St James Church Woodhead


I am starting to get a little enamoured by old churches that are still in use but seem to be abandoned. There is one on the Snake just before Alport Bridge. A plain church building with no adornment. The reason why it was plain is because it is on the protestant side of the Derwent Valley and therefore on Chatsworth Land, and the Duke of Devonshire wouldn’t put his hand in his pocket to build a church for his tenants so they had to pay for it themselves.

I recently visited St James Church in the village of Woodhead. If you didn’t know there was a village then its just past the Crowden car park as you are heading east over the A 628. Don’t pay attention and you can miss it, up that little lane that’s a bit of a dance with traffic death to get out of.

It’s a nice church from the outside, do not know about the insides as it was locked and had no door handle to even rattle.

The graveyards are always the best. Lots of graves with just initials on a sandstone headstone, probably poor people, of whom there were a great many. Some rich as well, people from Crowden Hall, several times in fact. Some one from Woodhead Station too.

Some graves were tended, which seemed a bit odd, most were well overgrown. I spent a good hour there mooching around, rattling the church door and looking at the land behind the church where navvies who died of cholera whilst building the tunnels are buried. Their graves are unmarked, lending a hierarchy to the graveyard. immigrant workers no head stone, poor plain headstone, rich ornate.  Nothing much is new I guess.



Author: Paul Besley

Writer I have spent most of my life escaping in to Britains National Parks and wilderness areas. I have grown to love the solitude it can bring and I like to share this with others either through guiding people or through my writing. I now spend half my life either as a ranger, guide or writer, involved with the natural landscape we are all a part of. It is these experiences that I wish to write and share about.

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