Church of the Holy Cross, Ilam, Staffordshire
Yesterday, Sunday turned out rather nice and sunny. It was another weather surprise as the previous two days had been a wintery mix of cold wind, dark days and some rain….yes, much needed rain.
Our walking destination was the Manifold valley where Staffordshire shakes hands with Derbyshire. Staring point was Ilam Village where this rather attractive church can be found. It has a distinctive ‘Saddleback’ roof to its Bell Tower. As most churches it is established on the foundations of an early Saxon Church, substantially rebuilt in the 17th century and further restoration work undertaken in the 19th century.
In the woods below the Church can be found another link to Saxon times..
The Battle Stone
Not far from the Church is the ‘Battle Stone’…. not sure how it got that name. It is the stump of a Stone Cross, the head long gone. It was discovered in 1840 when the foundations of a Cottage in the village were disturbed for rebuilding. I am told the carvings on the stone (which are hard to define) are of Saxon- Danish origins and date to the 11th Century a time when there were indeed tensions and violence in the area. Nor am I aware of any specific reasons for the selection of its current location.
A Watery Place
This corner of Staffordshire is located on the south western edge of the area known as the White Peak. The underlying geology is Limestone, is porous allowing rain to create caves and waterways underground. In places springs reach the surface and natural ‘Wells’ have been created.
One such Well can be found just below the Church.
Over the centuries these Wells, that can be found in villages all over the White Peak, have been a vital source of water. Protected and celebrated. It is in this area that the custom of “Well Dressing” is still practiced. If you follow this link you can see one of my blogs…you can read about the nearby village of Tissington and its Well Dressing traditions. I hope you find it of interest.
(C) David Oakes 2019