St Leonard's Church


St Leonard’s Church is located in the Diocese of Derby and is a member of Parwich Benefice. The church was originally a chapelry of Ashbourne. It was made a parish between 1291 and 1310. The tower is the oldest part of the church dating back to around 1150. The nave is Norman. The walls of the Nave are limestone rubble laid in lime mortar with a thickness of 2 ½ ft to 3 ½ ft. The chancel was rebuilt and extended by F Bacon in 1881. A vestry was added at this time. The church is listed Grade I.

The church building is open during the hours of day light. Historical information about the church and local community dating back to 1701 can be found in the church registers for births, deaths and marriages. These historical records are held at the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock.

The south porch of St Leonard's church in Thorpe has some interesting grooves on either side of the doorway - these are arrow sharpening marks.

Since the 14th century, after the black death had seriously reduced the number of available archers needed to protect king and country, a general decree was passed ordering Sunday afternoons to be set aside for archery practice, and those marks were made by the sharpening of arrows.

Edward III, finding archery was being neglected, ordered men to stop playing football and other games to practice archery instead. The people kept their arrows at home, but generally living in wooden houses had no means of sharpening them and found the stone porch at the church the most convenient place. Shooting at butts took place after the Sunday service, usually at the bottom of the churchyard.

A sundial tops a pedestal in the churchyard and as it is too high to be read by pedestrians, it is safe to assume it was designed for horse riders.

As it stands among the gravestones one must also assume it is not in its original position. Furthermore the gnomon which casts the shadow is set at an angle of 35 degrees exactly whereas Thorpe stands on altitude 35 degrees three seconds.

The design of the sundial is an exact science and this one was made by Whitehurst and it is unlikely that this famous Derby clockmaker would make such a mistake, perhaps these three angle seconds would make little difference. However it is not in situ and it is a mystery as to where it stood originally.

St Leonard's church

St Leonard's church

St Leonard's church

St Leonard's church

St Leonard's church

Arrow Marks

St Leonard's church

The Sundial in the Churchyard

 

 

 

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