ELLASTONE

Grid Ref: SK 117 435
28 and 30 May and 6 July 2003, 28 August 2006 and 17 June 2018

 

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

 

St. Peter's church is a grade II* listed building. Its origins are not fully clear but there was a church on the site at least from 1163. The list of incumbents goes back to Robert de Skyreford, appointed in 1227, when the patron was the prior and convent of Kenilworth. 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 rearranged and modernised in 2011. The wooden screen at the west end was made from old pews and conceals a kitchenette.

In the north chapel is a monument to Sir John Fleetwood, the builder of the chancel, dated 1590, whom I mention in connection with Wootton Lodge. On the exterior of the south wall there is a monument to George Walker of Wootton Park, who died in 1850.

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. A timeline for Calwich Priory is given in the church as follows. The priory was built by Nicholas and Margaret de Longford and given to the Priory of Kenilworth. Before 1163, Ellastone Church was given by Nicholas and Margaret to the Priory of Kenilworth to be served from Calwich by Augustinian Canons. In 1349, Calwich Priory became independend from Kenilworth. In 1531, Calwich Priory was closed and the following year Henry VIII agreed its sale to Sir Ralph Longford. The formal dissolution of the monasteries occured in 1534.

The Priory was taken over by John Fleetwood in 1543, who converted it into a home. 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 been obliged to forfeit on account of his religion. In 1734, the Fleetwoods sold Calwich to Bernard Granville who demolished the existing Priory buildings and built a new house. 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 1838, the house was sold to the Hon. and Revd. Augustus Duncombe, the Dean of Yourk. He built a new mansion on the site in 1849. It passed to Captain Alfred Duncombe in 1880. He died in 1825 and the following year, the estate, including 28 houses was sold. The mansion fell into disrepair and was demolished. The sad remains of the stables can be glimpsed from the nearby footpath.

In 2018, we found the church open to visitors and were impressed by the amount of information on display for visitors. Photographing church interiors is always challenging because of the low light levels in most of the building but high contrast when the windows are in the picure. Some of the pictures shown below were produced using in-camera high dyanamic range. The effigies in the NE corner of the church were damaged in the Civil War at a time when Wooton Lodge was captured by Parliamentarians. The north chancel was dedicated by the Bishop of Lichfield as he Calwich Chapel in 2011 and it contains a list of the Keepers and Priors of the ancient Calwich Priory. There are also memorials to the Fleetwood family and the Granvilles.

The "Good Shepherd" window commemorates the Revd. Edward Hornby Birley. Also of note are the brass War Memorial at the front of the nave (not shown) and the funeral bier, now forming a convenient surface on which to display copies of documents relating to local history.

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.

 

 

chancel
Table at the front of the nave and the chancel

 

Doors spacer Nave
Detail of the door and screeen at the west end of the nave   The Nave looking westwards
North chapel   Pulpit
Effigies and inscriptions at the east end of the north aisle   Pulpit
Effigies   Good Shepherd
John Fleetwood effigy damaged in 1643 during the Civil War   "Good Shepherd" window
Funeral Bier   Organ pipes
Funeral bier, now used as information desk.   Organ pipes from 1866
roof   font
Roof of the nave   Font
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.
Information sheets in the church
St. Peter's webpage.

 

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