Padley - Padley Chapel

Upper Padley, Grindleford, Derbyshire, S32 2JA

title= title= title= title= title=

An important example of a fifteenth century domestic gatehouse with an upper chapel, part of a larger complex which has since been largely lost. More important in the Catholic context are its associations with the recusant Fitzherbert family and the sixteenth century martyrdom of Blessed Nicholas Garlick and Blessed Robert Ludlum. The restoration of the building as a pilgrimage chapel during the 1930s was carried out in sympathetic manner and the building continues to honour the memory of the martyrs. It exhibits original medieval architectural features, good stained glass largely by the Hardman firm and other fixtures of quality. The associated ruins act as an auditorium and setting for pilgrimage events.

The original construction date of Padley Hall is not known, but it is thought to have been wholly or partially rebuilt in the early fifteenth century, following the marriage of Robert Eyre to Joan Padley. The estate passed by marriage to the recusant Fitzherbert family (Norbury branch). In 1588, while in the ownership of John Fitzherbert, the house was raided by Richard Topcliffe. Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlum were arrested on the charge of being Catholic priests. They were taken to Derby and executed there in July 1588, while John Fitzherbert was imprisoned until his death in 1590. The house subsequently passed through various hands, and was owned by Robert Ashton in 1676. He pulled most of it down, keeping the entrance range as a farmhouse. It remained in this use until the eighteenth century, when it was adapted for agricultural purposes. It has been suggested that the chapel in the upper floor remained in use for clandestine religious services, but there is no direct evidence for this.

In 1898, following improvements in communications, annual pilgrimages were instituted in honour of the martyred priests. The site was bought by the Diocese of Nottingham in 1933. A programme of excavation was led by Mgr Charles Payne and the building was restored by C. M. E. Hadfield.  During the course of the excavations an altar slab was discovered and repositioned within the building. The building was blessed and the first Mass held within it in July 1933. Annual pilgrimages continued, with outdoor Masses celebrated amongst the ruins, latterly beneath an open-fronted canopy structure designed by Reynolds & Scott. The building continues in use as a chapel and is regularly opened to the public. The ruins were consolidated and conserved in 2013. 

The listing and scheduling descriptions (below) give an architectural description, to which the following can be added.

Padley was a double courtyard house considered to have been similar to that of Haddon Hall, but on a smaller scale. Some aspects of the surviving building suggest alteration in the mid- or late-fifteenth century, and some sources consider the remains to be largely of fourteenth century origin. It is thought that the Hall range faced the gatehouse, with service ranges beyond. The evidence suggests that the single surviving building of the complex was a gatehouse with two lower rooms on each side of the archway entrance and two upper chambers accessed via a missing external staircase, where paired upper doors are visible on the inner side.

The interior has a hammerbeam roof with angel and shield supporters and blocked fireplaces. Original partitions are missing. Conversion to a chapel involved the insertion of a replacement floor on the liturgical east side, served by flights of steps. An altar was instituted reusing the mensa unearthed during the excavations, positioned beside an original piscina. Stained glass includes windows by Hardman of 1933 showing the Virgin presenting the martyrs to a Crucified Christ, at the liturgical east end above the altar. Other windows of later date are probably also by Hardman, with scenes including the discovery and consecration of the ancient mensa, representations of the martyrs and heraldry of local recusant families. A large brass memorial dated 1944 shows Mgr Charles Payne in vestments kneeling before a representation of the chapel. The brass is one of only two twentieth century brasses in Derbyshire to be described in a review of the county’s monumental brasses as ‘excellent examples of the engraver’s art’, unfortunately unattributed.



List entry Number: 1335033

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

Grade: I

Date first listed: 29-Sep-1951

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.




Padley Chapel




Former gatehouse and chapel, now a Roman Catholic chapel. C14 and C15, with later alterations, formerly part of a quadrangular house, the foundations of which survive to the north east. Coursed squared gritstone, massive to south west elevation, on a low chamfered plinth, with quoins, decorated corbel table, massive projecting stack to south west wall, and a stone slated roof with cross finial to south east end. South west elevation; two storeys, four bays, with floor now removed from north west part. Off-centre gateway with deeply chamfered shallow arched head and surround. C20 plank double doors. At north west end, a single doorway with chamfered lintel and surround, and a C20 plank door. Between doorways, a wide buttress rises steeply to first floor level, but disturbed masonry above suggests a rebuilding of what was formerly an external stack, of similar size to that which survives to the south east. Above the buttress, a small 2-light mullioned window cut from a single stone, with lancet lights. Massive external stack, shouldered at eaves to the south east of the gateway. The south east end has a chamfered cross window to the first floor above a ground floor slit window with a chamfered surround. South east elevation has a 2-light mullioned window with cusped pointed arched lights to the first floor, above a slit window with a chamfered surround, and access holes and stone perches for a former dovecote in the gable apex. North east elevation has 2-light cross windows above 2-light chamfer mullioned windows, either side of the gateway access to the former courtyard, with a shallow arched head and C20 plank doors. To south east of gateway, at first floor level, two former doorways, formerly served by an external stair, with four-centred arched heads, now windows, with stained glass.


Interior: double purlin roof with cambered tie beam trusses against gable walls and to the centre, the latter with partition studs above the tie beam, and mortices to the tie beam soffit for the former ground floor partition. The two intermediate trusses are arch braced, and have carved angels to the ends of their hammer beams. The wall posts have carved feet resting on moulded corbels. To the south east wall, an ogee-headed aumbry to the south west of the window and a reset altar stone from the ruins of the adjacent manor house. Hearths survive at ground and first floor levels on the south west wall.

History: the building is used as a chapel to commemorate the martyrdom of Nicholas Garlic and Robert Ludlum, Catholic priests, who were arrested at Padley Hall on 12 July 1588, and executed at St Marys Bridge, Derby on 24 July 1588. The Fitzherbert family of Padley Hall were subsequently persecuted, John Fitzherbert dying in the Tower of London in November 1590.

Listing NGR: SK2467578952

Scheduling description

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Padley Hall: a medieval great house

List entry Number: 1017587

Date first scheduled: 29-Jan-1998

Reasons for Designation

Medieval great houses were the residences of high-status non-Royal households. They had domestic rather than military functions and show little or no sign of fortification, even of a purely cosmetic nature. Great houses share several of the characteristics of royal palaces, and in particular shared similar characteristics of size, sophistication, and decoration of the architecture. Great houses usually consist of a group of buildings, including a great hall, service rooms, one or more kitchens, several suites of chambers for the owners, the household and its guests, and a gatehouse. Other ancillary buildings are known to have been present but very rarely survive. Earlier examples typically comprised a collection of separate buildings, but through the 14th and 15th century there was increasing integration of the buildings into a few larger buildings. By the later medieval period, such complexes were commonly laid out around one or more formal courtyards; in the 16th century this would occasionally be contrived so that the elevations were symmetrical. Many great houses are still notable for the high quality of their architecture and for the opulence of their furnishings. Several examples contain substantially intact buildings, others consist of ruins or complexes of earthworks. Great houses are found throughout England, although there is a concentration in the south and Midlands. Further north, great houses were more heavily fortified, reflecting more unsettled political and social conditions, but their domestic purpose and status were still predominant. Fewer than 250 examples of great houses have been identified. As a rare monument class which provide an important insight into the lives of medieval aristocratic or gentry households, all examples will be nationally important.

The remains of Padley Hall are important because the buildings were not significantly modified after the 14th century and retain evidence of an earlier structure. They offer considerable potential for understanding the development of a medieval manorial centre and its architecture. Additionally, the well preserved terraces will retain information on the gardens surrounding the medieval house.


The monument includes the standing and buried remains of Padley Hall and an area of associated cultivation terraces to the immediate north of the hall, and stands at the foot of steeply sloping ground overlooking the River Derwent just over 1km north of Grindleford. The former gatehouse to the hall is used as a Roman Catholic Chapel and is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. The ruins of the hall, although in many areas little more than foundations, are preserved in good condition. Some of the surviving walls stand up to 1.3m high. There is clear evidence of a range of buildings covering an area of about 0.15ha arranged around the four sides of a small central courtyard. The buildings include the former gatehouse located on the south western side of the courtyard. The visible ranges of the hall date chiefly from the 14th century, although clearance of the area in the 1930s revealed that the last hall had been built on an earlier structure. The date of this earlier phase is unknown. After the demise of the hall in around 1650, masonry was robbed from the buildings to construct a farm and outbuildings close to the site. Some of the farm buildings, now used for other purposes, still survive to the south of the hall outside the area of protection. The former gatehouse is two stories high with a wooden interfloor and is a good example of a medieval building. The scheduling includes an area immediately west of this building where further remains of the hall are located. These are partially covered by turf and hillwash and their full extent remains unknown. Surviving remains extending to the track which cuts through this area are also included in the scheduling. There is evidence that the hall had a domestic chapel as an altar stone was found in the ruins of the north eastern part of the hall in 1933. The area of this discovery is now marked by an inscribed stone kerb. The last phase of the hall is likely to have been built for the Padley family after which it passed to the Eyres, another local aristocratic family. During the early 16th century the hall passed, through marriage, to Thomas Fitzherbert who died in the Tower of London in 1591, having been imprisoned for being a recusant. During his occupancy of the hall, financial constraints on Fitzherbert meant that no further building occurred. The hall is associated with two Catholic martyrs, Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlam, both priests seized at Padley in 1588 and executed in Derby. The hall once consisted of a great hall, a kitchen to the west of the range with a solar above, accessed by a spiral stairway, the foundations of which, measuring 1.5m in diameter are still visible. The remains of a large fireplace, about 3m wide and standing 1.5m high, is located in the kitchen area. There was also a parlour and other rooms, including the domestic chapel to the east. This range of rooms is less clearly understood at present, although the foundations of three rooms are clearly defined. The main entrance to the buildings was in the north west corner of the courtyard, the latter paved with coarse stone slabs. To the rear of the buildings is an area thought to be a small yard, similarly paved with stone slabs. To the west of the ruins is a small triangular piece of enclosed ground containing six stone pillars of unknown date, each about 0.7m high, and small areas of mainly turf-covered foundations: some of the masonry in this area appears to be of similar type to that of the hall ruins. During the 1950s a small canopy was erected within the hall ruins. It is used for outdoor functions connected with the present chapel. The canopy comprises a tiled roof on a timber frame supported by a retaining wall to the east and two stone piers to the west. A low wall surrounds most of the area covered by the canopy, containing reused masonry from the hall. Similarly, a stone bench on the east side of the canopied areas contains various ornate carved fragments from the hall. To the immediate north east of the ruins are two revetment walls of uncertain date, although their foundations are probably contemporary with the hall. These walls retain the sloping ground above. Between the hall and the revetment walls is a small enclosed area which may have been a private garden or yard area. . To the north east of the revetment walls is a small paddock containing several platforms cut into the hillslope which are likely to be the remains of cultivation terraces associated with the hall. The terraces survive on good condition and one appears deeper than the rest, indicating that it may have been a small quarry, possibly providing some of the stone for the hall itself. Padley Chapel (the former gatehouse), all modern stone walls, gates and fences, the modern canopy and related features, including seating are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

Selected Sources

Books and journals

Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981), 154

Smith, B, Padley Chapel near Grindleford, Derbyshire (1990)

Diocese: Hallam

Architect: Unknown; C. M. E. Hadfield

Original Date: 1450

Conservation Area: Yes

Modifications: 1933

Listed Grade: Grade I