History of the Village of Stoney Middleton

By Thomas E. Cowen (1910)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2003

History of the Village of Stoney MiddletonTHE CHURCH


The Church was formerly a chapelry of Hathersage, from which it was separated by the intervening village of Eyam. There is but little left of the old chapel of Stoney Middleton, which subsequently became the parochial chapel. In the early Christian and middle ages there was doubtless a well chapel near the Roman Baths dedicated, like the Baths, to St. Martin, the Saint of Cripples, similarly to the ancient chapel of St. Anne of Buxton. From an examination of the square tower and other incidental particulars it may be safely concluded that a fair-sized chapel was certainly erected in the 15th century. There are no records about the shape

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of the church nor its date, but diggings in the churchyard show that it was of the usual shape, with oblong nave. In 1650 Mr. Thorpe was curate, and the Parliamentary Commissioners estimated the living at £45[1] and described Stoney Middleton as a “parochial Chapel”, thought fit to be made a parish church.

Thomas Whyte, of Stony Middleton, Gentleman, by will dated 1692 bequeathed his “great Silver Cup to be used in the Church or Chapel of Stony Middleton aforesaid for ever in the administration of the most Comfortable Sacrament of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion”.

A record written in one of the Parish Registers and dated Aprill 16th, 1717, gives

“An Account of the Names of the Singers who were Equally concerned in the charge of Building the Loft in the Middleton Church for their own use”, viz.:

Tenor pt.Bafsus.
Joseph Hallom (senr.)Joseph Hallom (junr.)
Francis Hallom (senr.)James Heaton.
Edward Barber.ffrancis Hallom.
Wm. Tomblinson.Ezra Cocker.
John Tomblinson.Joseph Thornilley.
Robert Overton.Thomas Mason.
Wm. Bagshaw. 
Joseph Brand. 
Joseph Bamforth. 
Henry Fletcher.Richard Bower.
Jonathan Hallom Joseph Hallom.
John Thornilley.Thomas Hallom.
John Thornilley.Cornelius Hallom.
James Baggaly.Paul ffletcher.
 Benj. Hallom.

The tower contains three bells, and it is often asserted that one of the original peal of four bells was taken to the Mother Church of Hathersage. It is, however, noteworthy that the Hathersage bells bear Latin inscriptions, so that if it was taken there, it was evidently recast. The inscriptions on the three bells are as follows:

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  1. Daniel Hedderly cast us all in 1720.
  2. Thos Froggatt, Rob. Shepperd C. W.
  3. Benjamin Ashton, Esq., Jonathan Rose, Curate.

The parish of Stoney Middleton came into existence in 1743, in consequence of the augmentation of the Church by the Queen Anne's Bounty Governors. The Rev. Urban Smith wrote, “When I entered upon the Stoney Middleton living in 1834 I found this inscription on a board in the Church: ”under the Royal Arms“ - Restored 1759. John Hallam, Samuel White, Churchwardens”,

Dr. Cox, in his Derbyshire Churches, says: The architect of 1759 adopted a singular octagonal design in quasi-Grecian style for the body of the Church, and the effect of uniting this building to a low square tower of perpendicular style of the 15th century is most incongruous.

It is said that the same architect also designed the stables at the back of the Crescent at Buxton, the stables at Chatsworth, the rectory at Eyam, and Stoke Hall.

“We wish”, adds Dr. Cox, the eminent historian, “he had confined his attention exclusively to secular work.”

There are eight semi-circular arches. In 1861 the church was re-roofed, the gallery removed, a new west doorway and earlier window were inserted in the tower. The south door was then closed.

A Communion Flagon now in use in the Church bears the following inscription:

The Gift of the Reverend John Simpson, of Stoke, in the
County of Derby, to the chapel of Stoney Middleton.
  30th March, 1777.

Below are names of some of the Curates and incumbents:

  1. John Silvester (Time of Elizabeth).
  2. Jacobus Huit, Curate, 1629.
  3. Mr. Thorpe, Curate, 1650.
  4. Jonathan Rose, Curate, 1720.
  5. John Ashe, Minister, 1759-1780.
  6. Charles Hadfield, Curate, 1780-1792.
  7. J. Wostenholme, Curate, 1792-1794.
  8. Alex. Benjamin Greaves, Minister, 1794-1834.
  9. James Parker, Curate, 1834-1835.
  10. Urban Smith, Incumbent, 1835-1887.
  11. J. B. Riddlesden, Incumbent, 1888-present time.
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In the King's Book of 1533 the living is valued at £2 6s. 8d. It is a perpetual curacy now worth £200 per annum, in the gift of the Vicar of Hathersage.

In or about 1817 the Bishop of Lichfield passed through the village and stayed for a short time at the Moon Inn. The proprietor informed him that no service had been held for 16 months, and that the Dissenters had become strong. He himself was in no way concerned, as he had not been there for years.

There are no monuments earlier than 18th century, and the Parish Registers only commence in 1715.

A clock was presented to the Church, through the kindness of Rev. J. Stockdale, R.D., Vicar of Baslow, and inserted in the tower in 1897.

The harmonium, which had been in the Church for a number of years, was replaced in 1903 by an organ built by Mr. Cousins, of Lincoln, at a cost of £130. A stained glass east window, “The Good Shepherd”, was inserted in the Church by subscription in 1905.

In the poetical works of Richard Furness appears a poem - “Stoney Middleton Orra-Turry”. This was doubtless an Oratorio, which took place in Middleton Church, but there is no date given, except 1858, the date when the poems were published. The poet describes the object in the lines:

“And brave old Outram, not a fool,
Just wanted some for th' Sunday School.”

The performance was assisted by an orchestra, comprising the following: Owen, Shemwell, Wild, Hibbert, Wilson, Cramer, Wragg and G. Rayner, the leader. The chief singers were: Soprano, Madam Shirtcliff; contra, Shaw; tenor, Croft; basses, Dooley and Birkett.

Stoney Middleton was formerly in the Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, but is now included in the new Diocese of Southwell.

[1] £40 of which was granted by the Honourable Commissioners for Plundered Ministers in 1648 from the sequestered tithes of the old rectory of Glossop.


OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2003.

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