Grid Ref: SK 211 290
Date: 10 April & 5 October 2005


St. Mary's Church at Tutbury is a wonderful survival from the Norman period.  It was formerly part of a priory founded by Henry de Ferrer about 1080.  The monks came from St. Pierre-sur-Dives in Normandy.  Ferrer's son, the first Earl of Derby completed the work.  He wa involved in the Battle of the Standard.

All the domestic monastic buildings have now gone but much of the church remains.  The original church had an apse, a larger choir, transepts and a crossing tower.  In 1866 the architect Street was employed to rebuild the chancel and replace the lost apse.  Pevsner estimates that the west end as probably from 1160-70 because of its elaborate decoration.  The west doorway is one of the best examples of Norman work in England.  It has seven orders of capitals.  The outermost columns are the first known use of alabaster in England.  I have not seen inside but the north aisle was built in 1820-22 by Joseph Bennett. 


Tutbury, Staffordshire East End
St. Mary's from the West The apse from the East
Tutbury, Staffordshire Tutbury, Staffordshire
South Elevation The West Door
south door carving
The South Entrance Detail of carving round the west door
arch stocks
Detail of arch on the South Entrance The Stocks
Tutbury Castle Tutbury Castle
Part of the castle viewed from near the Church Part of the castle from the north


The 11th century castle lies on a hill above the valley of the River Dove.  There was a fortification here in Saxon times but was rebuilt by Henry de Ferrers after the Norman Conquest. His grandson, Earl of Derby, was involved in an revolt against Henry II and his castle was demolished.  It was rebuilt again later by another Earl who was fighting on the side of Simon de Montfort but on his defeat the castle was slighted again.  The estate passed to a son of Henry III, and via his son Edward Crouchback it passed to Thomas Lancaster (1278-1322) who rebuilt the castle again. Thomas inherited from his father the Earldoms of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby.   He married the heiress of the de Lacy's of Pontefract Castle and on his father-in-law's death succeeded to the Earldoms of Lincoln and Salsibury; thus he was one of the most powerful barons in England.  He was one of the leaders of a rebellion against Edward II, was defeated at Boroughbridge in Yorkshire in 1321 and then executed at Pontefract.  Thomas's younger brother Henry was subsequently allowed to succeed to the Earldom of Leicester and when Parliament reversed Thomas' conviction, Henry was permitted to take again the Earldom of Lancaster. Henry was succeeded by his son, Henry of Grosmont (1300-1361/2) a successful military man in the campaigns of Edward III in Scotland and in France.  He came to hold the Earldoms of Derby, Lancaster, Leicester and Lincoln and then becme Duke of Lancaster.  It was his daughter, Blanche of Lancaster, who married John of Gaunt (1340-1399), the third surviving son of Edward III and who later became Duke of Lancaster. He had to flee in 1385 when Richard II moved against him and on his death Richard took Tutbury for the crown.  In Elizabeth's reign it was leased to the Earl of Shrewsbury who imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots at the castle.

James I and Charles I used the castle as a hunting lodge and in the Civil War Charles I used it after the battle of Naseby.  The following year the castle was surrendered and subsequently slighted by Parliamentary forces.

The 12th century chapel and 14th century gateway are the oldest parts of Tutbury Castle, much of the remainder dating from the 15th century.  John of Gaunt, had a tiltyard built here. The castle is open to visitors but I show only exterior shots.

At the British Museum there is a display of the Tutbury Hoard in the gallery sponsored by HSBC showing coinage and banknotes.  The hoard may have belonged to Thomas of Lancaster and may have been buried not long before the his defeat in 1321.  When the hoard was discovered, many coins were looted before the authorities were informed.  The hoard includes coins from England, Ireland, Scotland and from mainland Europe, from the 13th and 14th centuries, including examples from the reigns of Henry III, Edward I, and Edward II of England and Alexander III of Scotland.


Tutbury Hoard
The Tutbury Hoard, photgraphed through the glass!   (Aug 2006)

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.
Display in the British Museum, August 2006.
Wikepedia on Plantagenets

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