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St Alkmund, Duffield, Derbyshire

(52°59′19″N, 1°29′25″W)
SK 343 436
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Derbyshire
now Derbyshire
  • Richard Jewell
  • Ron Baxter
  • Ron Baxter
08 Apr 1990 (RJ), 26 April 2022 (RB)

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Duffield is a village in the Amber Valley district of Derbyshire, on the W bank of the River Derwent and 4 miles N of the centre of Derby. The church stands on the bank of the Derwent, on the E side of the village. St Alkmund's is a large church with a W tower with a recessed spire, an aisled nave, a transeptal N chapel, a chancel with N and S chapels and a vestry to the S of the S chapel. To the S of the nave, and connected to the S doorway, is a Parish Centre of 1990 by Anthony Rossi. The origins of the church are Norman, but there is no external evidence of this. Most of what can be seen is 14thc work, heavily restored in 1846-47 by J P Dt Aubyn, and in 1896-97 by John Oldrid Scott. Surviving Romanesque work includes the corbel table in the S wall of the N chancel chapel, now used as a playroom for young children during services, but originally part of the exterior decoration, and indicating that the N wall of the chancel is substantially 12thc. In the W wall of the S nave aisle are set two relief panels that are also 12thc.


A church and priest are recorded on the manor of Duffield in DS, and the rare dedication to the Anglo-Saxon saint Alkmund indicates a pre-Conquest foundation, quite possibly of some importance. Henry de Ferrers was given the manor by William I, and on founding Tutbury priory gave the monks two thirds of its tithes, reserving the other third for the parish church. As these increased in value, numerous disputes arose between the prior and the rector as to their exact dues. In 1227, a papal commission of Derbyshire abbots found in favour of the prior, but a final agreement was not reached until 1253.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration

Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features

Interior Decoration


The Romanesque sculptures here appear to be scant survivals from an important church of the earlier 12thc. Prior to the restoration of 1896 Cox recorded a number of 11thc. -12thc. tomb slabs with incised crosses - three over the tower belfry windows, slightly cut down, each about four feet by one: one of elaborate (foliate) design and two geometrical; as well as several other fragments of similar crosses within the window recesses and elsewhere in the belfry, from at least nine different gravestones or coffin lids. Cox compared them favourably with the earlier of the pieces in Bakewell porch. The carvings are probably still up there, but not easily discernible due to weathering and distance from the ground. The church guide-book (Anon in bibliography) records that the two panels in the W wall of the S aisle were discovered built in the wall with the carved sides inwards during the restoration of 1897, and speculates that they may be from two sides of a square Norman font depicting the Evangelist symbols. This seems unlikely as the lion is not winged and the bird is not an eagle.

The corbels show some similarity with the tower corbels at Bradbourne, which are sadly eroded now.


Anon, Duffield Parish Church. Saint Alkmund, undated c.2006.

J. C. Cox, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Chesterfield and London 4 vols, 1875-79, III, 129-41.

  1. C. Hartwell, N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, New Haven and London 2016, 375-76.

Historic England Listed Building: English Heritage Legacy ID: 78855

  1. N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Derbyshire, Melbourne, London and Baltimore 1953, 126-27.