26 Apr 2015

Stoney Middleton, Derbyshire: the area around the church

The church of St. Martin is situated in the corner of the village called 'The Nook' which has an open area surrounded by cottages.  The above view of the church was taken from the lane on the north side where the 15th century tower and the 18th century nave can be better seen.
Joan Eyre, heiress of nearby Padley Manor had the stone church built in thanksgiving for the safe return from Agincourt (1415) of her husband, Robert of Highlow Hall.  Local folklore says that they met at 'St. Martin's Well' as the nearby springs of water were called by then. A wooden church was probably already on the site. After a fire destroyed the nave of the 15th century church it was rebuilt by a local stonemason who was also involved in the building of the stables at Chatsworth House. It's unusual because of its octagonal shape which was based on the Palladian 'Rotunda' style of architecture of the period. The vestry and west doorway are 19th century additions.
The box pews in the nave are arranged around the octagonal walls in a semi-circular fashion, which is also unusual. I found the arrangement and the plain, simple interior appealing. This is a place where men and women have worshipped over the centuries and continue to do so and I was very aware of this as I noticed every detail and absorbed the peaceful atmosphere.

Leaving the churchyard and walking through The Nook and along a lane we come to 'The Roman Baths' and the spring, which is called 'St Martin's Well'.

                                                                 The Spring

                                                            'The Roman Baths'

" Although popularly known as the Roman Baths, there is no evidence that the Romans ever built a bath here. Roman coins have been found locally, so possibly offerings were made at the spring,  In the Middle Ages the water was believed to have curative properties and the nearby church is dedicated to St. Martin, the patron saint of cripples. The spring has a constant temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit
In 1734 Dr. Short's Treatise on Mineral Waters claimed that the water could be 'drunk more freely and safely than at Buxton as it is cooler'. "
(Information taken from the above plaque at the site - click on to read more).