Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne :: Shared Description

A suitably imposing church for what was a prosperous local market town in the medieval period. It is cruciform in plan with a central tower and spire. The nave has a single aisle on the south side, and the transepts are unusual in having an 'aisle' to the east which appears always to have been of equal height to the 'main' transept, essentially created it would appear a separate chapels. The chancel is significantly longer than the nave.

Although based on an earlier structure, the current building was commenced in the early part of the 13th century, in Early English style, the chancel and transepts being from this period. There is a very rare brass consecration plaque, dated 1241, in the south transept. The south door is a fine example of Early English work.

The nave was constructed probably around 1280, in Decorated style, and the south aisle was added towards the end of the same century. The 4-bay arcade has good carved capitals of the period. The tower was built at the same time, with the spire being added early in the 14th century. Rising to 212 feet high, the spire has 5 tiers of lucarnes on alternating faces.

The roofs of nave and transepts were raised in the Perpendicular period, around the end of the 14th century, with clerestory windows added, and also the fine Perpendicular windows in the east chapels of the transepts, and at the east end of the chancel.

The church was restored under the guidance of Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1876. This included the reconstruction of the roofs, including the battlementing of the chancel, which otherwise retains its largely Early English features.

The interior has a number of notable features. From the earliest period are the tall paired lancets of the chancel, with contemporary piscina and sedilia.

Of the same period is the fine font, in the south aisle, with trefoiled arcading and fleur de lys.

The church is fortunate to retain a modicum of medieval stained glass. Of particular interest are the 5 medallions in a lancet of the north chancel which date from the 13th century, representing biblical scenes. There are fragments of 14th century glass, with some figurative elements including a small crucifixion. More 14th century glass in the form of armorial bearings of local families survives in the east window, incorporated into an important layout of glass by the well known Victorian stained glass artist Kempe. There are several other windows by major Victorian and early 20th century stained glass workshops.

The Boothby Chapel in the north transept contains a very fine collection of monuments from the medieval period to the 18th century. Those of the Cokayne and Boothby families were largely originally in that area, with others being moved there in the 19th century. The medieval ones are largely in local alabaster, but included is a fine table-top brass of the mid 16th century.

The only old wooden furniture includes a pair of small late 15th century seats in the chancel, rescued from a farm, and the Tudor period parclose screen enclosing the Boothby Chapel in the north transept.

The church has a ring of 8 bells, cast as a set in 1815. Due to structural problems with the tower, a new frame was constructed at the level of the old ringing chamber in 1931, and the bells are now rung from ground level in the crossing.

The church is Listed Grade I.

The churchyard gateway from around 1700 including pinnacles supported on skulls and 18th century cast iron gates, is Listed Grade II*; the churchyard walls (undated, but probably partially 18th century) are Listed Grade II.
by Alan Murray-Rust
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SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Flush bracket bench mark, St Oswald's Church, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust
SK1746 : Church of St Oswald, Ashbourne by Alan Murray-Rust

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Created: Fri, 10 Mar 2017, Updated: Fri, 10 Mar 2017

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