomb, dating to the mid 15th century, to Sir Richard Barley, with the side and end panels depicting angels holding shields. The church contains over 120 brasses, monuments and memorials, many of which pave the nave and chancel. The Parish chest, with seven lock hasps, is situated against the south aisle wall. (7) The parish church of Dronfield stands on high ground overlooking the Drone Valley. In the churchyard stands the base of a preaching cross. A pipe roll shows the record of a rector in 1135 and the nave also dates from this period. Building and alterations took place from the 12th century onwards, particularly when the canons of Beauchief Abbey (Sheffield) held the patronage of the living from 1399 to 1538. The clock was fitted to the chuch tower in 1904 to commemorate the death of Queen Victoria. In the church there are fine carvings of creatures on the choir stalls, the oldest parts of which date to the 15th century. In the cahncel is a brass memorial to two priests, the Gomfrey brothers, and the remnants of medieval glass may be seen in some of the windows. (8) The bells of St John the Baptist's are of historical significance. Three of the bells date from between 1570 and 1580 and are founded by R II Heathcote of Chesterfield and H Dand of Nottingham. Another bell dates to 1615 and is a good example of the work of the founder H II Oldfield of Nottingham. (9)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1875. Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol. I.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: F1 FRH 23-NOV-65.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1979. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. 2nd ed., revised. pp 199-200.
  • <4> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 0785. 0785.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Tyzack, F. Notes on the Church of St. John the Baptist, Dronfield.
  • <6> Verbal communication: Anon. Personal communication. P. Staunton: 3.4.1994.
  • <7> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. Ref: 79503.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: Old Dronfield Society. 2009. Explore Dronfield: Heritage Trail No. 1 Dronfield Old Town.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Church of England. 2007. Identification of bells and bell frames of historic significance.



Grid reference Centred SK 3528 7841 (48m by 26m) Centre

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR3829
  • EDR1331

Please contact the HER for details.

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Jan 17 2024 1:48AM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.