St. Oswald's at Ashbourne is very large for the size of the town and is built more like a cathedral than a parish church. It has transepts and a central tower. There was a church at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086 but it is thought that the site was used for worship from Saxon times. The dedication to St. Oswald is a clue in that he was King of Northumbria from 635-42 and was killed at Oswestry fighting against Pendra of Mercia. (See also notes on Dorchester on Thames.) Ashbourne has the only medieval church in Derbyshire dedicated to St. Oswald although there are five in Cheshire.
William II gave Ashbourne church to Lincoln cathedral in 1093. At this time Ashbourne was royal land and became part of the a group of manors making up the Honour of Tutbury. A century later the church came under the control of the the Diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, which extended north through Staffordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire as far as the Ribble. Little remains of the Norman church beyond part of a crypt below the south transept. The current church dates from the late 12 century.
St. Oswald's is so large that it is not easy to photograph.. The best view would be from a balloon, on the south side. Then one might frame the whole without being blocked by yew trees and without the spire seeming to disappear into the distance.
|View from the South West||View from the East, May 1997|
|Memento Mori gate post||Entrance to South Transept|
|Window above the south entrance||Detail of south transept window on right above|
|The window above from inside||South Side of West End of Nave|
1. St. Oswald's Church, Ashbourne, A guide and short history, produced by The Friends of St. Oswald's Church and printed by J. M. Tatler and Son Ltd. Derby. This excellent booklet is available in the church at £2 in 2003.
2. Derbyshire Parish Churches from the eighth to eighteenth centuries, by John Leonard, Breedon Books, Derby, 1993, ISBN 1-873626-36-3.
The Ashbourne village site has a more extensive set of pictures and additional description.