Saturday, 12 March 2016
Annesley Old Church
The church was built by the Annesley family in 1356 to replace a Norman chapel on the same site. It was in use for some services as late as the 1940s, although a parish church serving the nearby mining village of Annesley was constructed in 1874.
On the south wall is a triple sedilia (seats for use by the officiating priest and his assistants during communion services) and a piscina (shallow bowl used to wash communion vessels). The art historian Nikolaus Pevsner believed they predated the church and had been brought in from some other building.
Both Byron and D H Lawrence (two local writers) mention the church. The estate passed by marriage to the Chaworth family in the 17th century. Byron and Mary Ann Chaworth were sweethearts and she is named in two of his poems.
Hills of Annesley, Bleak and Barren,
Where my thoughtless Childhood stray'd,
How the northern Tempests, warring,
Howl above thy tufted Shade.
Now no more, the Hours beguiling,
Former favourite Haunts I see,
Now no more my Mary smiling,
Makes ye seem a Heaven to Me.
Lawrence describes it in his 1911 novel The White Peacock.
The church is abandoned. as I grew near and owl floated softly out of the black tower. Grass overgrew the threshold. I punched open the door, grinding back a heap of fallen plaster and entered the place. In the twilight the pews were leaning in ghostly disorder, the prayer books dragged from their ledges, scattered on the floor in the dust and rubble, torn by mice and birds. Birds scuffled in the darkness of the roof.