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

St. Anne, Beeley

53°12'18.9"N 1°36'17.3"W

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St. Anne's, Beeley is a small parish church, located close to the Chatsworth Estate, in Beeley, Derbyshire.

It is thought the original Saxon church was built of oak timber from the local woodland, the framework, filled with a rough plaster. This was replaced in stone during the Norman period, with some parts still remaining from the 12th Century.

The Norman church was built in about 1150, consisting of a nave, a lean-to aisle, divided from the nave by round arches resting on massive round columns of stone with a square base. The nave was low and roofed with a flat wooden roof. At its east wall was a wall pierced by a low round arch leading into the oblong chancel, against the east wall of which was the altar. The deeply-splayed windows on either side of the nave and the east end of the chancel admitted but little light. What ornament there was displayed in axe-hewn patterns on the outside of doors and windows.

The present font is thought to be pre Norman, but it was so altered at the time of the church restoration in 1883 that it has entirely lost its original character.

When the nave was rebuilt in 1819, the pillar supporting the arches separating the north aisle from the nave was removed. It was of the same date as the doorway, and is described by many as having capitals with heads at the corners. The corbel supporting the roof in the north-west corner of the aisle is of this date

The tower was built in 1192, when the church given by Earl John to the cathedral of Lichfield, the masonry as far up as the stringcourse beneath the belfry windows being of the Early English period. The shallow buttress is a feature to be noted: there used to be two on the outside of the west wall, but one was removed at the 1883 restoration when the two large buttresses at the agles were added. The walls and doorway of the chancel and are said to be of this date.

In 1375, the nave was rebuilt. It was finished on July 7, 1375, and consecrated March 10, 1378. To this Perpendicular Period belong the small window on the south side of the chancel, and the battlements and pinnacles of the tower. In 1819, the nave was again rebuilt, the Norman pillars with Early English arches separating the north aisle from the nave being removed.

In 1883, the porch and nave were rebuilt, and the north aisle added, in the Decorated style to match the east and west arches, the large window on the south side of the chancel was reconstructed, the terminals of the dripstone of the original window are still to be seen, indicating that the former window was set higher than that of the present.

Church bells are rarely dated but are cast with a makers mark which was moulded in the bells. The age of some bells can be ascertained only by the style of the inscription letters. The three bells in the tower appear to have been cast in the reign of Elizabeth I.