DERBYSHIRE HERITAGE Derbyshire Peak District - higger-tor

St Leonard's church at Thorpe

St Leonard's church at Thorpe St Leonard's church at Thorpe

Thorpe's church of St. Leonard was founded in Norman times but may well be older. It was originally a chapelry of Ashbourne and the Taxation Roll of Pope Nicholas IV, in 1291, makes no mention of a separate parish of Thorpe. The first record of such independence comes with the institution of Ralph de Cressi as rector, in 1299. The church has a squat Norman tower, which possibly dates from the transitional Saxon-Norman period, the division of the belfry windows into two lights, recessed from the main arch, is a typical Saxon touch. The unaisled nave, with its projecting south porch, dates from the early 14th century suggesting that the original nave might have been of timbered construction, dating from Saxon times.
Inside the church, the font is said to be one of only three Derbyshire tub fonts, which are undoubtedly from the 11th century. The chancel was rebuilt in 1881, when the vestry was also added. In the sanctuary is the tomb of John Millward (1632), with the tiny figures of two daughters. The 17th century tomb of John Milward was partly destroyed during restoration but in front of it, are engravings of his 2 daughters dressed in gowns with embroided bodices and his 2 sons in cloaks and wide topped riding boots. Both the sons were soldiers, one a colonel in the service of King Charles the First.
John Millward served Charles I as a colonel, and subsequently bought the manor at Snitterton in the parish of Darley Dale. He died in 1670, leaving only daughters and the eldest married Charles Adderley, thus taking the moiety of Snitterton and the Manor of Thorpe into the Adderley family. The church also has a Breeches Bible in which Adam and Eve wear breeches rather than the traditional fig leaves.

An unusually tall sundial sits in the churchyard and arrow sharpening grooves can be found on either side of the porch doorway.

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