A Guide to Tideswell and Its Church

By Rev J.M.J. Fletcher

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013


Lytton Brass

We now retrace our steps through the Chancel arch and glance at the stone Pulpit, which is modern, and was designed by Mr. John Sedding, of Bristol, under whose superintendence the restoration of the Church was so effectively carried out in 1875.


Behind this, and forming, as it were, a continuation of the S. aisle, originally stood the Chapel belonging to the Manor of Litton. In the Hamlet of Litton, situated in the Parish of Tideswell, and distant a short mile from the Church, the predecessors of Lord Lytton (Bulwer Lytton the novelist, &c.) formerly resided, and from it they took their name. A fragment of an old Lytton tomb is built in the South end of the stone erection placed against the wall - and on the floor of the aisle (the matting may have to be raised to enable it to be seen) is a well preserved brass to the memory of Sir Robert Lytton Under-Treasurer of England in the reign of Henry VI., and his wife Isabella. On the brass the Knight is depicted as dressed in a long robe faced with ermine, and from his mouth proceed the words “Son of God have mercy on me”. The dress of the Lady has cuffs of ermine, and out of her mouth comes the legend “Mother of God have mercy on me”. The shields above the figures are now missing. The following is the meaning the inscription.-

“Pray for the souls of Robert Lytton, of Lytton, and Isabella, his wife, (this same Robert died on May 6th, A.D., 1483; and the aforesaid Isabella died on October 15th, 1458), and for the souls of all the faithful departed, on the souls of whom may God look favourably”.

When the Church was restored in 1875, the lead coffins of Sir Robert and his wife were found immediately below the brass.

Knebworth, in Hertfordshire; the present seat of the

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Lyttons, was purchased by another Sir Robert Lytton in 1492. But the Manor of Litton remained in the hands of the Lyttons for a century longer.


The screen work of the S. Transept is the work of the Hayballs, of Sheffield. The Bower Chapel, as it is sometimes called, with the tomb contained therein, was restored in 1873, under the superintendence of Messrs. Innocent & Brown, Architects, Sheffield, at the cost of Mr. John Bower Brown, J.P., of Woodthorpe Hall, Sheffield; his mother's name was Bower, and in her family there was a tradition that they were descended from the de Bower family. In a little book entitled Vignettes of Derbyshire, published in 1824, we read, “In the extreme corner of the (south) transept, hid by the sides of a dilapidated pew, and covered with dust, cobwebs, and the splashings of the white-washer, are two recumbent figures, in alabaster, whose names, as handed down by traditional evidence, are 'Sir Thirlstone a Bower and his lady'; though mutilated by ill-usage and neglect, their remains are worth the notice and preservation of the antiquary”. The next year the figures were removed to the S.W. angle of the Chancel where they were enclosed in the Vicar's pew. Half a century later they were restored to their former position. The ancient portions of the tomb can be readily distinguished. The shields do not appear to have been carved; but the armorial bearings were painted on them. Traces of the colour are still noticeable. The beautifully carved effigies which rest on the tomb have been, unfortunately, somewhat mutilated. The Knight wears the SS Collar (the Lancastrian badge), and his helmet bears the title “Jesus of Nazareth”. The armour and dress give the date as approximately the end of the fourteenth century. Round the margin is the following inscription:

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“This monument of Sir Thurstan de Bower and the Lady Margaret his wife, and this Southern Chapel in the South Transept of Tideswell Church, where this monument was in the early part of the fifteenth century erected, were restored in honour of their memory by their kinsman J. Bower Brown, Esq., J.P., of Woodthorpe Hall, near Sheffield, in the year of our Lord, 1873. The above-named Sir Thurstan was living in the 7th year of Richard II, 1392”.[1]

[But, in spite of what this inscription tells us, it is more than doubtful whether the knight and his Lady, whose effigies now rest in the South Transept, were those of any de Bowers at all. It is true that Thurston o' Boure, and Margaret his wife, and Margaret his mother, were connected with the Gild of S. Mary of Tideswell; and in all probability Thurston was a very generous benefactor to the Gild. At any rate, his name, with the names of his wife and of his mother, appear on two Charters relative to the founding of the Gild, which were drawn up in the time of Richard II. and date from the years 1384 and 1392. He held, too, Manorial rights at Little Longstone. But there is nothing to show that he was a Knight other than the tradition, already alluded to in the Vignettes, which was written four hundred and thirty years afterwards. As a matter of fact, Thurston de Bower was a wealthy Tideswell yeoman, who worked a considerable number of lead mines in the Peak district at this period. He died in the year 1423, when his wife was described as “Elizabeth, widow of Thurstan del Bower, husbandman”.]

Transverse view into S. Transept
De Bower tomb

The effigy of the Knight on the tomb, in the details of its armour, &c., strikingly resembles that of Sir Thomas de Wensley, in Bakewell Church. Sir Thomas was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. And the date of the monument at Tideswell would be quite the end of the 14th, or the commencement of the 15th century. About the year 1730 the tomb in question is described as follows: “In the south quire, or Litton quire, is a large altar monument of alabaster with the recumbent figure of a man in

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armour and his wife. There is no inscription or arms on the monument, it was probably erected to the memory of some of the Littons”. The writer knew of the inscription on the Litton brass but appears to have missed the tomb on his visit to Tideswell. This was not to be wondered at, for the brass was then hidden beneath the flooring of a pew. Consequently he goes on to assume, wrongly, that the monument was erected to the memory of “Sir Robert Litton”. There is no evidence as to whom the effigies belong. They may be Foljambes, or Lyttons, or Staffords. They cannot be de Bowers.]

The stained Glass in the East window of this Transept represents the Resurrection of our Lord;- That in the South window, the Evangelists.

The Piscina in this Transept as well as those in the Lytton Chapel and the Gild Chapel have unfortunately been mutilated by the bowls being cut through.

The niche at the S.E. corner of this Transept should be noticed.

The small niche at the N.E. corner of the Lytton Chapel is evidently of later date than the building. What its object was is unknown. There are said to be similar ones at Youlgreave and at Longstone.

The Hatchments are those of members of the Statham and Meverill families.


Against the East Wall of this Transept is a tablet placed here in 1716 by Sir John Statham (pp. 6, 31) in memory of his father, Thomas Statham who died April 24th, 1702, and of his mother, Barbara, daughter and heiress of Cromwell Meverill, who died April 9th, 1682, at the age of 35.

The lengthy inscription, which is written in most

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laudatory terms, commences, freed from abbreviations, as follows:

“Thomas Statham, of this Town, Gent : second son and heir of the loyal gentleman, John Statham, of Edlestall and Tansley, Captain of a troop of horse, which he raised at his own charge, for the Royal King Charles I., and was afterwards a patient sufferer of the tyrannies and sequestrations of those impious regicides, &c.”

Affixed to the east wall of this Chapel is also a Tablet to the memory of an honoured and beloved Physician, John Latimer Parke, F R.C.S. (died March 21st, 1907), who for more than half a century was unsparing in his ministrations to the sick; and of his daughter Annie Longden Parke. Both father and daughter were earnest Church workers.

Corbel and

In the corner will be noticed a Corbel, which was probably in the earlier Church (page 11), and an old Sepulchral Slab, 22 inches in length, probably of the 12th century, on which is cut a floriated Calvary Cross (i.e. cross with steps). This Slab was found in the Churchyard during some excavations in November, 1900. It may have covered the grave of a child;- or possibly, as is frequently the case with these diminutive Memorials, it may have been placed over the heart, or viscera, of an adult whose body was buried elsewhere. It will be remembered that, quite recently, the heart of Mr. Thomas Hardy, poet and novelist, was buried in the Churchyard at Stinsford, his old home, whilst his ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey.

Anther of these slabs, on which a sword is incised, as well as the cross, may be seen on the lower face of the nineteenth step of the Belfry staircase, and there is yet another built into the Tower steps about the height of the Nave roof.

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Close to the screen will be noticed an ancient Bell, which bears the inscription in Latin “I have the name of Gabriel who was sent from Heaven”. Of this bell Dr. Cox writes “The lettering on this bell is Old English with Lombardic capitals. It is one of the most interesting bells in the county, and we have little doubt that it is coæval with the erection of the Church”. If this is so, the bell would be nearly 600 years old. Until the bells were recast in 1929 it occupied the place of “fourth bell” in the belfry. But a new bell has now taken its place; and it rests at present, in this position of honour in the body of the Church, to which for so long a time it has summoned the parishioners for worship, or has sounded its note of sympathy in their days of joy or triumph, as well as in those of sorrow. Its rehanging, however, is under consideration so that its voice may again be heard at times.

[1] The 7th year of Richard II. was 1384.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in March 2013.

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