St. Michael & All Angels,

Church Broughton

& the village of Church Broughton

Church Broughton has a population of about 570, most of whom live in the village core which consists of the cottages of the old village together with modern housing. There is much farming in the parish although the farmsteads are outside the village itself. Most of the residents now work outside the village especially in the urban centres of Derby, Uttoxeter, Burton-on-Trent and further afield. There are two places of worship: the Parish Church of St. Michael & All Angels and the Methodist Chapel (Primitive Methodist until Methodist reunion).

There is a Church of England (Controlled) Primary School with some 120 pupils from this and neighbouring villages. There has been a school in the village at least since 1745 when the Duke of Devonshire (then Lord of the Manor) provided a building for the purpose and with others provided funds for it. This meant that from then poor children were able to have a free schooling. Pupils attend this school until the age of 11 when they transfer to secondary education usually at John Port School in Etwall.

There is also a village pub - "The Holly Bush". The active village community includes the Friends of Church Broughton School who hold various functions the proceeds of which contribute towards the work of the School. The biggest event organised by them is the May Festival held on the May Day Public Holiday each year. For this the village street is closed to allow various stalls to be set up and there are various entertainments including a dancing display by the schoolchildren and music from the band of the John Port School.

In February each year during school half term, "Beer Crate Productions" present a pantomime in the school. This is an entirely local prodcution with the script locally written, as well as all those taking any part in the production - actors, backstage staff etc. all local people. This event is attracts large audiences through its run.

The present Parish Church of St. Michael & All Angels includes parts of the Norman Church built around 1100 including the pillars of the nave and the font. There has been considerable rebuilding work over the years with a major rebuilding in the 14th century possibly interrupted by the Black Death of 1348-1350. Additional changes came in the 16th, 17th 18th and 19th centuries. The tower contains a ring of 6 bells. More about the bells

The parish church has an active congregation and forms of service from both the 1662 book of Common Prayer and Common Worship are used.

In addition to the human congregation we are joined in church by a community of bats, thought to be pipistrelles although this is at present being checked. At dusk these can be seen using their private access into and out of the church and flying about the churchyard feeding. They cause some problems for the church cleaner especially during the summer when there is a bat maternity unit there! It is, however, a joy to have their help in controlling the various beetles which threaten the woodwork in the church. The churchyard is something of a wildlife sanctuary with various wild flowers growing and also resident grey squirrels (These immigrants from North America have sadly ousted the native red squirrels in most of England, but it can still be fascinating to watch them as they leap through the trees and scramble on the ground. Apart from the birds, other resident or regular visitors to the churchyard include hedgehogs. The recent sighting of a very young hedgehog there suggests that they breed here. The time was when they would have been in serious danger by making their homes here. It seems that in those times they were believed to be harmful and there was a bounty on them. Time and again in the 17th century churchwarden's accounts there a records such as:

"2 hedgehogs 4pence"

Sometimes and entry can be startling:-

"1680 For five hedgehogs and given to a man yt had his tongue cut out 2 shillings and sixpence" (12 1/2 pence) (This must have been quite a sum for the time. Another entry shows that six and a half days work for a builder earned one Luke Mather only 7 shillings and 7 pence. In 1650 the Rector of Dalbury had an income of 20 pounds per year

Other fascinating items include:

"1681 A brief for redeeming ye merchants taken by Turkish pirates: one pound one shilling"

In 1703 a new weathercock was set up on top of the spire at a cost of 9 shillings (45 pence

Also served by St. Michael's, Church Broughton is the little community of Barton Blount. To the north of Church Broughton this is now simply a fine 18th century hall surrounded by a few scattered farms and cottages and a racehorse training stables. At the time of the Domesday survey (1086) the situation was very different. The village was evidently then twice the size of Church Broughton. The record reads "In Barton, Godric, a second Godric, Edric, Leofnoth, Alfeah, Ledmer, Dunning and Edward had 4 carucates of land taxable. Land for 4 ploughs. Now in lordship 3 ploughs, 19 villagers and 11 smallholders who have 7 ploughs. A priest and a church; 2 mills 20 shillings (= one pound); meadow 64 acres. Value before 1066 and now 4 pounds. Ralph holds it."

The old parish church of St. Chad, Barton Blount still stands but is now a private chapel only very occasionally used. Just when Barton changed from being a thriving community to its present few scattered houses is not known. However, in Saxon times it not only had a church but excavations have shown that there were two-storied houses. Round about 1250 there was a tendency for arable farming (which demanded intensive labour) to give way to sheep farming which needs less workers and thus tends to depopulation. On the other hand it may well have been due to the plague. In 1349 the Black Death hit this area very severely. At this time, when a quarter of the population of Europe died, we know that whole communities perished in Derbyshire. A third possibility is that in 1381 the Bakepuize family, who had owned Barton since at least 1086 sold the estate to Sir Walter Blount (the name changed at this time from Barton Bakepuize to Barton Blount) This Sir Walter was standard bearer to King Henry !V at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 when he was killed.