Although the text below is entitled Short Notes from a Church Publication, the text and pictures have actually been copied, with permission, from the excellent website Tutbury -
Short Notes from a Church publication:
The Church was founded as a Benedictine Priory by Henry de Ferrers. It was in memory of King William the Conqueror and his wife Queen Matilda of Flanders -
"in honour of holy Mary, the Mother of God ... and for the soul of King William and Queen Mathilda, and for the health of my father and mother, and my wife Berta, and my sons, Engenulph, William and Robert, and my daughters and all my ancestors and friends."
The monks who lived in this religious house came from the Benedictine monastery of St Pierre-
From the start, the Church was shared by the Parish, who occupied the western six bays of the nave, in common with many similar foundations elsewhere.
When John of Gaunt married the only child of the first Duke of Lancaster he made Tutbury Castle his home, and Henry lV spent his childhood there. Much of the district now forms part of the Sovereign's Duchy of Lancaster.
At the Dissolution a curtailed portion of the Parish Nave was retained for Parochial use involving the Central and Southern Aisles of the original with the top layer, or Clerestory removed for easier maintenance. The lowered roof covered a plaster ceiling that remained until 1866.
The Interior Architecture
The fragment we have, about a third of the original is very tantalizing. The Nave is early 12th century, c.1100 would seem likely.
The West Wall is a ' tour de force‘. It is so elaborate that it may be as late as 1150.
The western three pillars have a unique 4-
In the original structure the windows over the arches in the nave were unglazed openings behind which a triforium or gallery ran all round the church and apse. The remains of this can be seen over the west door, and the entrance to the north side is still visible at the top of the turret steps. Above the triforium was a third row of arches containing the clerestory windows.
The south aisle was partly destroyed in a rebellion of Robert de Ferrieres in 1266. From the south door westwards is original Norman work, and a fragment of stone vaulting can be seen in the roof above the font.
The eastern section of the aisle, which now serves as a side chapel, was rebuilt about 1307 by Edmund Earl of Leicester. Interesting to notice is the width of the old Norman wall on which the 14th century wall stands, and the development of the Gothic arch in the windows. Several Norman masons' marks can be seen on the pillars.
The south aisle is half Norman and half an incomplete recating in the last quarter of the 14th century. The window tracery is all renewed except for some reused medieval window heads in the lower half of the East Window.
At the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry Vlll, only the existing nave was left standing as that had always served as the parish church for the people of Tutbury. Those parts of the church which were first built and were used by the monks -
The upper windows in the Nave built in the 16th century, into the former Triforium contains battered but contemporary leaded lights in the western bays.
The north aisle was built in 1829 on the foundations of the old north wall and is of poor quality. It was rebuilt to find accomodatlon for Tutbury’s increased population. At the same time, the floor of the church was raised 2-
The fine barrel roof now seen was erected in 1867-
The floor was re-
There is a ring of eight bells, the tenor weighing a little over 10 cwts. Four of the bells bear the date 1699.
The Head of Christ
Set in the pillar behind the pulpit, this is thought to be 13th century work and may have been part of the stone reredos behind the high altar in the monastic church.
The Alabaster Coffin
Situated in the North Aisle, the medieval coffin was discovered when a grave was being dug on Ash Wednesday, 1972. The alabaster is out-
It was the grave of a woman, aged 36-
When the next grave was dug in 1972, the sandstone coffin of a man was found beside this one.
Only one of real interest , to Vicar Anthony Orridge, 1655. Evidently he was a Puritan! It is in the West wall to the left of the door.
The High Altar, Reredos, Pulpit Choir Stalls and Fonts are all by Street and were made locally by the firm of Critchlow & Ward of Uttoxeter. It is fun to think that Street awarded the firm a first class certificate for the work in Tutbury.
The Stained Glass is all by Durlison & Grylls of London. The West Window, 1890 is the first, and the Chancel East Windows are the most recent 1939.
The Chapel Alter-
This was designed by Cecil Hare in 1919 and he was a pupil and partner of the great G.P.Bodley who did much work locally, and designed the West Window stonework here. It was made from a single piece of local alabaster.
This part of the south aisle was furnished as a side chapel in memory of the Fallen in the 1914-
The Glastonbury Chairs
There are 39 of them, all different forming part of the Memorial Chapel.
A beautiful piece of modern workmanship, carved from a 6,000 year old log of black bog-
The Parish Chest
At the west end of the nave there is a 16th century oak chest originally provided to keep the registers and documents of the church. There were three locks, and the keys were severally held by the vicar and the two churchwardens.
The oldest register contains entries of baptisms, marriages and burials dating from 1668. One interesting extract reads "1678. David Buxton killed … September 27, was the first buried in wollen (a woollen shroud) by virtue of an act of parlement to that end set forth commencing date from the first of August last past" This was an act to stimulate the English cloth trade in the time of Charles II.
The church possesses only one piece of antiquarian interest, a large chalice of the time of Queen Anne c 1706. It bears a coat of arms and a latin inscription. Its interest lies in the rare hallmark, "a lion's head erased and the figure of a woman commonly called Brittania." An act of William III in 1697 required this mark to be stamped on all silver plate, which from that date was to be of purer standard than the coin of the realm.
The High Altar Frontal
The blue frontal, which may be in use at times when the liturgical colour is usually green, is made from tapestry used in Westminster Abbey at the Coronation of King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth.
The Exterior Architecture
The Patron of the Benefice is Her Majesty the Queen in her right of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the royal arms hang over the west door.
The West Front is the glory of Tutbury Church, and one of the richest Norman fronts in England. The great door, 14 feet high and 9 feet 6 inches wide, is set in a series of six receding arches and a square label.
Some stylised restoration was carried out on the lower shafts at the turn of the century, but the arches are original. Birds, beasts, imps, flowers, chevron, palmette, here is a wonderful array of imaginative decoration, executed with skill and ingenuity.
The feature of unique interest is the second arch from the door. This is of alabaster, the local stone which is still mined in the district. This is the earliest example of English alabaster carving (c. 1160) and the only instance of its use in an exterior arch in the country. It is in a remarkable state of preservation.
Note the blackened beakheads which are of alabaster and unique in such a place. The ‘streaky bacon’ effect of the alabaster can be seen by studying its underside.
To the left, and upwards, of the Norman window, on the right of the West Door it will be noticed that three stones have been damaged. This seems to have been caused by a cannon-
The Tower is a makeshift necessary after the destruction of the Central Tower. The exact date of the erection of the existing tower is not known, but a reference to it in a 17th century register indicates the time of Elizabeth l. It is known that she was interested in the restoration of the church, and gave part of the rent of her Tutbury estate for that purpose. On four occasions she had Mary Queen of Scots imprisoned in Tutbury Castle. Note the domestic pinnacles.
The South Door
The lintel above this door is thought to be Saxon in origin. It depicts a boar hunt and is surrounded by a Norman arch.
The remainder of the church was abandoned, and was doubtless used as a stone quarry, so that there are no remains of the Monks' Choir or of their domestic buildings. Quite how savagely the 16th century used the building can be seen in the very botched east end of the South Aisle, now a Memorial Chapel.
The Victorian period saw C.E.Street engaged to restore the Nave in 1866 -
Since the Victorians, the building has been carefully tended and beautified, the most important work being the lowering of the Nave floor to reveal the original bases of the piers which had been long concealed.