All Saints, Bakewell, Derbyshire

Download as PDF

Feature Sets (4)


All Saints is situated on a hill overlooking Bakewell, a market town built on the banks of the river Wye in Derbyshire's Peak District. Evidence of a Saxon church on the site consists of the remains of a churchyard cross of 8th-9thc date, and numerous carved stone fragments preserved in the church. The church was rebuilt in the 12th and 13thc to a cruciform plan closely resembling that of Melbourne, Derbyshire, though never fully realised (see Comments). Additions and alterations were made in the 14th and 15thc. A major rebuilding took place in 1841-52 and the chancel was restored in 1879-82 by Gilbert Scott the Younger. The present church has a crossing tower, four-bay aisled nave, S porch, three-bay S transept with chapel, one-bay N transept with adjoining N vestry, and three-bay chancel.

Of the Romanesque church, the W front survives, with its doorway and a blind arcade above. The first bay of the arcades between nave and aisles is also Romanesque; in 1852 the nave arcades were rebuilt (differently) by Weightman and Hadfield, leaving only the two westernmost arches.

Other Romanesque survivals consist of a reset corbel head and a large collection of loose sculpture.


Before the Conquest, Bakewell was a royal estate and burgh. In 1086, its lands were held by William I, with three carucates belonging to the church and one carucate in the berewick of Haddon claimed by Henry de Ferrers. The Domesday Survey records a church and two priests, a number only equalled in this county by Repton. 

On the death of William I, the royal manor passed to William Peveril (the Elder) and was handed down to his son, also William. The estate reverted back to the Crown in 1153, after William the Younger had sided with Stephen in the civil war and was subsequently stripped of his lands. In 1192, John, Count of Mortain (later King John), granted the church and its property to the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral.


Exterior Features


W doorway

The doorway is round-headed, of three orders.

1st order

Plain, chamfered jambs, imposts with quirks, and a plain, chamfered arch.

2nd order

Shafts with carved sandstone capitals as follows: L capital too weathered to read; R capital shows two demons(?) with curved crests on their heads grasping a central figure by its arms. In the archbeakhead.

3rd order

Shafts with carved sandstone capitals that are too weathered to read clearly. Beakhead in the arch.


The label is chip-carved with small saltire crosses.

Exterior Decoration



The Romanesque intersecting blind arcade above the W doorway, now pierced by a later window, is stated by Cox to have had chevron moulding, but this is no longer apparent.

Interior Features


Nave arcade

A simple square billet moulding is used on the imposts of the arcades between nave and aisles in the W bay only.

There is a corbel head in the S wall of the westernmost bay.  It has a comic feline appearance with almond shaped eyes; it is isolated and probably an insertion.

Loose Sculpture

Carved Romanesque fragments

1. Fragments in N aisle

In the W end of the North aisle is a collection of fragments of Norman stone, amongst which are three capitals:

Capital 1: Ornamented double scallop on half octagonal inset shaft.

H: 0.31m W: 0.23m

Capital 2: Volute capital and mask, top of a pillar piscina. Small mask. Square onto except for rebate - probably for a lid.

H: 0.21m W: 0.27m

Capital 3: Corner shaft capital (upside down) .Interlaced arcading, rounder than nailhead - ‘peas in a pod’.

H: 0.21m W: 0.29m

There is also a fragment of chevron, which comes to a point with a coped top: 0.38m x 0.35m

2. Fragments in S porch

A large collection of carved Romanesque fragments, both architectural and of tombstones, though chiefly the latter, is housed in the S porch.  These were discovered during the restoration of 1841-51.  Cox counted "upwards of sixty-five" complete or fragmentary tomb slabs in the porch, and states that at least fifty five others were removed to the Lamberdale Museum (these could be the fragments now stated in the porch to be displayed at the Peak National Park).  He also points out that a very considerable number more were reused as mere masonry.  Most of the pieces are of slabs originally laid horizontally on the ground, and are of the 12thc; although a few of the simplest incised crosses may be 11thc (either pre- or post-Conquest), and the examples in which the foliated cross-head is cut, in low relief, within a sunken circle, 0.01  - 0.02m deep, could be either late 12thc or from the first half of the 13thc.  The various pieces are neatly arranged in rows against the E and W walls of the porch, separated by horizontal timber beams.

On the W side this fieldworker counted 25 Romanesque cross-slabs, tombs and fragments above the beams and 20 below.

Among the fragments noted are 5 capitals in the porch, descriptions starting from L to R:

Capital 1: Double scallop capital, inset capital for a nook-shaft. Plain impost.

Capital 2: Row of globes around the top, single scallop, rope decoration around the bottom..

Capital 3: Square capital.

Capital 4: Double scallop capital.

Capital 5: Single scallop capital.

Other fragments include:

Various carvings of evangelists.

A fragment with chip-carved saltire and half saltire crosses.

A head, complete with hair, eyes and partial nose. H: 0.15m W: 0.16m.


The popular idea that the Norman Church was the work of King John cannot be sustained, as the style of architecture points unmistakably to the commencement of the 12thc, and it seems probable that the founder was the elder William Peverel, who died in 1114.

The plan is one of the most ambitious in the county, with crossing tower and transepts, the S transept appreciably longer than that to the N. The archaeology of the building shows that the Norman church was planned on the same lines as Melbourne, with W towers, but it was evidently scaled back and the projected W towers were never built (Pevsner and Williamson (1978), 71-72).

The complex series of Romanesque cross-slabs and coped tombs at Bakewell, probably the largest of its date in Britain, merits a far more detailed study.  Cox gives a useful resumé, together with the early bibliography of the group, which is detailed.  He also illustrates a few pieces in Plate II.  The figures given here exclude any obviously pre-Conquest fragments in the porch (most of these are housed in the W end of the nave) although they could include a few slightly later than the 1200 Corpus dateline.  Close parallels for various slabs are found at Chelmorton and Darley Dale in Derbyshire, and for one of the coped tombs, of c.1100, at St Peter's, Northampton.


  • William Bray, Sketch of a Tour into Derbyshire and Yorkshire, 2nd ed., London 1783, 154.

  • J. Charles Cox, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire: The Hundreds of The High Peak and Wirksworth, Vol. 2, Chesterfield 1877, 5-123.

  • N. Pevsner, revised by E.Williamson, The Buildings of England, Derbyshire, Harmondsworth 1978, 71-80.

Exterior view


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SK 215 685 
now: Derbyshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Derbyshire
now: Derby
medieval: Lichfield
now: All Saints
medieval: All Saints
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Celia Holden, Jennifer Alexander, Louisa Catt, Olivia Threlkeld, Richard Jewell 
Visit Date
10 Dec 1990