The King’s England 1932
The Lady Constantia
It has the memory of a gracious
lady for whom it rings its curfew every year for three weeks on each side of
Christmas. It is said that the lady and her little one were lost in a
forest hereabouts, overcome with weariness and cold when the curfew bell of
Scarcliffe led them safely home; and she left five acres of land to the church
for the ringing of the curfew for ever.
She was the Lady Constantia, probably
one of the Frecheville’s who held the manor in the 13th century; it
was one of their ancestors who gave the church to the monks of Darley.
The doorway through which the monks came is here to this day, with a
tympanum over it carved with geometrical patterns of a design so varied that it
seems as if the sculptor had been practicing his art.
Here also are four round arches and three pillars of varying shapes set
up by the Normans; one of the three pillars is round, one octagonal, and one is
The fine little priest’s doorway
is Norman too, buried in plaster until last century, and the tiny piscina in the
corner of the chancel is the old one used by the monks.
In this fascinating little place
lie the mother and her child who were lost in the forest 700 years ago.
They lie in marble, the babe in the mother’s arms, one of its hands up
to her face. With her right arm the
mother gathers up the graceful fold of the mantle she is wearing over her simple
gown, which is fastened at the throat with a round brooch.
Her hair is in plaited braids and on her head, which rests on a lion for
a pillow, is a lovely coronet telling of her high estate.
It is a lovely memorial, one of the finest for its time.
The tower of this old place is
hardly yet a centenarian; the roofs
are fine and old, and there is an enormous chest about ten feet long made out of
four huge planks.