Sunday… so Off to Church. A Church built on Lead – but built with Stone


St. Marys Church, Wirksworth, Derbyshire

The town of Wirksworth is on the very edge of what is known as the White Peak area of Derbyshire.  Limestone is the underlying rock which soon gives way to some rich arable farmland along the Ecclesbourne River. It is this location that gave Wirksworth its wealth and importance since the earliest of times. Romans made haste to take their share of Wirksworth rich veins of Lead and for the purity of its Limestone quarried in the surrounding area.  More on Wirksworth later….. but first lets concentrate on St. Marys.

For such a relatively small town, St, Marys if a very substantial building.  There has been a church on this site since 600 ad. The church you see today is substantially from the 13th and 15th centuries, with restoration works  taking place in the 1800’s.  It is a Grade 1 listed historic building.  St. Marys is in a central location within the Town.  Surrounded by an extensive graveyard, which is enclosed by a iron railing fence, and then by the important buildings of the town, such as Grammar School, Town Hall and Almshouses. 

Walk inside and it is the size that impresses any visitor, more Cathedral like (and bigger than some) rather than the Parish Church.  Layout is of the traditional East/West -North/South Cross shape.  A central Tower is at its heart. The Nave is long and high, leading to the Chancel and then to the Altar below the Stained Glass East window. To the right of the Chancel can be found the Lady Chapel.

All under a high timber arched boat shaped roof.


St. Marys is also very special for its collection of stone carvings.  These you need to search out as they blend into the interior stone walls of the church. I believe that they were discovered in foundations of the very early church and rescued.  They depicted both Gospel events, local symbols and simple graphics.  See if you can spot Adam and the Apple…

On the North Wall of the Nave you will find a Coffin Lid.  Again excavated in1820 from the Chancel Floor in front of the Altar. Below it was a complete skeleton thought to be of the Northumberland Missionary Betti (circa 653ad) _DOI5190_00025qqq

There is also another famous Stone sculpture.  It relates to Wirksworth Lead Mining history.

It is called  “T’owd Man

It the oldest depiction of a miner.  Here he stands with his Pick and Kibble (metal bucket).


Originally this stone was located in the nearby church at Bonsall.

The Lead connection and Limestone Quarrying was the heart of Wirksworth for many centuries.  The wealth it created no doubt help in the construction of St. Marys.  The Town itself prospered.  It was granted its Royal Charter, as a Market Town, in 1306.  It also was home to the Bar Moot Court or Miners Court, settling territorial mining disputes and other incidents.. Tales tell of ruthless judgements for the guilty.  The Town Hall is as grand as any,  today the High Street is much as it always has been all surrounded by grand building. A great place to explore, look out for the remains of a medieval Cruck Truss which shows how buildings once were constructed.


In  the pics above, note the Covid Signs.  Restrictions have eased but traffic and folk were few…..  I assure you Wirksworth is still a very busy and active community. Churches have only recently reopened outside of service times, so maybe we will get to glimpse inside some more local churches.  

One day everything will get back to normal, till then….

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

6th June

(C) David Oakes 2021


Silent Sunday….So Off to Church


Derby Cathedral

Whilst the exterior of Derby Cathedral is rather traditional and un-demanding in style, once you step inside you are greeted by a very light, stylish interior with a contemporary feel….quite a contrast.

The original foundations are Saxon, probably about 950ad.  Rebuilt in the 14th century. The interior was then remodelled in Georgian style by James Gibbs and completed in 1725.

But for me what is the outstanding feature is the Wrought Iron Rood Screen that stretches across the body of the church, separating the nave from the choir stalls and alter.  In black and gold it was designed and built by the famous local Blacksmith Robert Bakewell.  The screen is also known as Bakewell’s screen and just one of many pieces of art that he crafted that can be found across Derbyshire.

The Cathedral was once know as the Church of All Saints.  It was in 1927 that it became ‘The Cathedral of All Saints’ when it was uplifted to the status of Cathedral as a mark of Derby becoming a City.

27th January

(C) David Oakes 2019


Silent Sunday….so Off to Church


Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

High above the North Sea, on what is known as the East Cliffs, are the magnificent ruins of Whitby Abbey.   Its foundation date back to the 7th century and was an important Christian strong hold in Yorkshire and the North of England. It late became a Benedictine Abbey.  Like just about all other monasteries across the UK, Whitby was confiscated and destroyed by order of King Henry VIII under his Dissolution of Monasteries act of 1536.

Today these ruins have lost none of the drama that the original will have created, you are still overwhelmed by size and craftsmanship of the Abbey…..they continue to exude a spiritual feel and are rather magical.

No doubt the size and prominence above the North Sea acts as welcome landmark for sailors today as it must have done over the past 1400 years.

It is possibly no surprise that it is also one of my Favourite Places 🙂

20th January

(C) David Oakes 2019


Silent Sunday…..So off to Church


Saint Nicholas, The Parish Church of Kimmeridge, Dorset

The Dorset Coast of England faces out towards the English Chanel.  It is a rugged coastline with valleys sweeping down to the sea, it is within many of these that tiny villages and hamlets have existed for centuries.

Kimmeridge is just one of them, found at the end of a winding road that leads you to the Bay.

Hiding away as you enter the village is the Parish Church of Saint Nicholas. I say hiding as it is totally surrounded by trees. I also suspect that the many thousands of visitors to the bay never ever spot this little village gem.


It may be hidden, but not from the locals who obviously take great pride in maintaining there place of worship.

Saint Nicholas has a long history.  Parts of the structure date back to the 12th century, though like most religious buildings the site was probably used for religious worship before then. The Porch was added in the 13th century and the Outside Bellcote later still in the 15th century. But time took is toll and much of the main body of the church was rebuilt in 1872.

It may be a very small church but is no less important to the village today….. and as we know small is often beautiful. Its location adding to the peace and solitude and a space to think.

As for Kimmeridge Bay itself… well it is one of the important gems along Dorset’s famous Jurassic Coast.  The Bay itself is a beauty spot in its own right, add to it Fossil and Geological Trails. The Kimmeridge Collection of Jurassic Fossils and skeletons, a Marine Centre plus Underwater Trails in the clear waters of the Bay and you realise just why the Bay is such a Tourist magnet…. if none of those interest you…. the just enjoy the scenery


18th November

(C) David Oakes 2018

Silent Sunday…. So off to Church


Christ the King, Almada, Portugal

The 28meter high statue of Christ stands on the top of a 82 meter tower. It overlooks the River Tagus and the City of Lisbon.

It was conceived and designed as a dramatic statement. The statement was, I am told, to give Thanks to God for keeping Portugal safe and apart from the destructions of WWII. Construction started in 1952 and completed in 1959. Whilst the statue itself may be artistically attractive the tower itself is simple poured concrete, always unforgiving to the eye.

Within the base of the Tower things are very different.  Here is the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace, bold in colour and modern artistic flair, refreshing and calming, a place for peaceful contemplation..


Auster on the outside but warm and welcoming inside, quite a contrast and very much a big surprise for visitors and Pilgrims of which there are many.


7th October

(C) David Oakes 2018