The former parish church of St Mary is thought to have stood in this area as, according to a deed in the Darley Cartulary, its graveyard lay on the west side of the 'Great Street', presumably Queen Street. In 1925 substantial early stone foundations were found below the cellars of a shop which stood on part of the site of the Halifax Building Society's offices. (The Halifax Building Society occupied 55 Queen Street in 1982 SK 35173650 OS 1:1250 1973). The discovery of two inhumations, lying east-west, in association with the masonry, led to the assumption that parts of the foundations of the church and a portion of the graveyard had been uncovered. Although documentary evidence dating back to 1185 has been adduced for its existence, the history of the church is poorly known. It seems likely to have ceased to be a parish church by the late 13th century and may have existed as a church until the 16th century. (1)
One of the best known streets in Derby is St Mary's Gate, but the church from which it takes its name has received little attention since its demolition, probably in the 16th century. It is suggested that St Mary's was a minster church, also built in the Saxon period on royal demesne and with equal status to the minster church of St Alkmund. It is also suggested that as the reputation of St Alkmund's increased, St Mary's church languished, and instead of rebuilding and augmenting the church of St Mary, a new minster church of All Saints was built in the mid-10th century. St Mary's church was given by William I to Burton Abbey in or before 1085 as part of an estate which included the manor and church of Mickleover and property in Derby, but it is not recorded in Domesday. It is suggested that Burton Abbey may have handed the church over to the new minster of All Saints, perhaps in the 13th century when the abbey was in financial difficulties. Although stripped of its minster status, the church of St Mary continued to exist, and received an endowment in a will of 1518. At the Dissolution funds ceased for the minster churches, but in 1554 Queen Mary granted funds for vicars at St Alkmund's and All Saints. It seems certain that by that date St Mary's was redundant and would have been demolished. In 1925 stone foundations and two skeletons were found at a building site on the north side of St Mary's Gate close to its junction with Queen Street, and without doubt these were the remains of St Mary's church and its churchyard. (2)
Article in serial: Mallender, M. 1972. 'St Mary's Church, Derby', Derbyshire Miscellany. Vol 6, pp 87-89.
Article in serial: Turbutt, G. 2007. 'Unresolved Mysteries of Derbyshire History', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 127, pp 1-14.
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SK 351 365 (point) (Centre)
DERBY, DERBY, DERBYSHIRE
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Nov 16 2017 10:28AM
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