Building » Padley – Padley Chapel

Padley – Padley Chapel

Upper Padley, Grindleford, Derbyshire, S32 2JA

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.


See the list description (below), 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 description


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

Heritage Details

Architect: Unknown; C. M. E. Hadfield

Original Date: 1450

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade I