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St Helen, Darley Dale, Derbyshire

(53°9′45″N, 1°36′12″W)
SK 266 629
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Derbyshire
now Derbyshire
now Derby
medieval St Helen
now St Helen
  • Colin Morse
08 August 2002

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A cruciform church with a nave of three bays, aisles and chancel, with a square tower at the W end. The church is 13thc and later, but within the walls are fragments of an earlier Anglo-Saxon church, and also a small number of Romanesque features and fragments.


A church at Darley is listed in the Domesday Survey. It was transferred by William Rufus to the Dean of Lincoln during the building of Lincoln cathedral.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


Interior Features


Interior Decoration




Loose Sculpture


Romanesque features are at the E end of the present church and the oldest stonework would appear to be in the vestry, together with that of the blocked S door and window. This latter feature is very reminiscent of Romanesque military architecture with the first arch acting as a relieving arch for the second, considerably smaller span window and arch.

The site of St Helen's church could have been a religious one over the centuries and earlier in pre-Christian times. A considerable number of Saxon fragments and stones survive built into the church structure within the S porch and elsewhere in the churchyard. A reputedly two-thousand-year-old yew tree stands in the churchyard, with a 10m circumference at a point 1.5m from the ground.

The form of the font is similar to the undecorated example at Chellaston.


T. Brushfield, 'On Norman Tympana', Journal of the British Archaeological Association, N.S. VI (1900), 249.

J. Charles Cox, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, vols. 2, 4. Chesterfield 1975.

D. Lysons, British Museum Add. MS. 9463 (Additional Manuscripts).

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Derbyshire, London 1978, 163.