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St James, Brassington, Derbyshire

(53°5′7″N, 1°39′23″W)
SK 231 543
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Derbyshire
now Derbyshire
medieval Lichfield
now Derby
medieval St James
now St James
  • Jennifer Alexander
  • Ron Baxter
  • Olivia Threlkeld
  • Ron Baxter
2 September 2014 (JA), 21 June 2022 (RB)

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Brassington is a village in the Derbyshire Dales district of the county, 14 miles NW of Derby and 6 miles SW of Matlock. It is built largely from the local limestone is built on the S side of a steep valley with the church at its highest point, on the northern edge. This essentially 12thc church consists of a nave with a 12thc S arcade, a 13thc S porch, a W tower, 12thc except for its battlement, a N aisle added in 1879-81 by F. J. Robinson, and a chancel with a 12thc S aisle. There must have been a corbel table originally, and corbels have been reset on the W tower and elsewhere around the building. Other Romanesque features include the font and a reset chevron voussoir in the S porch.


Brassington was held by Siward before 1066 and was assessed for geld at 4 carucates. In 1086 Henry de Ferrers held it in demesne. No church is mentioned in the Domesday Survey.

The church at Brassington was a chapelry of Bradbourne, and when the latter was given to Dunstable Priory in 1278, Brassington was included too. The tithes of Brassington continued in the possession of Dunstable Priory until the Dissolution. The medieval dedication to St James is that most commonly given, but Cox (1877, 447) asserts that the true dedication should be to All Saints. It is unclear which St James is intended, presumably the Greater.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches



Interior Decoration





The S nave arcade capitals are all plain multi-scallops, except that of pier 1, which has elements of waterleaf that date the arcade no earlier than the 1170s. The asymmetrical arches of this arcade are also found at Kirk Ireton. The S chancel arcade with its crocket-like voluites must be slightly later, perhaps c.1190-1200. The corbels are interesting. Pevsner (1953) ignored all of them, and Hartwell associates those on the tower with the battlement, calling them gargoyles, but they do appear to be 12thc corbels, as do those above the S doorway and the rare defecator hidden in the W tower. Cox (1877, 445) noted this, describing it as 'the three-quarter length naked figure of a man with one hand on his heart'. We leave it to the reader to decide which interpretation is preferable. The font in 1877 was placed 'in the S aisle, built into the wall' (Cox, 444)


R. Clark, ‘The Dedications of Medieval Churches in Derbyshire: their survival and change from the reformation to the present day’, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 112 (1992), 57.

J. C. Cox, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Chesterfield and London 4 vols, 1875-79, 2 (1877), 442 - 447.

  1. C. Hartwell, N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, New Haven and London 2016, 193.

Historic England Listed Building: English Heritage Legacy ID: 79974

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Derbyshire, Melbourne, London and Baltimore 1953, 69.

N. Pevsner, E Williamson, The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, 1978, 107.