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BRADBOURN-Extract from "The Churches of Derbyshire" Cox 1875

The manor of Bradbourn at the time of the Domesday Survey, formed part of the lands of Henry de Ferrers, and even at that early date was possessed of a priest and a church. It was soon afterwards held that under the Ferrers, by the family of Caus or de Cauceis. In the reign of King John, the manor of Bradbourn was conveyed to Godard de Bradbourn by Sir Geoffrey de Cauceis and it was held by that family till the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when it was bought by Sir Humphrey Ferrers, who had married Jane Bradbourn. Sir Geoffrey de Cauceis did not however allow the church to go with the manor, but presented the advowson in 1205 to the celebrated priory of Dunstable in Bedfordshire, and the gift was confirmed by William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby as the chief lord of the fee. But though the presentation of the living of Bradbourn was then given to the priory of Dunstable, it was not until 1278 that the rectory i.e. the greater tithes, were appointed to that establishment. This apportionment of the rectory and its four chapelries was confirmed by the Bishop in 1294. A vicarage was specially endowed here about the year 1330. At the time when the church was given to the priory, it had a rector and two vicars. Shortly after the Reformation these rectorial tithes, which had been granted to Rogers and Fetherstone, were purchased by several landowners of the parish, and the rectory-house and glebe lands were purchased by George Buxton, of the ancient family of Buxton, of Buxton. This family subsequently reverted to the older spelling of Buckston.

The old parish of Bradbourn was of considerable extent, and embraced within its limits the four chapelries of Atlow, Balidon, Brassington and Tissington as well as the township of Aldwark. From Pegge’s collections and from the annals of Dunstable we make the following extracts relative to Bradbourn, giving them in chronological order. It was the custom of the priory, before the vicarage was formally endowed, to send one or more of their canons (usually two) to reside at Bradbourn. They are styled custodes or wardens, and it was their duty to account to the prior for the profits, and to provide for the cure of the church and its chapels.

1214: The prior had a suit in the court at Rome with the rector and vicars, with a view, as it is supposed, of displacing them. It was alleged that Robert, the rector was son of Godfrey, the former rector, that Henry one of the vicars was son of John, his predecessor, in one mediety of the vicarage, and that William, the other vicar, kept a concubine publicly, and went a hunting, forsaking his tonsure and clerical duties.

1223: The prior received the first crop from "Balidena" and "Tiscintuna" two chapels of Bradbourn.

1243: In this year no less than 800 sheep died at Bradbourn of the flock belonging to Dunstable Priory.

1278: Roger, Bishop of Coventry, confirmed to the Priory "ecclesia de Bradbourne cum omnibus capellis suis" and for this Episcopal act the Priory granted, as fee to the Bishop’s almory, two hundred marks, raised from the chapelries of Atlow and Brassington.

1282: Radulphus de Harewold died at Bradbourn and was there buried. Probably he was one of the custodes or wardens.

1284: In this year, the Priory possessed a flock of sheep at Bradbourn numbering twelve hundred "by the great hundred"

1287: The prior was here on a visit

1291: The rectory was valued at sixty marks

1295: The priory in consequence of the poverty of Bradbourn, granted to their brothers, the canons resident, their wool and all other profits except the tithes of Brassington for that year, for which the priory was to receive seventeen marks to be appropriated for the clothing of the convent.

In 1305 the Prior complained that Roger Bradbourn, lord of the manor, and five others had mined for lead, and taken away ore to the value of 100 shillings. Roger contended that this was according to the invariable custom of the Peak, but the Prior replied that Geoffrey de Cauceis had not only given to Dunstable the church of Bradbourn and its chapels, but also all lands and liberties pertaining thereto. The court decided in favour of the prior and Roger de Bradbourn and his heirs were forbidden from ever again disturbing the soil, or mining for lead, on the church lands of the Prior.

About the year 1330 the Priory of Dunstable petitioned Roger de Norbury, who held the See of Coventry and Lichfield from 1322 to 1358, to present one secular vicar to serve the church of Bradbourn, instead of keeping two of their monks or canons on the spot. When this petition was granted, it was arranged that the vicar should have for immediate habitation the close of land belonging to the Priory at Tissington, with the house upon it, together with two bovates of land at Tissington tithe free. The Priory also undertook to cause a hall and other new buildings to be erected for the vicar, in a close belonging to them on the south side of the church of Bradbourn. The further endowment of the vicar was eventually settled by his taking tithes of corn and hay and lambs at Tissington, of the mills throughout the parish and all the small tithes, mortuaries and altar dues throughout the parish and chapelries. In return for this income, the Vicar was to undertake the due administration of divine service at his own expense at all the chapels as well as at the mother church.

We gather from the institutions to this vicarage, recorded in the Episcopal registers at Lichfield, that the Priory usually presented one of their own canons to this benefice. The following vicars of Bradbourn are all entered as canons of Dunstable;

Gaffridus de Merston (1297)

Willielmus de Holurn (1316)

Thomas Lewes (1365)

Johannes Aston (1398)

The Valor Ecclesiasticus estimated the annual value of this vicarage at £8 3s 4d which sum included a pension from the abbot of Dale of 6s 8d and a further sum of £4 being an annual payment from the prior of Dunstable. The altar dues and oblations then averaged 20s. "Dns Johes Barret" held the vicarage. The same return estimates the annual value of the rectorial manor held by the priory at £24 10s 0d.

When the inventory of "Church Goods" was being taken by the Commissioners of Edward VI with a view to the sale or appropriation of those connected with superstitious uses, Bradbourn was visited on 30th September 1554 with the following result:

"Vestments with all things, aulter clothes, towels, coope, surpleses, cruets pewter, senser off bras, crosse off wodd, bucket of bras, caudelstyke off iron, pyxe of bras, cannabe (canopy) covering, corperas case, bells, sanctus bell, hand bells, sakeryng bells, chalice with a paten parcel gilte"

Thos Swetnam Curatt"

After the dissolution of the monasteries, the advowson of this vicarage came into the hands of the Cavendishes, and the rectorial tithes were dispersed into various hands.

In the reign of Charles I, there was a suit in the Chancery about the liability of Atlow to contribute to the repair of the mother church, which affords some interesting particulars relative to Bradbourne and Atlow. On the 10th February 1629, Thomas Buxton and Vincent Sexton, Churchwardens of Bradbourn, complained against William Cokayne, Valentine Jackson and four others living at Atlow, declaring it an ancient custom for all parishioners to pay for the repair of the parish church, and that whereas Bradbourn church was from April to September 1627 "in greate decay in the roofe, tymber, lead, windowes, and bells thereof soe as the same could not be in any reasonable sorte repaired with a lesse charge or some of money than sixe and fortie pounds" defendants declined to contribute, stating that the inhabitants of Atlow had only for time immemorial been bound to repair "one peece or part of the churchyard wall of Bradbourne which peece or part of the churchyard was one and twenty yards or thereabouts and was commonly called by the name of Altowe parte" and also that "there neither was nor ever had been anie place in the said church of Bradbourne allotted or appointed for the inhabitants of Atlowe and the waies were very foule and in a could countrie soe as they the Defendants thought there was great reason to discharge ye inhabitants of Atlowe of any tax or contribution to Bradbourne." They further alleged that "Atlowe was a very ancient chapel and tyme out of minde of man had used to have Divine Service there and Christening of their children and churchwardens of their own and that they did bury their dead with their own minister sometimes at Hognaston, at Knyvton, at Ashborne, at Bradley, at Muggington, and sometimes at Bradbourne until such tyme as their own church yard was consecrated, and since at their own church." The court decided, in the following year, that the inhabitants of Atlowe were to pay 5s 6d an oxgang to Bradbourn church for repairs, but not to be charged with any of the levies in arrear. They were also to contribute in future to the repairs of the mother church, and to keep up the wall of the churchyard between the churchyard gate and a pasture called Newe Close.

The parliamentary commissioners of 1650 reported that Bradbourne "is a vicarage endowed, really worth fortye pounds per annum. Mr Thomas Miles is vicar, a man of good repute."

Mr Miles was one of those ejected for Nonconformity at the Restoration. The Lichfield registers describe the institution of Samuel Trickett, his successor as made "per cessionem sive dismissionem Thomae Myles." William, Earl of Devonshire, was then patron of the vicarage. To Samuel Trickett succeeded Richard Ensor in 1667, and John Hopkinson in 1669.

The church, which is dedicated to All Saints, consists of nave, with south aisle and porch, chancel and tower at the west end. Though of considerable antiquity there is no part of this church of sufficient age for us to suppose it to be the same building, which was standing here when the Domesday Survey was taken in 1086. The ancient Saxon church must have speedily fallen out of repair, for it is evident that a new one was erected about the close of the reign of Henry I (1100 -1135), or at the beginning of Stephen’s. Judging from the tower, the Norman church was of considerable size. The tower is a massive square building, of greater height than was usually the case with those of Norman date, and contains at turret staircase in the northeast angle. It is comparatively unadorned, except on the south side, the side from which the church would be usually approached. The circular south doorway of the tower is adorned with three belts of mouldings, the first consisting of that known as the beak-head moulding, and the two others of birds and nondescript animals. The jambs of this doorway have been restored at a comparatively recent date. Of the four bell-chamber windows, the one on the south is embellished with the chevron, and alternate-billet mouldings, and divided by a circular shaft into two lights; the others are of similar construction but plain. The parapet to the tower is slightly indented at wide intervals, the intervals being so wide as hardly to warrant the application of the term "embattled". Parapets being more exposed to weather than any other portion of a building are the first to be repaired, and are but seldom met with any great age. Norman parapets are almost unknown (the keep at Rochester Castle being an exception); but we are inclined to think that the tower of Bradbourn may be added to the very small list of exceptions, or that this parapet, is at all events, after the original design. Below the parapet runs a corbel table of small human heads.

The south porch, which is entered by a plain round archway, and the doorway that it shelters, of the same construction are other remnants of the Norman church.

A small lancet window on the north side of the nave, and another like it on the north side of the chancel, point to a reconstruction of that part of the building when the early English style was in vogue, about the commencement of the thirteenth century.

The east window of the chancel is of the Decorated period, circa 1320. It consists of three principal lights, the upper tracery being divided into three quatrefoils. It is surrounded by a hood-mould with head terminals. On the south side of the chancel are two windows and a small priests door with a pointed arch. One of these windows, also, though square-headed, is of Decorated design, but the other shows Perpendicular tracery.

To this latter period may also be attributed the two south windows of the south aisle, the three clerestory windows above them, the remaining window on the north side, and the battlements of the nave. A small pointed doorway on the north side was blocked up during the last alterations.

The objects of interest in the interior are not numerous, as there is a singular paucity of monumental remains. When Bassano visited this church in 1707, he mentions "Buxtons quire" at the end of the south aisle, as though some portion of the church was then railed or screened off for the peculiar use of the Buxton family; but this was hardly ever done post-reformation times, the probability is that this was the old quire of the Bradbourne family, appropriated by the Buxtons in 1609, when they purchased the rectory-house and glebe-lands. Mr Rawlins, who visited this church in March 1827, says "the pews are regular in their construction and one which belonged to the Bradbourn family at an earlier period, hath its panels, which are of oak, embellished with some ancient carvings of quadrupeds, flowers, heads and various rude devices." Mr Meynell who was here about the same time, describes this pew are being at the end of the south aisle, and calls it "Buxton’s pew". "He gives drawings of four of the grotesque human heads, which appear to be of fifteenth or sixteenth century work. He also noted "IB" and "W. 1642" on other parts of the same pew. Bassano (1710) mentions an alabaster tombstone in the chancel near to the altar, "the inscription not to be taken " and he also describes in a south window of the chancel the following coats of arms: Arg., on a chevron sa. 5(seemingly to be) pears or; and Arg. Between a fess, 3 horse-shoes sa". The former coat is more correctly described by Mr Rawlins as "Arg on a chevron sab. five drops, Gutte d’or, which is the arms of Athill; the latter coat pertains to the family of Edensor. This glass was probably put in by Richard Ensor (Edensor) who was vicar in 1667, as the arms of himself and wife. In the seventeenth century two other coats were noted in the windows of this church, which have now disappeared – Okeover impaling Bradbourn, and Bradbourn impaling Longford. This glass still remains.

The font immediately on the right as we enter the south door, is of unusual shape and construction. It is formed of a single square block of stone, being two feet four inches square. The basin, which is circular and lined with lead, measures about a foot in depth. The sides are ornamented with circles enclosing quatrefoils. Square fonts on plain square bases are very uncommon, except in a few instances of rude Norman work. It is not easy to give the date of this font, good authorities consider it to be Early English in style, but we are more inclined to attribute it to the commencement of the Decorated period, about the years 1280-1300.

The tower contains a peal of five bells, thus inscribed:

I – on the haunch the date 1736 and a border of fleur de lis

II and III – "J Taylor and co, founders, Loughborough 1863"

IV – "Te pater alme canam W Buxton DH 1708" which may be rendered "Thee, bountiful father, will I sing." On each side of the initials DH is the impression of the obverse of a half crown of Charles II, with the legend Carolus II Dei Gratia.

V – The fifth bell bears a Greek legend signifying "Glory to the only God" and "R Dettliffe IB"

Mr Rawlins says (1827) " The floor on which the bells in the tower are rung is considerably raised from the pavement, and thus forms a room which is fitted up as a Sunday school, and ceiled over."

In the churchyard may be noted a large stone coffin, six feet six inches long, placed under the south wall of the chancel, where it is utilised as a receptacle for water.

A very interesting memorial also here exists, though unhappily now in fragments, and fast perishing through the friction incidental to its utilitarian position. We allude to the fragments of a fine and very ancient cross, part of which is used in the gateway leading to the vicarage, and another portion in the stile that opens on the footpath leading to Ballidon. Even as late as 1816, we find from Lysons MSS, that the cross was standing. It is by him described as ornamented with two rude figures with an angel holding a book on the west side, with the crucifix on the east side and two figures, one holding the spear and the other the sponge, and on the other sides with interlacing foliage of the same description as that on the cross at Bakewell. The precise date when this cross was broken up we failed to ascertain, but Glover writing in 1833 mentions "part of an old cross now converted into a gate post". These relics possess even more of interest in connection with the early spread of Christianity in this country than any portion of the church itself, for there can be no doubt that this cross was standing here as a symbol of faith, many a year before the days of De Ferrers or the Normans. Would it not be possible to rescue these fragments from further maltreatment?

The registers do not go further back than 1720, they have been very badly kept and there is nothing of interest in them.

Henry de Ferrers, according to the foundation charter, gave to Tutbury Priory, in the eleventh century, the tithes of his lordships of Brassington and Tissington. The taxation roll of 1291, states that the priory of Tutbury received an annual income of £16 from the church of Bradbourn; but probably some arrangement respecting this was arrived at shortly afterwards between Tutbury and Dunstable, for there is no mention of any tithes from Bradbourn in an inventory of the property of the former priory, taken in the reign of Edward II.

Lysons states (and he has been followed by different county compilers) that Robert de Ferrers "founded an oratory, with a cemetery at Aldwark, of which there are scarcely any traces" This is a mistake, it is true that Robert de Ferrers gave the monks of Darley six acres of land at Aldwark, in the twelfth century, but the oratory and cemetery, mentioned in the same charter, pertained to his lordship of Osmaston and not of Aldwark. The monks had a grange at Aldwark and possibly a chapel connected with it. But there was never a cemetery there, or we may be sure it would obtain specific mention in the chartulary of the Abbey, as a direct infringement of parochial rights would be thereby involved.




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