The Story of a Stone

01 January 2012

Audley St Elphin’s Park and St Elphin’s School “old girls” work together to restore a much loved artefact to the Derbyshire Dales.

When St Elphin’s School was closed in March 2005, many people were aware that the owners sold not only the building but also held an auction to sell off all kinds of furniture. Many St Elphin’s “Old Girls” have visited to see what has become, so far, of their former school and home. There is significant interest in the history of the old school and many former pupils have met up and organised reunions. Thanks to Liz Donlan (nee Bailey, a pupil from 1967 to 1973), the old school now has its own Website to keep former pupils in touch with news and share their memories.

One contributor, Marianne Jackson (nee Steward a pupil from 1972 to 1976) was searching on the internet for information about the St Elphin’s School building when she came across a piece of stone work, put up for sale by LASSCO, an architectural salvage yard in Oxfordshire. The stone was described as having belonged to St Elphin’s School and Marianne set about identifying where it had come from.

Eventually, it was identified as a Stone Finial with a crest that was purchased in the auction and that it once sat over two storeys high on an ornamental balustrade at the top of the building above the school’s front door. The stone weighing over 200 kgs, had been removed from its precarious position during the late 1960’s when work had to be done on the fabric of the building. The stone and a few other pieces of balustrade were placed in amongst the rose bed, outside the front door and it is from here, that many former pupils remember seeing the “INVICTA stone”.

Liz and Marianne contacted Audley to find out what could be done to bring the stone back to where it belonged. Working together, they brokered a deal with LASSCO to return the stone from Oxfordshire to the site where it would commemorate all who had been educated at the school and the restoration of the building.

Specialist stone masons from Cruden Construction are now working to restore and reinstate the stone. As the restoration of St Elphin’s House continues the Invicta stone will be given pride of place on the terrace balustrade for all to see.