Saint Peter & Saint Paul Church, Eckington, Derbyshire. (Grade 1 Listed)
The church, a Grade 1 listed mainly Norman building, dates from the 12th century and lies to the northeast edge of the large village of Eckington. The church stands in its own grounds, previously used as burial grounds although there are very few monuments left close to the building. The grounds are bounded by stonewalls to the south, east and west, with an overgrown burial ground to the north, some 150 feet from the north aisle wall. The immediate grounds are maintained by the local council and contain several trees also maintained by the council.
Of the building Pevsner stated: “A church of exceptional architectural interest for its contribution to the 12th and 13th century styles in Derbyshire. The tower is a most impressive large square construction with broad flat buttresses.” The present church building was commenced in 1100, the first three bays of the eastern half of the nave, side aisles, and a small chancel being built by the Norman Lord of the Manor, Ralph FitzHubert. The chancel is likely to have been of typically Norman Basilica type, small and semicircular in form.
Around 50 years later, in the mid-
It is thought that the parapet of the tower and the spire were added in the early 13th century, though there is no clear information on this point. The windows in the top of the tower appear to have been reworked as early English lancet style apertures at the same time. The church now appears largely as it would have done 800 years ago.
Entrance to the building is via the south door and porch, remodelled in 1763. To the west of the entrance is the ‘Children’s Corner and Baptistry’ created by public subscription in 1954. Looking towards the tower a very fine double chamfered early English (late 12th century) arch can be seen. The tower contains an excellent ring of 8 bells recognised as being of excellent tone, some originally installed in the early 16th century. The tower is entered from the nave through an early 20th century wooden screen including a glazed portion to the top half allowing a view from the nave of the stained glass windows to the west side of the tower above the aforementioned doorway. This area was extensively modernised through public subscription and significant grant aid during the year 2000, providing disabled toilet facilities and a kitchen allowing the building to be used for wider secular purpose. At that time a ringing platform was installed to free the space below for use as a Sunday school and meeting room. The ringing room thus provided has improved the ringing facility, which is now recognised as one of the leading ringing towers in the diocese and is used as the principal training centre for the diocese.
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