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St Andrew, Great Cubley, Derbyshire

23/01/2016: There is a lot to see at this church, inside and out, starting with the enormous presence of the massive and solid tower, built in the time of Henry VIII. The outside of the tower is embellished with thirteen shields of the Montgomery family and its connections. The church is on a steep slope running uphill to the east so the chancel is noticeably higher than the foot of the tower. The north wall of the nave includes some (possibly) Saxon herringbone stonework.

The churchyard has an unusually varied collection of headstones, from local sand/gritstone from the late 1600s, through Swithland slate to Victorian Welsh slate.

The headstone for Mary and George Brownson has a couple of letter cutting errors where the original details have been corrected. Their surname and the date of his death both suffered some unpleasant overcutting.

There are a couple of stones cut in local material in a slightly naive cursive style, dated around the mid 1700s. Their informality gives them a certain charm. One, a small headstone for Sarah Bro___, date and age unreadable, daughter of unreadable, has a cute love-heart at the top. One of so many children who died in infancy perhaps. Two other stones, each to a man called John Smith, have love hearts. Perhaps the Smiths were an affectionate family.

Mary Allcock died "in the year of our Lord god 1736". The top of her headstone has a cute little memento mori skull. It looks like the headstone of Thomas Goodall(?) may have previously served as the top of a gatepost. The stone for John Hall, who died in 1703, tells us only those bare details. The simplicity of the message (with it's nice reversed N) still allows us to know he once was there.

The headstone for John Good has square cut letters. These remind me of the ones seen elsewhere (e.g. Darley Dale) which were filled with lead. These though have quite fine narrow strokes, so may not have been suitable for lead filling. No traces of lead remain so we'll never know. Josiah Pountain apparently died in 1781, though the date on his headstone looks like it originally read 1701 and was adjusted later.

The stones simply marked with initials and dates, "M.B. 1709" and "W. B. 1711" are most likely to be footstones, placed at the foot of the grave.

Inside the massive feel of the tower continues. The church feels extremely solid, without being large, barn-like and cold like some. Due to the slope and the raised chancel the church has an odd feel, but welcoming and secure. The pointed arch opening into the tower is large and high, allowing a lot of light from the high west window to spill into the back of the church.

Five high steps lead up into the spacious chancel and a further four steps up to the altar. The sanctuary has an effigy of Sir Nicholas Montgomery, much damaged, and a niche box tomb with weepers but no effigy, again of the Montgomery family. In the south east corner of the sanctuary, set on the floor is a very worn and only half-visible figure of a woman.

© Copyright Poor Frank Raw, 2016