Risley appears in the Domesday Book spelt as Riseleia and Riselei. The name is constructed from two Anglo-Saxon words: “ris” derived from “risce, rixe” meaning a rush; “ley” from “leah” meaning a fallow or lea, untilled land, meadow or pasture hence Risley “the rush meadow”.
Originally Risley formed part of the ancient parish of Church Wilne until 1719 when, united with Breaston, it became a separate cure. This “ecclesiastical marriage” between Risley and Breaston lasted until the end of the nineteenth century.
The parish church of All Saints was erected in the year 1593 by Katherine Willoughby wife of Sir Michael Willoughby who lived at Risley Hall, and it is unusual in that it was built at a time when little church building took place at the end of the reign of Elizabeth I. The moulded stone above the door, now badly eroded and barely legible is decorated with the Willoughby Arms and dated 1593. The church was however not consecrated until 1632.
The church was originally approximately half of its present size being a basic rectangle with the tower at its western end. It remained in this form until 1841 when the north aisle and vestry were added. New pews and pulpit were installed, probably at the same time. The church was also repaired and restored. There have been numerous alterations to the church including some to the Screen which is the first post-Reformation screen in Derbyshire, it is decorated by a trinity of cherubim and fretwork added in Victorian times was removed in the middle of the twentieth century.
As a result of finding death-watch beetle in the oak blocks of the original floor restoration and improvement was carried out in 1954 at which time a new communion rail in the 17th century style was installed.
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