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St Mary and St Laurence, Bolsover, Derbyshire

(53°13′39″N, 1°17′29″W)
SK 474 703
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Derbyshire
now Derbyshire
medieval Lichfield
now Derby
  • Celia Holden
  • Jennifer Alexander
  • Louisa Catt
  • Olivia Threlkeld
30 Aug 2014

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The town of Bolsover lies in the north-eastern corner of Derbyshire, six miles E of Chesterfield. The church of St Mary and St Laurence has a W tower with a broach spire, an aisled nave with a S chapel, a chancel, and a N vestry. It was gutted by fire in 1897, rebuilt in 1898, damaged again by fire in 1960 and restored in 1961-62 by Taylor, Young and Partners. The octagonal vestry dates from the latest restoration.

Surviving from the Romanesque period are the W tower (although the W tower doorway, at least, is Transitional) and the tympanum over the S doorway of the chancel. The chancel arch is also of the period, though plain, and there are six reset Romanesque corbels in the blocked S aisle bay of the nave.


In 1086, Bolsover was held by William Peverel; there is no mention of a church in the Domesday Survey. However, his son, William Peverel the Younger, granted a church at Bolsover to the Abbey of Darley in the reign of Henry II (1154-1189). The grant was confirmed by Henry III in a charter dated 5th February 1259 (VCH II, 46-54).


Exterior Features


Interior Features

Interior Decoration


The tympanum and arch above the S chancel doorway is a subject of debate. According to Pevsner and Williamson (1978), 92, the Crucifixion carving 'cannot be earlier' than the 13thc. 'The Early History of Bolsover Parish Church', published online, firmly attributes it to the 12thc. The English Heritage List Entry does not commit itself. However, if, as this report states, the first voussoirs L and R are of the same stone as the tympanum and lintel, then the arch design cannot belong to a later period than the Crucifixion scene, even if the whole has been restored and/or reset.


Frances Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications: or, England’s Patron Saints, Vol. 3, London 1899, 57.

J. Charles Cox. Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire: The Hundred of Scarsdale, Vol. 1, Chesterfield 1875, 99-105.

N. Pevsner, revised by E. Williamson, The Buildings of England, Derbyshire, Harmondsworth 1978, 91-92.