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Listed Building record MDR6404 - St Lawrence's Church, High Street, Whitwell

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The church, which is dedicated to St Lawrence, is a fine cruciform building, consisting of nave, chancel, and north and south transepts. There are also side aisles to the nave, a southern porch, and a tower at the west end. The church still retains some of its Norman stone work. It is clear from the interior and exterior of the present building that a church of considerable size existed here in the Norman period. A Norman corbel table, chiefly consisting of quaintly carved heads, runs around the outer walls of the nave, both on the south and north sides. It is also continued on the north side of the chancel wall, about four feet below its present height. The tower at the west end, with the exception of the upper storey, belongs to the same style. The upper storey is a much later addition. The semi-circular western doorway of the tower, ornamented with the chevron pattern, and the small window above it, together with the west end window of the south aisle, give further evidence of the Norman period. The upper part of the Norman font still remains within the church. The church underwent considerable alterations and additions in about the middle of the 14th century in the Decorated style. The transepts date to this period, and it appears that the south porch and the chancel were rebuilt at this time also. Various alterations were also made to the church during the Perpendicular period, including most of the windows of the side aisles of the nave, and the top story of the tower with the bell-chamber windows. The church appears to have been re-roofed throughout, at a subsequent date to the Decorated period. (1) The scratch dial at Whitwell is seen to the west of the doorway of the south porch. Scratch dials are a primitive type of sundial, usually found on the south walls of medieval churches. The Whitwell scratch dial is 56 inches to the stylehole and has a noon line of 5 inches. There are also three lines to the west and a faint one on the east side. Part of a faint circle connects the lines on the west side. (2) In normal use (1965). (3) St Lawrence's Church is important equally for its contribution to Norman and Decorated architecture within Derbyshire. Norman work includes the west tower and the nave masonry. The Decorated work, c.1300-1350 is found in the chancel and the two transepts. Battlements and pinnacles are Perpendicular. (4) St Lawrence's Church is a grade I listed parish church. It dates to the 12th, 13th, 14th and 19th centuries. It is built of coursed rubblestone with ashlar dressings, and has lead and Welsh slate roofs. The church comprises west tower, aisled nave with south porch, transepts, chancel and north vestry. To the west a 12th century doorway with one order of colonnettes, leaf capitals and zigzag in the arch. It contains a panelled door with decorative ironwork. There is a 12th century round-arched window above. There are also two plain round-arched 12th century clerestory windows and a heavy corbel table. Inside are four-bay north and south arcade, which have plain stepped round arches and circular piers and capitals. There is a richly moulded 12th century chancel arch with tripartite keeled responds, waterleaf and scalloped, capitals and finely detailed arch mouldings; i.e. it is a Transitional piece. There is medieval stained glass in the north transept east windows. See list description for more details. (5) Some features have been photographed, such as the clock hanging and bell frame. (7) A bell in Whitwell dating to circa 1600 and made by Godfrey Heathcote of Chesterfield is historically significant. (8)

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1875. Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol. I. pp 391-8.
  • <2> Article in serial: Fisher, F. 1935. 'Derbyshire Scratch Dials', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 56, pp 31-43. p 43, and illustration.
  • <3> Personal Observation: F1 JB 29-OCT-65.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1979. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. 2nd ed., revised. pp 352-3.
  • <5> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. Ref: 79336.
  • <6> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 1988. 1988.
  • <7> Photograph: English Heritage. Features of St. Lawrence's Church, Whitwell.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Church of England. 2007. Identification of bells and bell frames of historic significance.



Grid reference Centred SK 5262 7683 (34m by 26m) Centre

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR1490

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Record last edited

Jan 26 2024 2:41PM

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