Bradbourne Church "Extract from the Churches of
Derbyshire" (Cox 1875)
The church, which is dedicated to All Saints,
consists of nave, with south aisle and porch, chancel and tower at the
west end. Though of considerable antiquity there is no part of this
church of sufficient age for us to suppose it to be the same building,
which was standing here when the Domesday Survey was taken in 1086. The
ancient Saxon church must have speedily fallen out of repair, for it is
evident that a new one was erected about the close of the reign of Henry
I (1100 -1135), or at the beginning of Stephen’s. Judging from the
tower, the Norman church was of considerable size. The tower is a
massive square building, of greater height than was usually the case
with those of Norman date, and contains at turret staircase in the
northeast angle. It is comparatively unadorned, except on the south
side, the side from which the church would be usually approached. The
circular south doorway of the tower is adorned with three belts of
mouldings, the first consisting of that known as the beak-head moulding,
and the two others of birds and nondescript animals. The jambs of this
doorway have been restored at a comparatively recent date. Of the four
bell-chamber windows, the one on the south is embellished with the
chevron, and alternate-billet mouldings, and divided by a circular shaft
into two lights; the others are of similar construction but plain. The
parapet to the tower is slightly indented at wide intervals, the
intervals being so wide as hardly to warrant the application of the term
"embattled". Parapets being more exposed to weather than any other
portion of a building are the first to be repaired, and are but seldom
met with any great age. Norman parapets are almost unknown (the keep at
Rochester Castle being an exception); but we are inclined to think that
the tower of Bradbourn may be added to the very small list of
exceptions, or that this parapet, is at all events, after the original
design. Below the parapet runs a corbel table of small human heads.
The south porch, which is entered by a plain round
archway, and the doorway that it shelters, of the same construction are
other remnants of the Norman church.
A small lancet window on the north side of the nave,
and another like it on the north side of the chancel, point to a
reconstruction of that part of the building when the early English style
was in vogue, about the commencement of the thirteenth century.
The east window of the chancel is of the Decorated
period, circa 1320. It consists of three principal lights, the upper
tracery being divided into three quatrefoils. It is surrounded by a
hood-mould with head terminals. On the south side of the chancel are two
windows and a small priests door with a pointed arch. One of these
windows, also, though square-headed, is of Decorated design, but the
other shows Perpendicular tracery.
To this latter period may also be attributed the two
south windows of the south aisle, the three clerestory windows above
them, the remaining window on the north side, and the battlements of the
nave. A small pointed doorway on the north side was blocked up during
the last alterations.
The objects of interest in the interior are not
numerous, as there is a singular paucity of monumental remains. When
Bassano visited this church in 1707, he mentions "Buxtons quire" at the
end of the south aisle, as though some portion of the church was then
railed or screened off for the peculiar use of the Buxton family; but
this was hardly ever done post-reformation times, the probability is
that this was the old quire of the Bradbourne family, appropriated by
the Buxtons in 1609, when they purchased the rectory-house and
glebe-lands. Mr Rawlins, who visited this church in March 1827, says
"the pews are regular in their construction and one which belonged to
the Bradbourn family at an earlier period, hath its panels, which are of
oak, embellished with some ancient carvings of quadrupeds, flowers,
heads and various rude devices." Mr Meynell who was here about the same
time, describes this pew are being at the end of the south aisle, and
calls it "Buxton’s pew". "He gives drawings of four of the grotesque
human heads, which appear to be of fifteenth or sixteenth century work.
He also noted "IB" and "W. 1642" on other parts of the same pew. Bassano
(1710) mentions an alabaster tombstone in the chancel near to the altar,
"the inscription not to be taken " and he also describes in a south
window of the chancel the following coats of arms: Arg., on a chevron sa.
5(seemingly to be) pears or; and Arg. Between a fess, 3 horse-shoes sa".
The former coat is more correctly described by Mr Rawlins as "Arg on a
chevron sab. five drops, Gutte d’or, which is the arms of Athill; the
latter coat pertains to the family of Edensor. This glass was probably
put in by Richard Ensor (Edensor) who was vicar in 1667, as the arms of
himself and wife. In the seventeenth century two other coats were noted
in the windows of this church, which have now disappeared – Okeover
impaling Bradbourn, and Bradbourn impaling Longford. This glass still
The font immediately on the right as we enter the
south door, is of unusual shape and construction. It is formed of a
single square block of stone, being two feet four inches square. The
basin, which is circular and lined with lead, measures about a foot in
depth. The sides are ornamented with circles enclosing quatrefoils.
Square fonts on plain square bases are very uncommon, except in a few
instances of rude Norman work. It is not easy to give the date of this
font, good authorities consider it to be Early English in style, but we
are more inclined to attribute it to the commencement of the Decorated
period, about the years 1280-1300.
The tower contains a peal of five bells, thus
I – on the haunch the date 1736 and a border of fleur
II and III – "J Taylor and co, founders, Loughborough
IV – "Te pater alme canam W Buxton DH 1708" which may
be rendered "Thee, bountiful father, will I sing." On each side of the
initials DH is the impression of the obverse of a half crown of Charles
II, with the legend Carolus II Dei Gratia.
V – The fifth bell bears a Greek legend signifying
"Glory to the only God" and "R Dettliffe IB"
Mr Rawlins says (1827) " The floor on which the bells
in the tower are rung is considerably raised from the pavement, and thus
forms a room which is fitted up as a Sunday school, and ceiled over."
In the churchyard may be noted a large stone coffin,
six feet six inches long, placed under the south wall of the chancel,
where it is utilised as a receptacle for water.
A very interesting memorial also here exists, though
unhappily now in fragments, and fast perishing through the friction
incidental to its utilitarian position. We allude to the fragments of a
fine and very ancient cross, part of which is used in the gateway
leading to the vicarage, and another portion in the stile that opens on
the footpath leading to Ballidon. Even as late as 1816, we find from
Lysons MSS, that the cross was standing. It is by him described as
ornamented with two rude figures with an angel holding a book on the
west side, with the crucifix on the east side and two figures, one
holding the spear and the other the sponge, and on the other sides with
interlacing foliage of the same description as that on the cross at
Bakewell. The precise date when this cross was broken up we failed to
ascertain, but Glover writing in 1833 mentions "part of an old cross now
converted into a gate post". These relics possess even more of interest
in connection with the early spread of Christianity in this country than
any portion of the church itself, for there can be no doubt that this
cross was standing here as a symbol of faith, many a year before the
days of De Ferrers or the Normans. Would it not be possible to rescue
these fragments from further maltreatment?
The registers do not go further back than 1720, they
have been very badly kept and there is nothing of interest in them.