St Peter, Parwich, Derbyshire

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Feature Sets (4)


Parwich is a small village about seven miles N of Ashbourne. The church lies to the S of the village and dates back to the 12thc when it was a chapelry of St Oswald’s Ashbourne: it only became a parish in 1650. The church was demolished and reconstructed on the same site in Coxbench stone between 1872-4 by Henry Isaac Stevens and Frederick Josias Robinson, thanks to the generosity of Sir Thomas William Evans. The structure consists of a chancel with a S aisle and a N vestry, a nave with aisles, a N porch and a W tower. The church incorporates some of the original elements of the Romanesque period, such as the W doorway, the chancel arch, a respond capital and two fragments of a capital.


The Domesday Survey records that in 1066 'Pevrewic' was under the lordship of King Edward; in 1086 Colne of Parwich held it, being King William its tenant-in-chief. The manor valued £40. From the last decades of the 11thc Parwich was under the lordship of Henry de Ferrers and his descendants; from the second half of the 13thc it was held by Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Leicester and Lancaster.


Exterior Features


W doorway with tympanum

The doorway is currently situated at the W end of the building: originally it gave access to the Romanesque church from the S and before the demolition of the building was coated by plaster and whitewash (Cox (1977), 410). The archway is round-headed and has two orders and a tympanum.

2nd order

The plain square jambs of reddish sandstone support the tympanum.

1st order

The attached nook-shafts on attic bases are decorated with masks, which are regrettably very eroded. The L capital is scalloped with a cable roll moulding, anf features an incised indistinct element at the angle; the R capital features two pairs of tightly-curled volutes. The arch rests on an impost with a chamfer and two incisions. In the arch, two rows of lateral chevron are formed from w-shaped channels between the rolls. The label and the stops decorated with flowers were added in the 19thc.


The tympanum is incised with creatures symbolising the Redemption. On the left side there is a lamb bearing a circular-headed cross (Agnus Dei); above its head a dove is carved as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. At the centre a stag is depicted, which typifies the worshipper; above the stag a swine is found. On the right side there is a wolf devouring his tail, which terminates in a trefoil, possibly a symbol of the Holy Trinity. Two serpents entwining their heads are found in the lower part of the tympanum and typify the Devil.

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Tower arch

The tower arch was reassembled in 1872-4 using elements from the Romanesque chancel arch of the original church. The arch is round-headed and features two orders.

1st order

The jambs are plain and unornamented. The arch is decorated with two rows of centripetal lateral face chevrons. The imposts and the soffit are plain.

2nd order

This features plain nook-shafts carrying scallop capitals. The L capital is scalloped with little volutes and has plain necking; the R capital is carved with a face and its necking has a cable moulding. The imposts are continuous from the first order. The arch features a roll and a hollow moulding. The label is decorated with incised saltire crosses.



S arcade respond capital

The four-bay arcade of the nave still retains one of the original respond capitals, and this is found in the W respond of the S arcade. It is carved with volutes at the angles and foliage, which is part of the respond.

Loose Sculpture

Fragments of capitals

Two fragments of capitals are situated on the floor of the church, near the W doorway. They are possibly two halves of the same piece, and are carved with foliage and volutes at the angles. The plain neckings are still visible.


Diameter of fragment 1 0.49m
Diameter of fragment 2 0.44m
Height of fragment 1 0.26m
Height of fragment 2 0.29m
Width of fragment 1 0.84m
Width of fragment 2 0.86m


John Charles Cox says that the 'rudely incised grotesque figures' of the tympanum resemble other 'stones in a similar position at Hault-Hucknall, Hognaston, and other churches of the country, or like those on the font at the adjacent church of Tissington' (Cox (1877), 410). 


  • J. C. Cox, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, vol. 2, London 1877, 406-410.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, Harmondsworth 1986, 296-7.

Exterior from NW
Nave from E


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SK 188 543 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Derbyshire
now: Derbyshire
medieval: Coventry and Lichfield
now: Derby
now: St Peter
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Celia Holden, Jennifer Alexander, Louisa Catt, Olivia Threlkeld 
Visit Date
02 September 2014