Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Dale Abbey

Another sunny walk this morning, this time around the environs of Dale abbey and the 'Hermitage'. The village of Dale Abbey contains probably the smallest church in Britain. Measuring just 26 by 25 feet, it is joined on to the farmhouse.

As you can see from the picture, there is some maintenance work going on, not surprising as the church itself was founded in the 12th century and contains a pulpit from 1634. The adjoining farmhouse may have been used as an infirmary for the nearby Abbey and was also an inn known as the Blue Bell for some time before 1820.
Near to the church is 'Hermit's wood' and the hermit's cave which gives the wood it's name.

The cave was carved out of the sandstone cliff by a 12th century Derby baker who wanted to live as a recluse. The story goes that, one day when Ralph Fitz-Geremund came from Normandy to hunt in the woods, he found the hermit and, touched with pity for his poverty, gave him not only the site of the hermitage but a tithe from his mill at nearby Borrowash.

The view from inside the cave is still splendid and there are still signs of occupation, such as niches for candles and carvings of crosses - though sadly, mostly obscured these days by mindless graffiti.

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