Review of ‘Anglican Churches of Derbyshire’, by I.A.H. Combes

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on (date of publication unknown), and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by I.A.H. Combes
Published by Landmark of Ashbourne
ISBN 1-84306-152-X (2005)

Compiling this new addition to Landmark Collector's Library would be a daunting prospect for any writer, but Isobel Combes has wide experience of teaching and writing on the subject of early church history, in which she completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge. Her wide-ranging study incorporates each of the 300 Anglican churches in Derbyshire, illustrated with 600 high quality colour photographs of the buildings and some of their most interesting features.

The author also gives an introductory overview of the establishment of our churches from early Christian times, noting that their obligations were not always honoured, and she explains the sorry reasons for neglect and even destruction of ancient church architecture. At the other end of the time scale we are shown churches built in modern times, as recently as 1993.

It is beyond the scope of this book to offer an exhaustive history of each church but Isobel Combes embellishes the basic facts - architectural style, dates, building materials etc. - with fascinating detail. Surprises include the only church in Derbyshire built with flint walls; the last remaining ‘tin tabernacle’ still used for worship (as remembered at Bakewell for example); a churchyard where permission was obtained to mine lead; a church tower with rare crossbow loop-holes; a possible lepers’ window; and a startling fibreglass church resembling an aeroplane fuselage - in yellow.

Every church in our own area is here, many of which have featured in the Peak Advertiser over the past 20 years, from Tideswell’s magnificent ‘Cathedral of the Peak’ to a tiny chapel in the fields at Ballidon.

This long overdue publication has a detailed place-name index, a glossary and a comprehensive summary of church architects giving examples of their work in the county.

Review by Julie Bunting

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