St Matthew’s Church, Morley, is a Grade 1 listed building and is featured in Simon Jenkins’ Book England’s 1,000 Best Churches. It is noted for its stained glass windows, memorial brasses and medieval tiles and is well worth a visit.
Morley Church and the Sacheverell Bateman Mausoleum are open to the public from 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm on the first Saturday of the month from April to August inclusive. Both will also be open on the second and third weekends in September for National Heritage Open Days, again from 2.00 pm- 4.00 pm. Visitors are welcome at other times by prior arrangement with the Church Historian & Archivist. Please contact Sheila Randall.
The Sacheverell-Bateman Mausoleum
This mausoleum, located in the churchyard of St Matthew’s Church, Morley in Derbyshire, was erected in 1897 by Mrs Anna Bateman, wife of the late Sir Hugh Alleyne Sacheverell-Bateman who died in a riding accident in Morley Hayes wood on 26 October 1896. Sir Hugh was Lord of the Manor of Morley but never actually lived in the original manor, which had been demolished many years earlier. To arrange a visit please contact Sheila Randall as above.
Book of Hours
A successful bid at an auction in Nottingham in February has resulted in Derbyshire Record Office adding to its collections a very rare mid 15th century illuminated manuscript volume. This is a ‘Book of Hours’ (Ref: D5649), a medieval prayer book for members of the public (not the clergy). The book, which is in its original binding with wooden boards and remains of chains and clasps, relates to the Stathum family, early benefactors of Morley church, and their successors, the Sacheverells.
St Matthew’s Early History
In the reign of William I the Domesday Book was compiled. Its purpose was to record the lands of England, as well as the men who owned them, and the payments due to the King by each of these men. Morlei or Morley then formed part of the vast estates of Henry de Ferrers.
John Stathum gave three bells to the Church, two of which are still in use, and ordered 3/3 to be distributed yearly amongst the poor folk of the parish on the day of the death of dame Goditha. There are three memorials to him in the Church.
Probably John Stathum also put a new roof on the nave of Perpendicular pitch, raising the walls over the arcades and inserting clerestory windows. The tracery of these windows was removed and the mullions renewed at a later date. John was succeeded by his son, Thomas, who died in 1470, having twice married. He has an altar tomb on the North side of the South aisle bearing a memorial brass.
Robert Sacheverell’s daughter married Edward Pole, of Radbourn. When Dale Abbey was dissolved and the Church destroyed in 1539, Francis Pole, of Radbourn, purchased most of the material. It seems likely that the glass in the windows in the North Chapel was purchased from him by Sir Henry Sacheverell. The glass and stone framework from the cloisters were placed in the North Chapel.
Over the South door of the Church is a porch which in all probability came from Dale Abbey. In former times crosses were placed in every Churchyard. The old shaft of one remains in Morley Churchyard, it has been considerably shortened in order to receive a sundial, which was placed upon it in 1762. There is another cross known as the Butter Cross which, about a century ago, was enclosed from a public green.
There is a large collection of encaustic tiles to be found in the floor of the North Chapel. They were probably from Dale Abbey and purchased from the Canon’s Kiln. The Morley alms, with three bells, was obviously especially made for this church. There are also set patterns and initial tiles, and various armorial tiles.