The Cathedral has recently undergone a major restoration and redecoration, completed in early 2016. This has returned the decorative scheme to close to its original Enlightenment version. Today it looks magnificent, full of monuments and glittering wrought iron work.
Derby Cathedral, traditionally known as the church of All Saints was begun in the 14th century on the site of a much older, pre-conquest, church. Nothing now remains of that building. The tower was replaced with the fabulous edifice seen today – the second highest church tower in England, between 1510 and 1530.
The remainder of the church had fallen into disrepair by the early years of the 18th century and so the vicar, Michael Hutchinson, had it demolished, fortunately sparing the tower.
The renowned architect James Gibbs was commissioned to provide the replacement. The interior he created is a beautifully light and airy space, so unlike most other buildings of this type.
In 1927, with the population expanding in the area All Saints was hallowed, becoming Derby Cathedral on 28th October. An extension was planned to better equip it for this task, This extension was originally designed by Sir Ninian Comper, however this plan was never realised due to the restrictions and austerity of the war years. Instead a revised version was built in 1966 to the designs of Ninian's son Sebastian
The front of the cathedral is graced by some beautiful wrought iron gates, the work of the renowned local craftsman Robert Bakewell which once formed the entrance to a now demolished private house on nearby St Mary's Gate. More of Bakewell's work can be found inside the Cathedral where he created a magnificent screen which encompasses the Royal Coat of Arms of King George II
The Mayors Pew (above)
On civic occasions this pew is occupied by the Mayor. It is fronted by the beautiful wrought iron, gilded screen created by Robert Bakewell in the 1730s. The central design is the local symbol known as the 'Buck in the Park'
The Corporation Pew
Sitting opposite the Mayor’s Pew is one representing the City of Derby. Created in 1972 by Anthony New it incorporates a number of symbols to represent the city as well as areas further afield. A full list can be seen in the Cathedral
Derby Cathedral does not feature any old stained glass windows, instead it was designed to allow natural light to flood in through the large plain glass windows. The only exception to this are the two windows in the above pictures that were installed in 1963. Designed by Ceri Richards they show the ‘ancient struggle between night and day’. The photo at the top is known as The All Saints window and shows the triumph of the light, whereas the other, darker window in known as the All Souls Window and highlights the conflict between the two
St Katherine's Chapel is a place for quiet contemplation and prayer
The Cathedral is also home to a large number of funerary monuments, a number of which pre-date the current building, presumably being transferred from the previous cathedral . There are a number from the 17th century, however the oldest id probably the wooden carving known as the 'effigy'. Carved to portray someone in the Canonical robes of All Saint's Church it is thought to date from about 1527 and is unusual in being carved from wood instead of the usual stone
One of the most well known monuments in the building is that of Elizabeth 'Bess' of Hardwick, founder of the Cavendish dynasty of which the Dukes of Devonshire are one significant branch, Bess designed the monument herself and had it made in time for her death.
Beneath the church lies the Cavendish family crypt where many of the family are interred, including the famous Georgiana whose memorial plaque can be seen below
The larger monuments were erected by wealthy and influential families and they were keen to use the finest sculptors of the day. These included Joseph Nollekens who created the memorial for William Ponsonby, Earl of Bessborough (Above) and that for Caroline, Countess of Bessborough by Michael Rysbrack
The gallery below shows some of the other mouments of interest
Below are a couple of pictures taken before the recent restoration (please click on the images)
The Cathedral bell chamber contains a fine ring of 10 bells - the oldest ring of 10 bells in the country! The oldest, and the heaviest bell is well over 500 years old and is thought to have come from the ancient Abbey at Darley when this was closed at the Dissolution of the Monastries in the 16th century.The remaining bells are all over 300 years old, the youngest being cast in 1693. The bells are rung in three ways - a carillion plays a changing tune three times a day, the clock strikes the bells on the quarter hour and the bell ringers who play for the services and other special occasions - the bell ropes can be seen in the picture (right).