Morley - Part 01 - Around The Church
w/e 10 August 2014
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Morley header

Introduction and a Word of Explanation
Over the last decade I have walked many of the highways and byways, footpaths and bridle ways on Morley Moor, either alone or as part of an organised group with a walk leader. Each time the route has been a circular one beginning and ending at a designated place but during all that time I have been unable to find a route that covers all the points of interest without some backtracking or doubling back over ground already covered. The official guide book to Erewash states that the "village" of Morley is comprised of a series of ancient settlements. These are identified as Brackley Gate, The Croft, Morley Smithy, Morley Moor and Church Lane but there are several other isolated places that also fall within what is generally referred to as Morley. Various sources will be used to gather information for this series not least of which will be a 1994 leaflet published by Erewash Groundwork Trust that details seventeen points of interest. The leaflet adds that the places may be visited in sequence or in any order but does not attempt to define a circular route. Faced with the same problem and for the same reasons, I shall be adopting a scatter gun approach for this "Village Trail" and be looking in turn at each of the settlements and various other places in between. Whilst most of the images will be new ones I will from time to time include others from those earlier walks to illustrate specific places.

So to set the scene let me quote from that 1994 leaflet which states "It is a very tranquil and picturesque village despite being just four miles from Derby city centre. Its main geographic feature is the moor on which it is situated - a plateau area which rises to 450 feet." It adds that the "name means clearing on the moor" and to kick off the series we'll begin just off Church Lane and look at the area "Around The Church". When I first started work with EMEB in 1966, my duties included travelling around the area with colleagues to various sites and we got to know the district quite well. We referred to at least three sites by the name of "Donkey's Hollow" adding the suffix of a village name. Whether they were official nicknames (if that's not a contradiction in terms) or just something we devised to help us quickly find our way around I'm not sure, but one of those descriptions was applied to Church Lane at Morley.

Village Cross

And off Church Lane is a drive that leads up past the Village Cross. This is one of two crosses that stood in the vicinity. The other one was just the shaft of a cross that stood near the vestry door at the church and to which a sundial was added in 1762. Sadly that cross disappeared overnight (for "disappeared" read "was stolen") in February 2014. (Link to local newspaper report)

The Butter or Barter Cross pictured above suggests a market or trading place but this is only speculation although it stands on what was once the village green. It is thought to be of fourteenth century origin and was restored by Mr H Topham of Morley Hall in 1916 when the figures of Our Lady and Child were added to the top.
Trough & Tree

Just beyond the cross is an unusual cradle shaped water trough and an ancient tree, the trunk of which is almost completely obscured by the leaves on the low branches. Both trough and tree were also on the village green.
The Rectory

The drive continues to the Rectory, a large house of 1740 built when the old parsonage was burnt down. It was extended in 1846 and behind it, there are still the remains of some old farm buildings. Bagshaw's "History and Gazetteer" of that year records that the "mansion was undergoing considerable alterations" and the scaffolding presently on site suggests further restoration or maintenance is taking place. It underwent significant alterations after it became the Diocesan Retreat and Conference Centre in 1959.
St Matthew's Church

Opposite the Butter Cross is a small car park serving St Matthew's Church. Standing on the site of a Saxon building parts of the church date from the thirteenth century. My Derbyshire volume of the 1937 edition of "The King's England" reveals that "the tower, with a turret and a lofty spire, comes from a great restoration of about 1400." Work on the nave revealed original arcades that could be dated to the time of either Stephen or Henry II. The church is now a Grade I listed building and contains many historical and interesting features, details of which can be found on the British Listed Buildings website.
War Memorial

Near the church entrance is something else of historical significance of a more recent vintage although this year is marking the centenary of the event it was erected to commemorate. The War Memorial originally erected to honour the men of the First World War from the village who lots their lives in that conflict now has the names of Second World War losses inscribed too.
Stained Glass

It is inside the church though that most of the historic treasures can be viewed and it is noted for its memorial brasses, mediaeval tiles and of course its stained glass windows. Several local prominent family names are recorded in the memorials including Stathum, Sitwell and Wilmot and there is also a mausoleum in the churchyard for the Sacheverell Bateman family which will feature in Part 02 of this series. The mediaeval windows in the North Chapel were rescued from the refectory at Dale Abbey at Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s. The church is usually open on Saturday afternoons between April and September for viewing but the image of the North Chapel window seen above depicting the story of Sir Robert of Knaresborough was captured during one of those earlier guided walks.
Church Porch

Another link to Dale Abbey is thought to be the cross over the porch at the south door of the Church. Stonework from the Abbey can be found in buildings all around the area and puts paid to the theory that recycling is a modern phenomenon.
Sitwell Vault

Among the many old headstones in the churchyard are the graves of the Schwind family of the Broomfield Estate and also of botanist Joseph Whittaker who went to Australia in the 1800's as gardener to the Governor but the most obvious is the nineteenth century railed vault of the Sitwell family beyond the eastern end of St Matthew's.

An inscribed stone at the vault gives details of all the members of the Sitwell family buried within the vault.
Tithe Barn

On the northern side of the church is a residential building that is a conversion of the original tithe barn and dovecote. As well as a grain store, the seventeenth century barn was also used as a coach house being part of the outbuildings of Morley Hall when occupied by the Sacheverell family. Later the upper storey became a venue for social events held by the villagers. Alterations to the building in 1965 resulted in the unfortunate loss of the dovecote when the pigeon holes were destroyed.
Forward to Part 02

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