Just above Matlock Town, Derbyshire, on a popular footpath linking `The Two Matlocks` - Matlock Town and Matlock Bath - stands The Chapel of St John the Baptist, a private chapel now largely in disuse and only open to the public a couple of times a year.
More by luck than judgement, a friend and myself were lucky enough to see inside the chapel whilst walking in the area not so long ago.
The building was designed for a private client by architect Guy Dawber, a leading light of the Arts and Craft Movement and a founder of the Council for the Protection for Rural England (the Arts and Craft movement was a rather idealistic cultural movement, popular in the UK and USA inspired by the works of John Ruskin and associated very much with William `News From Nowhere` Morris).
Unfortunately, the passage of time, coupled with problems of theft and vandalism, have taken it`s toll of the old chapel and it now stands in need of extensive repairs. The building has been acquired by a charity, the strangely-named Friends of Friendless Churches, who work in partnership with the Ancient Monuments Society, but presumably their funds are not limitless.English Heritage have indicated that siome funds could be made available but this is unlikely to cover all the work now needed.
Naturally enough, it`s unlikely that significant amounts will be forthcoming from private donors, and the location is not suitable for putting the chapel back into use, given that it lies some distance from the town on a steep, unlit path.
Not being a churchgoer myself -I consider myself more your Humanist sort of dude, I must admit the visit was only of limited interest to me, but it`s an interesting building and well worth a visit if you get the chance.
ON THE WEB
The Council for the Protection of Rural England, now renamed the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is at www.cpre.org.uk. English Heritage are at www.english-heritage.org.uk, the Friends of Friendless Churches is at
http://www.friendsoffriendlesschurches.org.uk , whilst the misleadingly-named Ancient Monuments Society ("we have always fought for historic buildings of all ages and types") is included amomng the list of links at the right-hand side of this blog.
Sites relating to William Morris and John Ruskin can be found easily on the web, I`ve no doubt.