DERBYSHIRE HERITAGE Derbyshire Peak District - higger-tor


Eyre chapel Eyre chapel
The Eyre family were important, powerful, landowners, farmers and Lords of the manor at Dunston, Hassop, Hathersage and Newbold. The manor of Newbold had grown in importance as it became the administrative centre for the Chesterfield area.
In the thirteenth century, the Lord Mayor of Newbold, the Abbot of Welbeck Abbey, built a chapel where four ancient trackways crossed,dedicated to St Martin. Responsibility for the chapel passed to the Eyre family in 1570 when Gervase and Anthony Eyre of Dunston and Holme bought the manor of Newbold.
As Roman Catholics so they went through the difficult period during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. The Newbold Eyres adopted Eyre Chapel in order to practise their Roman Catholic devotions in a climate where it was becoming increasingly difficult to do so.
The Newbold Eyres, as Catholics, had to pay for not worshipping at Queen Elizabeth's Church of England and as a result were forced to sell the Newbold manor. However they chose to retain ownership of the chapel.
Worship at Newbold's Eyre Chapel and other Catholic buildings was to be permitted once more during the brief three-year reign of James II from 1685-1688. James was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over England, Scotland and Ireland and having learnt about the religion during time spent in France had converted to Catholicism. Even so the Eyre Chapel suffered from Protestant mob attacks when it was vandalised, ransacked and tombstone were broken.
The chapel was restored in 1887 after the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 and twelve family members were re-interred in the crypt.
Once again regular masses took place there until the construction of a larger church at Littlemoor which meant that the Chapel was no longer required. Initially it was used as a storehouse but soon became derelict.
Restoration of the chapel was completed in 1987 and the vault was explored by members of the Chesterfield Civic Society. All twelve coffins were found to be intact bar one which had been broken by falling masonry.
Establishment of the Friends of the Eyre Chapel in 1992 has protected it and today it is used as a village hall.
Eyre chapel doorway
Eyre chapel tympanum
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