Norbury, St Mary and St Barlok, Derbyshire ***

“The effigies are superb works of Midlands alabaster. Every detail is immaculate, even the fingernails and strands of hair…In the nave floor is a Saxon shaft.”

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Ashbourne, St Oswald, Derbyshire ****

“Queen Charlotte was said to have broken into tears on seeing the statue (of Penelope Boothby, dead at age 5) at a Royal Academy exhibition. Evincing such a reaction was regarded as a challenge to late-Georgian sculpture.”

Ashbourne also contains my favourite of any stained glass window in England, the The Turnbull Window, commemorating the death of two young sisters, Monica and Dorothea Turnbull, a splendid work of spiritual and artistic vision.

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Chesterfield, St Mary and All Saints, Derbyshire, ***

“Chesterfield is universally known for its twisted spire, the most famous architectural distortion north of Pisa…One theory is that the Devil rested on his way from Sheffield to Nottingham, another that a virtuous maiden sent the spire wild with admiration…A less romantic theory holds that lead plates laid herringbone over unseasoned timber led the wood to twist but not snap under the weight. The structure turned and sank, but then ‘set’ without collapsing. It lasted from the 14th century to the 19th when it was declared unsafe and experts advised demolition. Rubbish, said the citizens of Chesterfield and merely strengthened it.”

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