The peaceful and picturesque market town of Bakewell sits along the River Wye and is the birth place of the famous ‘Bakewell Pudding’. Whilst there is a strong indication to support the presence of much earlier settlements, Bakewell was founded during the Anglo-Saxon period, along with neighbouring villages Tideswell and Eyam. An early variation of the name also appears in the Doomsday Book.
There is evidence of a Saxon church in Bakewell which dates to 920, but the present church dates to the twelfth century in a typical Norman style, of which only the front and west parts of the nave survive today. The rest of what you see before you now was built in the early thirteenth century, with an assortment of restoration taking place in the nineteenth century.
The church houses evidence of Saxon ruins which gives us an insight into Bakewell’s past. Norman and Saxon stones are present along with some medieval stone coffins outside. Inside the church, there are more stones, known as ‘The Bateman Collection’ after antiquarian Thomas Bateman found and gathered them in the early 1840s. Not only are there the Saxon ruins, but the church is also home to tombs of some interesting local figures, and a baptismal font which dates back to the fourteenth century.
The two crosses at Bakewell church are not their original positions, having been moved. An excavation in 2012 provided evidence of the larger of the crosses having stood at a cross roads in Hassop village. This cross is the one shown here in the engraving by the architectural engraver J.H. Le Keux. The date for this piece is unknown, but estimated to be from the mid-nineteenth century. It shows the west and south faces of the cross. The south face has a number of scrolls, and the west side shows four arches depicting the Annunciation.
The other smaller ‘Beeley Cross’ was dug up in the nearby area (accounts differ between whether the location was near Darley Dale or Chatsworth) during the nineteenth century and brought to Bakewell where it stands in the churchyard. It features circles and banding which make it typical of Saxon design.
This sketch from 1858 by the artist Thomas H. Cromek shows the Saxon stones in the front of the porch where they can still be seen today. The collection in the porch is varied and alongside the Anglo-Saxon stones, there are Norman stones and outside the wall is a collection of medieval coffins.
Bakewell is a wonderful town in which to spend an afternoon, and a walk around the church will reveal more about the historic past that the present Bakewell is built upon.