St. Werburgh's Church, Blackwell. The church is thought to be of Saxon origin (the dedication name) but was rebuilt in the Norman period. The church was again rebuilt in 1824 and once more in 1877, with the exception of the tower). In the north wall, inside, a circular pier of transitional style (c. 1200) is preserved. There is a poorly preserved cross-shaft in the churchyard (SMR 1804). (1)
By the porch of the 19th century church are a number of architectural fragments from the earlier church. One appears to be the head of a Medieval cross. There are also 13th century slab tombs with floral cross motifs. (2)
The church, which is dedicated to St Werburgh, was rebuilt in 1827-8. The only portion of the old building which seems to remain are the pillars and perhaps the arches, on the north side of the nave. It would seem as if the old tower, and the much of the body of the church, had been of Norman design. (3)
There are a number of church relics that have been collected together adjacent to the church. They include a pinnacle dated 1721 from the old church, an old stone quern that had formerly been thought to be a Norman font, a stone coffin cover used until recently as a gate post and a Saxon cross shaft. (4)
Despite there being no record of a church in Domesday Book and no archaeological evidence in its present fabric to indicate a pre-Conquest foundation, there are several significant factors which strongly indicate that a Saxon church of significance stood on, or close to, the site of the present church. One factor is its location in an unusually prominent position, situated on an escarpment overlooking the surrounding arable landscape. Another is the presence of a stone monument built into the fabric of the church which has design elements showing it to be 10th century and with patterns identical to those found on at least one of the stone monuments recovered from St Alkmund's, Derby. The most intriguing piece of evidence is an architectural column standing at one end of the nave and which is paralleled by two Anglo-Saxon columns now standing in the porch of St Wystan's church at Repton. A final piece of evidence is the dedication to St Werburgh. A case can be argued therefore that, not only was there an Anglo-Saxon church here, but that the building was likely to have been of considerable importance. It is suggested that the church was, in fact, recorded in Domesday Book, but under the name of Morton, which lies less than 3km away. The present church at Morton has no architecture earlier than the 13th century. (5)
Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index. Un-numbered.
Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1875. Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol. I.
Unpublished document: County Treasure Recording Form. 10(b).1, with photos.
Unpublished document: Sidebottom, P. 2007. The Early Church in Derbyshire, a study of the development of Anglo-Saxon church building. pp 77-81.
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Centred SK 443 584 (30m by 16m) (Centre)
BLACKWELL, BOLSOVER, DERBYSHIRE
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Sep 28 2016 3:42PM
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