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Listed Building record MDR6394 - All Saints' Church (formerly Steetley Chapel), Steetley, Whitwell

Type and Period (3)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

(SK 5435 7872) All Saints' Church formerly Steetley Chapel (G T) (Restored). (1) "All Saints Church" (dedication on banner within church) is in regular use for divine worship. G.P.s AO/59/255/3 South Doorway from South. AO/59/255/4 Church from N E. (2) The ancient church at Steetley, now [in 1875] long since desecrated, is usually spoken of as a Saxon edifice. The earliest date, however, to which it can be assigned is that of the first half of the 12th century. Steetley was held, shortly after the Domesday Survey, by Gley de Briton who had four sons, and it seems probable that the church was built by either Gley de Briton or one of his sons. The building is quite a gem of early architectural art; indeed it is one of the most complete and beautiful specimens of Norman work on a small scale that can be met with anywhere in this country or in Normandy. Both nave and chancel are now destitute of roofs; the former has had no covering for about a century and a half, but the chancel is represented as tiled, with a gable roof, in a plate published in 1817. In 1873 it was reported that the apse had been in a very ruinous state but had been carefully rebuilt by the Earl of Surrey about 40 years earlier. The walls were found to have had a coating of very fine plaster. In the surrounding yard several skeletons were also found. A diary entry, published in 1870 but written on February 12 1698, records the building as 'a staitly well-built chapel, all arched roofed, excellently enambled and gilt; the lead that covered the same is all stolen away, so that the weather begins to pierce through its fine roof, to its utter decaying'. Bishop Littleton in 1742 noted that the chapel had been converted into a barn. (3) Steetley Chapel is by far the richest example of Norman architecture in Derbyshire, yet it is only 52ft long and 15ft wide. The lavish, almost ostentatious display of mid-12th century decoration must be connected with some special purpose of the chapel, but manorial history has not so far yielded an answer. The chapel went out of use and the nave and chancel were roofless right through the 19th century and probably earlier. A restoration took place in 1880 (designed in 1876-80 by J L Pearson) and although it was careful, a certain amount of what we see at present is Victorian and not Norman. The church contains an Anglo-Norman grave slab, with a representation of a chalice and a paten resting on an altar and a blessing hand. (4) 2 scratch dials have been found within the chapel, one at the south-east corner of the choir, the other on the south-east corner of the nave. (5) The restored but largely intact chapel of Steetley, Whitwell, is a tiny building with a quality of decoration which far surpasses that on churches many times its size. (6) Listed, Grade I. (7) Steetley Chapel is by far the richest example of Norman architecture in Derbyshire and one of the most complete small-scale examples in the Norman world. Except for a sill of later window, which is a brown shelly limestone, the whole of the local Permian Lower Magnesian Limestone, here a crystalline dolomite, and an object lesson in the difficulties of sourcing and matching original stone. The Norman stonework, which makes up most of the Steetley fabric, is a fine-grained creamy dolomite which shows no sign of weathering. (9) Dr. Pevsner, in his 'The Buildings of England' calls Steetley Chapel 'by far the richest example of Norman architecture in Derbyshire'. It is only 52 feet by 15 feet and has a great deal of mid-12th century decoration. The elaborately ornamented arches between nave and chancel are particularly interesting. The chapel was roofless for a long time, the present roof being a Victorian restoration. (10)

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1956. OS 6", 1956.
  • <2> Personal Observation: F1 ASP 18-SEP-59.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1875. Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol. I. pp 399-402, illust..
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1979. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. 2nd ed., revised.
  • <5> Article in serial: Fisher, F. 1935. 'Derbyshire Scratch Dials', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 56, pp 31-43.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Hart, C (NDAT). 1981. The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500. pp 161-2, Fig 10:23.
  • <7> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. 5/5478/174.
  • <8> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 1986. 1986.
  • <9> Bibliographic reference: Stanley, M. 1990. Carved in bright stone: sources of building stone in Derbyshire.
  • <10> Article in serial: Derbyshire Life and Countryside. 1962. 'Country Churches, a Derbyshire symposium', Derbyshire Life and Countryside. June/July.



Grid reference Centred SK 5435 7872 (18m by 9m) Centre

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Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR1233

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Record last edited

Jan 26 2024 2:48PM

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