Derbyshire Places of Worship

We have 2 Images St Helen's Church, Darley Dale (1) St Helen's Church, Darley Dale (2) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Rosemary Lockie/Paul Slater
St Helen's Church, Darley Dale
St Helen's Church,
Church Road, DE4 2GG,
Darley Dale, Derbyshire.


This Church has (or had) a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded in the 10th century, and we understand it is still open.

Kelly's Directory of 1932 describes Darley Dale (Darley or North Darley) as a township, extensive parish and village, pleasantly situated in a valley, with a station on the London, Midland and Scottish railway, 146 miles from London and 4½ north-west from Matlock Bath... Curiously, there is no mention of other nearby towns and villages; though by way of further description, it adds that the river Derwent separates North from South Darley - South Darley being described under its own heading in the Directory.

The foundations of a place of worship in Darley are outlined on St Helen's Church website - "there is sound evidence that there was a church building on the site in the 10th century and in the Domesday book (1086) there is a record of a church and a priest ... [and] within a further 100 years, there were 3 clergy to serve the people, Henry the priest with Thorald and Robert as clerks". However, the present building (Kelly says) dates from the 12th century, and consists of chancel, clerestoried nave of four bays, transepts, south porch and a western tower containing a clock and 8 bells, dated respectively 1704, 1618, 1628 (two), 1710 and 1876; and two in 1902, one of which [the tenor] was dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria.

In the south transept is a monument to Sir John de Darley, whose family held the royal manor of Darley in the 13th century. In the north transept are monuments to the Rollesley family (1513); in the chancel to the family of Milward (1658), and in the south aisle to the Collumbell and Wendesley families. There are several stained windows, including one designed by Sir E. Burne-Jones, erected in 1860, and the east window, erected in 1864 as a memorial to the son of the Rev. Daniel Vawdrey M.A. rector 1847-81.

Which brings us to the return to the Religious Census of 1851 (HO 129/449/2/5/10) for "Darley (North & South) Parish Church", completed during Rev. Vawdrey's office. It was for an estimated congregation on March 30th of 250 in the morning, and 200 in the afternoon, with 100 Sunday Scholars each at morning and afternoon class. As indicated, it was completed by Daniel Vawdrey, who described himself as "Rector, Darley", residing at "Darley Rectory, Matlock". He remarked that "the above return is only a rough guess, as in no other way (without sufficient notice) could a correct return have been made. The Church however is well attended - but the great [???] of the accommodation is the appropriation of [??? ???], to large houses, whether there is a family large enough to occupy them or not - while no free provision is made for the poor".

There was, literally, no accomodation for the poor, as all 402 sittings he listed were "paid for" - none were free.

It is not known when this changed, but certainly by the time the above-mentioned Kelly's Directory was published, which further records that during renovations in 1928, a mural painting was discovered, estimated to be 400 years old, of a ship, representing the blessing of the tribe of Zebulon. The frescoes were pronounced by Dr. James, Provost of Elton, to be part of a series of banners of the patriarchs; only one other church is known where similar frescoes exist - Willingham, Cambridgeshire. The living (in 1932) was still a rectory, in the gift of the Bishop of Derby, and had been held since 1920 by the Rev. Richard Griffiths M.A. of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, also described as "hon. chaplain R.N. and hon C.F." (Royal Navy)?

Darley's first railway station was opened in 1849 on the south side of Station Road. It was transferred to its present site, on the north side of the road in 1873. The station was officially named "Darley Dale" in 1890; and thereafter custom and local usage led to its becoming synonymous with the area it served. [Source: Disused Stations (Closed Railway Stations in the UK)]

There may be more information available by by selecting one or more of the accompanying images on the right.


Now or formerly Church of England.

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.


This Church is located at OS grid reference SK2668862984. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:


I have found many websites of use whilst compiling the information for this database. Here are some which deserve mention as being of special interest for Darley Dale, and perhaps to Local History and Places of Worship as a whole.

The above links were selected and reviewed at the time I prepared the information, but please be aware their content may vary, or disappear entirely. These factors are outside my control.

Information last updated on 14 Dec 2018 at 15:45.

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Further Information

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This Report was created 29 Nov 2023 - 02:21:53 GMT from information held in the Derbyshire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 13 Oct 2021 at 14:33.

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