CHRIST CHURCH IRONVILLE

 THE CHURCH (AND VILLAGE) – A SHORT HISTORY

 

cc  Christ Church 2

 

THE VILLAGE AND PARISH………CHRIST CHURCH stands in a commanding position beside one of the main roads passing through the Derbyshire village of IRONVILLE. This village – now part of the administrative Borough of Amber Valley, and with a population of just over 2000 – was created in the first half of the 19th Century by the Butterley Company to house those employed in its ironworks, but it has long since lost its heavy industries of iron and steel making and mining, and there is only one major business – a haulage firm – left in the village. In recent years, parts of the original village have undergone a programme of redevelopment, and, elsewhere, some new housing has been built. The Ecclesiastical Parish of Ironville includes the communities of Codnor Park, Golden Valley, Butterley Park and even a small part of the village of Jacksdale, which is situated across the county border in Nottinghamshire. Ironville has a rich industrial heritage and contains within its parish some significant historical features. Within the parish boundary can be found Codnor Castle, the Codnor Gate Industrial Estate, most of the Midland Railway Butterley Heritage Railway Centre and working line, several miles of the Cromford Canal together with its Pinxton Branch, a large part of the Cromford Canal Butterley Tunnel (3083 yards) and the scenic Codnor Park (feeder) Reservoir, a stretch of the main Erewash Valley railway line (Nottingham-Chesterfield), and parts of Derbyshire Police Headquarters.

 

CHRIST CHURCH - THE BEGINNING..........The origins of CHRIST CHURCH are curious. In1834, the Butterley Company began a structured development of its new community of “Ironville” by building many more houses, and aiming to provide every possible amenity for the families of those employed in its ironworks. This “model village” was planned to include a school (hitherto, the schooling of children had been carried out in the front room of one of the houses), and around 1840, a new school – the Nave of the present church – was built, complete with a Headmaster’s house next door. However, there were obviously grander plans afoot! Encouraged by Francis Wright of the Butterley Company - the Patron of the Living, and a champion of the spiritual and moral welfare of his workforce -  plans were drawn up to build a bigger school across the road, and, also, to provide a church by enlarging the old school building. By 1846, the original school had been licensed for worship, the Revd John Casson had been appointed as Curate, the new school was being developed across the road, and work began to convert the old school into the Parish Church by the addition of an Apse, twin shallow Transepts, and a Tower (and including a lot of Butterley iron in the roof structures). In 1850, an Order in Council proclaimed the formation of the new Ecclesiastical Parish of Ironville, with the Revd Casson as the first vicar, and on Easter Monday, 16 April 1852, the church was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Lichfield. The architect of the new church was Henry Isaac Stevens of Derby, and the building cost £6,000. The Butterley Company also built a handsome, stone, classical vicarage, and provided a two-and-a-half acre cemetery, both close by, but on the other side of the Cromford Canal! CHRIST CHURCH is now a Grade II listed building (English Heritage Building ID No. 79079)

 

CHRIST CHURCH – THE PRESENT……….In 2015, and after 163 years, the structure of the church remains exactly as built. Internally, there have been various re-orderings and changes – for example, two different organs have been in three different locations – and outside, the modest church grounds (which have never been used for burials) have gained eight mature lime trees and a War Memorial (For details relating to the Unveiling and Dedication Ceremony click HERE) CHRIST CHURCH contains a number of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century monuments, together with a tower clock (which is connected into just one of the three tower window openings) by John Whitehurst of Derby (1841), one bell – only - in a belfry large enough for a peal of eight (Mears/Whitechapel Bell Foundry, 1852), and a fine organ by T.C. Lewis (1876) which is somewhat under-powered for the 80ft x 40ft Nave and seating for 300-400 people! There are now two cemeteries; the first was closed in 1975, whilst the second, consecrated in 1934, is still fully operational. There have been three vicarages, with the most recent one still in use. Next to the church, there is a Church Hall, built in 1962, and subsequently enlarged on several occasions. Also, in recent years, there have been some small revisions to the Parish Boundary. There used to be two daughter churches within the parish: St Matthias at Golden Valley - which also served as the village school - closed in 1977, whilst Holy Trinity in the tiny hamlet of Stoneyford – a “tin tabernacle” – closed earlier in 1965.

 

Inside Christ Church

 

IN THE VILLAGE, there is now an eclectic mix of housing! A few of the original rows have been demolished, but most of the remaining terraced housing has been refurbished and extended to provide spacious family homes, and these sit alongside modern town houses built on the sites of the old rows. Elsewhere, post-WW1 housing has been joined by new detached bungalows and houses, including clusters of large executive homes, producing a diverse social and cultural mix to the village population. The village railway station – Codnor Park & Ironville – closed in 1967, but there are frequent buses serving Ripley, Alfreton, Mansfield and Nottingham. Alfreton railway station, a few miles away, has an intensive service north and south, including some through trains to/from London St Pancras. In recent years, the Friends of the Cromford Canal group has begun to campaign vigorously for the restoration of the canal through Ironville so that, at some point in the future, it can reconnect with the national inland waterway system at Langley Mill.

 

CHRIST CHURCH – INTO THE FUTURE………. Since 1986, CHRIST CHURCH has been part of the United Benefice of St James, Riddings and Christ Church, Ironville, in the Deanery of Alfreton (and Diocese of Derby). More recently, the church has become part of a Mission & Ministry Area (MMA) which includes Ironville, Riddings, and, also, St Thomas in Somercotes, and St Martin of Tours in Alfreton. At the present time, the ministry team for this MMA consists of one full-time Priest-in-Charge together with a recently appointed Curate, and shortly, an Associate Priest will be licensed to work in the four churches. In 2008, CHRIST CHURCH was awarded a grant by English Heritage to finance major works to the outside of the building – re-roofing and re-pointing/replacing stonework – all aimed at making the church watertight for many years to come. At the present time, the church is busily fundraising to cover the cost of works to the Sanctuary Roof – the last phase of works to the outside – then to be followed by the ambitious project of repairing floors and plasterwork inside and carrying out the re-decoration of the whole of the interior.

 

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For our Local Church Diary please chick HERE

 

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