Bakewell Screen – Derby Cathedral

13th January 2023

Cathedral Treasure, Finalist Number 3

A masterpiece from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution

Bakewell Screen (commissioned 1722, installed by 1725) – Derby Cathedral

Derby Cathedral occupies a city centre Anglo-Saxon site where Christians have worshipped for nearly 1,100 years. The early sixteenth-century Perpendicular tower and the cathedral’s mid-twentieth-century extension are bridged by an Enlightenment nave which resonates with the values of the early Georgian period. The nave is notable for its expansive plain-glass windows, which symbolise the light of reason guiding humanity in the ways of God.

The nave was designed by the architect James Gibbs (1682–1754) in the neo-classical style. Across its whole width is a magnificent wrought iron screen, designed and manufactured by the Derbyshire master craftsman and ironsmith Robert Bakewell (1682–1752). The screen is described being as ‘delicate as lace and as intricate as a fugue’. The screen’s combination of beautiful filigree ironwork, scrolling acanthus leaves and an overall lightness of structure make it an exceptionally significant treasure. It was installed to separate nave and chancel without obscuring the view.

The overthrow of the main gates carries the royal arms of George II (r.1727–1760). Despite having been altered and moved several times to suit the liturgical preferences of different generations, the screen’s central section remains Bakewell’s original work. Candle sconces are
placed across the top of the screen so that candles can be lit to enhance the atmosphere of festive occasions.

The Bakewell screen links Derby Cathedral to the adjacent Silk Mill, recognised as being the site of the world’s first mechanised factory. Here a pair of Bakewell gates – installed in the same era as the cathedral screen – stands at the entrance to what is now the Museum of Making, which opened in 2021 and celebrates Derby’s three-hundred-year history of making to inspire new creativity.


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Source : Deans’ Choice: Cathedral Treasures of England and Wales, Janet Gough.

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Cathedral Treasures - Finalists