From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Dale Abbey

52° 56' 38.5" N 1° 21' 0.8" W

  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
Dale Abbey is in The Village, also known as Dale Abbey, Derbyshire. Augustinian monks moved to Dale Abbey in 1162 from Calke Abbey. They were joined by Premonstratensian canons from Tupholme and finally, a few years after this, by another group from Welbeck.

The Abbey struggled to survive until around 1199, when the Abbey of St Mary was formally founded. They acquired further lands, tithes and other properties untill the Abbey owned around 24,000 acres of land. Much of this was leased or rented out, used for grazing and for the production of produce for the residents of the Abbey. Although a relatively large establishment, the abbey was home to no more than 24 canons. The Abbey provided priests at Ilkeston, Heanor, Kirk Hallam and Stanton by Dale.

In 1539, the Act of Dissolution brought an end to almost four centuries of monastic life in the Dale. The last Abbot of Dale Abbey, John Bebe, died in 1540. A 40 foot high chancel window remains and little remains of other buildings. Excavations show the church had transepts 100 feet in length, a crossing tower, a cloister 85 feet square and a nave. Some of the remains of the building can be found in houses around the village. In the 14th century the Abbey extended westwards to enlarge its infirmary, and inserted a gallery in the Church of All Saints which became the infirmary chapel.  Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, the chapel became the village church.

Sir Francis Pole of Radbourne took over Dale Abbey. The furnishings and fittings were either gradually sold off or stripped out and installed in other churches. Morley Church became home to some of the stained and painted glass, floor tiles and an entire porchway. The ornately carved font cover was installed in Radbourne Church while Chaddesden received a window frame. The font eventually found its way back to All Saints Church Dale Abbey in 1884 and the slabs upon which the canons walked for so many centuries can be found in the grounds of the church at the Moravian Settlement at Ockbrook.

The Hermits Cave of Dale Abbey sits in hermits wood behind the village, close to Derby, Derbyshire.

The caves were carved by a Derby baker after the virgin Mary spoke to him in a dream, telling him to go to Depedale, now Dale Abbey, and become a hermit and live in solitude and prayer. After following a woman taking to calves to Depedale, he then carved out a home in a sandstone bank. It was a wild and marshy place at that time.

He began his worship in solitude. One day the smoke from his fire was seen Ralph Fitz Geremund, a Knight and the owner of Depedale. His first intention was to drive the intruder away, but on hearing the hermit’s story,he allowed the hermit to remain, giving on him the tithe money from Borrowash Mill. The hermit then build a small chapel and home on the site of the present church.

After the hermit’s death, word spread of the religious significance of Depedale. The Hermit got his water from a spring fed well close by, which was said to cure ills on good friday between noon and three.