St Werburgh's Church, Derby

Coordinates: 52°55′24″N 1°28′52″W / 52.9232°N 1.4812°W / 52.9232; -1.4812
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St Werburgh's Church, Derby
A stone church seen from the west; on the left is the nave with a large Perpendicular window, and on the right is the tower with corner pinnacles
St Werburgh's Church, Derby, showing the body of the church on the left, and the conserved tower on the right
St Werburgh's Church, Derby is located in Derby Central
St Werburgh's Church, Derby
St Werburgh's Church, Derby
Location in Derby
52°55′24″N 1°28′52″W / 52.9232°N 1.4812°W / 52.9232; -1.4812
OS grid referenceSK 349 363
LocationDerby, Derbyshire
DedicationSaint Werburgh
Functional statusRedundant
Architect(s)Sir Arthur Blomfield (rebuilding)
Architectural typeChurch
StyleGothic Survival, Gothic Revival
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official nameChurch of St Werburgh
Designated20 June 1952
Reference no.1287685

St Werburgh's Church is an Anglican church on Friargate in the city of Derby, England. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a Grade II* listed building.[1] In this church, Samuel Johnson (Dr Johnson) married Elizabeth Porter in 1735.[2][3]

The church has two sections, which, although connected, have no internal access between them: these are the tower/chapel and the main church. The seventeenth-century tower and old chancel are in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT); the key is kept at the nearby Derby Museum and Art Gallery.[4] The main church was closed as a place of worship in 1984[5] but reopened in September 2017[6][7] as part of the Holy Trinity Brompton Church network.[8] The church meets for worship every Sunday in the main church at 10.30am and 6.30pm every Sunday and is of a contemporary music style.


It is of medieval origin, but the oldest surviving part of the church is the tower, which was rebuilt between 1601 and 1608. The chancel was built in 1699. The remainder of the church was rebuilt in 1893–94 in stone from Coxbench quarry, the architect being Sir Arthur Blomfield. The style of this rebuilding is Gothic Revival in the manner of the 15th century.[1]

The church closed in 1984 and the parish joined with St Alkmund's. Memorials from the main body of the church were moved into the chancel and some of the windows, by Kempe and Herbert William Bryans, were moved to All Saints' Church, Turnditch. The church was declared redundant in 1990, and the body of the church was converted to commercial use. The building has been an indoor market and Chinese restaurant but was closed for seven years. On 17 September 2017, St Werburgh's reopened as a church.

The tower and chancel were vested in the Churches Conservation Trust in 1989.[3] The tower was refurbished in 2004, and contains a chapel known as the "Johnson Chapel".[3][9]

Samuel Johnson married Elizabeth Porter (née Jervis) on 9 July 1735. Elizabeth (or "Tetty") was a well-to-do widow. At the time he was 25, she 46, and neither family was enthusiastic about the match. The marriage lasted until Elizabeth's death in 1752.


The tower is in Gothic Survival style.[2] The chancel of 1690 has been converted into a side chapel.[1] It contains many of its original fittings and furniture, including an elaborate wrought iron font cover made by Robert Bakewell.[2] The reredos contains panels inscribed with the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed.[9] Over the reredos is the royal coat of arms of Queen Anne. The stained glass is from the studio of Charles Eamer Kempe, and there is a monument dated 1832 by Francis Leggatt Chantrey.[1]

The chancel has a wall-mounted war memorial by Arthur George Walker. It is a cast-bronze figure of Christ with arms outstretched surmounting a plaque. The inscription reads "Remember 1914–1918 / (Names) / Blessed are the Peacemakers". A total of 47 men are listed.[10]


The church had an organ as early as 1750.[11] A new organ by John Gray was opened on 3 February 1841.[12] It was replaced by a new instrument by Walker and Sons of London which was opened on 14 December 1872.[13] After several restorations and enlargements (including Henry Willis & Sons in 1905), it became a four-manual instrument with 47 speaking stops. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.[14] William Hartley Ashton was organist and choir master in early 1910s and 1920s.[citation needed] In 1989 the organ was sold to All Saints, Newton Heath, Greater Manchester but never installed.[14]


  • Christopher Martin Thomas 1975–81; left to become Director of Music at Waltham Abbey, Essex

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Historic England. "Church of St Werburgh, Derby (1287685)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c St Werburgh's Church, Derby, Derbyshire. Churches Conservation Trust. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Derby, St Werburgh's Church. Britain Express. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  4. ^ "St Werburgh's Church, Derby, Derbyshire | The Churches Conservation Trust". Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  5. ^ "History". St Werburgh's Church, Derby. 5 October 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Coming Soon". STW Derby. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  7. ^ "It's about to be a church again after 31 years and we look inside". derbytelegraph. 4 August 2017. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Related Churches & Church Plants | HTB Church". Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b St Werburgh's chapel. Derelict Places. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  10. ^ Memorial in St Werburgh’s Church UKNIWM Report. Retrieved 25 October 2012
  11. ^ Boeringer, James (1989). Organa Britannica: Organs in Great Britain 1660–1860 : a Complete Edition of the Sperling Notebooks and Drawings in the Library of the Royal College of Organists, Volume 1. Bucknell University Press. p. 263. ISBN 9780838718940.
  12. ^ "St Werburgh's Church, Derby". Derby Mercury. England. 3 February 1841. Retrieved 4 June 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  13. ^ "St Werburgh's Church, Derby. Opening of the New Organ". Derby Mercury. England. 11 December 1872. Retrieved 4 June 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  14. ^ a b "NPOR [N05282]". National Pipe Organ Register. British Institute of Organ Studies. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  15. ^ The Monthly Magazine. Vol. 34. Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper. 1812. p. 177.
  16. ^ "Prominent Derby Musician's Death". Derby Daily Telegraph. England. 10 December 1914. Retrieved 3 June 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  17. ^ "Organist Presented with a cheque". Derby Daily Telegraph. England. 16 August 1941. Retrieved 3 June 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  18. ^ "St Werburgh's New Organist". Derby Daily Telegraph. England. 28 January 1943. Retrieved 3 June 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.

External links[edit]

  • Website of St Werburgh's Church by local Churches Conservation Trust group