Monday, December 7, 2015

Derbyshire: Why You Should Visit Derby Cathedral

The first things you will notice as you enter Derby Cathedral are the wrought iron gates. These were made by Robert Bakewell but not for this church, the ones he made for this church were sold in the 1870’s, why, no one knows. It wasn’t until 1927 that the Parish Church of All Saints became the Cathedral for the Diocese of Derby. 

A church has stood on this site for over a thousand years. Credit for its founding is given to King Edmund in 943 and in the twelfth Century it was gifted by the King to the Dean of Lincoln Cathedral. That Saxon Church no longer exists; it was replaced at some point in the fourteenth century.

That church had a rectangular tower at the west end which must have become unstable because it was replaced by a new tower, which is the one that you see today between 1510 and 1530. Even though Derby is quite a good sized city today, you will have no problem finding the cathedral even if you just use your eyes to locate the tower, it soars above the city still. 

During the Reformation, the rich vestments and trappings were destroyed. Later during the reign of Queen Mary a parishioner who could not accept the doctrine of transubstantiation was burned as a heretic, she was blind and only 22 years of age.

During the Civil War the church seems to have avoided some of the destruction that affected other churches, though the records report an excessive amount of glass replacement expense. In 1723 the old church was demolished and a new one was added to the 16th century tower. It is simple and built in a classical style. 

You will notice as soon as you walk in how light and bright it is and so different from what you expect having seen the exterior. The interior has a wonderful wrought iron screen extending across the whole width of the church, also made by Robert Bakewell.

One of the problems with tearing down the old church was that many of the old memorials were lost. One however, which wasn't was that of Bess of Hardwick. She was an amazing woman, contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I who had four husbands, each one richer than the last. She is associated with Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth.

Another of the unusual details in the church is the mayor’s pew. It is decorated with a Robert Bakewell ironwork medallion which has the City badge, a stag enclosed palings, know as the Buck in the park.

Another thing to look for is the alabaster memorial slab of John Lawe one of the sub deans in the fifteenth century. This was a floor slab but now is standing upright. Also look for Wright of Derby’s tombstone which was moved from St Werburghs Church-yard.

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