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St Peter's Church (Hope, Derbyshire)

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The church features a carved oak pulpit dating back to 1652. Outside the grounds are surrounded with ancient memorials.

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    2 Reviews
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      02.04.2009 01:26
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      A wonderful area to visit

      OS Grid reference Ref: SK 17255 83445
      SatNav S33 6SB

      Historic churches have so much to offer to their visitors and I am one of their number one fans, I suppose many people might be tempted to place visiting churches in the same category as train spotting or bird watching but maybe that is only because they have never stopped and taken time out to explore what they have to offer.
      Derbyshire is so picturesque and has many places of great interest to offer to its visitors, in particular the Hope Valley is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
      Hope Village was constructed around the B6049 Northwards from Tideswell to Edale and the crossroads of the A624 Sheffield to Chapel-en-le-Frith road.

      Interestingly enough around 79AD the Romans built a fort a short distance away from the village of Hope which they subsequently abandoned at some point during the fourth century. To this day some minor evidence of the Roman Fort still remains.
      As William the Conqueror invaded England the Parish of Hope was not only the most important parish in Derbyshire but it was the mother church for one of the largest parishes in England with over 40,000 acres and was among one of the handful of Derbyshire villages to be mentioned before the Doomsday Survey of 1086.

      Look across the Market Place towards the church and you will instantly notice how well loved and looked after the 700 year old St Peters Church is, a large but beautifully kept graveyard surrounds the ornate church and a tree lined path leads the way from the main gate to the South porch.
      The Medieval masons who worked on the church must have been given a fairly free rein as the building has many interesting and elaborate stone carvings, intricate finials and gargoyles.
      The North wall of the church tower has a well worn Celtic face carved into the side of it and to the South side of the church the path has a Saxon Cross to one side and an old market Cross at the other side.
      During your walk around the churchyard you will pass many ancient cross shafts, sadly these have incurred some damage over time but the carving is still intact and is a wonderful example of what could be done centuries ago using the most basic of tools.
      When I first saw the cross shaft carvings the first word that sprang to my mind was Celtic. But there are carved plaits and knots, vines, foliage and figures.
      Also the old village stocks are built into the side of the church, a stark reminder to behave ourselves or else!

      The church itself is the second place of Worship to sit on this site, the first church to occupy the ground was prior to the Norman Conquest.
      Old graveyards hold a fascination for many of us and St Peters has many gravestones that are well worth taking a closer look at. Most of the memorials are dated from the late 1700`s onwards.
      The area was once a Royal Hunting Reserve so you will see ancient memorials that carry the symbols of the forest officers.
      A very ancient circular font was rescued by one Hopes most recent Vicars and it was restored to its former glory and reinstated in its rightful place within the church.
      In the late 1800`s the chancel was completely rebuilt, then again in 1908 the chancel underwent another period of reconstruction. This involved enlarging the main East window and adding yet some more glorious stained windows to further enhance the beauty of St Peters. This means that virtually all of the stained glass is relatively modern but it is well designed and very colourful. Just two armorial shields are original stained glass and these have been incorporated into one of the new windows that sits at the east end of the north aisle.

      I have a particular passion for woodcarvings and in the chancel you will see some excellent wood carving both old and new which have been worked by inhabitants of Hope Village.
      Carving on the pulpit suggests that the pulpit dates as far back as 1652.

      There are six bells in the tower at St Peters church, five of these were recast in 1733. One of the bells has the Devonshire coat of arms inscribed on it.
      St Peters also has a collection of silverware including Alms dishes, Chalices, cups and covers and flagons, many of which are inscribed and all are beautifully cleaned and cared for.

      Another interesting custom used at St Peters through the ages involves using a tow rope, I can just see you reading this and thinking `What on earth has a tow rope got to do with a church?`
      But it is a custom that doesn't only belong to Derbyshire! I can well remember as a child holding newly wed couples to ransom by placing a rope across the road in front of their wedding car until they parted with a few pennies!

      The village of Hope has a well dressing that runs from June 27th to July 6th.
      The dedication ceremony is on the 28th June at 7pm starting at St Peters church Hope.
      The well dressing is on the wall of the churchyard on the Market Place which faces along the Hathersage road.
      Well Dressing is a strong Derbyshire tradition which entails covering the local wells with hundreds of flowers which are pressed into a bed of clay. The display will usually last well for just over a week.
      The wells are `dressed` to give thanks to the Water Gods.

      The church of St Peters often only opens for a service nowadays which does considerably narrow visiting times. There is a Sunday morning service and if you are fortunate you may strike it lucky and catch the church open when there is something going on, but the graveyard and the architecture are very interesting and well worth visiting.
      There is very little space to park outside of the church, so if you have decided to explore St Peters church for yourself then it may be best to park in the village car park.( It runs just off of the village centre).
      Tourists may be tempted to bypass Hope in favour of a visit to Castleton but there are several shops, two pubs and a wonderful church sitting in Hope just waiting to be explored by one and all.

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      • More +
        15.01.2008 19:58
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        This Derbyshire Church dates from the 14th century

        The Parish Church of St Peter can be found in the small, picturesque town of Hope in the heart of the Peak District National Park.

        Visitors, who drive through Hope on their way to Castleton 3 Kilometres further down the road, often overlook this village. However, whilst it is true that Castleton may have more to offer for the tourist, Hope is a charming little place and should not be dismissed.

        Hopes Church stands on a small grassy mound in the centre of the village and dominates the area. We know that there was a Saxon Church that stood on this same spot from the 8th century AD and reference to this is made in the Doomsday Book of 1086. The present Church however dates largely from the 14th century, although there are a few of its early Norman features that have been preserved, including the font.

        In addition to being architecturally very aesthetically pleasing this Church contains many interesting features. In the Churchyard there is a 9th century Saxon Preaching Cross, which despite being a little bit damaged at the top, this is in quite a good condition considering its age. Whilst inside the Church there is a 17th century wooden schoolmasters chair and an oak pulpit that was carved in 1652.

        During medieval times St Peters Church was the most important Church in the whole of the Hope Valley and despite surrounding villages like Bradwell and Castleton having their own places of worship, people from these surrounding settlements would travel here frequently, weather permitting of course. In fact it is said that parishioners regularly came to Hope from Chapel en-le Frith to worship, which is some 14 Kilometres away. This weekly migration continued right into Victorian times despite Chapel en-le-Frith having its own Church, which was built in the 13th century.

        Hope's Church of St Peter is famous for its many gargoyles that adorn the outer walls of this building and also for its many elaborate carvings. Gargoyles were commonly placed on the outer walls of Churches to keep away evil spirits, but it seems that the stone masons that worked on this building must have got carried away as there are well over 30 different gargoyles here.

        The 8th century Saxon Cross that stands in the Churchyard is one of the earliest known examples in the whole of Britain. This cross was originally located at nearby Eccles House, but was moved here to protect it during the 19th century. It has suffered from a little bit of damage over the last 1300 years and part of its head is missing, but otherwise it is remarkably well preserved. The carving on this cross is said to be very inventive in comparison to other examples of a similar or even later date. The carvings on this cross are very similar to those found on a 10th century Cross at All Saints Churchyard in nearby Bakewell.

        The Churchyard also houses a second Saxon Cross, which is of a later date, but only the shaft of this remains today. There is also a medieval Market Cross located here too, which is perched on top of an octagonal stone base.

        The interior of the Church is very grand with huge stained glass windows. There are also some interesting memorials on the walls that bear symbols that are relevant to the days when this Church was part of the Royal Hunting Reserve. These symbols include images of forest officials and hunting scenes.

        At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 the Parish of Hope, which was one of the largest in England and covered an area of over 40,000 acres.

        The present spire of the Church is in a stubby-broach style and dates from the 16th century whilst the chancel was rebuilt during the late 19th century. Part of this building was re-roofed during the 1970s.

        I have visited Hope many times and I often take a stroll through the Churchyard, which is always very well maintained. The majority of the headstones and memorials date from the period 1750-1870 although there are some slabs on the floor, which are earlier than this. These date from the latter half of the 17th century and I was told by a local that these were moved here from another smaller Church (now demolished) that was located somewhere between Hope and Bradwell, although I have never been able to find any factual evidence to support this.

        When I first used to come to Hope as a child the doors of this Church were always open but these days it is unfortunately usually locked. Visiting the inside of this Church nowadays is usually by prior arrangement with the Parish Church at Bradwell. Although if you are lucky you may drop on it when it is open just before or after a service has taken place. There is a Sunday Service here at 9.15am.

        The Church of St Peter is now linked with the Parish Churches of Bradwell and Hathersage to form a super Parish.

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