St Oswald's Church, Ashbourne
|St. Oswald's Church, Ashbourne|
|Denomination||Church of England|
|Dedication||Oswald of Northumbria|
|Heritage designation||Grade I listed building|
|Architectural type||Perpendicular Gothic|
|Spire height||212 feet (65 m)|
|Diocese||Diocese of Derby|
Architecturally, it dominates the small town with its 212-foot spire which was referred to by George Eliot as the "finest single spire in England". It is said to have been started in 1240 by Hugh de Pateshull, Bishop of Coventry. Construction probably lasted until the early 14th century. It replaced an earlier Saxon church, and possibly a second Norman one. (A Norman crypt was discovered during excavations in 1913.)
There is much stained glass in the church and these include a Christopher Whall window dated 1905.It was given to the church by Mr and Mrs.Peveril Turnbull of Sandybrook Hall and it commemorates their daughters who died in a local fire. The window consists of three lights and contains representations of the Martyr Saints, St Cecilia, St Monica and St Dorothea. St Cecilia is seen falling asleep to the sounds of celestial music; an exquisite symbol of death. Girls play the organ dressed in medieval clothes with flowers and crowns in their hair and the celestial city is visible in one panel, viewed through a thicket of thorns. Whall’s signature on this stained glass was his own thumbprint.
Until Ashbourne Hall was partially demolished, it and St. Oswald's were the town's major monuments, standing at either end of the main street. The entrance to the hall's grounds continued the main street through high gates. What remains of the hall houses the local lending library and some unrelated offices. As they were before the 18th century when the Boothby's rebuilt and refurbished their home, St.Oswald's and its tower are once again the major landmark, and the church is the town's main attraction.
Each of its transepts houses a chapel dedicated to leading local families. In the north transept, the Cockaynes, and the Boothbys (who bought their home Ashbourne Hall in the early 18th century). In the south transept is the Bradbourne's chapel. These chapels contain funerary monuments which have contributed greatly to the church's renown.
One in particular stands out: the Boothby monument to Penelope Boothby, daughter of Sir Brooke Boothby (6th Baronet). It is an exquisite and highly realistic sculpture made from Carrara marble (Italian) in the form of a sleeping child. It is considered to be the masterpiece of the artist Thomas Banks, and was commissioned by Penelope's father, Sir Brooke Boothby. There is an inscription on the tomb from Dante, one in French, one in Latin. That in English reads "She was in form and intellect most exquisite. The unfortunate Parents ventured their all on this frail Bark. And the wreck was total."
Other monuments and inscriptions in the church recall the generations of Boothbys buried there.The 6th baronet Boothby was a minor poet, now known mainly for the sonnets which he wrote after his daughter's death - "Sorrows Sacred to the Memory of Penelope", which was illustrated with engravings of pictures by Fuseli and Glover. During his life he published several times on the church's inscriptions. It was said that he never recovered from the loss of his daughter, and he died in poverty in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1824.
- J R Errington
- Edward Moore
A new organ by Valentine of Leicester was installed in 1710.
An organ was obtained in 1826 by the builder Parsons. It was enlarged in 1840.
The current organ dates from 1858 and may contain pipework from an eighteenth century instrument. It has had several restorations, including by Hill and Son in 1858, Hill again in 1876, Hill, Norman and Beard in 1950-51, 1982 and 2011 by Henry Groves & Son.
A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.
- Mr Binnell (c. 1746)
- Edward Simms (c. 1797–1832)
- George Frederick Simms (1832–34)
- Andrew Loder (1834–38)
- Mr R.W.H. Burrage (1840–44; formerly assistant organist at Norwich Cathedral)
- Mr Loder (Andrew again?) ??–1846–1853–??
- Benjamin Parkin (1856–1904)
- G.F.H. Kemp (c. 1936)
- Chris Daly Atkinson
- Michael Halls
- "Ashbourne church". derbyshireil.net.
- A new and comprehensive gazetteer of England and Wales. James Bell. 1836
- "Ashbourne Derbyshire - St Oswald's Parish Church". ashbourne-town.com. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
-  CWGC Cemetery Report. Breakdown obtained from casualty record.
- Organa britannica: organs in Great Britain 1660-1860. James Boeringer
- "?". npor.org.uk.[dead link]
- Derby Mercury - Friday 1 August 1746
- Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 4 February 1832
- Leamington Spa Courier - Saturday 20 September 1834
- Derby Mercury - Wednesday 28 March 1838
- Staffordshire Gazette and County Standard - Saturday 27 June 1840
- Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 7 December 1844
- Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Friday 29 January 1904
- Derby Daily Telegraph - Monday 14 September 1936
Media related to St Oswald's Church, Ashbourne at Wikimedia Commons
- Information about the church, from derbyshire.uk, a guide to Derbyshire and the Peak District National Park.