About this image
St Chad's Church looking north-west from the graveyard.
Church (or Little) Wilne is located on the north bank of the River Derwent about a mile above the latter's confluence with the Trent and is essentially a deserted village with only the church, a former textile mill and a few cottages remaining. However, earthworks show that it was once larger but various factors caused Draycott, a mile to the north, to expand at the expense of its neighbour, the latter having better communications by road, rail and canal and with a lesser propensity to flood. Nevertheless, St Chad's Church remained the Anglican place of worship for both villages and also effectively served the nearby hamlet of Great Wilne (actually located in the parish of Shardlow and Great Wilne) to which the only connection was via a footbridge over the river.
The church consists of a chancel, nave with clerestory, south aisle and chapel, south porch and tower. The lower part of the latter is 13th century and it has a rectangular stair turret. Much else is of 14th or 15th century date, although the most interesting feature is the Willoughby Chapel (seen here above the gravestone in the foreground) which was established in 1622 when Sir Henry Willoughby Bart (1579-1649) of Risley erected a monument to his parents Sir John (d 1605) and Lady Frances (d 1605). The chapel includes some noteworthy stained glass depicting the Nativity, Crucifixion and Ascension by the Flemish glass painters Bernard and Abraham Van Linges.
At the date of this photo the church was less isolated than it is today, there being a large farm (a dutch barn belonging to which can be seen in the right background) and a couple of cottages immediately to the north, plus a further grouping a little more distant that rejoiced in the name New Delight. These had all been demolished by the late 1970s, probably as a result of gravel extraction, which at one point virtually left the church and churchyard as an island surrounded by quarrying.
In the meantime the church itself had suffered, being gutted by fire on 7 March 1917, but it was subsequently carefully restored by Currey & Thompson who introduced Arts and Crafts style furnishings, the work being finished in 1923.
This photo was taken by Derby-based postcard publisher F W Scarratt and was allocated the number 603 in his series. It is thought the small boy posing for the camera is Scarratt's son Alec.