Review of ‘A History of King Sterndale’, by Joyce Critchlow

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Joyce Critchlow
Published by Church in the Market Place Publications (2009)

Sad to say, this richly informative book is published posthumously. The author, Joyce Critchlow, was a theologian, writer, lecturer, and translator for Russian Christians. On her home ground, she was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic source of information on local history. Her great love of the King Sterndale and Cowdale area shines throughout this book, recording much which would otherwise not have survived. The script was discovered after her death in 2003.

Joyce was a skilled researcher and gatherer of tales from old established families. Thus she learnt of the discovery of remarkable prehistoric finds unearthed several generations ago, from skeletons to objects of gold and silver to the bones of a great bear. The story moves on through medieval and Elizabethan times to 19th-century disputes over such matters as the fencing in of the ancient butter cross, a water scheme that vexed a very short-lived parish council, and a 4ft thick pudding.

Joyce even recorded firsthand memories from a man who in his boyhood had rung out news of the death of Queen Victoria. The announcement involved a long ladder and a piece of shoe leather to muffle the church bell. Far jollier was the day in 1951 when Princess Elizabeth, as she then was, visited the parish on her way to Chatsworth.

Lack of space allows only a brief mention of the author's knowledge and love of the local flora, fauna and fields, which share an entire chapter to themselves. Generously illustrated with sketches and photographs, “A History of King Sterndale” is published by Church in the Market Place Publications, Royalties from sales are being donated to Christ Church, King Sterndale.

Review by Julie Bunting

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