ELLASTONE

Grid Ref: SK 117 435
28 and 30 May and 6 July 2003.  28 August 2006

St. Peter's spacer St. Peter's, Ellastone
St. Peter's, Ellastone      Tower built in 1586
chancel door, Ellastone   chancel door, Ellastone
The chancel door   Detail of inscription above the door
River Dove   Old Hall
The River Dove north of Ellastone   Ellastone Old Hall
Gate Posts   Calwich
The gate post tops are pinnacles from the church tower   Ruined stable at Calwich
spot the cow   Duncombe Arms
Staffordshire cow on summer pasture   The local pub is The Duncombe Arms

 

The tower of St. Peter's at Ellastone was built in 1586 and the chancel in 1588 but much of the exterior of the nave was rebuilt in 1830. The church was not open when I visited but Pevsner mentions that it has a monument to Sir John Fleetwood dated 1590, whom I mention in connection with Wootton Lodge. On the exterior of the south wall there is a monument George Walker of Wootton Park, who died in 1850. The list of ministers goes back to Robert de Skyreford, appointed in 1227, when the patron was the prior and convent of Kenilworth. In the middle of the 14th century the the prior and convent of Calwich became patrons and after the Dissolution the Fleetwood family became patrons for a time. In the early 19th century the patronage passed to the Davenport family, now Bromley Davenport, of Capesthorne in Cheshire. Ellastone Old Hall was the Bromley Arms when Pevsner visited. It is a late 17th century building of five bays with pilastres on each side of the door.

Near Ellastone there lay Calwich Priory, an Augustinian house founded in 1130. At the Dissolution, the property was taken over by John Fleetwood. He was followed by Richard Fleetwood who purchased a baronetcy from James I. He became a Roman Catholic and built Wootton Lodge. Richard's son Thomas lived quietly at Calwich during the Civil War and was allowed to retain the third of his estate that he had not be obliged to forfeit on account of his religion. In the early 18th century. the Fleetwoods were replaced at Calwich by Bernard Granville who replaced the old house by a new one. He was also widened the river to produce a lake and made extensive improvements to the gardens and landscape. Handel was a frequent visitor and in 1766 the French philosopher, Rousseau, who had rented Wootton Hall for a year, came as Granville was the only person with whom he could converse in French. In the 19th century this house passed out of the Granville family and was demolished. A new house built on the site in the middle of the 19th century has been demolished but the sad remains of the stables can be glimpsed from the nearby footpath.

Keith Gerard wrote to me and identified the unusual gate posts as pinnacles from the corners of the church tower. They are shown in a 19th century water colour of the church.

There is a beautiful stretch of the River Dove north of Ellastone. If forms the boundary between Staffordshire and Derbyshire at this point. A pleasant walk from Ellastone is the remarkable church of Norbury in Derbyshire which is featured on my 'Celebrating England' website.

Ellastone has literary connections. George Elliot's father lived here in his youth and she used it as settings for some scenes in Adam Bede. Ellastone was Hayslope in the county of Loamshire. Her grandfather's grave is in the churchyard.

Sources:

The Buildings of England, Staffordshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin, 1974, ISBN 0 14 071046 9
The King's England, Staffordshire, by Arthur Mee, Hodder and Stoughton, London, first published in 1937.

 

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