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St Matthew's Church
Darley Abbey shown within Derbyshire
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Darley Abbey (Monastery)
The Augustinian monastery of Darley Abbey has a rather confused foundation. In 1154, Robert de Ferrers, 2nd Earl of Derby made a donation to St Helen's Priory, Derby for them to establish a new religious house. He donated the churches of Uttoxeter and Crich, an oratory and cemetery at Osmaston, and tithes from his property in Derby and land in Oddebrook and Aldwark. A new monastery however was not constructed, as no suitable location was identified.
Around 1160, Hugh, the rural dean of Derby, donated his land at "Little Darley" to St Helen's Priory for the establishment of the monastery.
Darley Abbey was a daughter establishment to St Helen's Priory, however, shortly after its establishment, many of the canons of the Priory transferred to Darley, St Helen's serving as a hospital.
Darley Abbey received numerous donations, mainly from the burgesses of Derby, including land at Crich, Wessington, Youlgreave, Lea, Dethick, Tansley and Little Chester, and the advowsons of the churches at Brailsford, Bolsover, Pentrich, Ripley, Ashover, Scarcliffe, South Wingfield, and St Peter's, St Michael's, and St Werburgh's in Derby. The Abbey also came into the possession of the manors of Aldwark, Butterley, Normanton and Wessington.
Between 1250 and 1252 Ralph, son of Ralph de Wistanton, made numerous donations to the abbey, even though he was a man described as "of quite limited resources". The reason was that by donating to the abbey, Ralph could deprive the Jewish money-lenders of what he owed them, as Jews could not seize church property. Ralph eventually signed over all of his positions to the abbey; the abbey in return provided him, his wife Joan, and their sons John and Nicholas, with food, clothing and "honourable lodgings". The family appears to have been very well cared for by the abbey, having been given both a servant and a handmaid, large amounts of food, seven gallons of beer a week, a horse, an large annual allowance of quality clothing, and small yearly pensions for additions purchases of clothing.
In 1291, the abbey is recorded as having an income of £72 19s. 3½d.
By the early 14th century, the abbey had fallen into poverty and two canons had to be sent to other monasteries as they could not be sustained at Darley. One source blames the abbey's poverty on failed harvests and heavy mortality of their cattle. Another, however, blames the Abbot of Darley, who is accused of "selling the woods and wasting the goods and leasing the lands of the abbey, to its great impoverishment".
There are only two remaining buildings from the monastic period. One is now the Abbey Pub (also known as the Abbey Inn), a Grade II* listed building. Constructed in the 15th century, it is thought to have been part of the Abbot's residence. The building appears to have been roofless for most of its post-dissolution life; a new roof was added in the 1920s and the building reinforced in the 1950s following some movement within the walls. The building was renovated to its present state in 1978. The other monastic survivor makes up part of a private dwelling on Abbey Lane.
The mill was built in 1783 by Thomas Evans, who hailed from a family with interests in lead iron and copper. Initially, he partnered with Richard Arkwright and Jedediah Strutt in the venture. It was a six-storey building powered by water, with an enormous weir across the river. It was destroyed by fire in 1788 and rebuilt with sheets of tin nailed to the beams as protection. Thomas's son Walter ( who married Elizabeth Strutt, a daughter of Jedediah) constructed a factory village of three-storey cottages across the river from the mill for his employees. A traveller in 1829 wrote favourably of the village
I passed through Darley, interesting as the seat of the extensive cotton and paper mills of the Messrs, Evans, and also as an exhibition of their unwearied philanthropy to their numerous work-people. The whole forms a neat town, displaying general comfort, with institutions of all kinds, for the improvement of the physical and moral condition of some hundred families….kindness and rewards are constantly bestowed in promoting cleanliness and neatness, and in stimulating industry and good conduct. All that Mr Owen has benevolently fancied, these gentlemen and this amiable lady have realised. It was cheering to view the neatness and comfort of the houses, the honey-suckles, jessamines, and roses growing in front, and the domestic occupations of persons who, in the same employment, in worse conducted establishments, live in filth, rags and squalid misery
This village, along with its toll road, still exists today. In 1970, the entire area was made into a conservation area, leading to it being part of the Derwent Valley Mills heritage area.
- Darley Park is an 80-acre (320,000 m2) picturesque park featuring many different gardens and wildlife areas. Given to the people of Derby in 1931 by the Evans family, who lived at Darley Hall. The Hall was demolished in the early 1960s, but parts of the original ground floor remain, now used as terracing for a small cafe. Darley Park plays host every first Sunday of September to the Darley Park open-air concert, one of the largest free concerts in the country.
- Saint Benedict Catholic Voluntary Academy is one of the largest schools in Derby with around 1500 pupils. The school dates back to 1986, but with several schools previously occupying the site including St Ralph Sherwin.
- Saint Mary's Catholic School is a historic coeducational Catholic school that can trace its roots back to 1813/1814 and has since moved to a new building on three separate occasions.
- William Page (ed.) (1907). 'Houses of Austin canons: The abbey of Darley', A History of the County of Derby: Volume 2. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40122. pp. 46–54.
- William Page (ed.) (1907). 'Hospitals: St Helen & St James, Derby', A History of the County of Derby: Volume 2. pp. 83–84.
- English Heritage. "Abbey Inn". Pastscape. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Darley Abbey". Retrieved 2009-05-17.[dead link]
- "Sir Richard Phillips’s Tour". Leicester Chronicle. 9 May 1829.
- Cooper, B., (1983) Transformation of a Valley: The Derbyshire Derwent, Heinemann, republished 1991 Cromford: Scarthin Books
- "Member Biographies: William Evans". History of Parliament. Retrieved 2 August 2014.: William was the son of Elizabeth and William Evans who was a half-brother of Walter
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Darley Abbey.|
- Darley Abbey local information portal
- Darley Park at bbc.co.uk
- Darley Abbey news from the Derby Telegraph