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Reviews of Derby Cathedral, Derby

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Review by edward rokita on 15th October, 2006

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All Saints church in Derby, known as Derby Cathedral, was mentioned in Domesday along with five other Derby churches. It was possibly founded by King Edmund around 943 but basically little is known about it's early years until the 12th century when it was given to Lincoln cathedral by Henry Ist, whose Dean also then became the Dean of All Saints. He appointed a sub dean to act in his absence; memorials to two of these still exist. The Canons, together with many minor clerics, attendants and domestics lived in buildings along the north side of the church- stll known as 'college place, though the present buildings are 18th century. There are no visible remains of a Saxon church. Today, the splendid 16th century tower, built in the reign of Henry viii is still a characteristic landmark in the city. Completed about 1530 it was incorporated into the present building in 1725 when the medieval church was largely demolished. The architect of the new church was James Gibbs and the builder was a Francis Smith of Warwick. The tower is 212ft to the top of the pinnacles and there are 189 steps to the roof. It is open on certain days throughout the year and by special arrangement. There were only afew minor changes over the next couple of hundred years, until an eastern extension was built in the 20th century, completed in 1972, and provided a Retrochoir with chapter room, flanked by a sancuary, song school and various offices. The great baldachino over the high alter was introduced at this time. The outer part of the Cavendish burial vault was converted into a small crypt chapel retaing the old dedication to St Katherine, for occasional services and private prayer. Robert Bakewell's magnificent wrought iron screen, stretches across the length of the building. His work can also be seen in the gates at the entrance. There are many memorials in the church including the tomb of Elizabeth Hardwick, better known as Bess of Hardwick, founder member of Cavendish family.

Date visited: August 2006

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