From Medieval England to the present day
The earliest references to a building on the site of St Margaret’s date back to the 13th century reign of Henry III when the local Lords of the Manor, the DeFerrer’s family, erected a building. By Henry Vth’s reign in the 1400s the building is referred to as a chapel. Further records make reference to the chapel being “repaired as new” during Henry VII’s reign while the building was declared “as unused” during the time of Cromwell enabling it to survive his armies.
By mid 1800s St Margaret’s Chapel, as it had become known, was owned by the Hurt family who in 1844 arranged for a major renovation of the building. This included demolishing the Bell Tower and Transept at the west end and removing the gallery accessed from outside the west end. The Priest Door located on the south side, and still visible, was bricked up leaving the oblong stone building with stone tiled roof that exists today.
Following these renovations the Chapel was consecrated by the Bishop of Southwell as a Mortuary Chapel for the Hurt family. The family’s private cemetery still lies to the side of the Chapel. A new parish church was erected for Alderwasley parishioners in the grounds of Alderwasley Hall in 1850.
Over time St Margaret’s Chapel once again fell into disrepair and became vandalised. During the 1960s the Hurt family gave the building to Alderwasley parish.
Following the Queen’s Silver Wedding and Coronation celebrations in 1977/78, the villagers decided to convert the Chapel into a Village Hall as the existing wooden village hall had become unusable. With grants totalling £11,500 from English Heritage, Derbyshire County Council, Amber Valley County Council and Alderwasley Parish Council together with funds of £3-£4000 raised by Alderwasley residents, the ancient St Margaret’s chapel became the Village Hall. The new village hall was opened by Mr and Mrs Michael Hurt of Castern Hall, Ashbourne on September 14th, 1980.
Sadly the fabric of the building deteriorated over the coming years. Walls crumbled as a result of damp, the kitchen became unusable and the outside toilet facilities located nearby in a wooden shed were condemned by the local Environmental Health Department! Fortunately the Parish Council refused to believe that the listed medieval building could be allowed to fall into disuse and in 2006 a small team of Alderwasley residents, led by the Parish Council chairman Hilary Wordley, put together a successful application for Lottery Grant funding.
A £250,000 grant was awarded in February 2009 and over the following two years a sympathetic refurbishment was carried out. Ancient monument planning constraints meant an archaeologist was required to monitor rubble removal as the stone floor, that included an awkwardly placed raised platform at the east end, was dug up and removed. No new relics were discovered. Under-floor heating provided by a ground source heat pump was installed. Recycled materials that included crushed glass and pulverised rubber, were used for the under-floor insulation. Internal walls were re-plastered with lime mortar, and a new oak gallery and staircase were erected above the kitchen and toilet facilities located underneath. The edging stones of the raised platform were used to construct bench seating that has been placed outside in a small garden overlooking the Derwent Valley.
The newly refurbished, eco-friendly St Margaret’s Hall was re-opened on March 6th 2011 by round the world sailor and former Alderwasley resident, Dame Ellen McArthur.