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Ashford in the Water


Church of the Holy Trinity in Ashford in the Water Derbyshire

Photograph of Church of the Holy Trinity in ashford
Photograph of the Church of the Holy Trinity

Photograph of Church of the Holy Trinity in ashford
Photograph of the Church of the Holy Trinity

Parts of the Church of the Holy Trinity date back to the 13th century, in particular the lower part of the unbuttressed west tower and the south door with its original Norman tympanium showing a tree of life in the centre with a hog and wolf facing it.

There are seven bells in the tower. The oldest of them - dedicated before the Reformation - is the little Sanctus bell which used to hang in a bell-cote over the chancel arch (removed in 1870). It was found in the tower in 1893 and rehung. Since then it has continued to be used during the consecration of the Holy Communion. Its distinctive sound has given it the nickname of "ting-tang" bell, but generations of local people also know it as the "pancake" bell.

The fourth, fifth and tenor bells were recast in 1954 and were dedicated by the Right Rev'd George Sinker, Assistant Bishop of Derby. Before recasting, the oldest of them was the fourth - although undated it bore the founder's mark of George Heathcote of Chesterfield, who died in 1558. The same mark and inscription is found on the tenor bell but this is dated 1612, so it is not certain whether both were hung in 1612 or the undated fourth bell was hung fĂ­rst. The tenor used to weigh more than 7 cwt but after recasting its weight dropped to just over 6 cwt. It is now inscribed "Holy Trinity" and it is this which the hammer of the church clock strikes each hour.

Cast in 1750 by Thomas Hedderley of Nottingham, the fifth bell bears the name of Richard Bennett, churchwarden - the vicar was the Rev'd Wm. Wingfield - and the inscription "Ashford in the Water" was added in 1954.

In the same year, the third bell was installed and dedicated to the memory of the Rev'd Harry Ernest Sherlock, vicar from 1912 to 1939, who died in 1943. Also that year, decay was found at the ends of the massive beams of the old oak bell frame of 1612. The sound part was removed and now stands in the north aisle, and as well as the date it bears the name of William Smith, one of the churchwardens at the time. A new cast iron framework was installed on a foundation ofheavy rolled steel girders, leaving room for two more bells to complete a peal of six. These two bells, the treble and the second, were added in 1966 in memory of Mrs. Jean Whittaker. They were cast by John Taylor & Co of the Bell Foundry, Loughborough, whose history reaches back to 1360 and Johannes de Stafford's foundry in Leicester.

The tower arch was built during the Decorated Period (1370-1440) and was unchanged when the church was rebuilt in 1868-70 by J.M & H. Taylor. Beneath it stands the octagonal, chalice-shaped font which is believed to date from the same period.

The three arches and the octagonal pillars on which they rest are also late 16th century and, like the tower arch, they were not altered during the rebuilding of the church.

The Royal Coat of Arms above the tower arch (see picture on the back cover) is dated 1724, in the reign of George I. Before his accession, George had been Elector of Hanover and the white horse in the bottom right hand or 4th quarter of the centre shield was the Elector's distinguishing sign. The harp in the 3rd quarter represents Ireland, the lions in the Ist quarter England and Scotland, and the 2nd quarter represents France with three lilies or fleur-de-lys. The painting of the Royal Arms was restored and conserved in 1985.

An ancient custom that once took place in the village was that of hanging funeral garlands from the roof of the church. Four garland still hang, the oldest from 1747.. They were made of white paper cut to form rosettes and fixed to a wooden frame. They would then be carried before the coffin of a young virgin in the funeral procession, before being hung up.

Contact The Revd. Canon Tony Kaunhoven | email: jazzyrector@aol.com | tel: 01629 814462 or visit Ashford Church

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