Dale Abbey in Derbyshire is situated 3 miles South West of Ilkeston off the A6096 road, 6 miles North East of Derby. Once known as Depedale this tranquil little village contains a tiny church, a pub, a school and the remains of an abbey founded here by Augustinian monks in the 13th century.
The curious little church of All Saint's, measuring just 26feet by 25 feet, probably one of the smallest in the country, shares a roof with an adjoining farmhouse. The church dates back originally to the mid 12th century, altered in 1480, to give it it's present form. It contains a pulpit that dates from 1634 and the whole interior appears rather crammed with it's box pews and open benches. The farmhouse was once possibly used as an infirmary for the Abbey. For some time before 1820 it was used as a pub called the Blue Bell, the bar being used as a vestry, with a door into the aisle. It was rebuilt in 1883.
Behind the church is an ancient area of woodland containing beech, ash, oak and lime trees. Situated in the wood is Hermit Cave, hewn out of the sandstone cliff by a 12th century Derby baker who wished to live a life as a recluse. It is well preserved, measuring six yards by three with a doorway, two windows, a peephole and a niche for a light. A story goes that, one day when Ralph Fitz-Geremund had come from Normandy to hunt in his English woods, he found the hermit, and, touched with pity for his poverty, gave him not only the site of the hermitage but a tithe of this mill at nearby Borrowash. Then the hermit built himself a more pretentious oratory and a cottage to end his days.
The Abbey was a house of Premonstratensian Canons, founded about 1200 and completed about 1250, growing in importance and wealth until it's dissolution in 1538. All that remains is a 40ft high chancel window standing in a grassy field. Excavations have shown the church to have possessed transepts 100ft in length, a crossing tower, a cloister 85 ft square and a nave of unknown length. Some of the remains of the building can be found in houses around the village.
There is a village school and a pub on the main road called the Carpenters Arms. Not far away is the 18th century Cat and Fiddle windmill, the only one left of its kind in Derbyshire.
Photos of Dale Abbey at Derbyshire Photographs