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St Peter's Church (Edensor, England)

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Address: Edensor, Derbyshire / St Peters Church was built in 1870 on the site of the old church and dominates the village of Edensor.

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      06.11.2007 08:31
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      This is the burial place of a Kennedy and the Dukes of Devonshire

      Edensor is one of the prettiest little villages that I have discovered. It lies adjacent to the vast Chatsworth Estate in the heart of Derbyshire's Peak District National Park. This whole village, which is pronounced "Ensor" was relocated a couple of hundred years ago, to its present site, from a few hundred metres further down the road. This was because the then Duke of Devonshire (from Chatsworth House) complained that these dwellings, which at that time were occupied by people working for his estate, spoilt the views from his house.

      There is only one road into Edensor, which is accessible via a set of gold tipped gates and a cattle grid. After about 50 metres this road forks into two. The right hand lane is known as Edensor Lane and the left hand lane is Japp Lane, both of these roads are cul-de-sacs and eventually lead back to the main road into the village.
      At the centre of the village is St Peter's Church, which dominates the village. The entrance to this is best accessed via Japp Lane and the spire of this Church can be seen from many miles away.

      This Church was built in 1870 and was originally created as a place of worship for the Duke of Devonshire, his family and his staff. Today the current Duke and Duchess still use this Church as their regular place of worship and they can often be found here during Sunday service.

      For such a relatively modern Church this is quite a grand affair. It has an architectural style that predates its true origin by a couple of centuries and there are wonderful stained glass windows and lots of fancy gold decorations on both the inside and the outside of the Church. This is a true demonstration of the amount of wealth that the Chatsworth estate had at this time, certainly even from first impressions of this place it is obvious that there was no expense spared.

      St Peter's has several notable features. One of the lesser known ones is that the Churchyard here not only contains all of the tombs of the Duke of Devonshires Cavendish family it is also the final resting-place of Kathleen Kennedy, sister of the former US President JF Kennedy. Her gravestone is rather plain but it does occupy a prominent spot besides the far grander ducal ones.

      Kathleen Kennedy married the present Duke of Devonshire's brother. He was killed in action in Belgium during the Second World War and he is also buried here. Kathleen died tragically just four years later in a plane crash. President JF Kennedy visited his sister's grave five months before his assassination and the present Duchess in her published memoirs recalls this visit. In this section of her book called "The House- A Portrait of Chatsworth" she quotes a lady from Edensor who describes how the President arrived by helicopter and landed on a patch of grass between St Peter's Church and her house. This witness recalls that "the wind from that machine blew my chickens away, and I havent seen them since".

      The most elaborate tombs are those that belong to the various Dukes of Devonshire, but there is one exception. This is the tomb of Joseph Paxton who has one of the grandest tombs here despite being merely head gardener of the estate. Joseph Paxton was responsible for landscaping the gardens as they are today.

      The wonderful thing about this Church is that it is the pride and joy of the village so its doors are almost always kept open. The interior of St Peter's is at first glance fairly typical in design and layout of several other Churches that I have visited but there are a few notable features. These include a monument to Henry and William Cavendish, two of the sons of Bess of Hardwick. This monument is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of its kind in the whole of Britain. Bess Hardwick was probably the most famous inhabitant of several nearby estates including Chatsworth. Of her six surviving children William was the forbear of the Dukes of Devonshire and Henry was the forbear of the Dukes of Newcastle. It is to these two sons that this monument is dedicated.

      Inside a glass case within the Church there is a wreath of everlasting flowers that was sent here from Queen Victoria for the funeral of Lord Frederick Cavendish. On another wall there is a brass plaque that records the death of John Beaton. He was the servant of Mary Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned at Chatsworth House.

      St Peters Church in Edensor is a fantastic place to visit if you are ever in the area, access is free and the doors are usually open.

      St Peter's Church
      DE45 1PH

      Telephone: (01246)582130


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