Wessington Manor (Roadnook Farm)

Could this be the site of the missing Linbery Chapel?

Roadnook Farm today

This fascinating site sits just within the Parish of Wessington, though it was in Brackenfield until the Local Government Act boundary changes of 1972. Walking past the farm today you will easily identify the following Grade II listed buildings:  Farmhouse (dated 1840), a barn (dated 1683), a late 17th century outbuilding, a range of 17th century cowhouses and a building dated 1673 described as “The 31-1-67 Chapel”, January 1967 being the date it was first listed. There is also a listed 17th century garden wall bordering Brackenfield Lane, behind which can be seen fruit trees; possible successors from a former extensive orchard which occupied land between Brackenfield Lane, Millers Lane and Butterfield Lane.

Look a little deeper into the history and maybe things are not quite as they seem

The Derley Abbey Charters are preserved at Belvoir Castle. The Convent of Derley was one of the greater Augustinian houses, originally founded at Derby around 1140. The Wessington Charters beginning on page 27, throw much light on Wessington’s early history. Some time about the year 1200, Ralph, the son of Simon Lord of Wessington, built a Chantry Chapel in the court of his manor at Wessington, apparently for public as well as domestic use:

“Know ye present as well as future that I, Ralph, the son of Simon, neither have nor demand by custom, nor of right am I able to demand, the chauntry in the chapel of Wessington, which I have made in my court, which is in the parish of Cruch (Crich), but solely by favour of the Abbot and Convent of Derley, as is agreeable to them, when and as they will: and it is provided that I and my household and my guests may, in the same chapel, hear the divine office from any canon of theirs, or from their Chaplain of Crich, especial oath by way of caution being made to them, that no other chaplain than theirs sent to me, shall be admitted to celebrate the divine offices in the said chapel and that every kind of indemnity shall be preserved for the Church of Crich, so that it shall suffer no detriment nor diminution of its right in any way.”

There follows an explanation that very soon after the foundation of this Chauntry Chapel or Oratory, a strong contention arose between the Rector of Morton on the one hand and the Abbot of Derley with the Vicar of Crich on the other, with regard to the tithes forming the endowment of the chapel. An appeal was made to Pope Innocent III who, in the year 1210, appointed a committee of Abbots to arbitrate. They decided that the Rector of Morton should surrender his claim but receive set payments throughout his life. This demonstrates that he had some claim, probably due to some of the land being in his parish.

So where is the chapel of 1200?

Clearly not the building listed as “The 31-1-67 Chapel”, what has happened to the original chapel building?

In 2018, local history enthusiasts began interviewing members of the community and some relevant information came to light:

Local residents recalled that around 1962, a building at Roadnook Farm, constructed of exceptionally good quality dressed stone, was removed. The stone was transported to the East side of Ogston Reservoir and used in the construction of South Hill Farm (date stone 1964). This occurred before the first listing in 1967. Reportedly, a sword was found at the removal site.

Could this have been the site of the missing Linbery/Limbury Chapel?

According to Historic England records, Linbery Chapel was built in the early 12th century as part of the manor of the de Heriz family (South Winfield, now Wingfield or Ufton). Thought to have been located in what is now Oakerthorpe, near the Peacock Inn, which has 11th century origins, there have been several archaeological digs which have revealed nothing. Maybe they were digging in the wrong place…