Saturday, 13 September 2014

Derbyshire gems

Hidden down narrow leafy country lanes, the Old Manor, Norbury and the church of St. Mary and St. Barlok are worth the hunt - the seeker is well rewarded by the treasurers that they find.
The Old Manor, the former seat of the Fitzherbert family, is a rare example of a medieval hall house built c.1290.
The Fitzherbert family built a Tudor house adjoining 
The Old Manor in the mid-15th century, rebuilt in c.1680 but still retaining many of its original features. 
The present church has undergone various stages of development. The first church being Anglo-Saxon and the second a Late Norman Church built by the Fitzherbert family in c.1179, later alterations and additions were made during the 14th and 15th C. The church has some splendid medieval features, one of its crowning glories being eight very rare grisaille stained glass windows dated c.1306.
The early stained glass together with many splendid coats of arms represent a display rarely seen in any Parish church
This window shows the saltire (heraldic symbol) of Robert de Bruce, b:1274, Earl of Carrick from 1292, King of Scotland 13O6, d. 1329
via
The ancient arms of France shown in one of the windows reveals the limitations of the glazing techniques used during that early period 
Window showing three lions passant England - King Edward l (1272 - 1307)
Great East Window
This splendid window has been described as a 'Lantern in Stone' with the light pouring through it. Sadly, although old, much of the glass is not original. Throughout its history a variety of restoration work has been attempted from, at times, indifferent restorers, as can be seen in the bottom lefthand corner.
The shafts of Saxon crosses discovered during restoration work dating from c.900
Effigy of Sir Henry Fitzherbert - it is often mistakenly assumed that an effigy with crossed legs indicates a Knight Templar who fought in the crusades. However, nearly all stone carvings during the mid 13th century have crossed legs - it was simply the style at that time
In the Chancel lie the Alabaster Fitzherbert tombs which are considered to be amongst some of the finest in the country. They are carved in Chellaston alabaster from the Nottingham School (probably Tutbury) and were originally richly gilded and coloured. The details are wonderfully and faithfully carved with great care and are thought to have been done in c.1491.

Nicholas Fitzherbert, llth Lord of Norbury died in 1473 having 10 sons and 7 daughters by his two wives.  He is shown in full plate armour. The children and his two wives are shown as 'weepers' on the sides and end of his tomb
On the north side of the chancel lie the effigies of Ralph Fitzherbert, 12th Lord, son and heir of Nicholas beside his wife, Elizabeth. On the sides are shown their children as 'weepers'. Two vandalised angels
support Elizabeth's cushion, Ralph's head rests on his helmet.
Hanging around Ralph's neck, can be seen a Yorkist livery collar of alternating suns and roses, which importantly shows the White Boar livery badge of the English King Richard lll as a pendant. The badge was an important symbol of political affiliation in the Wars of the Roses'.
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This copper-alloy boar was found in October 2012 on the Thames foreshore near the Tower of London. Experts believe it may have decorated an item of leather once owned by a supporter of Richard lll, or possibly even the king himself.
 Sitting on top of the lion at Ralph's feet is a Bedesman praying on his rosary for the souls of the departed
Whilst on the subject of tombs I must show you one of the strangest tombs I am aware of which we discovered after a short journey from Norbury to a church in Fenny Bentley.
Here in the church of St Edmund, King & Martyr, lies Thomas Beresford and his wife Agnes
Thomas Beresford fought at the battle of Agincourt under Henry V in 1418. He settled at Fenny Bentley and married a wealthy heiress Agnes Hassall who between them raised a family of 21 children. Thomas and his wife Agnes together with their 16 sons and five daughters are all shown in shrouds or as we would call them today 'body-bags'.
Why are they shown in shrouds?
The tomb is said to have been made 100 years after their deaths
Some believe the sculptor lacked the necessary skills to carve their effigies or that he did not know what they look liked, but
the Beresfords were a wealthy family and there would have been paintings showing their likeness.
There are more question marks surrounding this village tomb than there are answers
*****
Leaving Derbyshire behind, we crossed over the county of Staffordshire and headed into Shropshire for a few days.

56 comments:

  1. What a lovely old building! So many beautiful details! We don't have such old buildings here in Finland. Happy and sunny weekend, Rosemary!

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing them Satu, but what about Tuku Castle and Tuku Cathedral in Finland, I do believe that is medieval?

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  2. What a interesting post Rosemary.
    Have a nice Weekend...

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Greetings to you Inge - I am pleased that you found the Derbyshire post interesting

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  3. Oh my, how lovely to read your post, Rosemary. The church, home, so lovely and full of history.
    Regards,
    Margaret.

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    1. Dear Margaret - so delighted that you enjoyed reading all about the history that this post contains.

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  4. The detail on some of that carving is quite remarkable. And I just love The Old Manor!

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    1. Dear Jessica - you are right the tombs are real works of art. During the medieval period Chellaston was known worldwide for the quality of its alabaster to produce monuments etc. The mines ceased producing in the early 20th century. Whilst writing this post I discovered that alabaster is warm to the touch whereas marble is cold.

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  5. Derbyshire is certainly rich in history! I enjoyed seeing the church in such detail. I think that if I could walk near the house I'd want to stand outside just to gaze at the beautiful, symmetrical windows. Thank you for the wonderful tour and narrative. I spent only a few days in Derbyshire, in Taddington, and I long to return for a more leisurely visit.

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    1. I do recall that you stayed in Derbyshire fairly recently. I tend to return to my roots once a year and remind myself of things I remember seeing when I was a child and which I see through different eyes now. When you are young you take things for granted, now I am interested in learning more about the history.

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  6. Those effigies are fascinating! The Wars of the Roses is one of my favourite periods of English history.

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    1. You may have read that the body of King Richard lll was discovered recently in a car park in Leicester. Seeing Ralph's effigy wearing the white boar pendant, the gift of the King Richard lll, brought a little bit of history to life for me.

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    2. Yes, I've been following that story with tremendous interest. The DNA that proved who he was came from a Canadian descendant. So my country had a bit of a connection to the discovery!

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    3. It has been a compelling story - and interestingly has now proved that he was not the hunchback depicted by Shakespeare. He had slight curvature of his back which would not have been visible when dressed.

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  7. Amazing post and pictures of an area that we've never visited. We've visited England frequently, but never Derbyshire, may have to add it to the list.

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    1. Thank you I am pleased that you enjoyed it. There are certainly plenty of interesting NT houses, churches, and some beautiful countryside to explore and see should you decide to visit.

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  8. I love the intimacy of the effigy carvings. In a strange way they make death seem more palatable and less eternal, but that's probably just me. Really don't like the shroud carvings, made me shudder.
    Jean
    x

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  9. Hello Rosemary, You are lucky to live within visiting distance of so much antiquity and history. That Beresford tomb is intriguingly bizarre. The carvings remind me somewhat of the Osiriform figures of ancient Egypt, represented as mummified, although with the hands and face showing. These Egyptian shabtis, gods and other figures are ready for all kinds of participation in the next world. The Beresfords, by contrast, don't look like they're up to much.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - The comparison with Egyptian Mummies is an interesting one - I can't imagine that the sculptor gained any satisfaction out of completing such a bizarre monument, apart from his payment at the end of the job!

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  10. My blogging friend Mark at All Things Ruffnerian was unable to comment but sent an email as follows:-

    I've visited your blog a couple of times today, and when I start to compose the comment, the box disappears, as though I've already published it! I see that others are leaving comments, so perhaps it's a Google problem at this end.

    Anyway — I've never heard or seen the effigies with crossed legs, so now I'll be looking for them. Like you, I lingered over the fine detail work of the later effigies, appreciating especially the intricate chain mail showing above the armor as a collar. I notice the lady seems to have graffiti carved into her forehead, and am thinking it wouldn't take much to correct that.

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    1. Dear Mark - there is often quite a lot of graffiti scratched into monuments and the walls of churches. Most of the graffiti does in fact date back to the medieval period and has become part of its history. It is often of interest to scholars. Monuments, of course, were also damaged during the reformation.
      I know a church with graffiti on the walls showing St. Paul's Cathedral before it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and another that recorded the villagers who died in the Black Death.
      I agree about the chain mail - on Sir Nicholas's tomb it is crisply carved and really beautiful.

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  11. What amazing history - the stunning windows, and the tombs - beautiful yet somewhat macabre. The sad part, the vandalism. The best part, that you were able to see these amazing places and were kind enough to take so many fabulous detailed photos to illustrate Britain's bounty of historic memorabilia, much of it in hidden places most of us will never have the pleasure of seeing.

    Thanks so much dear Rosemary.
    Mary -

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    1. Dear Mary - the older I get the more there seems to be to discover. I am sometimes amazed myself at how much history we have lying on our doorstep which we often tend to take for granted. Glad you enjoyed seeing a little of the history from you homeland.

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  12. Oh Rosemary, the church is incredibly beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it and it's history with us!

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    1. Thank you so much, I appreciate your kind comment - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing it

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  13. Dear Rosemary - I learned the name “Derbyshire” for the first time in my favorite book “Pride & Prejudice”. Both your current place of residence and the place of your roots are so fascinating. These are really gems and I’m so impressed by the lovely architecture of the Old Manor and the stained glasses. Thank you for all the detailed information. To be honest with you, I feel strange (and maybe a little frightening if this is a correct word) to the effigies though they are interestingly and beautifully decorated, probably because I’m not familiar to that kind.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - I understand exactly how you feel with regard to the effigies - they are rather macabre but also hold a fascination. Effigies on tombs were only for the secular elite, nobility and royalty.

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  14. How very interesting. I thought I knew Derbyshire fairly well but have never found this place. The only Norbury I know is in Surrey. I will be able to remember the name to look it up when next I go. The shrouded effigies are truly strange, as you say. There must be a story. I wonder if there is a local history society.
    I am struck with admiration for your stained glass photographing skills. I almost never manage to get good pictures, no matter how hard I try. These are splendid.

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    1. Do go to Norbury if you can Jenny - on a lovely sunny day it is a glorious place to wander. The Old Manor is owned by the NT but doesn't feature in their handbook. It can be visited from April to October on Fridays and Saturdays only, unfortunately we were there on a Sunday.
      It is very kind of you to say my stained glass photos are good, as I am never very happy with them. Windows are difficult to photograph as you really need to be on a level with them. I tend to play around with mine on Picmonkey which is free.

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  15. Oh, meant to say that I have never, ever seen the children shown in shrouds on one of these tombs. Maybe the tomb really was hastily done. ??????

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  16. A true gem and such an interesting visit, thanks for sharing all this !

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing it Jane

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  17. Hello Rosemary,

    What fun it always is to escape from the beaten path of tourists and explore the hidden treasures that invariably are waiting in the wings. How wonderful for us that you have opened up some hidden delights of Derbyshire as they are certainly new to us.

    The carvings on the tombs are so very fine. The detail is magnificent and it is so interesting to observe the symbolism that is so often evident in these early carvings. As you say, well worth making the detour.

    And, how strange the carvings are of bodies in shrouds. A mystery which would be intriguing to uncover!

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    1. I remember the Fitzherbert tombs so well from many years ago, but I also recall how the shroud tomb spooked me as a young girl.

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  18. I love the Saxon crosses and the weepers. The lion with the Bedesman is so beautiful.

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    1. I always watch out for Bedesmen on tombs - sometimes they are hidden away and difficult to spot, and often resemble the dwarfs from Lord of the Rings.

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  19. The Manor house looks stunning. as always you have found some wonderful things to see on your travels. Sarah x

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    1. I think that we are very fortunate Sarah to have so much history to see all over our country.

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  20. Wow...absolutely incredible pieces... The graveyard in particular really resonated with me because it reminded me of this little abandoned graveyard and church that I found just wandering in the middle of the woods. No roads to it or anything.

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    1. Thank you for your visit Kristy - I appreciate your kind comment

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  21. Beautiful photo's! I love the stained glass windows, just incredible.

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    1. Thank you Marleen - glad you enjoyed seeing them

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  22. What a fabulous tour - thank you. I particularly liked the way you photographed the windows - excellent! Those tombs are certainly mysterious - I've never seen anything like them. And you have reminded me that the Bruces were actually a Norman family, with lands in England, - de Bruis. Tell that to Mr Salmond.

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    1. I appreciate your comment re: the windows. I am never totally satisfied with my window images, my camera is not really good enough.
      I am concerned about the Scottish vote this week. My eldest son was born in Scotland as too was one of my granddaughters. I have long had a love affair with Scotland even though I am English through and through, apart from some Huguenot. Scotland appears to be split right down the middle, so if nearly half of the country do not get their wish I envisage great harm will have been done to the social cohesion of what is a wonderful country.

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  23. The manor windows are lovely, as are the ones in the house. I wonder if they are original?

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    1. Yes, all of the windows are original, it is wonderful when you consider what a rare commodity glass was at that period.

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  24. Great images Rosemary - like looking into the best guide book.
    I'm always intrigued by a grave yard - is that wrong?
    Hope you have a lovely day,
    Liz x

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    1. If it is wrong Liz then I am right there beside you. Graveyards, tombs, I love them, they hold an endless fascination for me.

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  25. A fantastic look at Derbyshire, which we don't know well at all apart from the gentle dales recently on view in BBC1's "The Village". My sister-in-law explored the same churches last year and sent me photos of the shrouded figures of Fenny Bentley - it's not far, we must visit soon!

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    1. Most of The Village was filmed around Hayfield, Glossop and Edale.
      I am sure that you would enjoy a visit - there are lots of places of interest to visit.

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  26. What amazing exploring you and places you find. I love it!!! So wonderful : )

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    1. Thanks Marica - so pleased that you enjoyed seeing it

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  27. What a glorious church and you have portrayed its treasures so beautifully, Rosemary.

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    1. Your comment has bought me back to this lovely little church Perpetua - its treasures are very special.

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