The first Church

Duffield Church is one of only six in England dedicated to Alkmund the 8th-century Northumbrian prince and Mercian martyr. The sarcophagus which contained his remains can be seen today in Derby Museum. The church is mentioned in Domesday Book published in 1086.

Sarcophagus at St. Alkmunds Duffield
Discovery of the sarcophagus in foundations of Derby St Alkmund’s in 1967 from a photo by D. Wigley

The present Church

The building of the present church was begun by the Normans in the 12th century and originally comprised a chancel and nave.   There are several well-preserved pieces of Norman carved stonework: some created for the church and others apparently salvaged from elsewhere – probably Duffield Castle, never completed, after its owner Robert de Ferrers rebelled against Henry II and was ejected from his lands. The Crown took possession of the de Ferrers properties and so Duffield and the surrounding area passed into the Duchy of Lancaster.

Until the divisions of the 19th century, the parish of Duffield covered a large area – from Turnditch and Windley, through Belper to Heage, with the parish church in a beautiful but flood-prone situation by Duffield Bridge.

Having no resident landowner to embellish the building, it remained quite plain internally, though much extended and altered with side aisles, galleries and chapels to accommodate the growing congregation. There was a late-Victorian reordering which removed the galleries, inserted pews and a chancel screen.  The screen was removed to the north transept arch in 2012 by permission of the Court of Arches.

In the north chapel is a remarkable memorial, built at the end of the 16th century by Anthony Bradshaw then deputy warden of Duffield Frith.   Built in his own lifetime it contains an acrostic on his name and includes incised drawings of himself, his two wives and 20 of his 23 children.  It has recently been completely restored.

Bradshaw Memorial Duffield
Michael, Elizabeth, Foelix & Petronilla

In the entrance to the church is a memorial to a former resident of the parish, Sir Arthur Heywood.  He was an accomplished and enthusiastic bellringer who founded the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and arranged for the augmentation of the bells to a ring of 10.

A new Parish Hall, finished in 1992 was built in the churchyard to the south of the church and has proved to be a great asset to the church and the community.

Among the names of Vicars of the parish is that of the Reverend Roger Morrice.  He ministered here from 1658 until he was deprived of the living in 1662.  As a convinced puritan his ministry did not suit the restored monarchy.  He left Duffield and became a private chaplain in puritan households and a very well-informed political journalist.  He kept an immense partly coded record, published in 2007, which is now the longest and richest diary of public life in England during the era of the Glorious Revolution.  With a quite different moral and Christian standpoint it rivals that of the earlier Pepys.

There are various publications available either through this web site or Derby Museum or through the church which describe the building, its attribution and its history in greater detail.

Download a more detailed Duffield Parish Church History PDF.