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All Saints, Ashford in the Water

August 9, 2014

All Saints, Ashford in the Water


After the crowds and bustle of Bakewell it was good to escape to the tranquillity of Ashford in the Water and the lovely All Saints. The signboard only shows Sunday services but the church is open. Inside, I found cards and pens, bookmarks and prayer cards for sale. A guide and a Christian Faith leaflet as well. Everything is well polished again! For children there are packs of crayons and a Bessecarr guide to the church and village.

There was an open Bible and the burial records are on show. Prayer is covered by a ‘To help you pray’ leaflet and a place for prayer requests. There folders on the monuments, burial records and on the WW1 and WW2 dead.


DSCF9226One thing that is very unusual here are the ‘Virgin Crants’. has this-

‘Maidens’ Garlands are a funerary memento for the death of a young chaste woman. They are also known as Virgin’s Crowns or Crants. The word Crant derives from the German “ kranz”, meaning wreath, garland or chaplet. The custom of hanging maidens’ garlands up in churches seems to have been common in the seventeenth, eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries. It is even mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet where at the burial of Ophelia

“…. She is allowed her virgin crants, her maiden strewments”.

They were usually made on to a wicker work frame and appeared to be similar to, and reference, floral bridal wreaths. They could be decorated with gold and silver filigree work , blown birds’ eggs , shells and  with ribbons, silk and paper flowers and rosettes..  Sometimes the flowers were made from paper which might be folded and crimped and then painted.  In some places circular white parchment flowers are painted with black crosses. There was usually a centre piece made from paper such as a collar or handkerchief or a glove. Sometimes there is text present – an epitaph which might have been chosen by the maiden herself.

The garlands were carried before the corpses of young unmarried women at their funerals or placed on the top of the coffin. By the 17th century it was customary for the garland to be hung over the dead girl’s pew or in the chancel of the church till it disintergrated. The  paper gloves which are commonly incorporated into the design of the garland are thought to represent the metaphorical gauntlet ready to be thrown down to defend the dead girl’s honour should anyone dare to question her reputation or virginity.’


They are a moving site and not that easy to photograph successfully.

I rate All Saints as very good – a lot of effort has gone into providing for and welcoming visitors.


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