Darley Abbey - Heritage Walk No. 4a - St Matthew's Church
w/e 09 March 2014
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

After uploading the fourth Darley Abbey Heritage Walk "The Church", the vicar of St Matthew's contacted me with an offer to open the church and let me see the inside should I wish to visit again. Unfortunately when I got in touch with Rev. Christine Dyer to arrange a mutually convenient date and time, it transpired that she was ill and in no fit state to meet us. Instead her curate Rev. Caroline Rhodes stepped in and I was able to get a bonus set of images which actually form a supplementary set to Part 04 of the Heritage Walks.

St Matthew's Church

Anticipating traffic delays due to ongoing road works in Derby, we set off early one bright and warm spring afternoon and arrived at St Matthew's early which enabled us to explore the churchyard and search for the Evans' family graves that we had missed on our previous visit. It was Thomas Evans and his sons William and Walter that established the water powered cotton mills by the River Derwent in the 18th century.
Evans' Graves

We easily found the Evans' graves this time and were surprised that we had missed them previously. That's why it pays to research a project fully before embarking on it! Several members of the family were interred in the crypt but here lie the remains of Walter II and his first wife Susan with their son Arthur. Also buried here are his second wife Ada, his brother Henry and Ada's sister Margaret Roscow. The plot also contains the grave of Alfred Ainger, Master of the Temple Church in London who was a long standing friend of the second Walter and the uncle and guardian of Ada and Margaret Roscow.
Facing The Mills

From behind the headstones the alignment towards the mill complex can be seen contrasting with the normal east-west line of the other graves in the churchyard and again, once you know what to look for, makes it easy to locate them. The open grass area nearby is where many of the mill workers were buried although the inscribed slate markers of most of them have been moved closer to the church and the Friendship Room as we saw previously in Part 04.

And it was from the Friendship Room that we entered the church to see some of the features inside, this being the main purpose of our visit. Looking towards the alter through the nave, the lectern seen on the far right was presented to the church by the villagers to mark the marriage of Walter and Ada in 1896.
Coloured Windows

Today all of the nave windows contain coloured glass which was installed in 1886 to replace the original clear glass from when the church was built in 1818/19. The lower tier had also been bricked up until 1950/51 but six windows were then opened up and coloured glass inserted there too. This view also shows several of the memorial plaques on the wall of the nave.
Memorial Plaque

One of the plaques on the west wall commemorates Walter and Elizabeth Evans in recognition of Walter who funded much of the building costs. He was also responsible for building the school in Brick Row, which we will see in Part 05, in 1826. There are several more memorial plaques to members of the Evans family including the one above on the west wall whilst in the Baptistry two plaques are memorials to Arthur, son of Walter I and Elizabeth and to Colonel John Evans who saw action in the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny in the 1850s.
Altar Table

The altar is a simple wooden table but the wood carving of organ screen in the north chancel aisle is noted for its excellent quality which is matched by the equally fine choir stalls.
Millennium Window

As we have already seen the nave windows were replaced in 1886 but from then until the 1950s the church was left largely untouched until the internal walls and ceilings were restored and repainted. The Fellowship Room was added in 1965, extended and refurbished in 2001 and substantial work undertaken in the chancel at the start of the new millennium. And in 2003 the Millennium Window was installed in the east wall of the North Chancel aisle with six diamond shaped images depicting the Light of God through 2000 years of Christian history.
East Window

The main East Window behind the altar is dedicated to the memory of Susan Evans, Walter's first wife and their son Arthur who died aged just 15 whilst a smaller window in the south wall of the Sanctuary is dedicated to Walter himself. The East Window dates from 1891.
West End

At the west end of the church at the exit to the Fellowship Room stands the font which was presented to the church by the children of the village in 1886. Above can be seen the pipes of the organ which was installed in the North Chancel in 1886 by Forster and Andrews of Hull. It was hand pumped until 1931 when an electric blower was installed, enlarged and refurbished in 1986 and completely rebuilt by Henry Groves & Son of Nottingham in 2000 when it was moved to the west end above the Baptistry arch.

I am indebted to both Rev Christine Dyer and Rev Caroline Rhodes for their cooperation in helping to produce this page. My thanks also are extended to Wendy and June Bitton who originally produced the text for a leaflet in 1989 which was updated in 2006 (available at St Matthew's) and from which much of the information on this page has been taken. Thank you to all involved.

The final walk in the series will take us back from information board B to board A at the side of the Derwent.
Back to Darley Abbey Walk No. 04
Forward to Darley Abbey Walk No. 05

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