Tunnels to Tideswell Church
This summer saw me kindle an interest in Tunnels under Tideswell.
If you have read any of my previous posts you will know how my investigations went. If you haven’t read the articles before here are they.
I decided that I needed to go and see the Vicar. After all, I needed an “official line” on the matter. I called the vicar, and arranged a meeting. He was kind enough to meet me at his house, and we had a 30 minute chat. I was somewhat disappointed with the outcome
Around 26 June 2012 I went back to Tideswell looking for the hidden tunnels which of rumoured by live underneath the village. I was told to go and see the vicar. I contacted the vicar by telephone and arrange the meeting at his house. He arranged to see me early in the early evening I was quite hopeful that he would be able to shed some
light on the many questions I had to ask him regarding tunnels under the church.
We sat down and I began to ask the vicar about the rumoured tunnel from the back of the church to Church St. Sadly the vicar said that he did not have any information about tunnels. Like everyone else, he had heard rumours but did not put any stock in
them, as he had never found any evidence of the tunnel or documents
pertaining to tunnels. Next I asked him about the small room that sits over the north door that sits over the south door of Tideswell Church. As you enter Tideswell Church through the South door, (main entrance) on the right there is a small door on the left.
It leads to a narrow staircase up to small office. I went in this office as a school pupil at bishop Pursglove School. The room was full of documents and books that, however was about some 30 years ago.
I don’t know how much things have changed but the vicar told me that the little secret office, that seemed so mysterious in the fog of my memory, had been recently cleared out and there was nothing in there. It was now used as a storeroom he assured me.
“What about the records, though, if they have been moved, where are they now?” I pressed.
Any ecclesiastical records were now held at the public records office in Matlock, he rebuffed my renewed pressure off easily. Naturally this was a disappointing conclusion to our meeting, however he did tell me that if I wanted to go into the cellar behind the church that I should ask the caretaker to let me in. He passed me the caretakers number, telling me that he would be on his rounds that evening, and with that we parted.
I dialled the caretakers number.
Under Tideswell Church
Mr Robbinson agreed to meet me and we went around the back of the
church, just in front of the Institute by the old grammar school. there is an opening leading to the boiler house cellar. Mr Robinson produced a large bunch of keys and we went down into the cellar.
My interest in the cellar was kindled by other residents who told me that have been into the cellar and told me that they had seen a bricked up archway that was surely the tunnel entrance. As you go down the steps on the right there is a disused coal bunker. On the left, there was evidence of a brick arch this may, at one time have gone under the lady chapel but it’s difficult to tell as it’s been plastered over.
The celar itself contained the new boiler and evidence of an old boiler of which the pipework has not been fully removed. The cellar itself, was long probably about 12
foot in length and seven feet high. The cellar had an arched ceiling, but I could see no firm evidence that was visible that there was an entrance to any tunnel.
Earlier that day, I had been looking inside the church itself. If you walk into the church, then turndown towards the pulpit and then take a left into the Lady Chapel you will see some very old pews. Behind the first seat on these old pews one of the backboards is missing. If you look carefully, You can see an opening which could be the top of an old door or archway. If you put your arm down into the cavity you can feel the top of the opening or an arch. See my photo. It’s impossible to tell how big this cavity is.
I had hoped that by going into the cellar would allow me to get to this cavity and thus
see the entrance to a tunnel. However, it seems that the boiler and
the boiler cellar are slightly to the right of the lady chapel. In fact whilst I was in the cellar I noticed a grate that looks up into the lady chapel, but not in the right position to line up with the archway behind the pews.
All in all the trip approved pretty fruitless. In fact, a thorough, if enlightening disappointment.
The Star Inn
The next night evening, the proprietors of ‘The Star Inn the allow me into their celar beneath the pub. I had heard a rumour that one of the small cellars was at one
time a priest hole. Jerry showed me into the cellar and we looked all
around. There is very little evidence of the room being used for
anything other than storage.
In truth though I’m not sure what I expected to find, in the cellar of a working pub. Once again dear friends. The trail has gone cold.
To leave you with a drop of optimism in your hearts, I have heard from Miranda Pennock. Miranda used to live at Devonshire House. (See Part 3) where I have already unsuccessfully looked for a tunnel. She assures me there was a room which was a priest hole and that there was a tunnel and her father helped to block it up. I am hoping that we can meet and she might be able to show me exactly where the tunnel was.
I have it on good authority from two very trustworthy gentlemen, who have asked me not to mention their names. That there was a tunnel of some sort unearthed, when they dug the footings for what was the ex-Servicemens Club. One of these gents has been in the tunnel and even found a coin dating from 17xx.
So, there’s still some faint hope that we might discover something yet. I know Sheffield University came out to do some surveys, I may well get in touch with them, and see if they fancy looking again. Watch this space. Please leave me a comment below, tell me where to look and who I should speak to next.