The Plague-Stricken Derbyshire Village

or What To See In and Around Eyam

By Rev J.M.J. Fletcher (1916)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013


An Ancient Font
J. Crowther Cox )ANCIENT FONT
(now deposited in Eyam Church).
( Photo.
Second Font

7.- In the vestry behind the organ the large stone Font should be noticed. It has not always had a place in the Church; but it is said to have been found on the Moors, somewhere in the direction of Padley and Grindleford, and to have been brought to Eyam. The various tales about it, such as that it was formerly in Padley Chapel, or that it was the font used for the baptism of children who were born during the plague, (It may have been thus used, it could not have

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been made for this purpose; its size and greater age show this) are mere conjecture. For many years the bowl served as a flower pot at Brookfield House, Hathersage. It was placed in the Church whilst Mr. Longsdon was rector (1888-1891) and the stone base on which it stands was made for it.

St. Helen's

8.- At the East end of the North wall, underneath the fourth window, near the organ, inserted in the wall, will be found a stone which is in all probability a portion of an ancient sepulchral slab, perhaps 750 years old. It is commonly called St. Helen's Cross, and originally stood at the East end of the Church. It takes us back to the time when one of the altars was dedicated to St. Helen (see page 23). The Cross had probably nothing to do with St. Helen, beyond having once covered a tomb in the portion of the church which was dedicated to that Saint. It was moved to its present position at the restoration of 1866-8.


9.- There here were in old days several altars in the Church; The Piscina, or drain, down which the water was poured, after the sacred vessels which had been used at the Holy Communion had been cleansed, which may be seen on the South side of the North aisle, close to the pillar which supports the chancel arch, shows that an altar once stood here.


10.- And the Bracket (on which the figure of a saint perhaps stood in former days), which is fixed into the East wall of the South aisle, points out the position of yet another.

Dr. Cox tells us that “the (stone) slab of one of the side altars was found during the ‘restoration’ of this Church. The spirit of irreverent Puritanism was so strong that it was no sooner found than broken up”.

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11.- The Squint, or opening in the wall through which the altar could be seen, at the East end of the South aisle, was for a long time filled up, but was re-opened on May 15, 1908. The glass shutter on the chancel side was then added to keep out the draught. It is evident that the original chancel must have been considerably shorter than the present one, to enable the altar to be seen through the Squint.


12.- The Oak Screen, which runs across the chancel, as well as that in front of the organ, formerly belonged to the family pews of the Staffords, as a brass tablet between the windows in the north aisle testifies:-

“This tablet marks the spot sometimes called the Stafford Quire, or ancient family pews of the Staffords and afterwards of the Bradshaws of Bradshaw and Abney, now represented by the family of Bowles, and testifies that the oak screen across the chancel and in front of the organ formed part of the same. Decr. 15, 1895”.

13.- The pieces of dark wood inserted in the backs of the first four pews in this aisle are fragments of the old screen.

14.- In the Choir Vestry are the old paintings, already alluded to, of Moses and Aaron, which used to hang in the Ringing Chamber, and which have been replaced by the window at the West end of the Church in which the same subjects are depicted. Pictures of Moses and Aaron were very usual in Churches during the 17th and 18th centuries, when they were placed on either side of the tables of the Commandments.

15.- The fragments of carving above the South wall of the chancel are worthy of notice. They are the Bosses from the centre of the old roof.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in March 2013.

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