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St Matthew, Pentrich, Derbyshire

(53°4′5″N, 1°25′15″W)
SK 389 525
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Derbyshire
now Derbyshire
medieval Lichfield
now Derby
  • Celia Holden
  • Jennifer Alexander
  • Louisa Catt
  • Olivia Threlkeld
  • Richard Jewell
08 April 1990, 04 September 2014

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Feature Sets

Pentrich is a small village about 12 miles N of Derby and S of Chesterfield. The church lies to the W of the village and is a structure of coursed rubble sandstone with ashlar gritstone dressings and ashlar gritstone; it was built around 1150 but the present structure is essentially from the Perpendicular period and was extensively restored in 1859. The building consists of a nave with N and S aisles, a chancel, a S porch, and a short embattled W tower. The arcades of plain chamfered round arches and circular piers date to the late 12thc; the small round-arched door from the nave situated in the ground stage of the W tower has a similar dating but does not feature any sculpture. The key Romanesque feature of this site is the font.


The Domesday Survey records that in 1086 'Pentric' was under the lordship of Ralph, son of Hubert, having been held in 1066 by Leofnoth; it valued £2.5. The parish of Pentrich was extensive, and contained an important swine grazing forest in the medieval period; the neighbouring town of Ripley was within its bounds until the last century. A chartulary of of Darley Abbey records that Ralph Fitz-Stephen granted the church to the canons of the abbey in 1175.





The present arcades indicate a rebuilding in the last quarter of the 12thc, probably financed by Darley Abbey, but the font could well be a survival from the early 12thc church.

John Charles Cox (1879), 359, records that the font was rescued around 1850 from 'the cellar of a house at Ripley, the residence of a former churchwarden of this church, where it was used as a receptacle for beef when undergoing the process of salting!' The font was banished from the church during the Commonwealth and was restored to its present position and shape in 1662. Quite possibly it was originally cylindrical with an arcade, but was changed to a chalice form by tapering it from the capitals down, thus losing the shafts. The arches themselves could well be retooled. The font is datable to the first half of the 12thc, although Nikolaus Pevsner (1986), 297, doubts whether it is a 12thc work at all.


J. C. Cox, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, vol. 4, London 1879, 355-62.

G. Le B. Smith, 'Derbyshire fonts, 3', Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 27 (1905), 41-58, especially 55-6.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, Harmondsworth 1986, 297.