Derby Cathedral

Derby Cathedral, known as the Cathedral of All Saints, is a grade I listed[1] cathedral church in the city of Derby, in the county of Derbyshire, England. It was promoted from parish church status into a cathedral in 1927 in order to create a seat for the Bishop of Derby, which new see was created in that year. The original church of All Saints was founded in the mid-10th century as a royal collegiate church, dedicated to All Saints. The main body of the church as it stands today is a Georgian rebuilding by James Gibbs, completed in 1725. The tower dates from the 16th century, and a retrochoir was added in the 20th century.

Derby Cathedral
Cathedral Church of All Saints
East view of the cathedral
Derby Cathedral
Location in Derby
52°55′29″N 1°28′38″W
LocationDerby, Derbyshire
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
Former name(s)All Saints Derby (6th Century-1927)
StyleGothic, Neoclassical
Years builtc.1530–1725 renovated 1969–1975, 2015–2016
Number of towers1
Tower height212 feet (65 m)
DioceseDerby (since 1927)
DeanStephen Hance
SubdeanElizabeth Thomson (Missioner)
PrecentorRichard Andrews
Canon ChancellorSimon Taylor
Canon(s)vacant (Diocesan)
Director of musicAlexander Binns
Organist(s)Edward Turner (Assistant Director of Music)
Listed Building – Grade I
Official nameCathedral Church of All Saints
Designated20 June 1952
Reference no.1228277


All Saints' Church

The original church, dedicated to All Saints, was probably built in about 943 by the Anglo-Saxon King Edmund I as a royal collegiate church, of which building no trace survives. Following the Norman Conquest of 1066, and according to the Domesday Book of 1086, it belonged to the king, and was served by a college of seven priests.[2]

The Saxon building probably became structurally unstable and was therefore demolished. A new building was constructed in the 14th century, which surviving drawings show was about the same size as the present building. In 1510–32 the surviving 212-foot (65 m)[2][3] high tower was built in the Perpendicular Gothic style. On top of the tower are twelve large sculpted grotesque animal figures, three per face, and sculpted stone heads of two Green Men appear on either side of the main West Door at the base of the tower. The tower is built with Ashover Grit sandstone, sourced from nearby Duffield Bank quarry.

in 1556, during the persecutions of Protestants during the reign of Queen Mary (1553–1558), Joan Waste was tried for heresy within the Church of All Saints, and was executed on the Burton Road in Derby.[4]

The fabric of the church appears to have deteriorated severely from about 1650 and was in a ruinous state in 1700. In February 1723 the vicar, Dr. Michael Hutchinson, having decided that a new building was required, decided unilaterally to demolish the church and employed a gang of workmen to accomplish the task overnight. Having accepted this fait accompli handed to them, the Mayor and Corporation of Derby commenced fundraising for the building of a new church by inviting subscriptions for the purpose and made the first donation themselves. Dr Hutchinson expended much effort in fundraising, which exertion may have adversely affected his health. He made a significant personal financial contribution to the fund, and his efforts are recorded on a memorial tablet in the South Aisle. Having encountered numerous disputes, Hutchinson eventually resigned in 1728 and died about eighteen months later leaving numerous outstanding debts.

With the original 1530s tower retained, the rest of the church was rebuilt to a Neo-Classical design made in 1725 by the architect James Gibbs. In his Book of Architecture, Gibbs wrote as follows regarding All Saints' Church: "It is the more beautiful for having no galleries, which, as well as pews, clog up and spoil the insides of churches ... the plainness of this building makes it less expensive, and renders it more suitable to the old steeple".[5] To offset the rather austere interior, Gibbs introduced a wrought-iron chancel screen, extending across the entire width of the church, manufactured by the local iron-smith and gate-maker Robert Bakewell, but not completed until five years after the new church was opened. The first sermon was preached in the new church on 25 November 1725.[6]

By Order in Council on 1 July 1927 All Saints' Church became a cathedral.[7][8] The new building was later extended eastwards with the addition of a retrochoir designed by Sebastian Comper, constructed between 1967 and 1972.[9]

Monuments and furnishings

The Cathedral's treasures include the 18th-century wrought iron rood screen manufactured by Robert Bakewell, for which he was paid £157.10.0d;[10] a monument with effigy of Bess of Hardwick of Hardwick Hall and monumental brasses of her descendants the Cavendish family, later Dukes of Devonshire, including brasses of Henry Cavendish and of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. The entrance gates, moved to the cathedral from St Mary's Gate in 1957, were also made by Robert Bakewell.[2] The gates were refurbished in 2012 and renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Gates to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.[11] Notable 20th-century additions are stained-glass windows designed by Ceri Richards, and a bronze crucifix by Ronald Pope.[2]

Clock and carillon

In 1927 a new clock was installed by John Smith & Son, Derby clockmakers, replacing one reputed to have been made by George Ashmore in 1738, but by then so worn as to be beyond its useful life. Until March 1976 this timekeeper and associated parts had been mechanically driven by heavy weights which had to be wound manually, some of them daily. This work had been undertaken by John Smiths for many years, but rising costs caused the authorities to install an automatic winding mechanism to both the clock and the carillon which sounds the bells.[12]

Derby Cathedral's clock has two dials, one facing West along St Mary's Gate, and one facing South down Irongate. Both are of stone and are 8 feet in diameter. They were restored and gilded in 1964, then again in the early 21st century. The 1964 restoration proved beyond doubt that the long metal tubes driven through the tower walls to operate the clock mechanism were actually gun barrels (cavalry carbines) dating from the 1745 'uprising' of Bonnie Prince Charlie.[12]

The carillon is the mechanical instrument which drives the tunes played upon the Cathedral's bells each day. It was installed by John Smith of Derby in 1931 to replace a machine of similar design, dating from the 17th century and subsequently enhanced towards the end of the 17th century by George Sorocold, a Derby millwright. The current machine plays a tune three times a day, and the seven tunes it plays are changed automatically each day. It is known that the tunes of the original machine were varied over the years, first by John Whitehurst at various times between 1745 and 1762, and then by John Smith in 1873. There is documentary evidence to show that John Whitehurst was paid £3.3.0d for winding and care of the clock and carillon, although he is known to have paid from this sum the amount of £1.11.6d to a Mr Frost who did the actual daily winding of the carillon.[12]

On 3 July 1976 one of the less well-known carillon tunes was replaced with the melody of "The Derby Ram", a regimental march associated with the Sherwood Foresters so that it would become a permanent reminder of the Regiment's association with the town and county of Derby.[12]

The tunes are currently played at 9 am, noon and 6 pm as follows:

  • Sunday — Thaxted
  • Monday — Truro
  • Tuesday — The Shady Bowers
  • Wednesday — All Saints
  • Thursday — Lass of Paittie's Mill
  • Friday — The Highland Laddie
  • Saturday — The Derby Ram

They can be listened to live on a local webcam feed. (The previous carillon played at 3, 6, 9, and 12 both night and day.)

Tower and bells

Derby Cathedral has the oldest ring of ten bells in the world. Most of them have been there since 1678 when the number of bells was increased from six to ten. The largest bell weighs 19 cwt (965 kg), its note is D-flat and it is over 500 years old, older than the tower itself.[2] It is believed that it came from Dale Abbey at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The youngest bell, no. 3, is dated 1693, so all the bells are over 300 years old. Bell no. 8 was in Ashbourne Parish church until 1815. A carillon in the tower uses the same bells to provide a tune at 9 am, 12 pm, and 6 pm.[13] The bells used to hang in a wooden frame. When the church became a cathedral in 1927, the bells were retuned and rehung at a lower level in a new metal frame.

On 28 October 1732, a Frenchman called Gillinoe 'flew' down on a rope from the top of All Saints steeple. He did this on a number of occasions, landing variously at St Michael's church and at the bottom of St Mary's Gate. On one occasion an ass was sent down the rope, but it broke under its weight and a number of onlookers were injured.[14]

On 25 July 1940 a wartime barrage balloon broke loose from its moorings during a heavy storm, and as it floated past its chain caught round one of the pinnacles on the tower and demolished the top half of the pinnacle.[15][16]

In late 2005 it was discovered that a pair of peregrine falcons had taken up residence on the cathedral tower. In 2006 a nesting platform was installed, and they nested here in April. The same pair successfully reared chicks every year up to and including 2016. However, on 27 March 2017 it became clear that a new male had taken over the nesting platform and ousted his predecessor who, by that time, was at least 14 years old. It is not known whether the first male died of old age or was chased away or killed by the new one after a fight. The female accepted the new male and together they produced four eggs, somewhat later than in previous years, three of which were successfully hatched, producing one male and two females.[17] Webcams were installed in 2007, 2008 and 2013 to enable the birds to be seen at close range without being disturbed by human contact.

In 2009, more than 150 members of the Derby Mountain Rescue Team abseiled down the tower for charity.[18] Further sponsored abseils have taken place every year since, and in 2012 this included Assistant Curate, Andy Trenier, and the Dean of Derby Cathedral, Dr John Davies.[19][20]

Cathedral Centre

The Derby Cathedral Centre is opposite the west doors on Irongate. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. It includes a café, a bookshop and an exhibition space, featuring work by local artists.[21] The Cathedral Centre also houses the cathedral offices and meeting rooms.[22]

In 2017 the Cathedral Café won the annual Derby Food and Drinks Award for Best Customer Service.[23]


Cathedral clergy

Dean and chapter

As of 29 January 2019:[24]

  • DeanStephen Hance (since 30 September 2017 installation) [25]
  • Sub-Dean and Canon Missioner — Elizabeth Thomson (since 2 March 2014 installation; Sub-Dean since 2018)
  • Canon Chancellor and Diocesan Director of Curate Training — Simon Taylor (since 1 April 2012 installation)[26]
  • Canon for Liturgy (i.e. Precentor) — Richard Andrews (since 2 September 2018 installation)[27]
  • Diocesan Canon — vacant since 5 May 2018; most recently held by the Diocesan Director of Mission and Ministry

Other clergy


Organs and organists


In 1939, an organ was installed by John Compton of London, although it did not gain its impressive case (designed by Sebastian Comper) until 1963. It is played from a four manual console in the Consistory Court area of the Cathedral. This was overhauled in 1992.[28] In 1973, an additional instrument was installed in the new retro-choir (east end) by Cousans of Lincoln.[29]


Between April 2013 and December 2014, Canon Peter Gould undertook a musical pilgrimage of 270 churches, in which he raised £7,478.78 over 39 tour days, performing to a collective audience of over 3,500 people. During the tour three church organs were found to be in a poor state.[30]

On 4 January 2015, Canon Peter Gould resigned as Director of Music and was succeeded by Hugh Morris[31] who had originally worked in Christchurch Priory.

On 1 September 2017, Edward Turner joined the staff at Derby Cathedral as organist.[32]

See also


  1. Historic England. "Cathedral Church of All Saints  (Grade I) (1228277)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  2. Bowler, Tony (23 June 1994). "A towering presence". Derby Express.
  3. Pepin, David (2004). Discovering Cathedrals. Shire Discovering Series. 112 (7 ed.). Osprey Publishing. p. 60. ISBN 0-7478-0597-0.
  4. "The MARTYRDOME of JOANE WASTE. A blinde Woman in the Towne of Darbie". Foxe's Book of Martyrs. 1563. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012.
  5. Gibbs, James (1739). A Book Of Architecture Containing Designs of Buildings and Ornaments (Second ed.). London. p. viii.
  6. Derby Cathedral Official Guide, 2014.
  7. Order in Council founding The Bishopric of Derby (S.I. 1927/624)
  8. "No. 33290". The London Gazette. 1 July 1927. p. 4207.
  9. Pevsner, Nikolaus (1986). The Buildings of England: Derbyshire (2nd ed.). Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin. p. 168. ISBN 9780140710083.
  10. Mallender, Margaret (c. 1979). Information sheet: the records of the cathedral of All Saints, Derby. Cathedral of All Saints.
  11. "Restored Gates will be renamed". Derby Cathedral. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  12. Howard Smith, J E (July 1976). Cathedral Information Sheet: "Derby Cathedral Clock". Derby: Derby Cathedral.
  13. "Derby Cathedral". Derby Diocesan Association of Church Bellringers. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  14. Glover, Stephen (1829). History of the County of Derby Part 2. p. 609.
  15. Unspecified author, n.d. The Story of the cathedral church of All Saints Derby. The British Publishing Co Ltd, Gloucester. p. 26.
  16. "Ominous storms lashed Derby on the eve of war". Derby Telegraph. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  17. "The Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project". Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  18. "Cathedral Abseil". Derby Mountain Rescue Team. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  19. "Daredevil duo's leap of faith as they prepare to abseil cathedral". Derby Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  20. "Dean and Curate abseil down Derby Cathedral tower". The Church of England Newspaper. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  21. Welcome to our Visitor Centre,, retrieved 11 June 2012
  22. cathedral centre,, archived from the original on 26 June 2012, retrieved 11 June 2012
  23. "A closer look at the winners of Derby Food and Drink Awards 2017". derbytelegraph. 10 October 2017. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  24. Derby Cathedral — Who's Who (Accessed 29 January 2019)
  26. Derby Cathedral weekly notice sheet, 1 April 2012 Archived 29 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  27. (Accessed 29 January 2019)
  28. "Cathedral of All Saints, Irongate (Compton)". National Pipe Organ Register. Retrieved 30 March 2007.
  29. "Cathedral of All Saints, Irongate (Cousans)". National Pipe Organ Register. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
  30. "unknown". Outlook. Derby Cathedral. December 2014. p. 27.
  31. "Hugh Morris". Archived from the original on 8 August 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  32. "Ed Turner". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
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