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All Saints chapel, Steetley, Derbyshire

All Saints Chapel, Steetley, 3 Field View, Steetley, Worksop S80 3DZ, United Kingdom (53°18′9″N, 1°11′8″W)
SK 543 787
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Derbyshire
now Derbyshire
medieval Lichfield
now Derby
medieval none
now All Saints
  • Richard Jewell
  • Ron Baxter
  • Jennifer Alexander
  • Ron Baxter
09 Jun 1990 (RJ), 22 June 2022 (RB)

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=14061.

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Steetley is a hamlet of a few houses within the civil parish of Whitwell, in the Bolsover district of Derbyshire. The nearest town of any size is Worksop, 3 miles to the E, over the Nottinghamshire border. Steetley chapel is a complete Norman church comparable in status and value to Kilpeck (Herefordshire), Iffley (Oxfordshire) or Stewkley (Buckinghamshire). It is built of a fine-grained creamy Magnesian limestone or dolomite quarried nearby (Stanley 177) and consists of a nave and chancel with a vaulted apse, and a S doorway to the nave, built on a projection with a latticed gable above it. The doorway itself is richly ornamented, but the gable decoration and much of the sculpture is 19thc work. The apse is buttressed by four pilasters connected by a foliate stringcourse. Otherwise the exterior is plain, except for the 19thc corbel table which supports the roofs of apse, chancel and nave; the only alteration (prior to the restoration of 1880) to the 12thc. fabric was the insertion of a Dec. window in the S wall of the chancel. On the interior, there are elaborately ornamented chancel and apse arches. The apse itself consisting of a short, tunnel vaulted bay and a hemispherical termination, the two parts separated by a transverse arch, is vaulted with beakhead ribs and elaborately carved capitals.

Much of the interior sculpture is badly weathered and it is clear from its condition that it has been roofless at some time and for a considerable period. When Cox saw the chapel shortly before 1875 it was 'long since desecrated' and was in use as a poultry yard. A few years earlier, in 1873, there was a visit by the British Archaeological Association and the description and a drawing make it clear that the chapel was at least partly roofless then. From this report we learn that the apse had been in a ruinous state but had been rebuilt by the then owner, the Earl of Surrey, about forty years earlier. Cox's account includes the infomation that lead was stolen from the roof of the chapel at the end of the 18thc, and that by 1742 it had been converted for use as a barn. The church was restored by J L Pearson in 1876-80 and is now a joint parish with St Lawrence, Whitwell.


Steetley is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey. According to Cox "The Cartulary of Welbeck proves that Steetley was held, shortly after 1086 by Gley de Briton. Gley had four sons, one of whom was a witness to the foundation charter of Welbeck in 1154. None of the sons left issue, and their sister Matilda brought the property to Robert le Vavasor. It seems, then, probable that the church was built by either Gley de Briton or one of his sons."


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses

Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Vaulting/Roof Supports




The S doorway is the most elaborate in the county, and it is unfortunate that it is catastrophically weathered. This was the case in Cox's day too, and the only help he can offer in identifying its iconography is to report that 'The shafts supporting the outer arch are richly carved with medallions, which are much worn, but are suppposed to represesent the twelve signs of the Zodiac.' Even this is problematic. Cox's outer arch may be the present 4th order, which has 6 scenes in medallions on the W jamb but is decorated with bobbin on the E. The third order has medallions on both jambs, but could not be calle dthe outer arch. It seems certain that the arrangement that Cox saw was very different to the present one, following the restoration of 1880.

There are identifiable subjects inside the church. The capital showing St George and the Dragon on the chancel arch seems a strage choice in a chapel dedicated to All Saints, and the scene of the Fall on the apse vault capital seems strange in isolation rather than as part of a cycle. The finest work is in the foliage and animal carving, especially on the well-preserved apse vault capitals.

The apse was rebuilt in the 1830s, in careful fashion. Cox noted "some slight remains of colour" in its roof. In his day there were no roofs to the nave and chancel, the former had been without one for about a century and a half, the latter since after Lyson's plate of 1817 (Magna Britannia, Derbyshire), which shows the chancel as tiled. Cox gives good pre-restoration photographs of the chancel arch (opp. pp.398 and 400) and a bibliography up to 1860. He dated the chapel to Stephen's reign, which seems most likely. He compared it to Kilpeck (Hereford) and East Ham (Essex), but especially to the 12thc. chapel of St Julian, Petit Quebilly, near Rouen. This, Cox urged, should be studied by the restorer of Steetley chapel, and probably was by Pearson, who did a convincing job. The tomb slab, of far more rustic character, looks contemporary.

  1. J C Cox, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Chesterfield and London 4 vols, 1875-79, I, 399-402

Derbyshire Historic Environment Record MDR6394

  1. Hartwell, N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, New Haven and London 2016, 607-09.

Historic England Listed Building. English Heritage Legacy ID: 79343

J. Stacye, 'Proceedings of the 1873 Congress, Steetley Chapel', Journal of the British Archaeological Association, XXX (1874), 112-5.

M. F. Stanley, 'Carved in Bright Stone: Sources of Building Stone in Derbyshire'. D. Parsons (ed.), Stone. Quarrying and Building in England AD 43-1525. Chichester 1990, 169-85.