St Matthew's Church in Hayfield


Short Survey of its History

1086 Hayfield was in the Parish of Glossop. First church thought to have
stood at the foot of Kinder Scout near the confluence of two brooks, now
the Kinder and the Sett, at Bowden Bridge. The old name for the
land was 'Kirksteads' i.e. 'the fixed place of the abode of the church'.

1386 Church founded on present site when King Richard II gave the land.
He also gave the Freeholders of Hayfield the right to enclose their church and to 'present' the Minister (to name and recommend to the Bishop for institution to the benefice).
This is how the Resident Freeholders came to be Patrons of the Living.
This church, dedicated to St Matthew, served the people of Hayfield, New Mills, Chiney and Bugsworth.
The interior of the church would have been rough stone, a soil floor,
straight backed unvarnished pews; no ornaments and no kneelers

Local Industries through the Centuries

14th, 15th, 16th - Part of the Royal Forest with a small population: agriculture
was always the main livelihood of the people;
17th - Making cutlery; freestone and millstone quarrying;
18th - Cutlery work gone; woollen manufacture growing; by
1781 linen and cotton being worked in the village.

From the Diary of John Wesley

1748 'Great flood in and around Hayfield, Church damaged and bodies
swept out of their graves.'
1755 and 1757 John Wesley preached at St Matthew's.

1792 first road reached Hayfield.

1793 Rebuilding of church tower and 6 bells, cast by John Rudhall,
bellfounder of Gloucestershire installed. Weight of bells range from 3 3/4
cwts to 7cwts. Church clock had only one dial facing Kind Scout -east

Early 19th - Church fell into disrepair.

Occupations: textiles; paper: millstone quarrying;
'some coal mining agriculture - mainly sheep..

Population; 1787 - 565, 1801- 972, 1851 -1758.

1814 Restoration of church started.
1818 Rebuilding completed - see date stone outside church above east
window. During rebuilding floor raised about six feet to prevent flooding.
From the 1386 church a pointed arch under the tower remains and can
be seen from outside the tower. Still to be seen in the crypt (not visitable)
octagonal pillars with bosses and capitals of early perpendicular work
(which help to date the old church) were shortened to support wooden floor of present church, (they had supported three arches on each side of nave of 1386 church) also wood from roof was used to support floor of present church.

1830 Church school built for early 1840 two to three hundred scholars were being taught the '3R's'. When the Local Authority School opened the building continued to be used as a church hall

1849 Organ built by Kirkland and Jardine remains virtually unaltered.

1877-1906 Alterations made in the Church Three tier pulpit, which had
been under centre of chancel arch, replaced by oak pulpit standing on high
steps to left of arch. Brass communion rails installed across arch, large brass eagle lectern to right of arch. Back of the church on south side large ornate stone font set on steps. Plain glass windows gradually replaced by stained glass as memorials to various people.

1896 Tower raised to accommodate clock with four dials.

1940 Two new bells added making a ring of 8, from treble 3 1/4 cwts to tenor 10 3/4 cwts.

1973 Derbyshire County Council made compulsory purchase order for the
relief road and the church hall (former church school) was demolished in

1976. A plaque from the old school is set in the churchyard. wall near the
rear gate

1977 Work started on new hall which was built in part of churchyard and
linked to the church.
1978 Alterations made to the church Steps Inside front door removed and
floor and front door raised. Outside stone steps to front door were built.
Vestry moved into tower, old vestry converted to kitchen. Back of church
under the gallery cut off by partition wall and cupboards to form the foyer.
In the church central box pews removed and chairs replaced them. Raised
chancel area extended westward enabling the Lord's Table to be brought
forward. Victorian altar rails modified, pulpit lowered. Curved pews at the
back were originally those in front of the three tier pulpit. Panelling from box; pews used round walls of chancel. Victorian font dismantled and
original Georgian font moved into Its present position.
There was a candelabra when the church was lit by gas. The present fitting
was especially made for the church in 1978 as a gift of the architect.

1985 Mechanism of clock altered to electric winding, prior to this someone
climbed the tower each day to wind the clock.

1989 New movable altar rail made to fit along front of chancel. It is
erected for Holy Comunion services.

Memorial Tablets

There are a number of these, the most interesting in the north gallery to
Joseph Hague is surmounted by a bust sculptured by John Bacon (1740-99). Joseph Hague lived at Park Hall, Little Hayfield; he made his fortune in cloth.


also ref St Johns Methodist Chapel built 1782

back to History file

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