Described by the writer George Eliot as “the finest mere parish church in the Kingdom”, St Oswald’s Church has a slender spire 212 feet high and was once a candidate to be the cathedral for the Derby Diocese.  A church at Ashbourne is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 though this was almost certainly a wooden construction.  Evidence of a Norman Crypt was found during renovation works in the early 20th Century but the existing church dates from the early 1200s and the 1241 dedicated plaque is believed to be the oldest in Britain. The oldest parts of the present building are the chancel (eastern end of the church containing the altar) and the transepts (the arms of the church), which were built in the first half of the 13th Century.  The main part of the nave (the body of the church where the congregation sits) was added in the mid-thirteen century and was widened in the late 13th Century by the addition of south aisle when a tower was also added; a north aisle was never built, possibly because of the impact of the Black Death.  The last major construction was the spire, which was built in the early in the 14th Century.   

Local legend says that a spring under the tower, found during strengthening work in the early 1900s, was the site of pagan worship. The presence of this spring may explain why some major structural repair was required to support the weight of the tower and spire.

Click here for a vitual tour of our Church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcP0o9fUnM8