Set on the hillside above the town, Bakewell church was designed to be seen, even though the spire was surrounded by scaffolding the day I visited. Because there is so much to see, I have spit the review into two parts. The inside of the church is covered in a separate “review.”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/169842-review-all-saints-church-bakewell .
There have been Christians worshiping in Bakewell since Roman times and there has been a church here since the C7th when Celtic missionaries arrived from Northumbria. They established a Minster Church here, serving the area. This church was plundered by the Danes in the C9th and a new church was built to replace it. By the time of the Norman conquest, Bakewell was a wealthy church which supported two priests.
William the Conqueror granted the manor of Bakewell to William Peverel who rebuilt the church in 1111, in the latest Norman style with rounded apses. The blocked rounded arches on the west wall are all that remain of this church. They were intended to give entry to two west towers that were never built.
The church was remodelled in the C13th in the then current Early English style. The north aisle was widened and the south transept was rebuilt and extended. It is still referred to as the Newark (New Work). This was subdivided by a splendid carved oak screen and to the east was the chantry chapel of the Blessed Virgin. Pointed arches replaced the round Norman arches of the arcade and a clerestory was added. The Norman apse was removed and the chancel extended.
In the late C14th the Norman tower was rebuilt with an octagon and spire, and battlements were added. The south porch was added in the early C15th and the outside of the church was very much what can still be seen today.
After the Reformation, all the wall paintings were whitewashed. The chantry chapels were removed and that in the south transept became the Vernon Chapel, housing the tombs of the Vernon and Manners families from nearby “Haddon Hall.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/stately_homes_castles/england/eastmidlands/haddon/index.html
By the end of the C17th, the weight of the steeple was pushing the walls outwards and causing cracks. An architect’s report in 1829 stated that the church was in a dire state of repair and likely to fall down. Plans were submitted for a new church, but parishioners chose to restore the existing building as a faithful copy of the original. When the north and south transepts and tower were taken down, many Saxon and Early English stones were discovered. Most of these were recycled into the foundations and walls but the best were preserved and are now displayed in the porch and back of the church.
The nave was rebuilt next. The galleries and box pews were removed. By the end of the C19th it was time for the chancel to be restored. A new mosaic floor was laid along with new high altar, reredos and chancel screen. The stained glass windows are C19th.
More recently, a new wooden and glass screen has been built across the Newark, creating a separate space for community use. On Thursday to Saturdays this has a small cafe serving drinks and light refreshments.
There are two early Christian cross shafts in the graveyard. The one by the south transept is C8th/9th and has been moved here from elsewhere. That by the south porch is C10/11th and was moved here from Darley dale. It may have come from the bridleway between Chatsworth and Alfreton.
There are more early stones in the south porch. Those on the right are the earliest and are described as Norse/Anglian. They seem to be C10th and have the characteristic Celtic scroll designs. Those on the left are later C12/13th grave slabs and are decorated with crosses. There are more examples of carved stones displayed at the back of the church, along with information panels. These are mainly fragments of carved Saxon stones.
The church is open daily from 9-5 in the summer months and 9-4 during the winter. The cafe in the Newark is open Thursdays to Saturdays from 10-3 in the summer or 10-2 in the winter. There is quite a steep path up from the road. Wheelchair access is through the vestry on the west side of the church. The church does not have its own car park. The post code is DE45 1FD and the post code is SK 216685.
This is a very attractive parish church and well worth visiting if in the area.
There is more information and pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/east_midlands/derbyshire/bakewell/index.html