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Listed Building record MDR5640 - All Saints' Church, Sawley

Type and Period (1)

  • (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

A Prebendary of Sawley was appointed in 822 by Bishop Ethelwald. All Saints' Church 'consists of an exceptionally wide nave, side aisles, south porch, chancel, and tower surmounted by a spire at the west end.... [Since] there was a church here in 822, Saxon work is ... looked for in this fabric. ... The archway into the chancel is a semi-circular one ... ; the masonry above the arch, and on the north side within the chancel, is rude, and a small part of herring-bone work can be detected. This is undoubtedly Saxon'. Cox considered that the church had not been enlarged or repaired in the Norman period, with the next oldest work being Early English, in the form of a lancet-window in the west wall of the south aisle, now blocked up; and also in the responds at the east end of the nave arcades, suggesting that the church was extensively rebuilt about the middle of the 13th century. Decorated work seems to extend from about 1290 to 1320. In the south wall of the chancel is an external founder's recess, evidently coeval with the building of the chancel, c. 1320. Hugh de Scoter, the first vicar of Sawley, 1266-1315, was probably chiefly responsible for the building of the present north aisle, and the nave arcades etc. It is evident that Robert Bothe, on the death of his father in 1467, considerably altered the church. The whole of the tower and spire are also 15th century. In the south wall of the chancel is a projecting bay of late Perpendicular character, described by Cox as 'a most exceptional feature in a parish church'. (1) 'Because of the herringbone masonry it contains ... it has frequently been claimed that [the chancel arch] ... does not belong to the Saxon period. The breadth of the arch span is alone sufficient contradiction of any claim to a date earlier than the Conquest. Herring-boning is found in its earlier quantities in the walls of early Norman castles like Lincoln, Richmond and Tamworth, and its presence can never safely be accepted as evidence of Saxon work. The chancel arch with its walling probably belongs to the second half of the 11th century, though it is also quite possible that the arch may have been put up at a still later time. There are several cases of plain arch chancels in north Yorkshire which, ... do not seem to be earlier that the second quarter of the twelfth century'. (2) 'There are two objections which might be lodged against Dr Cox's (Authority 1) confident assertion on the question of [Saxon] date. Firstly, the voussoirs of the arch are not 'through-stones'; from both wall-faces they apparently butt up against a central rubble core which seems more characteristic of Norman technique. Secondly, Dr Cox's belief that herring-bone masonry necessarily connotes a Saxon date is not held to-day. Sir Alfred Clapham calls it a common feature of 11th century rough or rubble walling which was largely abandoned by the beginning of the 12th century. F.E.Howard writes that herring-bone work is found in late pre-Conquest and early Norman building, but most frequently in the latter. It would be safer to date Sawley chancel arch and the rough chancel walling as early Norman. (3) No Saxon work was evident during a site visit in 1967. (4) All Saints' Church has a Norman chancel arch with much wall exposed above. It has a very wide nave, and arcades of octagonal piers with late 13th century to early 14th century capitals and double-chamfered arches. It has a late 13th century chancel with typical tracery. The five-light east window is especially fine, with arches upon arches. The church has a Perpendicular clerestory, which is embattled, as is the south aisle. The west tower is also Perpendicular but in a different stone. There are angle buttresses, and the spire is recessed behind the battlements. Inside, the tower is open to the nave in an opening not larger than a door. Inside the chancel there are two especially noteworthy features: a solid stone screen just west of the east wall separating a back vestry; and a kind of bay-window, deep and with panelled sides and a four-centred vault. It is a chantry chapel and holds the alabaster effigy of John Bothe (1496). There are also other 15th and 16th century monuments. The pulpit dates to 1636, still in the Jacobean tradition, with a handsome tester with pendants. The screen is perpendicular in style, with single-light openings. There are also fragments from two other screens. (5) All Saints Church. 11th, 13th and 14th century with 15th century clerestory and tower, restored 1889. Grade I. (7)

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J C. 1879. Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol IV. pp 377, 384.
  • <2> Article in serial: Hamilton Thompson, A.. 1914. Excursion report in Arch. J.. Vol. 71, p 370.
  • <3> Article in serial: Fraser, W. 1951. 'The Derbyshire Trent and its Early Churches', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 71. pp 97-98.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F1 FDC 05-JAN-67.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1979. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. 2nd ed., revised. pp 313-4.
  • <6> Index: TPAT. 2538. 2538.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: DOE Listed Buildings Dist of Erewash Derby 2 May 1986 39-41.



Grid reference Centred SK 4725 3136 (42m by 25m) Centre

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR1749
  • EDR812

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Record last edited

Jan 26 2024 5:19PM

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