Saint Giles is the parish church for Matlock but you won't find it in the centre of the present day town. It stands in a part of town that was the original old centre of Matlock. Matlock has developed over the years from a series of smaller settlements which have joined together to become one community. Even so places like Matlock Bath and Starkholmes still retain their separate village identity.
The church stands on a hill overlooking what is now the centre of Matlock. There are wonderful views from the churchyard across some parts of the town.
The two church clocks - the one on the church tower and the older sundial in front - you can see what time we visited!
The church was open so we popped inside to see what it was like and to take a couple of photos, the font dates from the 12th century. Apparently it was removed and buried in the rectory garden in the 18th century and replaced with a marble basin. This was replaced in 1871 by a Victorian 'Gothic' font, the original 12th century one was recovered and placed back in the church in 1924.
The church has undergone much restoration in its time. The chancel was restored in 1859 using the designs of G. H. Stokes son-in-law of Sir Joseph Paxton who was head gardener at Chatsworth House and designer of the Crystal Palace in London which was used for the Great Exhibition of 1851.
The church itself is surrounded by some very interesting old buildings which tell the story of the older village of Matlock.
From the churchyard you can see across to the newer buildings spreading from today's centre up the hills on the other side of the town. Both the town council buildings and the Derbyshire County Council headquarters as well as the Derbyshire Archives offices are to be found there.
Looking in the opposite direction across the older buildings surrounding the church you can see Riber Castle on the hill in the distance. The castle was built in the 1860s by local industrialist John Smedley as a family home. It has been empty for several years now but I remember visiting, probably in the 1980s, when there was a small zoo there and seeing otters and wolves. At the time I remember not really liking the way the animals were looked after.
Across the road from the church is the Duke William public house. Built in 1759 and named after the then Duke of Cumberland whose name is familiar from the accounts of the Battle of Culloden. You can also see the old school buildings in the background.
The house above stands next to the church and from its appearance is quite old. It has a date of 1681 on it but some parts are even older. The house is called The Wheatsheaf and up to one hundred years ago it was a public house of that name.
As we left the church and churchyard the light was beginning to fade and it was time to start our journey home. It is an area of Matlock we don't usually see when we visit or pass through so it was wonderful to have seen both the church and the old part of the town it stands in.