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St Bartholomew, Hognaston, Derbyshire

(53°3′7″N, 1°38′57″W)
SK 236 506
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Derbyshire
now Derbyshire
  • Colin Morse
  • Ron Baxter
  • Ron Baxter
29 July 2002

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Hognaston is a small village in the Derbyshire Dales district of the county, 11 miles NW of Derby and 7 miles SW of Matlock. The church is in the village centre and consists of a nave with a N aisle and a S porch, a chancel roofed with the nave and a W tower, 12thc in its lower parts and 15thc and later above. There is evidence of building in the 12th, 13th and 14thc, but the church was rebuilt by F. J. Robinson in 1879-81. Romanesque features recorderd here are the S doorway with an enigmatic tympanum and beakheads on the jambs, and an arcaded font.


Hognaston was held by the King in 1086, when it was a berewick of Ashbourne assessed at 4 carucates. From the last decades of the 11thc Hognaston 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





The tympanum of the S doorway has attracted a good deal of attention. Cox (1877, 491) suggests that 'the whole is, perhaps, intended to typify the protection offered to the flock by the pastor or bishop from the attacks of wild beasts. He also reports the view of the Rector, Thomas O'Grady, that it represents 'a bishop or preacher (who with the left hand presses a book - the Word of God - to his heart, and with the right hand extended forward holding a pastoral staff), leads the hogs of Hognaston to a knowledge of the Agnus Dei...'. Which is certainly comprehensive, but following Ekwall, Hognaston is not named for hogs but represents the pasturage of Hocca (a personal name). Keyser (1882, 171) discusses it in the context of a paper on the tympanum at South Ferriby, suggesting that the figure is 'conducting the animals to worship the Agnus Dei'.

In the light of these broadly convincing interpretations it is surprising to find Pevsner's (1953, 161) outburst: 'what on earth did our forbears mean by such representations?' Nonetheless it is repeated in Hartwell's revision of 2016. Locally comparisons have been made with the tympanum at Parwich and the font at Tissington.


T. N. Brushfield, ‘On Norman Tympana, with especial Reference to those of Derbyshire’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association 6 pt.3, (1900), 241-70, esp. 251-52.

J. C. Cox, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Chesterfield and London, 4 vols, 1875-79, vol. 2, 488-92.

  1. C Hartwell, N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, New Haven and London 2016,

C. E. Keyser, 'On the Sculptured Tympanum of a former Doorway in the Church of South Ferriby, Lincolnshire', Archaeologia, XLVII (1882), 161-78.

  1. C. E. Keyser, A List of Norman Tympana and Lintels, London 1904, 20.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Derbyshire, London 1978, 245.