17 Jun 2014

Tideswell, Derbyshire

Last Thursday we drove south from the more familiar Hope Valley through the different landscape of the White Peaks limestone plateau area of Derbyshire so that we could spend some time in Tideswell, the nearby hamlet of Cressbrook and the village of Litton.

We stopped in Tideswell in the market place area by the church as I wanted to spend some time inside before taking a walk.
Tideswell was in times past an important centre for the wool trade and this is reflected in the buildings. Villagers would have been occupied in agriculture on sheep and dairy farms - it's still an agricultural area today - or they would have worked in the local lead mines, mills and quarries.  The 14th century parish church of St. John the Baptist is a beautiful place of worship and known as the Cathedral of the Peak.  It has many interesting features and there is an annual festival on the feast day of the nativity of St. John the Baptist (24th June) followed by a week long programme of festivities including well dressing, traditional Morris dancing and a torchlight procession.

The south porch door has Psalm 84.2 carved on it in Latin:  "How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord God of Hosts!"

Looking up into the bell tower you can see the round trapdoor through which the bells can be raised and lowered for retuning or repair.  All the bells are old dating from the mid 17th century.

There are many carved details taken from nature.

Mary Magdalene with a jar of spikenard, a precious ointment.
Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist
St. John the Baptist
The caring of the young
Prayer and Praise
The Cathedral of the Peak is particularly noted for its wood carving, the oldest being in the Lady Chapel and dating from the medieval period. The organ case and carvings on the choir stalls were crafted by three generations of a local family, the Hudstones, beginning in the 19th century.
Here are a few of the many beautiful examples.

The Lady Chapel
There is a fragment of  C16th coloured glass.  Initials A M stand for
'Ave Maria'. Other symbols of the Virgin Mary in the Lady Chapel are the rose and the lily.

The monument with two female stone figures (dated from before 1300) would have been in the original church that stood on this site.

The  restored monument to a knight and his lady thought to be Sir Thurston de Bower and his wife, Margaret, in the de Bower Chapel

The Lyttons of Litton

Bishop Robert Pursglove

                There are several interesting memorial brasses of prominent local family members.

The C15th  tomb of Sir Sampson Meverill in the chancel is made of Purbeck marble from Dorset.
On the top is a brass with a symbolic representation of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

On the north side of the church are many old buildings. The St. John's Institute building houses the local library.  

In the main street there are some interesting little shops such as one selling books, second hand, I think, although I didn't go in - very tempting to spend time browsing around when we had plans to go elsewhere!

However, I did go into the baker's and bought a granary loaf and the rose petal shortbread which we've since enjoyed!

It was soon time to drive on to Cressbrook  to see some examples of well dressing (the tradition of making pictures with flowers and other natural materials to give thanks for the supply of  natural water sources) and then had lunch in Litton.

 More about Cressbrook and Litton next time.....


  1. Hello Linda,

    This looks a most delightful part of the country about which, shamefully we have to admit, we know very little. The countryside is glorious, such wonderfully unspoilt open spaces and everywhere looking lush and green.

    The church is most attractive, particularly the very fine wood carvings. They are so intricately done and one wonders about the many hands which have touched them over the centuries. It is so lovely to have these deep connections with the past.

  2. What a magnificent church, Linda. I know you've shown us glimpses before, but this was a full tour. I particularly love the wood carvings in the choir - totally charming. :-)

  3. I love Tideswell and the church is spectacular no wonder it is called the Cathedral of the Peak the carvings, brasses and memorials are all very interesting and so well kept. I'm pleased that you found the Bishop. When we next visit I'm going to seek out some of those rose petal shortbread biscuits:)

  4. I was expecting a small church, I was surprised when I saw the photo, it's huge. No wonder they call it the Cathedral of the Peak. The wood carving is beautiful, such fine detail. I love villages with interesting little shops like this. I think I'd have had to give the bookshop a miss too if I wanted to see something else that day, I can spend hours looking at old books.

  5. Lovely post Linda. This definitely is the Cathedral of the Peak, with its fabulous carvings and wonderful architecture. I love the door too. Thanks for showing us around. x

  6. the churchis awe inspiring inside and outside. love the way the road carves through the stone hill and love the reflections in the window

  7. Oh I do love that church, it's absolutely packed with interesting objects! The wood carvings are so magnificent! What an interesting post, you do get to visit such interesting places, I wish I was tagging along!xxx

  8. AnonymousJune 17, 2014

    I used to live in that area, your blog brought back so many happy memories for me,
    Thankyou from the bottom of my heart x

  9. The 4th photo down reminds me of the Pacific Northwest. The images from the church are quite incredible. Such a rich heritage in the buildings and carvings.

  10. What a lovely town and a magnificent church! We here in the US can only marvel at such ancient buildings. Thanks so much for allowing me to visit it from my armchair! -Beth

  11. Thankyou Linda, for another enjoyable virtual tour of a beautiful area.

  12. It is obviously a beautiful Church Linda, thank you for this beautiful tour. The carvings really are magnificent aren't they. I do like taking these journeys around your part of the world with you. The rose petal shortbread sounds delicious!! xx

  13. Ahhh Linda - such history and beautiful architecture! Not that we don't have that here, but not as easily found or explore, as you seem to abound with history all around you. I am always deeply moved by history and get very sentimental about it. When I have visited Civil War battlefields here, it nearly moves me to tears to sit and ponder where so many gave their lives for freeing the slaves. I might never get anything accomplished if I lived somewhere where so much history surrounds me. Thank you so much for sharing.

  14. The Cathedral of the Peak is absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and all the fascinating information. I really enjoyed touring the church with you.

  15. Gorgeous countryside. I always appreciate the old buildings still standing. The churches there fascinate me. So much beauty everywhere and nothing spared when it came to the House of God.

  16. Like George, I loved the Cathedral of the Peak... WOW---that is amazing!!! Loved the architecture. The carvings are awesome also... Thanks for sharing such beauty with us.

  17. I don't know where to start! The details to stone, wood, and brass are stunning. And that ceiling---wow! Cool names too. :>)

  18. The church, cathedral, chapel are all so beautiful!
    What lovely adventures you do have.