King Sterndale is a peak district diamond with many facets,
but two shine out above the rest.
The first is undoubtedly the Pickford family.
Their covered wagons were like something we only see in Westerns. They ran south towards London stopping to change horses at King Sterndale. The Pickford family home, now called the Hall was then referred to with a touch of irony as "the Cottage". The Hall still has 8 bedrooms and 120 acres but in the mid 1800's was a much larger property. The Pickford brothers, Thomas and Mathew also owned a large quarry near to the Cat and Fiddle pass over to Macclesfield. This had a scouring mill wheel, reputedly high enough to rival Laxey Wheel in the Isle of Man. From this quarry, the cobblestone's were mined and scoured and shipped in Pickford wagons to pave Regent Street in London.
The second sparkling facet is Joyce Critchlow.
Joyce was a formidable scholar, theologian and author and wrote this about King sterndale:-
"Christ Church has heard many prayers and supplications,
and within its walls many have found peace of mind.
Everyone is welcome, so come and say a prayer - for yourself or for another -
and feel in your own soul the quiet beauty of this place."
You can read below, in Joyce's own words her description of King Sterndale. If you wish to find out more about her final work, use the "Books" link on the main menu above.
CHRIST CHURCH, King Sterndale was erected and licensed for Divine worship in 1847 and has seen changes in subsequent years that most intimately connected with this beautiful little church have been prompted to delve into its archives and trace a little of the interesting life of King Sterndale since the early years of Queen Victoria's reign, and even earlier.
THE VILLAGE of King Sterndale, owing barely 30 souls, is tiny in comparison to its inhabitants living within the ecclesiatical bounds of the parish. In addition, many true and loyal friends of Christ Church live outside the parish: and it is the Christian fellowship and witness of this combined company which makes this hallowed spot a haven for "those who are yet to come."
THE EARLY records show that in 1380 King Sterndale, Cowdale and Staden were included in the 126 persons of Buxton assessed for the Poll Tax. At this time we hear of Walter de Sterndale residing in the village.
THE VILLAGE-GREEN retains a portion of the old Butter-Cross - perhaps the oldest surviving relic of the past. This anucient market-cross was repaired by the parishioners in commemoration of the coronation of King George VI in 1937.
KING STERNDALE Hall is still written on many maps as "The Cottage". It was the Derbyshire seat of the Pickford family, founders of the now world-famous carrier service. Here the horses drawing the early covered wagons were changed, on the route between London and the north. A little before 1847, Ellen, daughter of Admiral Hawkins, of "Rock Head", Cowdale, and sister of Mrs Thomas Pickford of King Sterndale, was instrumental in building the church at a cost of over £1034; by her magnificent efforts another £1000 was also raised for an Endowment Fund, and £937 for a Parsonage House. Contributors to the Church included the Queen Dowager, The Duke of Devonshire, Lady Fitzherbert, Rev M Bowdler, Mr Hawkins (British Museum), Mrs T Pickford, The Hon Mrs Winfield Stratford, Rev M Mainwaring, Mrs Parke (Cheltenham), Mrs Charlton (Bath), Col Morgan (St Helens), Lord Onslow, Rev M Slade (Chester), Mrs Sneyd (Berkley Lodge), Prof Smyth, Dr Darwin, Mrs Hext (Lostwithiel), Mr le Marchant, Mrs Capel Miers, Dr Stone, Admiral Fanshawe, Bishop Spencer, The Hon Rowland Winn, Dr Grant (Richmond), Sir George Glynn, Mrs Arbuthnot, Mrs de la Torres, Mrs Kynnersley, Lady Chantrey, Rev N Germon, Miss Gwillym, Mrs Keeling and Mrs Goodwin.
AMONG THE contributors to the Parsonage we find Lord de Grey, Sir Oswald Mosley, Lady Harris, the Bishop of Peterborough, Mr C H Pickford, Miss Anna Pickford, Mrs Grimshaw, Dr Fleming, Sir Charles Farnaby, Rev D Routh (Magdalen College), Rev J Markland, Major Thornton and Miss Hilditch.
THE Rt Rev John lonsdale, D D, Lord Bishop of Lichfield, consecrated the church on 12th July 1849. The singers on this occasion, it is recorded received £1 for their services. Among early expenses of the church we also find; Mason's estimate - £448, Barrel for the Organ - £3/10/0, Rope for the bell - 4/4d, and glaziers account - £13/18/8.
BY 1882 we glean some interesting figures from the Table of Fees adopted for use in the Parish in April of that year. Mariage by Banns - 2/6; Burial of a Parishioner - 2/6d; Passing Bell - 1/-; Lead coffin - £1/1/0; for searching the Registers, first year - 1/-, and 6d for each additional year.
IN ALMOST unbroken succesion of incumbents and vicars, the Parsonage House at King Sterndale was inhabited until 1943. The first Priest-in-charge was John Pennyman Hull-Brown, licenced 1847. His successors are as follows:
1851 - P P Smith
1853 - I H Dakins DD
1856 - J C Bates MA
1858 - E B C Frith BA
1861 - E Eddowes BA
1863 - R T Blagden
1865 - Edward Ford
1872 - T H Twist BA
1875 - J C Smith
1890 - G A Dawson LTh
1908 - C d'E Image
1912 - F S Trotman
1926 - F H Sloman MA
1928 - R H Main LTh
1946 - T H Roberts BA
1951 - H S Willams BA
1957 - G F Craven MA
1972 - F J Wootton MA
1975 - Buxton Team Ministry
THOUGH COMPARATIVELY young, Christ Church has during the past 125 years stood at different times in three dioceses. In 1847 the parish was in the large diocese of Lichfield. On the foundation of the See of Southwll in 1884, King Sterndale was annexed to the Diocese of Southwell; and when the Collegiate Church of All Saints, Derby was selected to be the Cathedral of the new See of Derby, and hallowed by Bishop Heywood, the third Bishop of Southwell. On the Festival of SS Simon and Jude, 1927, King Sterndale was transferred to the Diocese of Derby. Thus today, the East window of the Church bears the Arms of the three Dioceses. The stained glass of Christ Church has been much admired, and many camera enthusiasts have been attracted by its vivid colourings, in particular, the "Ascension" and Good Shepard" windows.
ANOTHER WINDOW portrays St Peter with the keys, another, "George Herbert, priest and poet" with his violin, and another, "St Agnes" as a bound and kneeling figure at the block with executioner standing by.
THE ORIGINAL pulpit and lectern were replaced nearly fifty years ago by intricately carved oak examples, the work of Advent Hunstone, the Tideswell carver. A portion of the earlier pulpit has been retained as a bookshelf, and is supported by two iron brackets formerly used to hold the wall lamps of Victorian times.
AN INTERESTING note in the Parish Magazine for October 1906 runs: "The Vicar begs to suggest that every family should provide itself with a lantern for use on Sunday evenings during the dark time of winter." The registers show that these evening services were well attended, and that the heating in the Church "was such that none of the true meaning of the services was lost due to frozen extremities.
IN 1955 the little Day School opposite the church was closed, and the 12 scholars transferred to Buxton schools. Built shortly after the Church by the Pickford family, it had, until about 1935, been an all-age mixed school, later being converted into a junior mixed school. In March 1906 the number of scholars on the Day School register was 44, of which about 30 attended Sunday School, the highest number reached since 1890. By May 1907 the number on the Day School Register had risen to 50.
LITTLE MORE than a century ago, King Sterndale resembled a barren heath, with a chess-board arrangement of walls. The Pickfords then in residence in the Hall demolished many of the walls, and from the stone built what an eyewitness of the day has described as a "pudding", "the like of which has ne'er been seen, nor e'er again will be". This pudding was oval in shape, 200 yards in circumference, and 20 yards in diameter. Each bed of stone was 4 feet thick and needed approximately 100 "tubs" of coal for firing. The limestone when burnt was distributed to farms not only in the immediate vicinity, but throughout Derbyshire. The "baking" of the pudding had been of such ferocity that more than two acres needed to be leveled, harrowed and ploughed.
THE KING Sterndale Pickfords also owned a quarry in the goyt Valley, not far from Erwood Hall. Here was situated a great water-wheel, second in size only to the wheel at Laxey. Gritstone from this quarry was transported by highway to London via Leek, and was used in the paving of Regent Street towards the end of the nineteenth century.
THE ENORMOUS wheel at Goyt's Clough was used mainly for the scouring of the stone. King Sterndale, left bleaker than ever by the demolishing of so many of its walls, was planted with hundreds of trees by the Pickford family, to whose foresight we are greatly indebted for the beauty of the area today.
UNTIL THE OLD school buildings were extended, Church Council meetings and socials were held in the Parsonage House. The room once used for these gatherings is a large airy chamber overlooking the entrance driveway. Behind the shell-pink and gold wallpaper stands a wall perforated with evidence of countless darts matches! Sunday School scholars were taught in this room, access to which was gained by a winding stone stairway.
IN 1943 on the retirement of Rev R H Main, king Sterndale was left with no incumbent of its own and an empty Parsonage House. Until 1951 the Parish was linked with Chelmorton, the vicar residing in the latter parish. King Sterndale then entered upon a plurality link with Fairfield, which lasted until the advent of the present Buxton Team Ministry.
THIS SMALL Victorian church, built in the Early English style, stands in a portion of the onetime park to the Hall. The road from Heathfield Nook to the village was diverted by the Pickfords on the erection of the Church, to include the building in the parkland. It is a curious fact that the annual winter accumulation of snow is blown clear along the old route, while the present road is generally blocked at some time during each winter.
TWO HAMLETS which lie in the parish of Christ Church, are Cowdale and Staden. A settlement of "Coudale" is recorded in 1327, and the present Cowdale Hall is thought to date from the latter part of the fourteenth century. Staden, now a very small hamlet, has formerly been much larger. It was on the summit of Staden Low that the officers of the surrounding hamlets were annually chosen and their names registered in the parochial records. The "Lord of the Manor" of Staden was one Richard de Staden who in the reign of Richard II was "empowered by the king to take inquisitions POST MORTUUM, upon the effects of persons in that part of the Peak of Derbyshire".
OPPOSITE Christ Church, a footpath leads across two fields to the top of Deep Dale, a steep limestone ravine running from the A6 at Topley Pike, to Brierlow. In present times the haunt of foxes and badgers, it has formerly given sanctuary to bears, as the skull of the great brown bear, URSUS ARCTOS, in the Buxton Museum testifies. Thirst House, the largest cave in the dale, has yielded many interesting and archaeologically-valuable Romano-British pottery discoveries.
WITH SUCH A large parish, in comparison to the size of the Church, and with so many worshippers from as far afield as Bath and Bakewell, Manchester and Marston Montgomery, the accomodation in Christ Church at high Festivals is often insufficient, extra chairs having to be placed in the aisle; yet one wishes this could happen every Sunday! Christ Church has heard many prayers and supplications, and within its walls many have found peace of mind. Everyone is welcome, so come and say a prayer - for yourself or for another - and feel in your own soul the quiet beauty of this place.
© Joyce Critchlow