Visit to Derby Cathedral

Tuesday Club Visit to Derby Cathedral

Report by Revd. Peter Binns



   On Monday, June 10th. St. Michael's Tuesday Club went on an outing to Derby Cathedral. I had wanted to visit this cathedral for some time, having seen it on television and in books. The weather that day was absolutely foul, but we had a good journey to Derby and arrived in time for a buffet lunch with sandwiches and cake.

   One of the guides said that it would be best to visit the Bridge Chapel first, as it had stopped raining. The Chapel of St. Mary on the Bridge, which dates from the 14th. century, is one of only six surviving bridge chapels in England and now serves as a chapel to the cathedral as well as having a congregation of its own. After a talk in the chapel, we went back to the cathedral, a 10 minute walk away. On entering by the west door, I stopped and said "Wow"! It looked incredibly beautiful. All was fully explained by the guide, who gave an interesting talk, which brought the whole place alive.

   We then had some time for refreshments before Choral Evensong. It was suggested that we go to The Bear Café, 100 yards down the road, where several of us had smoked salmon and poached egg. It was lovely! Choral Evensong was sung very expertly by a girls' choir. It was the eve of St. Barnabas' Day, so there was a hymn, with which we could all join in. It was most inspiring.

   After the service, we set off back to Amersham at the end of a super and exhilarating day out.

   Thank you to Tony Wright for some superb photographs, which really show why you say "wow" on entering Derby Cathedral. A selection of these can be seen at with more on Tony's Flickr page,

A Brief History of The Cathedral

     Derby Cathedral is stunningly beautiful and well worth a visit, especially as its style differs from that of most other cathedrals. It has a majestic, yet intimate appearance and is a total delight. A church with the "wow" factor! For me, it is one of the most exciting cathedrals, which I have ever seen. The Parish Church of All Saints, Derby became Derby Cathedral in 1927, when the new diocese of Derby was created out of the Diocese of Southwell. All that remains of the previous church is the perpendicular tower, probably completed in 1532 which dominates the Derby skyline.

   In 1723, the vicar, Dr. Michael Hutchinson, began the demolition of the church, arbitrarily, overnight. For the new church, Hutchinson chose as architect James Gibbs, who had recently designed St. Martin-in-the Fields in London. Gibbs' church was a simple rectangular building, in the classical style and married to the retained 16th. century tower. It extended as far as the present high altar. In order to alleviate the rather austere interior, Gibbs included a wrought iron screen, extending across the whole width of the church. A local ironworker, Robert Bakewell, was commissioned to make the screen, which was completed in 1730. It  is the cathedral's pride and joy and has been called "delicate as lace and intricate as a fugue." It has now been restored and it takes your breath away! In 1894, the choir was moved from the organ gallery to the chancel, In 1965, work was begun on the eastern extension, as the church was not large enough for great diocesan occasions This was completed in 1972, and this included the great baldacchino (canopy) over the high altar. The cathedral is very light, owing to the beautiful plain glass windows. There are only two coloured windows in blues and yellows, installed in 1965, one representing All Saints and the other All Souls.