Dear Friends and volunteers,
As we enter the most peculiar Christmas period in my lifetime, it is difficult to predict what the future will bring. Although pandemics may come and (hopefully) go, what I will predict is that our built heritage needs to cherished for ever. So, as we enter 2021, we need all the help and support we can get in our mission to safeguard the historic buildings we treasure; to creatively reuse those that are no longer fit for purpose and help people to live or work in, and have access to, their heritage.
To the many trustees, Friends, and volunteers who have helped during this year to keep all aspects of our activities going, I offer a big thank you for your dedication and hard work through very difficult circumstances. Your productive efforts are much appreciated. To anyone reading this who has not helped so far, and would like to, then please do contact Lucy, our Executive Officer, as there is much to do and so many ways you can help.
Though your Christmas plans may have been cast awry, take time to reflect on what matters most in life and look forward to next year and to fulfilling your new year’s resolutions.
I wish you all a quietly safe and Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year
Derek Latham (DHBT Chair)
We have not managed to send cards to all our Friends and supporters this year, so please download our Christmas card via the button below.
wingfield station - Project update
Reflections from 2020
It is hard to believe that it is now over a year ago (10th December 2019) when Amber Valley Borough Council handed the keys to Wingfield Station over to DHBT. Despite all the challenges 2020 has presented, this project has achieved a great deal over the past 12 months.
Thanks to a great team effort, and wonderful volunteers, the future is looking very bright for this important (in so many ways) and deserving building. Work has continued throughout November and December and we are on track to submit the Planning and Listed Building Consent applications this week. Thanks to the support of our key funders, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England, we should be undertaking urgent repairs next year and completing the remaining capital works shortly afterwards. We must also thank Mel Morris Conservation for producing an outstanding outline Conservation Plan for the project, which will be soon be available for viewing via our website.
Our team of volunteers made the most of the winter sun to complete their clearance around the outside of the station buildings. The photographs below show their hard work around the south platform area and down that side of the station building. Thanks to all involved in clearing up the site this year - the project team will catch up with you in January.
Many of you contributed to our public survey and we were thrilled to receive nearly 200 responses collected via both online and paper sources. The survey results give us a really clear indication of how people would like us to share the fascinating history of the site during the restoration works and how we might open it up on occasions for tours, talks and visits in the future.
We have now agreed an interpretation framework with external consultants, G+ Studio and DBA Consulting. This framework sets out the approach to interpreting Wingfield Station and its history. The principles, themes and storylines set out in the framework will form the basis of the onsite and online interpretation and it will also be a useful starting point for the development of talks and tours, publications, temporary exhibitions and any future expansion of the onsite scheme. The South Wingfield Local History Group have been a key stakeholder in the preparation of this document.
DHBT have commissioned a conservator who specialises in preserving works of art on paper to very carefully remove and then conserve the fragments of original wallpaper that still exist in the room that was previously the ladies' waiting room.
The wallpaper formed part of the original decoration. The printed wallpaper was applied to the plaster walls and it was revealed when the later horizontal rails were removed. The paper used was very thin and glued directly to the plaster, instead of to lining paper. It has now almost completely degraded, hence why we need the expertise of a specialist conservator to give us the best chance of preserving it.
The photos below show James from 'James Caverhill Conservation' carefully removing the original wallpaper fragments. A very delicate process!
Support from Makita Tools
At the start of this month a large yew hedge growing next to the Station building was finally cut back (nesting season and lockdowns have delayed this task up until now). This work was kindly undertaken by Roy Hobson of Makita Tools as a chainsaw demonstration assisted by DHBT Project Lead, Peter Milner.
Makita and Roy will be using the site for further demonstrations next year and, in doing so, will help to make further improvements to the grounds. Roy and Makita have generously offered to provide free of charge training for volunteers wishing to use power tools as part of the site enhancement scheme.
Many thanks to Makita and Roy - it really has made a big difference to the site already!
aqueduct cottage progress
Many of you are aware of the ongoing rebuilding and restoration of Aqueduct Cottage in Cromford, Derbyshire. This former, Grade II designated, lock-keepers cottage with historic connections to the family of Florence Nightingale, is a project that is being undertaken by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and a committed team of volunteers , with the support of James Boon Architects and the DHBT. It was hoped to be completed in August this year, but unfortunately the impact of the pandemic has set that date back to Spring/Summer 2021. However, when we visited last week the ridge was ‘offered up’ into place, which means the much needed roof shouldn’t be too far away.
The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is continually raising funds to support and finance the project through to a successful completion. More information can be found at their website https://lnkd.in/gThMWxj and the 'Friends of Aqueduct Cottage' facebook group are extremely active. Give them a follow to keep up to date with the latest developments!
visit to st john's church, ashbourne, december 2020
As part of our ongoing Academy work, two academicians recently visited the custodians of St John’s church in Ashbourne to facilitate a discussion about the possible community development of their beautiful, Grade II*, 19th Century structure.
The building was built in 1871 to accommodate a congregation, led by Mr Francis Wright, that opposed the 'high church' character at St Oswald's Church. Indeed, Mr Francis Wright of Osmaston Manor, who was a director of the Butterley Company Ironworks (who provided the ironwork for St Pancreas Station, London), commissioned the Church. The governance and ownership of this 'Church Peculiar' rests with its trustees and not with the Church of England.
The building, which is a rare cast iron, barrel vaulted, neo-Norman structure (Grade II*) has recently been renovated and the time has now come to start to think about its many possible futures.
The building is a credit to the long serving custodians, who have persevered, over many, many years, to keep the structure well maintained. The recent hiatus caused by the pandemic provided the perfect opportunity to refresh the internal space and begin to think about how the local community could make better use of what is a truly magnificent building.
The DHBT have recommended that the custodians appoint a community facilitator, with the support of external grant funding, to help engage the community and explore potential options.
Effigy of national importance discovered in ancient village church
Residents in a Derbyshire village have stumbled upon the earliest known alabaster effigy of a priest in the UK during the modernisation of a medieval church – a discovery which experts have described as “exciting beyond our expectations”.
The forgotten monument has been uncovered in St Wilfrid’s, in Barrow upon Trent, a 10th century church which is being completely transformed into a multi-functional community space thanks to a grant of more than half a million pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The exciting discovery was made when the pipe organ was removed and conservators have confirmed the monument has more medieval paint than any other effigy from the era - including significant traces of pure gold.
Dating back to around 1348, the identity of the effigy remains a mystery, although it is believed to be the priest John de Belton who is presumed to have lost his life to the Black Death while serving the parish.
Church warden Anne Heathcote, who is the sixth generation of her family to hold the position, said: “Few people even knew the effigy existed, so it has been a complete joy to discover that he is so significant. Although his face has certainly been damaged, possibly during the reformation, it is still possible to see the beauty and skill of the sculptor; his gown has exquisite patterns.
“After the conservator ran some tests on his medieval paintwork it was discovered to be the oldest in existence and they found pure gold and samples of azurite, red, green and black paint.
“She said it was ‘exciting beyond our expectations’ and we were offered a grant to employ a specialist, because there was so much interest in the unique chance to study an effigy of national importance like this.
“He weighs a tonne-and-a-half and the experts had to make huge efforts to actually access him. It seems he would have been very ornate and covered in bling, which is why there has been such excitement.”
Work started on the transformation of the Grade I listed St Wilfrid’s in May and will be completed in time for Christmas services. The project is costing in excess of £800,000 which has been achieved by a £563,000 national lottery donation, grants from various organisations and the tireless fundraising of the Friends of St Wilfrid’s.
Although the church looks the same externally, inside the entire building is an ultra-modern open plan space with underfloor heating, stackable chairs and dimmable halo-shaped LED lights hanging from the ceiling.
It is hoped that the flexible space will be used by community groups for exercise classes or meetings, while there is a music mixing desk and amplifier for recordings and rehearsals, plus a large screen that will enable films to be shown inside.
The 150-year-old pews were sold to villagers, while the 1890s pipe organ has found a new home in a church in the Loire Valley, in France.
When the doors reopen on the Anglo Saxon church, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, visitors will be able to discover more about its rich history on a digital trail using their mobile phone.
Undoubtedly, the star of the tour will be the effigy whose head is cradled by an angel’s hands with a dog nestled at his feet.
The monument has been lovingly restored and encased in protective glass, with a mirror positioned behind it so visitors can see both sides of the intricately carved monument.
Mrs Heathcote added: “Everything we have done at St Wilfrid’s has been to make the building more user-friendly and accessible to the community – we were determined that our church should not close.
“The church is still suitable for services, baptisms, funerals and weddings, the beauty is that now guests can get married, then have their photographs taken in the churchyard while we transform the inside into a space for the wedding reception.
“It’s hard to know what John de Belton, or whoever the effigy represents, would make of it – but I like to think that they would be see the beauty in preserving the church for future generations.”
Provisional DHBT event dates - 2021
We're currently finalising our events programme for next year. More details about this will be circulated in coming weeks, so do make sure you're on our mailing list and following us on social media to keep up to date.
Our January and February events will be online only, so spaces will not be limited. All other visits are planned so they can be completely outdoors and will commence at 2pm. Friends of DHBT will receive priority booking. Please 'save the dates' of any that take your fancy:
16 JAN Country Houses talk with Oliver Gerrish (starting at 6:30pm)
21 FEB Bennerley Viaduct talk
21 MARCH Ashbourne
18 APRIL Sudbury Parish and Gasworks
16 MAY Bonsall Village (re-arranged from 2020 - previous ticket holders have priority)
20 JUNE Bennerley Viaduct
18 JULY Codnor Castle
15 AUG Barrow upon Trent
19 SEPT Milford
17 OCT Belper
21 NOV Buxton Crescent (re-arranged from 2020, previous ticket holders have priority)
19 DEC Matlock Bath