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Listed Building record MDR9790 - St Mary's Church, Cromford

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The church of St Mary's is a plain structure of stone, standing within the grounds of Willersley Castle, the seat of the Arkwright family. Its construction was commenced by Sir Richard Arkwright and completed by his son Richard. The structure underwent a thorough restoration in 1858 when a portico was added. The church was originally intended for the private use of the family and for their burial place, but subsequently the scheme was enlarged and the church made parochial. Sir Richard Arkwright is buried here. On the south side of the chancel is a monument of white marble by Chantrey. (1) The church of St Mary's is a Grade II* listed building founded by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1792, with later additions constructed in 1858. The building is constructed from stone in the Gothic style with a west tower and contains the tombs of the Arkwrights and monuments by Chantrey and Weekes. (2) Sir Richard's chapel was completed by 1797 and dedicated to St Mary, after, it is supposed, a chapel that long before had stood on the site. Built of red sandstone, it contained a marble font, an organ, and two small galleries for the use of children attending the mill Sunday schools. (3) The architect of the 1858 transformation of the church was H I Stevens. The easternmost north nave stained glass window is not signed but is very much in the Kempe manner, it has been plausibly suggested that the artist was Herbert William Bryans. 1897 alterations by Naylor and Sale of Derby included a new chancel arch, new choir stalls, the raising and relaying of the chancel floor, a new window in the choir vestry and two new 'Perp' square-headed windows in the west elevation. (4) St Mary's Church was founded by Sir Richard Arkwright as a private chapel within the grounds of Willersley Castle and opened to public worship by his son in 1797. The church was substantially altered and partly Gothicised in 1858. It has an extensive system of mural decorations by Alfred Hemming, of 1897, depicting scenes from the Bible. A memorial to Mrs Arkwright (1820) by Chantrey hangs on the north wall of the nave. In the corresponding position on the south wall is a similar plaque dedicated to Charles Arkwright (1950), by Henry Weeks. Sir Richard's remains were moved from Matlock Church to St Mary's and interred in a bricked-up vault within the chapel. (5) The church of St Mary's contains an organ considered to have outstanding musical and historical qualities pertinent to the World Heritage Site. It was constructed in 1859 by W Hill & Son (London) but underwent additional modifications in the later 19th century. It has been recently restored, including the removal of out-of-character modifications. (6) Cromford Church is remarkable for both its wall paintings and its stained glass. In 1897 Alfred Octavius Hemming (1842-1907) was invited to design the chancel windows and to paint the murals in both the chancel and the nave of the church as part of a major restoration and reconstruction of the building. As a result of rainwater damage and outbreaks of dry rot the paintings had suffered, but have now been carefully restored. (7-9) For St Mary's Church, see: St Mary's Church, Cromford, (SMR29759) Cromford Churchyard, St Mary's Church, Cromford, (SMR33904) Roman lead pigs, Cromford Churchyard, (SMR33905)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Bulmer, T. 1895. History, Topography & Directory of Derby. p 344-5.
  • <2> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. 3/2957/008.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Fitton, R S. 1989. The Arkwrights: Spinners of fortune. p 248.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Drackley, J. 1997. Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire. p 18.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Derwent Valley Mills (DVM) Nomination Steering Panel. 2000. Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage List Nomination Document. p 51.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Tomkins, R (Derby Diocesan Adviser on Organs). 2007. Letter to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Officer re the Derwent Organ Heritage.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Tobit Curteis Associates. 1999. St Mary's Church, Cromford, Derbyshire, technical condition survey and liquid moisture survey of the wall paintings.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Drackley, J. 2008. Stained Glass, St Mary the Virgin, Cromford.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Drackley, J. 2008. The Wall-Paintings, St Mary the Virgin, Cromford.



Grid reference Centred SK 2996 5711 (31m by 19m)
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR3606

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Record last edited

Aug 28 2020 9:03AM

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